While Brady and Manning duke it out in Phoenix, the $15 movie ticket aims to conquer the multiplexes over Super Bowl weekend. That’s the admission price that theaters are charging moviegoers that line up for Disney’s Hannah Montana concert film which opens Friday on a wave of fan frenzy that has given the hot pic event-film status with young girls everywhere. But other ladies that got their big break from a television series will enter the weekend race at the North American box office too. Jessica Alba stars in the supernatural thriller The Eye while Eva Longoria Parker headlines the comedy Over Her Dead Body. Guys will be tossed their own entry in the form of the nature comedy Strange Wilderness. Disney and Lionsgate will be the studios competing for the box office trophy as Sony’s seven-year streak of ruling Super Bowl weekend will come to an end.
Tween girls who couldn’t get their parents to shell out a grand for a scalped ticket for Hannah Montana’s live concerts can now cough up a Hamilton and a Lincoln and see the big show at their local multiplex. Disney goes 3D for its special one-week-only engagement of Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert which aims to capitalize on the immense fan base for the Disney Channel superstar. The G-rated musicfest will play mostly to girls but should lure in nearly 100% of its target demographic with what has become a major event film for lovers of all things Hannah. With a trim 74-minute running time, theaters will be able to squeeze in six showtimes per day to maximize their revenue. School teachers nationwide may have to brace for record high absenteeism on Friday.
The Hannah Montana phenomenon has become a cash cow for the studio. Thanks to last year’s live concerts which sold out within minutes, fans have wasted no time in pre-buying their movie tickets for Best which has been a top seller all through December and January. Fandango.com reported on Wednesday that the film accounted for a whopping 91% of all tickets purchased with over 1,000 showtimes already sold out coast to coast. Rival MovieTickets.com stated that Best has already joined its all-time top ten list of pre-sales ranking alongside tentpole sequels from franchises such as Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. Helping Montana-mania at the box office will be those increased $15 ticket prices which will allow the overall grosses to swell.
Best of Both Worlds could very well be one of those box office surprises that exceeds all expectations thanks to intense demand plus brilliant marketing and distribution. This could be a Borat-type weekend when the film with the fewest theaters actually beats out all of its competitors for the top spot. In fact the numbers could climb really high if parents join their daughters for the show, or if repeat business kicks in with fans seeing the film multiple times since it will only be on the big screen for seven days. The Super Bowl should not be much of a distraction since young females are typically the quadrant least interested in the big game. Hitting the stage in 683 movie theaters with digital 3D facilities, Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert could open to about $17M this weekend.
Although there are no other major horror flicks out there, The Eye will still face formidable competition. Hannah Montana is a very different type of film, but it will take some teen girls out of the picture. Young males also have plenty of other choices out there. But Alba is a decent box office draw despite the weak launch of her last thriller Awake which debuted to only $5.9M. The Eye is in a much better position to find success, though. A scary trailer, a creepy one-sheet, a commercially-friendly rating, and a popular star in the lead all will contribute to a solid debut. The Eye opens in 2,436 locations on Friday and could scare up roughly $14M over three days.
Sylvester Stallone settled for the vice president’s job on last weekend’s chart with Rambo and with most fans charging theaters in the beginning, not much of an audience will be left. Plus the Lionsgate film lacks the positive vibe that the actor/filmmaker saw with Rocky Balboa last winter. A 55% fall would give Rambo roughly $8M and a sum of $31M after ten days.
Fox could enjoy a solid third frame with its chick flick 27 Dresses which has been holding up well since its strong opening. A 40% decline to $8.5M would give the Heigl hit $57M after 17 days. Diane Lane also could see a reasonably good hold for her crime thriller Untraceable which may drop 40% to $7M for a ten-day tally of $20M. The monster flick Cloverfield fell hard in its second weekend and another sizable drop of 55% could give Paramount $5.5M and a 17-day total of $73M.
LAST YEAR: Super Bowl weekend saw teen girls edge past their moms at the box office as the thriller The Messengers bowed at number one with $14.7M beating out the $13.1M debut of the Diane Keaton pic Because I Said So. Final grosses reached $35.4M for the Sony spookfest and $42.7M for Universal’s star-driven comedy. Holdovers rounded out the top five. Epic Movie dropped from the top spot to third with $8.4M, the hit comedy Night at the Museum followed in fourth with $6.4M, and Smokin’ Aces placed fifth with $6.1M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
It has been less than a week since the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike officially began, but it is already severely affecting many television shows.
At a meeting yesterday, many of Hollywood’s most powerful show runners agreed to stop work on their shows immediately, until the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) resume negotiations with the WGA. Effective immediately, several major shows have stopped filming and editing new episodes. Enormously popular shows like Family Guy and The Office will only air one more new episode before going into reruns. Office scribes — including BJ Novak, Mindy Kaling, and Paul Lieberstein — marched the picket lines and explained how they are currently losing out on residuals of their immensely popular “Webisodes.”
Many other celebs showed their support by marching — including Desperate Housewives‘ Marc Cherry and Eva Longoria (who handed out pizza to the hungry picketers) and Grey’s Anatomy‘s Shonda Rhimes, Katherine Heigl, and T.R. Knight.
Many supporters of the strike continue to bring goodies to the picketing lines. Sources tell us that Alison Sweeney (Sami from Days of Our Lives) paid a special visit to the NBC lot to bring some junk food to the writers, and Jimmy Kimmel brought burritos, while Jay Leno continued to bring by his daily donut delivery. Another important friend to the WGA — Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the major Hollywood talent agencies — brought by hot chocolate and cookies. Check out RT’s earlier report on which celebs are supporting the writers.
But not everyone is as sweet on the strike. Ex-Disney CEO, Michael Eisner, blasted the WGA strike at the Dow Jones/Nielsen Media and Money conference yesterday. According to an article in The Hollywood Reporter, the former studio head quipped, “For a writer to give up today’s money for a nonexistent piece of the future — they should do it in three years, shouldn’t be doing it now — they are misguided they should not have gone on the strike. I’ve seen stupid strikes, I’ve seen less stupid strikes, and this strike is just a stupid strike.” He also suggested that the writers weren’t placing blame on all responsible parties — such as Apple — saying that, “The only real winner here is Steve Jobs. They should be striking up at Cupertino or wherever he is.” Take a look at RT’s strike rundown for more details on what the WGA is asking for in terms of new media.
Another conspicuously unsupportive foe of the WGA is talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. Although other talk show hosts — such as Jay Leno, David Letterman and Jon Stewart — have halted production on their shows, Ellen has continued to tape, after taking one day off. Her resistance to stop production has spawned the chant, “Ellen, you’re no friend of mine; you danced across the picket line!” heard by passers-by on the NBC Studios lot.
For More RT strike coverage, check out:
In what must be a first at the box office, an aerobics queen takes on killer zombies in a vicious battle for the silver medal during what no doubt will be another mammoth weekend for "Spider-Man 3."
Fox unleashes its horror sequel "28 Weeks Later," Universal counters with its femme-driven star vehicle "Georgia Rule," Lionsgate tosses in the comedy "Delta Farce," and MGM releases yet another laugher with "The Ex." Meanwhile, back in New York City, the webslinger will attempt to swing to a massive quarter-billion-dollar cume by the end of its second weekend.
As the second of ten sequels hitting theaters over the May-June corridor, "28 Weeks Later" is the follow-up to the cult hit zombie chiller "28 Days Later" which lit up theaters four years ago. Danny Boyle shifts from the director’s chair to the executive producer’s office as Juan Carlos Fresnadillo takes the helm. "Days" was very well-received which explains why a sequel was greenlit. In the new installment, the killer virus infects people once again as London tries to repopulate and madness ensues. The built-in audience will help the R-rated "Weeks" right out of the gate.
Its predecessor bowed to $10.1M from only 1,260 theaters for a potent $7,986 average on its way to a solid $45.1M final. Through video and cable, it found an even larger fan base and many will give "Weeks" a try. However working against it is of course competition from "Spider-Man 3" which has a hold on fans of comics and sci-fi. Plus 2007 has seen 1,001 horror films flood theaters causing recent fright fatigue. Casual fans of scary movies may pass on "Weeks" if they’re trying to stay away from blood and gore. Fox’s marketing has been clever and effective and the target audience is excited. Plus reviews have been very positive which will help a bit too since most horror films nowadays are either not screened for critics in advance or earn poor marks. Attacking over 2,000 theaters, "28 Weeks Later" might scare up around $13M this weekend.
"28 Weeks Later"
For those looking to avoid zombies and super heroes in their weekend entertainment, Universal offers the dramedy "Georgia Rule" starring Jane Fonda, Lindsay Lohan, and Felicity Huffman. The R-rated story tells of a teenage girl dumped at her grandmother’s house for the summer by her alcoholic mother which leads to the uncovering of family secrets. Just in time for Mother’s Day weekend, "Georgia" will play almost exclusively to women as men will have to be dragged against their will. However, moviegoers from a broad age group should turn out since the cast boasts stars of different generations. The one troublespot could be the rating though. Lohan arguably still has pull with teenage girls who may be left out because of the MPAA’s tag. But the film’s two uses of the F word are essential to the story as are the adult themes so the R was unavoidable.
"Georgia Rule" should play to the same audience that the studio saw for previous chick flicks like Diane Keaton‘s "Because I Said So" ($13.1M opening, $5,195 average), Meryl Streep‘s "Prime" ($6.2M, $3,405), and Debra Messing‘s "The Wedding Date" ($11.1M, $6,566). Reaching the $23.1M debut of Fonda’s last film "Monster-in-Law" is not likely however since it won’t crossover into other demographic groups like the J. Lo pic did. The weekend’s new releases will not provide too much competition which means that the universal appeal of the webslinger sequel will be the main enemy. Bad reviews will eat into sales from mature adults, but many from the "Desperate Housewives" crowd will still make a trip out to this chick flick. "Georgia Rule" enters 2,523 theaters on Friday and could walk away with about $13M.
Larry the Cable Guy stars in the new military comedy "Delta Farce" which also hits theaters on Friday. The PG-13 film from Lionsgate finds three hapless men being mistaken for Army recruits who are sent to Iraq but mistakenly dropped in Mexico. Not since "Best Defense" has a film of this type been such an unwelcome entry in the marketplace. Young males are the only group likely to show interest and with Spidey in only his second swing, few will find this new comedy worth paying top dollar for. Plus starpower is lacking and none of the cast members are known for anchoring box office hits. Larry’s self-titled film last spring bowed to just $6.9M and this one will probably slump even lower. Opening in about 1,800 locations, "Delta Farce" will probably shoot up around $4M.
Zach Braff and Amanda Peet play a thirtysomething New York couple with a new baby in the new romantic comedy "The Ex" marketed by The Weinstein Company and distributed by MGM. In the PG-13 pic, the likable duo moves to Ohio where Braff’s character gets a job at her father’s ad agency where he butts heads with his wife’s former fling from high school. Jason Bateman, Charles Grodin, and Donal Logue co-star. "The Ex" will be targeting the date crowd and young women, but will have rough sailing. "Georgia Rule" will already be tapping into the female moviegoing base and Spidey is attracting his share of women and young adults too. The promotional push has not been too forceful either so the film may end up with just the die-hard "Scrubs" fans. Mixed reviews won’t help either. Also, Braff and Peet are not box office anchors who sell lots of tickets. Sure "Garden State" was an indie hit with $26.8M in 2004, but that was a word-of-mouth platform release that made its money over time and not a commercial Hollywood comedy. Debuting in 1,009 theaters, "The Ex" might gross roughly $3M this weekend.
None of these new films will come close to defeating the mighty "Spider-Man 3" which will enjoy its second comfortable box office win in a row. But a steep fall is likely. The first webslinger flick opened at the beginning of May five years ago and dropped by only 38% on the second weekend which was phenomenal. But like most sequels, especialy third-parters, "Spider-Man 3" attracted so much of its total audience upfront that rapid erosion is assured. The previous record-holder for the biggest opening weekend, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest," fell by 54% in its second adventure last July while its summer counterpart "X-Men: The Last Stand" tumbled by a troubling 67% in its sophomore frame. Of course that was coming off of a Memorial Day holiday opening so the decline was larger than normal.
"Spider-Man 3" has already been taking a hit during the week dropping to $10.3M on Monday and $8M on Tuesday. Those numbers come close to what "The Matrix Reloaded" took in on the same days after its colossal opening weekend in mid-May 2003. That sci-fi pic crashed 60% in its second weekend despite its sophomore frame being helped by a holiday. Luckily for the Sandman flick the competition this weekend will not be too menacing. "Spider-Man 3" could still fall by more than 55% to about $65M this weekend which would boost the domestic haul to a mammoth $247M in only ten days.
LAST YEAR: Tom Cruise topped the charts with "Mission Impossible: III" which dropped 48% in its second weekend to $25M. Opening in second place was the pricey disaster film "Poseidon" which debuted to $22.2M for Warner Bros. on its way to a disappointing $60.7M domestically. Worldwide, the Kurt Russell starrer grossed $182M. Robin Williams placed third with "RV" which eased by less than 10% to $10M in its third weekend. Lindsay Lohan stumbled into fourth with her new comedy "Just My Luck" which opened to a weak $5.7M on its way to $17.3M for Fox. Rounding out the top five was the horror flick "An American Haunting" with $3.6M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
In this week’s news, the creators of "Lost" hope to one day transfer the show’s success to the big screen; rumors are heating up that Johnny Depp will co-star with Will Smith in "I Am Legend"; Eric Bana is reportedly out of "Hulk 2," and the sequel will adopt themes more closely related to the 1970s TV show; "Superman Returns" conquered the holiday weekend box-office to the surprise of no one; and this week’s opening movies are receiving mixed reviews.
In Other News: both "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost" were shut out of the major Emmy nominations; you too can be in "Pirates of the Caribbean 3"; Dolly Parton and Dakota Fanning are among those invited to become members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; the existence of one Suri Cruise is still unconfirmed; and David Hasselhoff recovered from his accident rapidly enough to get kicked out of Wimbledon. Read on for details.
The Week’s Most Popular News
You’ll Eventually Be Able to Get "Lost" at the Movies
First we learn that "24" is planning to make the leap onto the silver screen, and now comes the (not very surprising) news that smash series "Lost" also has its sights set on life after network.
Johnny Depp, Futuristic Vampire?
Now here’s a juicy piece of casting gossip that just might be true: Johnny Depp as a (semi-)vampire, playing opposite Will Smith, in Francis Lawrence’s "I Am Legend." This, of course, is the long-awaited adaptation of Richard Matheson’s frankly awesome story.
A Few More "Hulk 2" Happenings
Some good news and bad news seems to be floating around regarding the "Hulk" sequel. Word is that Eric Bana is entirely out of the running for the follow-up, but also that the flick might harken back to the classic 1970s series that old folks like me remember fondly.
Box Office Wrapup: "Superman Returns" to Top of Charts
The Man of Steel conquered the North American box office this weekend as the super hero adventure Superman Returns claimed the number one spot over the pre-Independence Day holiday frame.
Critical Consensus: "Dead Man’s Chest" Is Overstuffed; "Scanner" Shines Darkly
This week at the movies, we’ve got pirates back for more box office bounty ("Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest") and a journey to the center of the mind ("A Scanner Darkly"). What do the critics have to say?
In Other News:
"Desperate Housewives" heart-throb Jesse Metcalfe has signed a deal with Fox to play the lead role in their romantic comedy "John Tucker." The Hollywood Reporter indicates that the movie will be about a "heartthrob whose serial cheating leads three ex-girlfriends to seek revenge by setting him up to fall for the new girl in town, just so that she can dump him and break his heart."