(Photo by Lionsgate courtesy Everett Collection)
Once, during a long-ago era called The ’80s, Hollywood action heroes roamed the Earth with bulging biceps and names like Sly, Arnold, and Bruce. With a limitless supply of weapons and wisecracks, they saved the world countless times, only to be exiled to the land of Direct-to-Video for their trouble, where they wandered lost throughout the ’90s and much of the aughts. But they’re fighting their way back from extinction, thanks in large part to the tenacious efforts of steely-eyed roughnecks like Jason Statham, the veteran of latter-day genre classics like Crank, The Bank Job, and recent Fast and Furious sequels and spinoffs, who rose to stardom on the strength of his appearances in Guy Ritchie‘s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. To celebrate his bravery in the face of indie dramas and romantic comedies, we’ve rounded up all of his major roles to offer a comprehensive look back at all Jason Statham movies, sorted by Tomatometer.
It’s not just Death Race that boasts a cameo from legend David Carradine. According to star Jason Statham, speaking to RT this week ahead of the UK release of Death Race, the action superstar let slip that Carradine would appear in Crank 2: High Voltage as well.
“We’ve got David Carradine in the film,” Statham told RT, “and he plays a character called ‘Puon Dong,’ who’s this really mad Asian Mafia guy.”
Carradine’s star has been on the ascendant once again since his appearance as the titular assassination victim in Quentin Tarantino‘s double dose of revenge, Kill Bill. But from the sounds of things, this role pays homage to his classic role in TV show Kung Fu, in which he played Shaolin priest Kwai Chang Caine.
Crank, which revolved around an injection administered to Statham’s character Chev Chelios that meant he had to keep his heart rate up to avoid death, was one of the craziest and most inventive action flicks of recent years. But its ending was fairly definite. Not so, says Statham, who explains the film’s plot. “Chev Chelios is running around with a plastic heart. They’re farming him for his organs, because he’s the man that cannot die, so they give him an ‘Aviacore,’ a totally artificial heart, and he’s trying to find his heart.
For the actor, the shoot was as entertaining as the script. “Neveldine and Taylor are the nuttiest directors I’ve ever worked for, and I’d repeatedly work for them time and time again, because they’re just so out there.
“Whatever the first one was, this one’s more – just completely rude, offensive and plain mad in every way. It’s great, there’s no movie like it and they’ve exceeded all expectations. To go and do that – balls to the wall – with no worries about trying to tone anything down, or to try to make it believable, you know, it’s just like a video game. There’s nothing more fun to do than to go and make something like that kind of a film, it’s pretty unique.”
Crank 2: High Voltage is currently scheduled for release in the US and the UK on 17th April 2009.
Jason Statham got his big screen break in Guy Ritchie‘s first two films Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, before hitting Hollywood with starring roles in kung-fu film The One with Jet Li, as Frank Martin in The Transporter and in the hugely successful remake of The Italian Job. Jason has become the go-to guy for tough action characters with charm and humour, and has recently wowed critics with starring roles in Crank and The Bank Job, as well as two sequels to The Transporter franchise, and his latest role as Jensen Ames in the retooling of Roger Corman‘s Death Race 2000, Paul W.S. Anderson‘s Death Race.
Were you a fan of the original before you signed on for Death Race?
I was aware of it, but I never actually saw it. I bought the DVD, but its still in the cellophane. I remember sitting down with Paul and I said, “I bought the original.” He said, “Don’t worry; you don’t have to watch it.” The only similarity is that it’s a race to the death and it’s got Machine Gun Joe and Frankenstein – they’re two characters from the original – the rest is more homage. We didn’t get too tied down with trying to nail ourselves to the original. I mean, it’s 30 years ago now.
So there was no chance of it having any influence on how you would play it?
Exactly. He wanted to keep it fresh and not muddy the water, so that’s one of the exact reasons I didn’t watch it.
The cars looked awesome – how were they to drive? Did you get to do much driving yourself?
Yeah we did. They juiced up a couple of the ‘hero’ cars – they’re the ones that aren’t built to such a high extreme level, but one of them was 650 horsepower, and because they’re so heavy – they’d bolted on all these exterior plates, armour plating and all the other shit like the mini-guns – they needed to give it some extra juice so you can throw that thing around. But the vision out of those things is the worst, you know, there’s a little slit in the windscreen, no rear view mirror, no side view mirror, it’s a nightmare in terms of awareness of where your fellow drivers are. There were a lot of collisions, bumps and bangs but still a lot of fun.
We’re big fans of Crank at RT, can you tell us anything about Crank 2? How was it to film?
It was great. Six weeks of madness. Neveldine and Taylor are the nuttiest directors I’ve ever worked for, and I’d repeatedly work for them time and time again, because they’re just so out there.
It’s so offensive. Whatever the first one was, this one’s more – just completely rude, offensive and plain mad in every way. It’s great, there’s no movie like it and they’ve exceeded all expectations. To go and do that – balls to the wall – with no worries about trying to tone anything down, or to try to make it believable, you know, it’s just like a video game. There’s nothing more fun to do than to go and make something like that kind of a film, it’s pretty unique.
Where did you film it all?
It’s all in LA again. We’ve got David Carradine and he plays ‘Puon Dong,’ this really mad Asian Mafia guy, that… well I don’t to give too much of the plot away! It’s got Dwight Yoakam in it again, Amy Smart’s back and there’s a couple of other nuggets that I’m not gonna tell you about, keep those as a surprise. Chev Chelios is running around with a plastic heart. They’re farming him for his organs, because he’s the man that cannot die, so they give him an ‘Aviacore,’ a totally artificial heart, and he’s trying to find his heart. I’m giving too much away now! [laughs] Step back… step back!
Is there any truth in the rumour that you’re appearing in The Sweeney? Were you a fan of the original?
Yeah, I loved The Sweeney. I think Nick Love is a great filmmaker and the fact that Ray Winstone‘s in it – he’s one of my favourite actors and always has been – I’d crawl over broken glass to work with him. But I don’t know what’s happening with it, I don’t know whether they’ve got the script in the right spot that we want it in, so who knows?
Are you excited about Transporter 3 coming out?
Transporter 3 I’m very excited about. I know from what we’ve shot, it has potential to be the best of the three. I’m going to see it next Friday for the first time, so I’ll know a bit more then. There’s a new girl, that Luke literally found on the streets of New York, she’s the new chick. We’ve got Corey Yoen back as the action choreographer, so there’s some great fight sequences, and Frank Martins just doing the same old thing.
A four-pack of fall films from specialty distributors fueled a resurgence at the North American box office led by the caper comedy Burn After Reading from the Coen brothers which made off with the number one spot. Solid bows also greeted Tyler Perry’s newest story The Family That Preys and the Robert De Niro-Al Pacino cop thriller Righteous Kill which landed in second and third, respectively. The female-empowerment pic The Women opened in fourth with lukewarm numbers. The four new titles accounted for a whopping 77% of all money spent on the top ten films. It was also the first time that four September films ever opened to double-digit millions on the same weekend.
Just six months after winning the Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture, Joel and Ethan Coen scored the largest debut of their career and first-ever number one opening with the crime caper Burn After Reading. The R-rated comedy grossed an estimated $19.4M giving Focus Features the biggest debut in company history and its first top spot bow as well. Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, and recent Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton, the ensemble film averaged a terrific $7,320 from 2,651 sites. The previous bests for the Coens came from 2003’s Intolerable Cruelty and 2004’s The Ladykillers which bowed to $12.5M and $12.6M, respectively. Reviews were generally good for Burn which benefitted from starpower, cross-gender appeal, and good will created by their triumphs with No Country For Old Men. The performance also comes as good news for Focus which has struggled since 2005’s Brokeback Mountain.
Tyler Perry scored yet another hit with his latest film The Family That Preys which opened close behind in second with an estimated $18M from 2,070 locations. The Lionsgate release played in the fewest locations of any new pic and its solid $8,705 average was tops among all wide releases. The filmmaker’s loyal fan following came out once again giving Perry his third impressive debut in under a year. Last March, Meet the Browns opened in second place with $20.1M and a $10,011 average while last October saw Why Did I Get Married? premiere to $21.4M and a $10,618 average. Both were Lionsgate titles released in just over 2,000 theaters. The audience was dominated by African American adult women just as with the Atlanta-based director’s previous films. According to studio research, 82% of the crowd was black, 82% was over 25, and 79% was female. Perry returns once again on February 20 with his next comedy, Madea Goes to Jail.
The pairing of screen legends Robert De Niro and Al Pacino led the new action thriller Righteous Kill to a third place debut with an estimated $16.5M in ticket sales. The Overture Films release averaged a solid $5,235 from 3,152 theaters and played to an audience that was not as male-oriented as was expected. In fact, the serial killer drama’s audience was slightly more female (51%) while mature adults led the way as 69% of the crowd was 25 or older. Reviews were not good, but starpower drove the sales as moviegoers wanted to see the first pairing of the two men since Heat which opened to $8.4M in 1995 on its way to $67.4M. Kill differed in that the Oscar-winning actors played partners and actually had numerous scenes together for the first time. Pacino nailed his best opening in a lead role since 2002’s Insomnia ($20.9M) while for De Niro it was his highest since 2005’s Hide and Seek ($22M).
Posting the weakest debut among the frame’s new titles was the remake The Women starring Meg Ryan which bowed to an estimated $10.1M from 2,962 theaters for a mild $3,406 average. Co-starring a long list of actresses such as Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Bette Midler, and Candice Bergen, the PG-13 film attracted harsh reviews from critics. Women is the final film from Picturehouse and only really had strong appeal to one quadrant – females over 25. With the weekend’s other new releases also generating interest with adult women and boasting more male appeal to help bring in couples, the Diane English-directed pic faced intense competition during a time that traditionally sees only so many dollars circulating in the marketplace.
Leading all the holdover pics was Sony’s hit sorority comedy The House Bunny with an estimated $4.3M, off just 22%, for a $42.2M cume. Tropic Thunder followed close behind dropping 42% to an estimated $4.2M raising its total to $103M for Paramount and DreamWorks. It is the 15th summer film to join the century club and was joined by Will Ferrell’s Step Brothers which reached $100.1M on Sunday to become the season’s 16th blockbuster. Journey to the Center of the Earth should become the final film to join the list as it sits at $98M to date.
Dipping only 27%, The Dark Knight continued to draw in audiences in its ninth weekend. The Warner Bros. megahit took in an estimated $4M and pushed its domestic cume to a towering $517.7M. Getting closer to the billion dollar club, the Caped Crusader pulled in an estimated $6.7M overseas this weekend to raise its international tally to $448.9M and its worldwide gross to a stunning $966.6M. The Dark Knight climbed up to number five among all-time worldwide blockbusters in between 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ($970M) and last year’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($961M).
Three star-driven action thrillers rounded out the top ten. Nicolas Cage’s Bangkok Dangerous collapsed in its second weekend tumbling 69% to an estimated $2.4M falling from first to eighth. The Lionsgate release has collected a meager $12.5M in ten days and should finish with only $18M making it one of the actor’s worst-performing action movies ever. The Don Cheadle pic Traitor fell 50% to an estimated $2.1M while Jason Statham’s Death Race fell 46% to an estimated $2M. Totals are $20.7M and $33.2M for Overture and Universal, respectively.
Four films fell out of the top ten over the weekend. Fox’s Vin Diesel actioner Babylon A.D. dropped 58% to an estimated $1.8M for a weak $20.3M total to date. The sci-fi flop should limp to a $24M finish. The runaway hit Mamma Mia! took in an estimated $1.7M, off just 39% in its ninth session, and boosted its North American tally to $139.3M. A final of about $145M seems likely. Universal’s highest-grossing film of the year also shattered the $300M overseas mark with an estimated $17.5M this weekend. That put the amazing international sum at $307M and the global gross at a stellar $446.3M. Produced for $65M, Mamma Mia! will easily take in over $500M at the worldwide box office by the end of its run.
The spoof comedy Disaster Movie dropped 47% to an estimated $1.6M giving Lionsgate just $12.7M thus far. Look for a pitiful $16M by the end of its run. Sony’s stoner hit Pineapple Express took in an estimated $1.1M, off 52%, for a $86M cume. The $27M production should end with a robust $88M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $83.1M which was up 39% from last year when The Brave One opened in the top spot with $13.5M; and up 47% from 2006 when Gridiron Gang debuted at number one with $14.4M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya,
Moviegoers found almost nothing worth paying money for at North American multiplexes as the top ten films at the box office slumped to their lowest gross in five years giving the new fall movie season a disastrous start. Nicolas Cage’s latest thriller Bangkok Dangerous suffered one of the worst action openings ever for the Oscar-winning actor, but thanks to a sluggish marketplace it was good enough to claim first place. Summer holdovers performed relatively well with five pics in the top ten dropping by less than 40%, but most wide releases crawled to averages of less than $2,300 as theaters struggled to find ticket buyers.
Bowing to only $7.8M, according to estimates, Bangkok Dangerous enjoyed a less-than-spectacular number one debut with a lackluster $2,943 average from 2,650 locations. The R-rated hitman pic gave Cage his second worst opening for an action film since becoming a major player in that genre with 1996’s The Rock. Over that twelve-year span, only last year’s Next posted a weaker debut for an action film with just $7.1M and a $2,618 average. Reviews were poor and Lionsgate’s marketing push was moderate at best.
The weekend after Labor Day is typically one of the slowest frames of the year. With students back in school and a new football season starting, studios generally avoid opening any strong films at this time which in turns helps the box office slow down. But this year with a major tropical storm hitting the east coast and election hoopla getting bigger after the political conventions, moviegoing just was not a priority for people. The top ten films grossed a dismal $47.6M making it the worst showing since this very same weekend in 2003 when the top ten stumbled to $46.2M. The Top 20 grossed $59.7M that year and is estimated to reach $61M this weekend. Factor in ticket price increases and less stubs were definitely sold this time around. Final grosses to be reported on Monday will show if this entire frame will come in lower than that sluggish session from five years ago when David Spade’s Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star led the chart with only $6.7M in its debut weekend. Bangkok also delivered the smallest gross for a number one film since Dickie.
Following its three-week rule of the box office, the war comedy Tropic Thunder retreated back to a close second place finish with an estimated $7.5M dipping only 35%. After its fourth weekend, the Paramount release has collected a solid $96.8M and should cross the century mark next weekend. Sony’s comedy The House Bunny climbed up one notch to third with an estimated $5.9M in its third session dipping only 29%. Total stands at $37M.
The Dark Knight dropped only 34% to an estimated $5.7M and raised its amazing North American cume to $512.2M. Overseas, the Warner Bros. sensation raked in an estimated $11.8M boosting the international tally to $437.2M which allowed the worldwide gross to soar to a staggering $949.4M. The Christian Bale-Heath Ledger showdown now sits at number six among all-time global blockbusters sandwiched right between last summer’s megahits Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($961M) and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ($938M).
Don Cheadle’s political thriller Traitor held up well in its second weekend dropping 41% to an estimated $4.7M to push the 12-day tally to $17.7M. The Overture Films release should finish off in the vicinity of $30M. The Vin Diesel actioner Babylon A.D. fell 58% to an estimated $4M for Fox putting the ten-day total at $17.2M. A $25M final should result.
Another macho action pic Death Race followed with an estimated $3.6M, off 43%, giving Universal $29.8M to date. The spoof comedy Disaster Movie slipped 44% in its sophomore session to an estimated $3.3M. Lionsgate has seen just $10.9M in sales and should conclude its run with a mere $19M or so.
Two successful summer comedy leftovers rounded out the top ten. Mamma Mia! eased 36% to an estimated $2.7M boosting the stellar domestic cume to $136.3M allowing it to enter the top ten list of summer blockbusters. Universal’s singing sensation smashed through the $400M worldwide mark this weekend thanks to a stellar international frame that saw an estimated $15M. That was enough to push the overseas sum to $280.1M and the global gross to an eye-popping $416M. Mamma is now Universal’s top-grossing film of the year both domestically and worldwide beating out the studio’s many action offerings like The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Wanted, and The Incredible Hulk which all cost more to produce.
Sony’s stoner comedy Pineapple Express took in an estimated $2.4M, down 32%, and has grossed $84.2M thus far.
The top ten films grossed a pathetic estimate of $47.6M over the weekend which was down 23% from last year when 3:10 to Yuma opened in the top spot with $14M; and off 3% from 2006 when The Covenant debuted at number one with $9M in its opening frame.
Studios dumped out their usual trash over Labor Day weekend and moviegoers responded by avoiding most of them. That allowed Robert Downey Jr. to rock both the opening and closing ceremonies of the summer movie season as Tropic Thunder retained the number one spot for the third consecutive weekend. Five films opened or expanded nationally and were scattered all across the Top 20, most with weak results. Meanwhile, The Dark Knight moved up a notch in its seventh session and broke through the $500M mark over the long holiday weekend putting an end to what turned out to be a better-than-expected summer box office.
Still ahead of the pack for a third time, Tropic Thunder grossed an estimated $14.3M over the four-day Friday-to-Monday holiday weekend and lifted its impressive total to $86.6M after 18 days of release. The Ben Stiller-directed war comedy saw its three-day take of $11.5M drop only 29% from last weekend and joined the Batman juggernaut as this year’s only films to rank number one for three or more weekends. The $90M DreamWorks production is on course to end its run in the vicinity of $110M for Paramount which coincidentally also kicked off the summer blockbuster season at the top in May with Iron Man.
Leading all new releases, but lacking muscle, was Vin Diesel’s return to the action genre with Babylon A.D. which bowed to an estimated $12M over the long holiday weekend. Fox’s latest clunker enjoyed the widest launch by far among debuting titles but generated a lackluster $3,540 average over four days from 3,390 theaters. During the Friday-to-Sunday portion, the R-rated thriller grossed $9.6M for a weak $2,822 average. Babylon A.D. capped off a summer that the studio would like to forget following such misfires as Meet Dave, The Rocker, and The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Some were not costly films and others Fox just distributed for a fee, but the studio still failed to score a $100M+ summer grosser for the first time in eleven years.
The comic book overachiever The Dark Knight smashed through the $500M mark and placed third in its seventh weekend with an estimated $11M. Warner Bros. bumped its stunning cume up to $504.7M and surpassed the quintuple century barrier on Sunday in its 45th day of release. The new Batman epic has now sold approximately 70 million tickets beating out Spider-Man which snapped up roughly 69 million stubs in 2002. Knight is on a trajectory to end its North American run with about $525M translating to around 74 million admissions. Overseas, The Joker’s antics attracted an estimated $19.2M boosting the international total to $417M and the global gross to an eye-popping $921.7M. That was enough for The Dark Knight to break into the all-time top ten list of worldwide blockbusters. Shattering the $1 billion mark is a virtual guarantee.
Sony’s sorority comedy The House Bunny ranked fourth for the weekend with an estimated $10.2M over four days in its second term. The Anna Faris starrer has grossed a solid $29.8M in 11 days and could finish in the neighborhood of $45M. The budget was only $25M.
Overture Films saw a respectable debut for its Don Cheadle political thriller Traitor which bowed to an estimated $10M over the long weekend and $11.5M in the six days since opening on Wednesday. The PG-13 pic landed in 2,054 theaters and averaged a good $4,869 over four days representing the second best average among films in wide release. Reviews were somewhat positive.
Jason Statham’s latest action offering Death Race fell to sixth grossing an estimated $8.2M over the long weekend pushing the 11-day total to $25M. The $45M Universal release should end up with $35-40M.
Moviegoers finally said no to spoof kings Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg as their newest comedy Disaster Movie flopped taking in an estimated $6.9M over four days. Opening in 2,642 locations, the PG-13 pic averaged a weak $2,604 for Lionsgate. Disaster‘s three-day bow of $5.8M was less than one-third of what the filmmakers saw on opening weekend for their most recent hits Meet the Spartans and Epic Movie which both debuted at number one with respective takes of $18.5M and $18.6M.
Two hit comedies followed. Universal’s musical sensation Mamma Mia! sang to the tune of $5.8M, according to estimates, and raised its cume to $132.9M. The studio released a new sing-along version in selected theaters on Friday which helped give sales a boost over the holiday weekend. A final domestic tally of $140-145M could result for the $65M songfest. Sony’s stoner hit Pineapple Express collected an estimated $4.5M and took its sum to $80.9M. The final gross for the $27M production should reach $85-90M.
Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona popped back into the top ten with an estimated $3.5M over four days. The MGM release has now taken in $13.3M which is an impressive number for the veteran filmmaker. The Javier Bardem tale also generated the best average among all movies in wide release. Look for a final take at or slightly north of $20M.
With seven other comedies ahead of them on the charts, two new R-rated laughers stumbled in wide release this weekend grossing less than $3M each over four days. MGM’s teen pic College failed miserably with an estimated $2.6M from 2,123 locations for a dismal $1,241 four-day average. Focus expanded its expensive Sundance acquisition Hamlet 2 from 103 to 1,597 theaters in the second weekend and walked away with just $2.1M, according to estimates, for a pitiful four-day average of just $1,330. Cume for the Steve Coogan pic is an embarrassing $3.1M which will not help the distributor recoup the $10M it paid for the indie comedy. Hamlet 2 is shaping up to be this year’s Happy, Texas which Miramax bought for around $10M at 1999’s Sundance but grossed a measly $1.9M from 146 theaters in commercial release that fall.
The ancient studio ritual of dumping weak product into the late August box office has begun. Four new releases, most about failures trying to redeem themselves, hit the multiplexes with only one having the strength to make a play for the number one spot. Universal launches the latest Jason Statham action pic Death Race while Fox and Sony counter with their competing teen-skewing comedies The Rocker and The House Bunny, respectively. Ice Cube also joins the mix with MGM’s family sports film The Longshots. Given the aging holdovers, lack of firepower from debuting titles, and the final weekend of the Olympics which has been keeping 30 million people at home every night, the overall marketplace is sure to slow down. Look for the top ten to slump below the $100M mark for the first time since April.
Action star Jason Statham hits the big screen once again, this time playing a driver out to win an insane reality competition where convicts race and kill each other in order to win their freedom in Death Race. The R-rated pic will play to the actor’s core audience of young men in search of mindless short-term thrills and spills. Tyrese Gibson, Ian McShane, and Joan Allen co-star while Paul W.S. Anderson directs. The helmer has had great luck entertaining this audience with past hits like Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon, Resident Evil, and Alien vs. Predator. Statham himself has a good track record with action movies opening on or around Labor Day weekend. 2005’s Transporter 2 bowed to $16.5M, the following year’s Crank debuted to $10.5M, while last year his War opened softer with $9.8M. Death Race is not a Transporter film (the next one attacks on Thanksgiving weekend) so grosses should be closer to those of the others.
Summer movie audiences have had their fill of action so non-Statham fans will not be coming out in big numbers. Both Tropic Thunder and The Dark Knight will be formidable opponents playing to most of the same folks. Universal’s quartet of summer actioners has grossed a spectacular $430M so there’s just only so much more it can squeeze out of the last weeks of the season. But the star and the director both have scored in this genre so a good number of young males, especially frequent multiplex-goers, will come out and spend a little cash. Statham is no Will Smith, but he does attract a respectable number of fans each and every time. Racing into 2,400 theaters, Death Race may open to about $13M.
Fox aims to grab some biz from bored teens not yet back in school with its Rainn Wilson comedy The Rocker. The PG-13 film features The Office star playing a failed former drummer who joins a new band run by his adolescent nephew. Overall excitement is not very high and Wilson will have to prove himself here as a leading man. Fellow NBC star Andy Samberg tried anchoring his own immature comedy last August with Hot Rod which flopped with a weak $5.3M debut and dismal $2,037 average. Rocker may do better, but not by much. Most of the target audience will probably wait for the DVD here. The studio already opened the pic on Wednesday to get two extra days of summer play. Younger kids who can’t get into all the R-rated antics of Ferrell, Rogen, and Stiller will make up a big part of the audience for this one and its family-friendly packaging could prompt some parents to give it a go. But overall, the film lacks the buzz to become a standout performer. Now playing in 2,627 sites, The Rocker could take in about $8M over three days and $11M over five days.
Anna Faris takes a break from spoofing horror flicks and headlines the college comedy The House Bunny. The PG-13 film finds the actress playing a former Playboy bunny who takes a job as the leader of a sorority of misfits. Sony is gunning for teens and young adults of both genders here with a central story about young women with some sex appeal that might bring in some guys. The premise isn’t half bad so a decent showing may result. But Faris is no guaranteed draw at the box office when outside of her safe zone in the Scary Movie franchise. There’s no evidence to prove that she can sell tickets and the film lacks any other star names. Plus The Rocker will be going after many of the same folks in search of laughs. Opening in about 2,600 locations, The House Bunny might gross about $8M this weekend.
After conquering the inept-man-takes-care-of-children genre with Are We There Yet?, Ice Cube swaggers over to the equally popular inspirational-sports-coach category with The Longshots. The PG-rated pic features the star of music and film as a former football player who turns his 11-year-old niece into a local pigskin heroine. Fred Durst, rap-rock pioneer of yesteryear, directs. It would be too easy to compare the film’s title to its box office prospects. Starpower is low, marketing buzz is minimal, and the name of the film could not be more bland. Studios have failed at providing worthwhile content to families since the release of WALL•E and this entry will be forgotten just like the others. The MGM release could take in about $6M this weekend from 2,000 sites.
Rocking Sundance earlier this year and now making a stab at commercial success is Hamlet 2, the story of a high school drama teacher and his students who try to stage a raunchy sequel to Shakespeare’s classic play. Focus paid a near-record $10M to acquire worldwide rights and hopes that it has a Little Miss Sunshine on its hands. That late summer indie comedy opened to scorching numbers in limited release and went on to earn four major Oscar nominations including Best Picture and $59.9M at the box office. Hamlet 2 stars Steve Coogan, Catherine Keener, Elisabeth Shue, and Amy Poehler and is using its rating as a marketing tool with ads that feature an extra large bright red R telling arthouse filmgoers that they are in for some envelope-pushing humor here not meant for little kids. Opening in only 90 playdates in major markets, Hamlet 2 is set to post a muscular average before heading into national release over the Labor Day holiday frame when word-of-mouth is expected to sell it further. The abundance of R-rated studio comedies will certainly have an effect, but the void for smarthouse laughs will give Focus a big opportunity to cash in on territory usually monopolized by Fox Searchlight. For this weekend, a bow of about $1.5M could result.
Hoping for back-to-back gold medals, Tropic Thunder will try to fend off competition from all the new releases and defend its box office title. Direct competition will come primarily from Death Race as it also is targeting adult men. The remaining newcomers will not steal away too much of Ben Stiller’s crowd. Look for the Paramount war comedy to drop by 45% to around $14M giving the R-rated pic $63M in 12 days and a solid chance at joining the century club.Warner Bros. will see another terrific hold for its runaway smash The Dark Knight which could slip by just 35%. That would give the superhero film around $10.5M which would lift the overall domestic tally to $489M. The $500M barrier should be broken by Labor Day. The studio’s animated title Star Wars: The Clone Wars will suffer a steep tumble since there is no real buzz to keep it going and hardcore fans have already made it out. Look for a 55% decline to about $6.5M pushing the ten-day tally to $26M.
LAST YEAR: With the summer movie season coming to a close and the Top 20 barely breaking $100M, none of the five new releases managed to break into the top three slots. The high school comedy Superbad remained at number one with $18M in its second weekend and was followed by threequel holdovers The Bourne Ultimatum and Rush Hour 3 with $12.5M and $11.7M, respectively. Debuting ahead of all the other new offerings was the family sequel Mr. Bean’s Holiday with $9.9M for Universal followed closely by Lionsgate’s Jet Li–Jason Statham actioner War with $9.8M. Final grosses reached $33.3M and $22.5M, respectively. The Nanny Diaries bowed in sixth with $7.5M finishing with $25.9M for MGM. Opening poorly outside of the top ten were Resurrecting the Champ and Illegal Tender with respective takes of $1.7M and $1.4M. The pair reached $3.2M and $3.1M.