The Summer Movie Season is finally upon us, and not a moment too soon.
Weekend Forecast for May 4-6, 2007
By Reagen Sulewski
May 4, 2007
The movie of the weekend is Lucky You... no, wait, let me check my notes here... ah, yes, Spider-Man 3. That makes a lot more sense. The third edition of the most successful comic-book franchise of all time (there's no argument here, right?) is set to launch in a mind-boggling 4,252 theaters starting at midnight, with possible records in sight.
At this point, they could basically just have Tobey Maguire stand in the suit on screen for two hours and open it to $80 million, but thankfully they've provided us with some plot. We're maybe getting a bit of the "too many villains" problem, with Sandman, Venom and a new Green Goblin all showing their faces, but it's also a fairly long movie at just shy of two and a half hours, so there might be room for all of them.
The first Spider-Man film shattered records, with the first $100 million weekend (and first $110 million weekend to boot), eventually racking up $403 million domestic. The second movie was a slight step down in both categories, opening to $88 million over July 4th weekend, with $373 million in final receipts. The benchmarks for this edition obviously start there.
Reviews are surprisingly shaky, with many criticizing the bloat of the film, as well as what they perceive as melodrama. The Venom story is definitely a fan favorite (albeit a divisive one), and definitely guaranteed to bring the action. In addition to the alien symbiote (which connects with the character of Eddie Brock, played by Topher Grace), Thomas Haden Church (as Sandman) and James Franco (the New Goblin) are on hand to do battle.
To counterbalance this, one of Spider-Man's strengths has always been its broad demographic appeal, given the ongoing romance between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. Devoted comic fans also get the addition of Gwen Stacy (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) to add to a romantic triangle, and this will continue to make it a strong performer with both women and men.
All of these factors add up to the potential of a record breaking weekend, and although Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest's $135.6 million is in jeopardy, I think it will stay safe following this weekend. There are just enough questions about the quality of this one relative to the first two films to keep it from reaching that mark. But make no mistake, the box office is going to be very, very strong. I look for an opening weekend of $124 million, second all-time.
The attempt at counter-programming this weekend is the poker-themed romance Lucky You. Starring Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore, it revolves around a Las Vegas professional poker player who's lucky in cards but not in love. Oh, the irony.
As counter-programming, it's not the greatest choice for Warner Bros., as poker is a male-dominated sport, and the attention of males is likely to be held entirely by Spider-Man 3 this weekend. It's also been delayed for over a year, so they can't have a huge amount of confidence in it. Bana and Barrymore are both attractive leads, but this really seems to be a film without an audience. Possibly the biggest thing it has going for it is its director, Curtis Hanson, who gave us L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys and 8 Mile. I think he's just missed the cultural curve on this film due to the delay, and with fairly bad reviews, this one doesn't look to have much potential. Give it around $9 million for the weekend.
That's still more than last weekend's top box office film, Disturbia, which outlasted feeble competition for its third straight weekend as number one on the charts. Having crossed over $50 million to this point, the rest is gravy for this neo-Hitchcockian thriller, but with the 500-pound gorilla of Spider-Man, this teen-focused film should see a pretty big drop to about $5 million.
The twin terrors of The Invisible and Next were in a virtual tie for second with $7 million apiece. While The Invisible's Justin Chatwin has the excuse that no one knows him, Nicolas Cage can't be feeling too good about his non-comic book career at this point. Neither film is likely to show much in the way of legs, and with May blockbusters looking for screens, these two both look to end up south of $20 million total. They should both see about $4 million this weekend.
Maybe one other might break that figure as well this weekend, that being the Anthony Hopkins/Ryan Gosling legal drama Fracture. The rest of this weekend's slate will stay below that number, though, as everyone heads to Spider-Man. The blockbusters will be coming in force following this frame.