George Clooney, the Mayor McCheese of Hollywood, leaves behind Oscar season and returns to the big screen with lighter fare with the period sports comedy Leatherheads. The PG-13 pic also stars Renee Zellweger and John Krasinski while the former Caped Crusader directs. Given the story of the origins of football in the 1920’s, turnout should come mostly from older adults although The Office star is being counted on to pull in some younger moviegoers. In Los Angeles, Clooney is a God. But the other 99% of the U.S. population doesn’t necessarily bow down to him (unless pals Brad and Matt are along for the ride). Michael Clayton, which creatively was one of the actor’s best films, only managed $10.4M in ticket sales during its first wide weekend. And it was backed by plenty of Oscar buzz and glowing reviews.

Reviews for Leatherheads have been lukewarm at best which spells bad news since the target audience will be reading up on the opinions of critics and taking their warnings. Plus Zellweger is no A-lister when it comes to drawing in paying audiences. Add in a period setting that will turn many off and you’ve got a spring film that will have to work hard for the money. To its credit, Universal has backed the title with a solid marketing push doing what it can to generate excitement and the current top five will not provide too much direct competition. But a lack of momentum in the current marketplace will also have a negative effect on all films. Rushing into 2,778 theaters, Leatherheads may take in around $15M this weekend.


John Krasinski in Leatherheads

A young girl’s imagination is at the heart of Nim’s Island, the new kid adventure from Fox Walden. Abigail Breslin stars as the title character in the PG-rated tale while Jodie Foster and 300‘s Gerard Butler co-star. The family audience is the target here with sales likely to skew more towards girls than boys. The lack of male appeal could turn out to be a major liability. Foster usually brings plenty of starpower with her, but this is not the type of role her core fans will be all that excited about. This isn’t a single-woman-fighting-male-oppressors movie. Competition will come from Fox’s own Horton Hears A Who, but Nim‘s trailers in front of the Seuss toon over the last three weeks have also raised awareness with the same crowd. So consider that a wash. Overall buzz is not too high so despite the very wide launch, potent numbers are not likely. Opening in 3,511 sites, Nim’s Island could debut to about $14M.


Abigail Breslin in Nim’s Island

Paramount gives horror fans a new offering with The Ruins which finds a group of young Americans in Cancun discovering terror. The year’s first fright flick to not be a remake of an Asian horror hit carries an R rating which will hurt its chances with younger teens. Overall interest is not very high and a lack of starpower won’t help its cause much. The film should appeal to the same folks who bought tickets to The Descent and Turistas. Both lacked star names and underperformed with openings of $8.9M and $3.6M respectively. The Ruins opens in over 2,500 theaters and should fall into the same range. Look for a $8M debut.


The Ruins

The Rolling Stones and Martin Scorsese join forces for the year’s third major concert film with Shine A Light. The PG-13 pic covers an intimate New York concert given by the supergroup with the Oscar-winning director orchestrating a team of A-list cinematographers to capture all the magic. Paramount Classics is rolling out the film in limited release with about 270 total theaters including 93 Imax sites making it the widest launch ever for the large-screen format. Marketing materials have been highlighting the starpower of all the popular senior citizens involved here in a effort to tap into older adults and rock music fans. Hannah Montana and U2 found success earlier this year with their concert pics and the higher-priced Imax tickets will help to beef up the averages. Shine A Light could rock to around $2M this weekend.


Scorsese and The Stones in Shine a Light

Only two holdovers will be able to post double-digit millions this weekend. 21 got off to a great start last week and will not see too much of its teen and young adult audience taken away since Leatherheads will skew older and Nim will play younger. Still a moderate 45% drop is in order which would put the blackjack drama at about $13M for a ten-day tally of $45M.

Fox’s animated blockbuster Horton Hears A Who will find its competition coming from the studio’s own new Jodie Foster adventure. But the Dr. Seuss comedy has been holding up well so a 30% fall to $12.5M could result. That would up the cume to a robust $134M.

Superhero Movie stumbled out of the gate last weekend and is not likely to have legs. A 45% drop would give The Weinstein Company roughly $5M and a sum of $17M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: With Easter falling on the first weekend of April, the box office was vibrant thanks to a pair of solid sophomores and a slate of new releases. Will Ferrell‘s skating comedy Blades of Glory spent a second frame on top with $22.5M while the Disney toon Meet the Robinsons held onto second with $16.7M. Leading the newcomers was the Ice Cube sequel Are We Done Yet? with $14.3M on its way to $49.7M for Sony. Opening in fourth was the two-for-one special Grindhouse with $11.6M followed by the new supernatural thriller The Reaping which bowed to $10M. Final grosses reached $25M and $25.1M, respectively. Failing to excite family audiences was Firehouse Dog which debuted in tenth with just $3.8M leading to a weak $13.9M final.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

No awards season — even a strike-tainted one — would be complete without the Razzies, right? Of course not. And that’s why we’ve thoughtfully assembled all of this year’s nominees in one convenient location.

The Razzies, now entering their 28th year, have been celebrating the worst in film since 1980, when John Wilson took a raspberry trophy, spray-painted it gold, and stuck it to Can’t Stop the Music. This year’s nominees are suitably distinguished, and they all follow below (with Tomatometers in parentheses). ‘Fess up, Vineketeers — how many of these have you seen? And enjoyed?

Worst Picture:
Bratz (7 percent)
Daddy Day Camp (1 percent)

I Know Who Killed Me (8 percent)
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (14 percent)
Norbit (9 percent)

Worst Actor:
Nicolas Cage, for Ghost Rider (27 percent), National Treasure: Book of Secrets (32 percent), and Next (30 percent)
Jim Carrey, for The Number 23 (8 percent)
Cuba Gooding, Jr., for Daddy Day Camp and Norbit
Eddie Murphy, for Norbit
Adam Sandler, for I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry

Worst Actress:
Jessica Alba, for Awake (21 percent), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (35 percent), and Good Luck Chuck (3 percent)
Logan Browning, Janel Parrish, Nathalia Ramos & Skyler Shaye, for Bratz
Elisha Cuthbert, for Captivity (7 percent)
Diane Keaton, for Because I Said So (5 percent)
Lindsay Lohan (as Aubrey), for I Know Who Killed Me
Lindsay Lohan (as Dakota), for I Know Who Killed Me

Worst Supporting Actor:
Orlando Bloom, for Pirates of the Carribbean: At World’s End (45 percent)
Kevin James, for I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Eddie Murphy, for Norbit
Rob Schneider, for I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Jon Voight, for Bratz, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, September Dawn (13 percent), and Transformers (57 percent)

Worst Supporting Actress:
Jessica Biel, for I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry and Next
Carmen Electra, for Epic Movie (2 percent)
Eddie Murphy, for Norbit
Julia Ormond, for I Know Who Killed Me
Nicolette Sheridan, for Code Name: The Cleaner (4 percent)

Worst Screen Couple:
Jessica Alba with Dane Cook (for Good Luck Chuck), Hayden Christensen (for Awake), and Ioan Gruffudd (for Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer)
Any combination of two totally air-headed characters in Bratz
Lindsay Lohan and Lindsay Lohan, for I Know Who Killed Me

Worst Remake or Ripoff:
Are We Done Yet? (8 percent, remake/ripoff of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House)
Bratz (a ripoff if ever there was one)
Epic Movie (ripoff of every movie it rips off)
I Know Who Killed Me (ripoff of Hostel, Saw, and The Patty Duke Show)
Who’s Your Caddy? (7 percent, ripoff of Caddyshack)

Worst Prequel or Sequel:
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (16 percent)
Daddy Day Camp
Evan Almighty (24 percent)
Hannibal Rising, (15 percent)
Hostel: Part II (44 percent)

Worst Director:
Dennis Dugan, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Roland Joffe, Captivity
Brian Robbins, Norbit
Fred Savage, Daddy Day Camp
Chris Sivertson, I Know Who Killed Me

Worst Screenplay:
Geoff Rodkey and David J. Stem & David N. Weiss, Daddy Day Camp

Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer, Epic Movie
Jeffrey Hammond, I Know Who Killed Me
Barry Fanaro and Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Eddie Murphy & Charles Murphy, Jay Sherick & David Ronn, Norbit

Worst Excuse for a Horror Movie:
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
Captivity
Hannibal Rising

Hostel: Part II
I Know Who Killed Me

Source: Razzies

For the first time in three weeks, studios will pack a Friday with plenty of new releases as four films open or expand nationwide giving the box office chart a major shakeup. Leading in the polls and getting the widest release is The Bucket List starring Oscar winners Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Challenging Hollywood’s old guard are three younger agents of change. Ice Cube campaigns for a spot in the top five with the comedy First Sunday, Jason Statham heads up the adventure tale In the Name of the King, and some cartoon vegetables headline the kidpic The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything. Hoping to play the spoiler is the indie smash Juno which once again expands into wider release. The films should each play to different audiences which will help the overall marketplace expand.

After spending the last decade directing flops, Rob Reiner hopes to score his first number one hit in over fifteen years with The Bucket List which features the Academy Award-winning actors Nicholson and Freeman on screen together for the first time. The PG-13 pic tells the story of two dying old men who set out to fulfill their last wishes before taking the big trip upstairs. Financing a major film anchored by two men who celebrated their 70th birthdays last year is not something Hollywood studios typically do. It’s usually seen as a risky endeavor. But Warner Bros. is counting on mature adults, men and women alike, to take interest and come out to see two legends on the big screen together.

Hurting Bucket‘s chances are the mixed reviews it’s been getting from critics. The target audience for this particular movie will definitely be affected by what reviewers have to say. Also, the picture has come up almost empty-handed during awards seasons so it has less marketing tools in its arsenal than the handful of acclaimed adult dramas touting their awards and nominations. In limited release, Bucket scored muscular per-theater numbers over the last two frames averaging $20,989 and $20,424 from only 16 locations. Co-star drawing power will not shoot this film up to the opening weekend levels of recent Jack flicks like The Departed or Anger Management. But even his less flashy films generate solid debut numbers due to his loyal fan following. Kicking its way into 2,911 theaters, The Bucket List could debut with about $15M.


Nicholson and Freeman in The Bucket List

Two petty criminals plot to rob their neighborhood church in the new comedy First Sunday. The PG-13 film stars Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, and Katt Williams and will find a large portion of its ticket sales coming from African American moviegoers. Cube has seen much success in the past with early-year comedies like Next Friday which opened to $14.5M in January 2000 and Barbershop 2 which debuted to $24.2M in February 2004. But both of those were sequels that took advantage of built-in audiences that wanted to see popular characters return to the big screen for new shenanigans. The rapper-actor is back with another laugher at the start of a presidential election season, but this time winning the job of commander-in-chief of the box office will probably be out of his reach.

First Sunday comes a week before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday frame which historically has been a good time for films led by black casts. Cube’s pictures usually are dependable when it comes to drawing a crowd. However his last two releases, the Sony sequels Are We Done Yet? and XXX: State of the Union, were not exactly major hits. Plus the story of stealing from church may not go down well with some folks. Breaking into roughly 2,000 theaters, First Sunday might open with around $12M.


First Sunday

Targeting young males (and older dudes who spent their childhoods playing Dungeons & Dragons), Freestyle Releasing offers up Jason Statham in the adventure tale In the Name of the King. The PG-13 actioner will try to play to the fantasy crowd although most will probably wait for this one on DVD. The distributor tried to make this genre work in the fall with Dragon Wars. which bowed to just $5M and a poor $2,214 average. Fox also failed with its fantasy clunker The Seeker the following month which opened to only $3.7M and an embarrassing $1,192 average. Though aging, heavyweight holdovers National Treasure: Book of Secrets and I Am Legend are set to steal a combined $20M this weekend from the same audience that might be interested in Statham flicks so there will be distractions for younger guys. Of course the NFL playoffs on both Saturday and Sunday will be factors too. Debuting in an estimated 2,500 locations, In the Name of the King may collect about $6M this weekend.


In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale


The year’s first new toon comes in the form of The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything from the VeggieTales franchise. Universal’s G-rated pic about a squash, cucumber, and grape that go on high seas adventures will play to younger tots and their parents. The 2002 film Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie enjoyed a solid bow opening to $6.2M and a $6,597 average during an October weekend when all other films in the top ten were catering to adults. Those kids are all five years older and have probably outgrown the produce-based characters so it will be a new generation taking interest this time. Plus Pirates will face more competition since Alvin and the Chipmunks continues to do killer biz from the family audience and even National Treasure and The Water Horse are pulling dollars from that sector. The studio’s marketing efforts have been aimed at its target audience only so crossover business is not likely. Opening in 1,336 theaters, look for The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything to gross about $5M this weekend.


Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything

Holdovers will finally get some competition to deal with which will certainly shake up the chart rankings. Fox Searchlight’s Juno has been patiently building up buzz and momentum and was rewarded on Monday and Tuesday by seizing control of the number one spot at the North American box office. The distributor will add another 500 theaters to the run climbing to 2,447 playdates which will lead to a solid hold.in its sixth frame. The pregnant teen will duke it out with a pair of grumpy old men for the top spot. It’s girl vs. geezers. Making the contest even more interesting is Juno‘s new televisions spot which features a clip of star Ellen Page mentioning Morgan Freeman by name in one of the film’s more memorable jokes. A scant dip would give Juno about $15M for the weekend and boost the cume up to a remarkable $72M.

After enjoying the second three-week box office reign of his career (the first being his other turn as Ben Gates), Nicolas Cage will see National Treasure: Book of Secrets drop down a couple of spots in the standings. The Buena Vista smash could fall by 40% to about $12M boosting the overall total to $187M which would make it one of the top ten blockbusters of 2007. Also hopping into that list will be fellow PG-rated holiday hit Alvin and the Chipmunks. Fox’s family comedy looks to slide by 35% this weekend to roughly $10M giving the singing chipmunks a robust $189M to date.

Scary movies from last weekend’s top five should witness larger declines. Will Smith‘s I Am Legend which is the highest grossing zombie movie of all-time may fall by 45% to about $8.5M for a $240M cume. The supernatural thriller One Missed Call should depreciate faster and fall 50% to around $6M giving Warner Bros. a respectable $21M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend was ruled by the urban dance drama Stomp the Yard which generated a powerful $25.9M debut over the four-day extended frame. The Sony hit went on to finish with a solid $61.4M. Holdovers filled up the rest of the top five led by three-time champ Night at the Museum with $21.8M over the long weekend. Will Smith’s The Pursuit of Happyness followed with $10.7M with Dreamgirls in fourth with $10.3M and Hilary Swank‘s Freedom Writers ranking fifth with $8.8M over four days. Three new releases opened lower on the charts. Universal’s action drama Alpha Dog bowed to $7.4M on its way to $15.2M. Debuting in more theaters but with smaller grosses were Buena Vista’s horror pic Primeval with $6M and MGM’s kidpic Arthur and the Invisibles with $5.7M. Final grosses reached $10.6M and $15.1M, respectively.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Peter Parker suffered a massive sophomore slide, but "Spider-Man 3" still dominated the box office around the globe spending a second weekend at number one with no other film coming anywhere near its stellar numbers.

Among the frame’s four new releases, the zombie thriller "28 Weeks Later" fared best with a decent bow in the runnerup spot while the Jane FondaLindsay Lohan pic "Georgia Rule" was mostly ignored and opened with disastrous results. Two other new comedies "Delta Farce" and "The Ex" barely registered a blip on the radar.

Sony was still crushing its competitors this weekend with "Spider-Man 3" which tumbled 60% to an estimated $60M in its second try in theaters. After ten days, the PG-13 hit has amassed a stunning $242.1M from North America and is still running ahead of its two predecessors. Ten-day cumes for 2002’s "Spider-Man" and 2004’s "Spider-Man 2" were $223M and $225M, respectively. However the new Venom installment is eroding faster as is often the case with the third part of a franchise. After the first three days, "Spider-Man 3" was an impressive 32% ahead of the first webslinger pic which opened on the exact same weekend in 2002. After seven days the lead was cut to 20% and now after ten days the gap has been reduced to 9%.

For the weekend, "Spider-Man 3" accounted for a stellar 64% of the box office for the top ten and grossed $17.1M on Friday (down 72% from its record-shattering opening day last week), $25M on Saturday (down 51% from last Saturday), and is projected to gross $18M on Sunday (down 55% from a week ago). The 60% second weekend drop is not uncommon for high-profile tentpole sequels with mammoth debuts. Some other sophomore drops include 53% for "X2: X-Men United," 54% for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest," 63% for "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," and 67% for "X-Men: The Last Stand."

Where is part 3 headed in the long run? It would make sense to look at other action films that kicked off the summer movie season on the first weekend of May. The shares of the total cume collected in the first ten days were 64% for last year’s "Mission: Impossible III," 69% for 2003’s "X2," and 71% for 2004’s "Van Helsing." Based on its trajectory and the competitive road ahead, "Spider-Man 3" could be headed for a finish of about $340-360M domestically. That would make it the lowest-grossing Spidey film in North America, however the overseas markets are a different story.

"Spider-Man 3" grossed an estimated $85.4M internationally this weekend to boost its overseas haul up to a mammoth $379.6M for a colossal global gross of $622M. Next weekend, the Sandman entry will surpass the international takes of $418M and $410M for the first two Spider-Man flicks to become the top performer of the franchise outside of North America. With the "Spider-Man" fan base already maxed out domestically, Sony made a strategic move to grow the brand around the world by hosting several star-studded international red carpet premieres and opening the film in most countries days ahead of the United States leading to a substantial increase in moviegoer excitement in all markets. "Spider-Man 3" still stands a very good chance of becoming the biggest grossing film of the trilogy on a global scale with the North American shortfall being overshadowed by gains overseas. With a reported production budget of $258M, the super hero film should surpass the $900M mark worldwide this summer.

Flesh-eating zombies took control of second place this weekend as the horror sequel "28 Weeks Later" opened with an estimated $10M representing a solid, but somewhat weaker-than-expected debut. The R-rated gorefest averaged a decent $4,342 from 2,303 playdates and delivered a gross almost equal to the $10.1M that "28 Days Later" achieved in its opening frame in June 2003. That sleeper hit bowed in a thousand fewer locations with 1,260 theaters and scored a more potent $7,986 average. Adjust for four years of ticket price increases and "Weeks" generated an opening weekend average half that of "Days." The new chapter earned very high praise from most critics, but being the fourteenth horror film of 2007 probably hurt its cause as many genre fans have overdosed on frightfests. If the estimate holds (Fox estimated a rather slim 26% Saturday-to-Sunday drop), "Weeks" will become the first non-Spidey film to reach double digits on opening weekend since "Fracture" from mid-April.

The star-driven chick flick "Georgia Rule" was dead on arrival at the box office debuting to an estimated $5.9M from 2,523 theaters for a flimsy $2,330 average. The R-rated film stars Lindsay Lohan as a rebellious teen left with her no-nonsense grandmother (Jane Fonda) for the summer. Felicity Huffman plays the alcoholic middle mom in the family. "Georgia" played more to the Fonda crowd than to the Lohan audience. Studio research from Universal showed that a whopping 81% of the turnout was female, 79% was white, and 70% was over the age of 30.

"Georgia Rule" imploded at the box office since it repelled its two main consumer groups. Older women pay attention to reviews and critics were brutal in reviewing the dramedy. And younger teen girls who track Lohan obsessively couldn’t get in thanks to the harsh R rating. The opening was less than half the amount that the studio saw earlier this year when it targeted the same audience with the same number of theaters with the Diane KeatonMandy Moore pic "Becasue I Said So" which bowed to $13.1M over Super Bowl weekend. The Fonda flick was released over the Mother’s Day frame, but most daughters chose to give their moms the gift of not seeing "Georgia Rule."

Paramount’s hit teen thriller "Disturbia" enjoyed the best legs in the top ten dipping only 18% to an estimated $4.8M. Although in its fifth weekend, the Shia LaBeouf hit has the second largest theater count of any film and is playing in 3,106 locations that are still holding onto the durable thriller. Cume to date is $66.3M.

The military comedy "Delta Farce" bombed in its opening weekend grossing only $3.5M, according to estimates, landing in fifth place. The PG-13 pic averaged a dismal $1,813 from 1,931 locations for Lionsgate. Reviews were understandably pitiful.

New Line’s Anthony HopkinsRyan Gosling drama "Fracture" dipped only 22% to an estimated $2.9M in its fourth frame and upped its cume to $31M. The horror flick "The Invisible" dropped to seventh with an estimated $2.2M, down 33%, for a $15.5M total.

Sliding only 25% in its third round was the action-comedy "Hot Fuzz" with an estimated $1.7M for Focus putting the sum at $18.9M. Nicolas Cage followed with his sci-fi flop "Next" which took in an estimated $1.6M, down 45%, for a total of $14.6M. Rounding out the top ten with an estimated $1.6M as well was the Disney animated hit "Meet the Robinsons" which fell 39% for a sturdy $94.1M cume. The 3D comedy will enjoy its status as the year’s top-grossing toon for just one more week since "Shrek the Third," which opens on Friday, could march past it after only one weekend in theaters.

Debuting with miserable results outside of the top ten was the Zach BraffAmanda Peet comedy "The Ex" which opened to an estimated $1.3M from 1,009 locations for a pathetic $1,288 average. The PG-13 date flick was released by MGM and earned poor reviews. With "The Ex," Hollywood has now seen a disturbing twelve wide releases over the last eight weeks fail to open to at least $5M. Numerous movies with little to offer paying moviegoers are being slaughtered in an overcrowded marketplace.

Three star-driven vehicles dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Will Ferrell’s blockbuster comedy "Blades of Glory" grossed an estimated $1.4M in its seventh lap and boosted its cume to $113.8M. Off 41%, the $60M-plus DreamWorks/Paramount pic looks to skate to a $116-118M finish. Ice Cube’s comedy sequel "Are We Done Yet?" fell 46% to an estimated $950,000 giving Sony $47.4M to date. The family film looks to end with just under $50M putting it 40% behind its predecessor "Are We There Yet?" which pulled in $82.3M two years ago. Warner Bros. has collected a measly $5M in ten days for its Eric BanaDrew Barrymore poker pic "Lucky You" and will probably fold with an embarrassing $7M.

Arthouse darling "Waitress" starring Keri Russell expanded successfully in its second weekend serving up an estimated $636,000 from 65 sites for a solid $9,788 average. Fox Searchlight widened the acclaimed film from just four locations last weekend and pushed its cume to $788,000. A special Mother’s Day gift bag promotion across the country is expected to strengthen Sunday sales. This Friday, the comedy expands in its existing markets adding 57 theaters and on May 25 it will widen to 400-500 total theaters nationwide for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $94.1M which was up 16% from last year when "Mission: Impossible III" stayed at number one with $25M; and up a scant 3% from 2005 when "Monster-in-Law" debuted on top with just $23.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

In the battle of the single-word-titled thrillers, "Fracture" beat out "Vacancy" but neither could dislodge "Disturbia" from the number one spot this weeend. It was mostly a sluggish frame at the North American box office as the top ten slumped to its third worst level of 2007.

The courtroom thriller "Fracture" and the action-comedy "Hot Fuzz" both opened to respectable results while the horror pic "Vacancy" and the drama "In the Land of Women" generated little excitement.

Shia LaBeouf enjoyed his first back-to-back stint in the top spot with the suspense hit "Disturbia" which held up well in its sophomore frame grossing an estimated $13.5M. Off only 39%, the Paramount release of a DreamWorks production averaged a solid $4,464 from 3,015 sites. Teen-oriented thrillers typically fall by more than 50% on the second session. Produced for a mere $23M, "Disturbia" has grossed an impressive $40.7M in its first ten days and could be headed for a $65-70M finish.

Leading the weekend’s crop of new movies was the murder thriller "Fracture" as ticket buyers spent an estimated $11.2M watching Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling go at it. The R-rated film from New Line averaged a solid $4,574 per theater from 2,443 sites. Reviews were mostly good which helped since the film skewed to a mature adult audience.

Will Ferrell scored the third $100M blockbuster of his career, and second in nine months, with "Blades of Glory" which ranked third in its fourth weekend with an estimated $7.8M. Down 44%, the Paramount title is still the widest release in the marketplace with 3,459 locations and the cume has hit $101.1M. The comedy star’s other trips to the century club in a lead role were with 2003’s "Elf" ($173.4M) and last summer’s "Talladega Nights" ($148M).

Opening weaker than expected in the fourth slot was the horror entry "Vacancy" with only $7.6M, according to estimates. The R-rated pic about a couple stranded in a motel where videotaped killings take place averaged a mild $2,979 from 2,551 playdates. Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale star in the Sony release. Fright fatigue may have hurt "Vacancy"’s opening as the $19M-budgeted film was the fourth scary flick this month to be aimed at moviegoers. Young adults made up most of the audience as studio research showed that 66% of the crowd was under the age of 25 and 52% was female. "Disturbia"’s better-than-expected hold also made an impact.

Disney followed in fifth with the animated hit "Meet the Robinsons" which grossed an estimated $7.1M in its fourth frame, down 43%, for a total of $82.2M.

Shooting up the best average among all wide releases in the marketplace was the new British action-comedy "Hot Fuzz" which premiered to an estimated $5.8M from 825 theaters for a potent $7,075 per venue. The R-rated buddy cop flick from the creative team behind 2004’s cult hit "Shaun of the Dead" earned glowing reviews and tapped into a built-in audience of fans. "Fuzz" outgunned "Shaun" in all ways beating the latter’s September 2004 bow which delivered $3.3M from 607 theaters for a $5,487 average. Produced for $16M, "Hot Fuzz" has already grossed an impressive $48.5M overseas including $41M from the United Kingdom.

The Ice Cube comedy sequel "Are We Done Yet?" dropped two spots to seventh with an estimated $5.2M in its third weekend. Sony’s family pic fell 42% and raised its sum to $39.6M.

Close behind in eighth was the new chick flick "In the Land of Women" which opened poorly with an estimated $4.9M from 2,155 theaters. Averaging a weak $2,281 per location, the PG-13 film stars Adam Brody as a young man who meets a houseful of women when caring for his sick grandmother. "Women" was the fifth wide opener of the past two weeks to fail to reach a $3,000 average in its debut frame.

Rounding out the top ten were two films that that have been showing how differently starpower can affect the box office. The Halle BerryBruce Willis thriller "Perfect Stranger" collapsed in its second weekend and tumbled 63% to an estimated $4.1M. With only $18.1M locked up in ten days, Sony should find its way to roughly $25M followed by a quick trip to DVD. On the other hand, Buena Vista’s blockbuster comedy "Wild Hogs" starring Tim Allen and John Travolta remained in the top ten for the eighth consecutive weekend with an estimated $2.9M, off 39%, boosting the cume to $156.2M. It is the highest-grossing non-Spartan film of the year.

Four films fell out of the top ten this weekend. The year’s biggest smash "300" dropped 49% to an estimated $2.3M in its seventh adventure and lifted its staggering domestic total to $204.7M. Budgeted at only $60M, the stylish war epic should end its North American run with an amazing $207-210M. That would amount to nearly three times its opening weekend gross which is rare these days for effects-driven action films that debut with monster bows. "300"’s legs have been strong overseas too where it has tallied $216.8M for a mammoth global gross of $421M and counting.

Other R-rated films suffered horrendous drops as they tumbled out of the top ten. Losing two-thirds of its audience was Fox’s adventure "Pathfinder" which grossed an estimated $1.7M in its second weekend. The Viking pic has collected a puny $8M in ten days and looks headed for a wimpy $10M finish. Maybe casting some Spartans would have helped.

Hilary Swank’s horrorfest "The Reaping" grossed an estimated $1.6M, down 65%, boosting the mild cume to $22.7M. The $53M double feature "Grindhouse" crashed 68% in its third try and took in an estimated $1.4M putting its 17-day take at $22.7M as well. Both films should end up in the $25M vicinity.

Miramax expanded its Richard Gere drama "The Hoax" from 413 to 1,069 theaters but saw weekend sales slip 11% to an estimated $1.3M. The average was diluted down to a poor $1,216 as the cume inched up to only $5.1M.

In limited release, Paramount Vantage widened its Molly Shannon pic "Year of the Dog" from seven to 33 sites and grossed an estimated $139,000 for a $4,200 average. Cume sits at $280,000 with more cities being added this Friday. Fox Searchlight’s "The Namesake" collected an estimated $765,000 from 327 locations in its seventh weekend averaging $2,339 for a cume of $9.8M to date.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $70.1M which was down an unsettling 26% from last year when "Silent Hill" opened at number one with $20.2M; and off 10% from 2005 when "The Interpreter" debuted on top with $22.8M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Paramount replaced itself at the top of the North American box office chart as its new teen thriller "Disturbia" opened ahead of expectations in first place bumping the studio’s two-week champ "Blades of Glory" into the runnerup spot.

The weekend’s other new suspense thriller "Perfect Stranger" starring Halle Berry and Bruce Willis disappointed and landed in fourth place. Four other new films debuted in wide release but generated little interest from moviegoers. Overall, the marketplace suffered the usual late spring slowdown as for the first time since February, the top ten failed to sell $100M worth of tickets.

Rising star Shia LaBeouf scored a big victory over the weekend with the thriller "Disturbia" which shot straight to number one debuting with an estimated $23M. The PG-13 pic was given the widest release of the frame’s six new entries playing in 2,925 theaters and generated a strong $7,872 average. A modern day version of Alfred Hitchcock’s "Rear Window," Disturbia played to a young female audience as studio research showed that 57% of the crowd was female and 75% was under 35.

Just before the film’s opening day, the studio announced that LaBeouf had been cast opposite Harrison Ford in its next "Indiana Jones" film. The news may have helped to generate more excitement for Disturbia which was the only major choice for teenage girls this weekend. The safe rating and fairly good reviews may also have contributed. The $20M production looks to become a profitable vehicle.

After its two-week run at the top, Will Ferrell’s comedy hit "Blades of Glory" slipped to second place dropping a moderate 38% to an estimated $14.1M. The 17-day cume stands at a potent $90.2M. Like "Disturbia," "Blades" was produced by DreamWorks and distributed by its new parent Paramount.

Slipping only 28% was Disney’s animated comedy "Meet the Robinsons" with an estimated $12.1M which lifted the total to $72M. With no new films for young kids this weekend, "Robinsons" enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten.

Halle Berry and Bruce Willis failed to turn their starpower into box office bucks as their new suspense thriller "Perfect Stranger" debuted weaker than expected in fourth place with an estimated $11.5M. The critically-panned Sony release averaged a mediocre $4,322 from 2,661 theaters. With its R rating, "Perfect Stranger" played to an adult audience with a female skew. Studio research showed that women made up 54% of the audience and a very high 70% were 25 or older. The opening was weaker than the bows of other films headlined by Berry like "Catwoman" ($16.7M) and "Gothika" ($19.3M).

Ice Cube had a decent second weekend for his comedy sequel "Are We Done Yet?" which fell by 36% to an estimated $9.2M. That gave the Sony release a cume of $33M after 12 days. Its predecessor enjoyed a much slimmer 12% dip to $16.3M in its second weekend on its way to $82.3M. "Done" might find its way to the vicinity of $55M.

Fox’s Viking actioner "Pathfinder" limped into sixth place with a weak $4.8M opening, according to estimates. The R-rated film averaged a mild $2,791 from 1,720 locations.

The rest of the top ten was filled with four films separated by only $400,000. Buena Vista’s motorcycle comedy "Wild Hogs" grossed an estimated $4.6M, down only 30%, for a stellar cume of $152.2M. Hilary Swank’s horror flick "The Reaping" tumbled 55% in its second weekend to an estimated $4.6M giving Warner Bros. $19.8M in 11 days.

The mighty "300" broke through the double century mark over the weekend both domestically and internationally. In North America, the Warner Bros. smash dropped 48% to an estimated $4.3M boosting the total to $200.8M. Overseas, "300" collected an estimated $14.8M this weekend to lift the international haul to $204.1M giving the Spartan epic a global tally of $405M and counting. The stylish war film is now the highest grossing March release ever having surpassed the old record holder "Ice Age: The Meltdown" which grossed $195.3M last spring.

Rounding out the top ten was the Quentin TarantinoRobert Rodriguez flop "Grindhouse" which plunged 63% in its sophomore session to an estimated $4.2M. Budgeted at $53M, the double feature has taken in just $19.7M in its first ten days and looks headed for a weak $25-27M finish for The Weinstein Co.

In addition to the three new wide releases that debuted in the top ten, another three opened outside of it with weaker results. The car racing pic "Redline" bowed to an estimated $4M from 1,607 sites for a slow $2,492 average per theater. The first title from rookie distributor Chicago Pictures stars Eddie Griffin and targeted young males.

First Look opened the animated film "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" to the tune of $3.1M, according to estimates, giving the R-rated film an average of just $3,521 from 877 locations. Lionsgate made no impact with its Ray Liotta actioner "Slow Burn" which bowed to an estimated $805,000 from 1,163 playdates for a puny average of $692 per theater.

Three films fell out of the top ten this weekend. Mark Wahlberg’s sniper pic "Shooter" dropped 47% to an estimated $3.1M putting its total at $42.1M. The $60M Paramount release should end its run with $47-49M. Fox’s family film "Firehouse Dog" held up well in its second weekend, despite collecting low overall grosses. The PG-rated drama dipped 28% to an estimated $2.8M for a cume of $9.9M after 12 days. Warner Bros. took in an estimated $2.1M for the animated actioner "TMNT," off 56%, for a total of $50.7M. Look for a $53-55M final.

Platforming to solid results was the Molly Shannon comedy "Year of the Dog" which bowed in seven New York and Los Angeles sites and grossed an estimated $112,000. The Paramount Vantage release averaged $16,049 and will open in nine additional cities this Friday boosting its theater count to more than 30.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $92.5M which was down 14% from last year when Scary Movie 4 opened at number one with $40.2M; but up 29% from 2005 when The Amityville Horror debuted on top with $23.5M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This weekend Hollywood just doesn’t know its limits. Six new releases will jam into an already crowded marketplace on Friday trying to connect with spring moviegoers.

That makes for a whopping 20 new films over a four-week ultracompetitive period. This weekend’s ticket buyers will not have enough time or money to see them all, especially in a relatively weak playing period like mid-April. Friday the 13th may indeed be a terrifying day for the accountants behind some of these freshman flicks.

Call it "Catwoman" vs. "Hudson Hawk." Sony unleashes its latest star-driven thriller "Perfect Stranger" which finds Halle Berry playing an investigative reporter following an ad mogul (Bruce Willis) who may have killed her friend. The R-rated pic boasts the most star wattage of any new film this weekend and that will mean something at the cash registers. The actor combo is unique, appealing, and diverse enough to bring in two different audiences which is always good for business. Poor reviews probably won’t mean too much to the box office. Sony’s marketing push has been commendable and with Spartans, Ninja Turtles, and figure skaters ruling the charts over the last five weeks, many moviegoers will be ready to shift over to this type of film. "Perfect Stranger" invades 2,661 theaters and stands a chance of hitting number one with around $15M.


"At least ‘Hudson Hawk’ didn’t make RT’s ‘Worst of the Worst’ list."

Paramount counters with its own thriller this Friday the 13th with "Disturbia." With a more teen-friendly PG-13 rating, the pic tells the tale of a young man under house arrest who suspects that his neighbor is a serial killer. Shia LaBeouf, Carrie-Anne Moss, and David Morse make up the cast so clearly the film is not being sold on its starpower. "Perfect Stranger" will provide some healthy competition as those looking for a scare, and are 17 or older, will find Berry and Willis worth paying money for. But young teens that have already skated with Will Ferrell may look here for their weekly escape to the movies. Entering about 2,500 theaters, "Disturbia" could scare up around $10M over the weekend.


Yet another Shia LaBeouf movie.

Rookie distributor Chicago Releasing drives into theaters with its maiden film "Redline," an action drama about bored rich kids who drag race for fun. The PG-13 film is being aimed at teenage boys and young men with action-packed commercials and trailers full of hot cars and hotter babes. Eddie Griffin is the only major star in this vehicle so only those who really crave another "Fast and the Furious" flick will make it out. But in a weekend when most new films have been slapped with an R, this one could carve out a small audience of teens. Racing into about 2,000 theaters, "Redline" might finish with roughly $7M this weekend.


No word yet how many expensive cars Eddie Griffin wrecks in "Redline."

With all the films thrown into theaters this year, nobody has offered up a handy dandy Viking flick. That changes this weekend with the action-adventure "Pathfinder," an R-rated pic that looks at a young man’s battle against Norse invaders in North America centuries ago. Following the runaway success of "300," it’s no surprise that Fox is marketing "Pathfinder" as a historical war epic based on a graphic novel. But this new film has nothing on Leonidas and pals. The Viking subject matter is not interesting, the marketing push has been weak, and lead actor Karl Urban is no commercial draw. Attacking 1,720 theaters, "Pathfinder" might find only $5M on opening weekend.


Just one of many decapitations in "Pathfinder."

Lionsgate goes after an adult audience with its new crime drama "Slow Burn" which stars Ray Liotta, LL Cool J, and Taye Diggs. The R-rated film about a district attorney whose colleague gets tied up in a murder case will go out in a moderate wide release with only a mild marketing push behind it. The starpower is not strong enough to attract a sizable crowd and there is little buzz among movie fans. Opening in 1,163 locations, "Slow Burn" could die a quick death at the multiplexes with a $4M bow.


"Slow Burn": Expected to experience a quick death.

In a world overstuffed with animated films, First Look Pictures turns the tables and aims at adults with the R-rated toon "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters." Based on the animated series on Cartoon Network, the pic is trying to follow in the footsteps of "Borat" by taking a TV property with a cult following and making a long-titled feature film that pushes the envelope. Even the term ‘Movie Film’ seems taken from the Kazakh journalist. "Aqua Teen" scored some extra publicity with its marketing debacle in Boston several weeks ago, however that will not give the film more mainstream appeal. Only the die hard "Aqua" fans are likely to come out here. Competition is stiff this weekend and with the fewest theaters of the six pack of new flicks, this one could get left behind. Landing in over 800 locations, "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" may collect approximately $4M over three days.


"Only 23 more installments of $59.95 to go!"

After back to back wins atop the box office charts, "Blades of Glory" will face a fierce challenge this weekend from the new releases. Few have the starpower that the Will Ferrell comedy packs and last weekend’s strong hold suggests that crowds are being pleased. A 35% fall would give "Blades" $14M for the weekend and $89M in 17 days.

"Meet the Robinsons" and "Are We Done Yet?" have no new competition for the family audience so respectable holds are likely here as well. A 35% drop would give the Disney toon about $11M for a 17-day tally of $70M while a 40% decline for the Ice Cube sequel would give Sony around $9M for the sophomore frame and $33M after 12 days.

LAST YEAR Easter weekend saw the arrival of "Scary Movie 4" which commanded a powerful opening grossing $40.2M in its debut. It was the second largest opening in the spoof comedy series and went on to capture $90.7M for The Weinstein Co. The animated blockbuster "Ice Age: The Meltdown" dropped to second place with a still-potent $20M in its third frame followed by the sports comedy "The Benchwarmers" with $9.9M. Disney saw a disappointing debut in fourth with the animated film "The Wild" which took in just $9.7M on its way to $37.4M. "Take the Lead" rounded out the top five with $6.8M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Will Ferrell and Jon Heder skated to another gold medal victory over the Easter holiday as the comedy "Blades of Glory" remained atop the charts despite the arrival of a handful of new pictures. The Quentin TarantinoRobert Rodriguez experiment "Grindhouse" opened well below expectations and finished with disappointing results in fourth place.

Overall, moviegoers were in the mood for existing films as the top five holdovers all dipped by less than 33%. The top ten delivered more than $100M in ticket sales for the sixth consecutive frame giving the marketplace continued strength.

Comedy was king of the box office once again as "Blades of Glory" grossed an estimated $23M in its second weekend slipping only 30%. The Paramount release has now laughed up an impressive $68.4M in just ten days and looks headed north of $120M. The gross was slightly bigger than the $22.1M sophomore weekend take of Ferrell’s last hit "Talladega Nights" which tumbled by a larger 53% in its second lap last summer. With no major comedy competition this month, "Blades" should continue to pull in healthy numbers in the weeks ahead.

Also holding up well in its second weekend was Disney’s animated pic "Meet the Robinsons" with an estimated $17M, off 32%. Still attracting solid business from its 3D engagements, the G-rated toon has banked a solid $52.2M in its first ten days and is also hoping to join the century club.

Leading the crop of new flicks was the Ice Cube comedy "Are We Done Yet?" with an estimated $15M for a third place finish. The Sony followup to the 2005 sleeper hit "Are We There Yet?" averaged a solid $5,214 from 2,877 sites and has grossed $19.1M since opening on Wednesday. "Done"’s extended five-day opening was similar to "There"’s three-day bow of $18.6M from January 2005. That film went on to collect $82.3M and still stands as Cube’s top-grossing picture ever. Like the first one, the PG-rated Done played primarily to a family audience.

The weekend’s big shocker was the violent two-for-one pic "Grindhouse" which debuted in fourth place with an estimate of only $11.6M. The three-hour-plus homage to the B movies of the 1970s averaged a decent $4,417 from 2,624 locations but did not come close to the opening weekend tallies of previous films from directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. The long running time for the $53M production forced theaters to offer fewer showtimes and a lack of female appeal may also have contributed to the less-than-stellar bow. Openings for other R-rated offerings from the maverick filmmakers include $29.1M for Rodriguez’s "Sin City" and $22.1M and $25.1M for Tarantino’s "Kill Bill" installments. Reviews for "Grindhouse" were very positive but The Weinstein Co. may not find much long-term success as most fans of the directors probably planned to see it sooner rather than later.

Hillary Swank’s new horror flick "The Reaping" came in fifth place in its debut grossing an estimated $10.1M from 2,603 locations for a moderate $3,872 average. The R-rated tale of a scientist investigating supernatural occurances in a small Louisiana town launched on Thursday and scared up $12M over four days. "The Reaping" also took off in 16 international markets and grossed an estimated $7.1M overseas.

The year’s biggest blockbuster "300" followed in sixth place with an estimated $8.8M in its fifth battle, down just 23%, lifting the overall domestic haul to $193.9M. Overseas, the Spartan smash pulled in another $32M over the weekend boosting the international total to $173M and the global gross to a stunning $367M. "Wild Hogs," the second largest hit of 2007, dipped 21% to an estimated $6.8M giving Buena Vista a fantastic $145.5M to date.

Dropping to eighth was Mark Wahlberg’s action pic Shooter with an estimated $5.8M, off 31%, for a cume of $36.7M. Falling 47% to an estimated $4.9M was the Warner Bros. toon "TMNT" which put its total at $46.7M thus far.

Fox’s family drama "Firehouse Dog" opened in tenth place with dismal results grossing an estimated $4M from 2,860 theaters. Averaging a weak $1,399, the PG-rated film about a boy and his celebrity pooch bowed on Wednesday and collected $5.3M over five days. With so many other films courting the family crowd over Easter weekend, "Dog" was completely overlooked.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $107.1M which was dead even with last year’s Easter frame when "Scary Movie 4" opened at number one with $40.2M; but up 23% from 2005’s holiday in March when "Guess Who" debuted on top with $20.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Easter weekend sees four new wide releases hopping into the marketplace aiming to give the spring box office a boost.

Action audiences get The Weinstein Company’s two-for-the-price-of-one special "Grindhouse" while horror fans go for a scare with the religious-themed fright flick "The Reaping" starring Hilary Swank which opens on Thursday. Wednesday saw two competing family films bow – the Ice Cube sequel "Are We Done Yet?" and the pooch pic "Firehouse Dog." With Good Friday being a holiday for many, three-day numbers should reach healthy levels.

Moviegoers with three hours to kill and a love of death and destruction will line up for "Grindhouse," a double feature with separate films directed by indie heroes Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. The R-rated pic includes the former’s road actioner "Death Proof" starring Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson and Rose McGowan while the latter’s zombie flick "Planet Terror" stars McGowan and Freddy Rodriguez. Clearly the primary business will come from the young male fan base that Tarantino and Rodriguez hold dearly. Since there is so much overlap here, the grosses may not grow beyond what they’ve seen with previous hits.

"Grindhouse" has had some flashy marketing which is successfully generating interest. Plus there is starpower behind the cameras. Add in the two-for-one novelty item and the press tour that the cast and directors are on and it’s clear to see that a strong opening weekend will result. Debuts for similar ultraviolent R-rated films from the helmers include $22.1M for 2003’s "Kill Bill Vol. 1," $25.1M for the folowing year’s "Kill Bill Vol. 2," and $29.1M for 2005’s "Sin City." But cutting into "Grindhouse"’s potential will be its length which will force each screen to offer one less showtime per day compared to conventional two-hour films. Reviews have been very positive so the pic may reach a little beyond its core crowd of fan boys. Entering 2,624 theaters on Friday, "Grindhouse" could deliver an opening weekend gross of around $25M.


"Grindhouse"

Following in the footsteps of Jim Carrey and Sandra Bullock from earlier this year, Hilary Swank gives it a go in the world of horror with the new religious-themed chiller "The Reaping." The R-rated film finds the two-time Oscar winner playing a scientist called in to investigate mysterious occurances in a small Louisiana town where locals believe Biblical devastation is on its way. Horror flicks with religious storylines usually connect with audiences and with "The Reaping" timed for an Easter weekend launch, a sizable four-day start is likely. The thriller should skew a bit more female given the protagonist while age-wise, the appeal seems broader than just older teens and young adults.

With the Thursday debut, Warner Bros. is looking to take advantage of the Good Friday holiday which will make Thursday night at the multiplexes seem like a Friday night. A Wednesday bow, which is common for this particular weekend, would have been more risky as bad word-of-mouth from opening day ticket buyers who return to work or school on Thursday would dampen weekend sales. Reviews have not been too pleasant, but the studio deserves credit for actually holding press screenings which nowadays is rare for a horror film. With "Premonition" and "The Hills Have Eyes 2" both fading away into the low single-digit millions this weekend, "The Reaping" is ready to cater to those in the market for a good scare. Warner Bros. attacks 2,501 theaters on Thursday and increases the run to 2,603 on Friday and could register an opening weekend of roughly $14M and $17M over four days.


Hilary Swank in "The Reaping."

Rapper-turned-actor Ice Cube conquered the kiddie movie box office two years ago with the surprise hit "Are We There Yet?" which grossed $82.3M becoming the star’s biggest career hit. For the sequel "Are We Done Yet?," Sony has replaced the road comedy element with a story about a family facing all kinds of obstacles fixing up their new house. There debuted to a solid $18.6M in January 2005 against almost no competition for family audiences. "Done" feels like the same dish served up again and has not really excited its target audience. Plus there is much more competition for it to deal with in the marketplace, notably Disney’s "Meet the Robinsons" which offers fresh new entertainment. Cube probably won’t see the same success the second time around but at least the grosses won’t tumble 82% the way they did when he took control of the "XXX" sequel. Now playing in 2,877 theaters, "Are We Done Yet?" could collect about $13M over three days and $16M over five days.


Ice Cube in "Are We Done Yet?"

Families not in the mood for some fun with Ice Cube get to try out the boy-and-his-dog drama "Firehouse Dog" from Fox. The PG-rated pic about a celebrity hound that gets lost and later rescued by a firefighting team lacks the starpower and marketing muscle needed to deliver a strong opening. Between "Are We Done Yet?," "Meet the Robinsons," and even "TMNT," kids have enough choices this Easter weekend and will probably wait for "Firehouse Dog" on DVD. Bowing in 2,566 sites, the family film could open with about $7M over three days and $9M over five days.


"Firehouse Dog"

Among holdovers, the Will Ferrell comedy "Blades of Glory" looks to lose its spot at the top of the box office, but should still deliver a solid sophomore spin. The comedian’s summer hits "Talladega Nights" and "Anchorman" both dropped by more than 50% in their second weekends. "Blades" has the Good Friday holiday to help soften the blow a bit. A 45% decline would give Paramount about $18M for the frame and a solid $61M after ten days.

Disney’s "Meet the Robinsons" also got off to a strong start last weekend, but will face stiff competition for families from both "Are We Done Yet?" and "Firehouse Dog." The 3D toon could slide 35% to around $16M for a ten-day cume of nearly $50M. The ultraviolent war film "300" may fall by 45% to $6M and lift its impressive haul to $190M. The worldwide tally should blast past $350M this weekend.

LAST YEAR: Still ranking number one with ease was the animated smash "Ice Age: The Meltdown" with $33.8M despite losing half of its opening weekend sales. Debuting in second was the Rob Schneider sports comedy "The Benchwarmers" with $19.7M on its way to $57.7M for Sony. New Line’s dance pic "Take the Lead" opened in third with $12.1M before finishing off with $34.7M. The Denzel WashingtonJodie Foster actioner "Inside Man" followed with $9.1M in its third heist. Rounding out the top five was another action thriller "Lucky Number Slevin" with a $7M bow on its way to $22.5M for The Weinstein Co. The Fox Searchlight comedy "Phat Girlz" flopped in ninth with just $3.1M before getting yanked with only $7.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies, we’ve got sleaze (Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’ "Grindhouse," starring Kurt Russell and Rose McGowan), fixer-uppers ("Are We Done Yet?," starring Ice Cube), plagues ("The Reaping," starring Hilary Swank), and pooches ("Firehouse Dog"). What do the critics have to say?

Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have made careers of turning trashy material into cinematic treasure. And just like the good old days of the drive-in double feature, critics say "Grindhouse" is two schlocky treats for the price of one, albeit made with a greater level of skill than the old school-sleazemeisters. Rodriguez’ "Planet Terror," starring Rose McGowan and Freddy Rodriguez, tells the tale of a gas that threatens to turn the world’s population into zombies, and Tarantino’s "Death Proof" stars Kurt Russell as a killer stuntman. The critics say "Grindhouse" delivers an exhilarating platter of exploitation style with wit and panache, and its makers improve upon their source material with their feral intelligence. At 87 percent on the Tomatometer, the Certified Fresh "Grindhouse" is a trashy delight. (For more on the history of exploitation cinema, check out RT’s "Grindhouse A to Z" feature.)


Two of a grind.

Ice Cube once rapped, "I’m scarin ya, wanted by America." If "Are We Done Yet?" is any indication, those days are long gone — and critics say that’s not a good thing. "Are We Done Yet?" is not only a sequel to 2005’s poorly reviewed "Are We There Yet?," it’s also a loose remake of the Cary GrantMyrna Loy comedy "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House." The author of "Parental Discretion Iz Advised" plays a family man fixing up a money pit in the suburbs, and his wonderfully expressive scowl is reserved for shoddy construction and an unhinged contractor. The pundits say the film is way too safe, featuring generic slapstick and amiable but uninspired domestic foibles. At 10 percent on the Tomatometer, "Are We Done Yet?" may be aptly titled.


"No more buffets, okay?"

The latest in a storied line of cinematic Fidos, "Firehouse Dog" at least gets points for originality: it features an undercover movie-star pooch that rides skateboards and does laundry. The movie tells the tale of Rexxx, an Irish terrier who’s a hairpiece-wearing, overly pampered canine thespian who accidentally gets dumped in a small town and is adopted by, yep, the local firehouse. The "Doc Hollywood"-esque plot has promise, and some say "Firehouse Dog" is warm enough to please the little ones. But the majority of critics say the movie ruins it with endless fart and poop jokes, and an overlong run time. At 37 percent Tomatometer, this one’s strictly for the dogs.


You’re the man now, dawg!

Why, oh why, ask critics, if the Bible is so loaded with action, suspense, and miracles, have the recent glut of religious-themed dramas been so gosh-darned dull? The latest in Good Book-inspired mediocrity is "The Reaping," starring Hilary Swank as a faithless former missionary who travels the country disproving religious phenomena. But when she comes across a series of plagues in a small Louisiana town, her adherence to science is sorely tested as she tries to save the community. Critics say "The Reaping" is schlocky, spiritually shallow, and wasteful of a grade-A cast that includes David Morrissey, AnnaSophia Robb, Stephen Rea, and Idris Elba (aka Stringer Bell on "The Wire"). At six percent on the Tomatometer, "The Reaping" is an unholy mess.


"So who wants to try my jambalaya?"

Also opening this week in limited release: "The Hoax," starring Richard Gere in the true story of biography-forging Clifford Irving, is at 89 percent on the Tomatometer; "Black Book," Paul Verhoeven’s epic about a beautiful Dutch resistance fighter in WWII, is Certified Fresh at 75 percent; "The TV Set," a satire of prime time television starring David Duchovny and Sigourney Weaver, is at 60 percent; and "Whole New Thing," the story of a teenager and his crush on his English teacher, is at 44 percent.


"How ’bout we just shut down production and throw on a Mama’s Family rerun?"

Quentin Tarantino Films:
———————————
85% — Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)
84% — Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
84% — Jackie Brown (1998)
96% — Pulp Fiction (1994)
95% — Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Recent Robert Rodriguez Films:
—————————————
77% — Sin City (2005)
19% — The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D (2005)
45% — Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003)
68% — Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)
75% — Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (2001)

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