Weekend Forecast for May 11-13, 2007
By Reagen Sulewski
May 11, 2007

That zombie didn't like it when I tried to con him!

The second weekend of the season doesn't bring us a opener that can remotely challenge last weekend's record breaking effort, but there are still numerous stories, including the potential for an unconventional record.

Although Spider-Man 3 shattered the opening weekend record with a wind-aided $151.1 million, an almost 12% increase over the previous record. It now has the potential to set a dubious record of the highest absolute second weekend drop, which it would also take from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. That film lost $73.3 million of business in its second weekend, which is less than half of Spidey 3's total. That Spidey 3 has been poorly received relative to its predecessors only exacerbates the problem.

Both of the first two Spider-Man films were "leggy" for blockbusters, and in the case of the first movie and its three straight weekends of just 37% drops, no such qualifier is necessary. While Spider-Man 3 has its defenders, few are as passionate about it as the other films in the series. In addition, the weekday numbers are especially troubling. While it's not often that they tell a tale, in this case, they clearly do. The first three weekday takes were all lower than Spider-Man's, which opened on an identical weekend to 30% less box office. Viewers are starting to reject this film based on word-of-mouth, and the only question is how much damage it will cause.

The outlier would seem to be the possibility of an almost unfathomable $100 million drop, which would happen if it matched X3's percentage drop of last summer following Memorial Day weekend. I think the prospects are a bit rosier than that, but not by a ton. I think instead we're looking at a drop of just shy of 60% to about $63 million. As dramatic a fall as this is, this would still be the second highest weekend total of the year, short only of 300's opening weekend in March. To put this in greater perspective, the difference between the takes of its first two weekends will be larger than the Gross Domestic Product of a couple of small South Pacific nations.

Final box office totals are difficult to project at this point, but I believe that both the marks set by the previous films are safe. Spider-Man 3 has the potential to become the textbook example of the front-loaded hit, and could be the first opening weekend champ since The Lost World not to sniff the all-time top ten.

In 2003, 28 Days Later came out of virtually nowhere to be a modest hit, earning close to $50 million. With no recognizable stars, a British setting and a particularly gory but low-budget take on the zombie genre, it seemed a pretty unlikely candidate to strike a chord, much less inspire a sequel.

What helped was that the film was, in a word, fantastic, thanks to Danny Boyle's inspired directing, which made it an incredibly intense experience. 28 Days Later also inspired the rise of "fast zombie" films, which has been one of the more interesting revolutions in horror filmmaking in this decade.

The sequel, 28 Weeks Later, expands on the social commentary of the first film, a trait it shares with most zombie flicks. The "rage virus" of the first movie has depopulated the UK, but has mostly died out. As the title suggests, this film picks up about seven months later, with an attempt to resettle the UK with survivors. Of course it wouldn't be much of a movie if the virus didn't peek its head up again, with all hell breaking loose.

Notably, Boyle is not directing this film, but did produce it. The helming duties fall to Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, who brought us the well received indie film Intacto a few years ago. The "star" of the film, beyond the action, is Robert Carlyle of Trainspotting fame, though a couple of other familiar performers are involved, including Catherine McCormack and Harold Perrineau. This doesn't have the makings of a breakout hit, although it should expand on the $10 million the first film opened to in medium release. On about 2,300 screens, this should see an opening weekend of about $16 million.

Georgia Rule is the latest project from saccharine-peddler director Garry Marshall, and stars Lindsay Lohan, Jane Fonda and Felicity Huffman in a film about multi-generational female angst. Lohan is playing way against type as a rebellious SoCal brat transplanted to Idaho to spend a summer with her feisty grandmother, played by Fonda, whose character is named Georgia, thus providing the wacky joke of the title. As Georgia lays down the law (her "rules"), Lohan develops into a proper, caring young lady. The producers of this film would appreciate it if you didn't point out the irony.

Marshall has a pretty good history with this kind of sappy film, most recently with Raising Helen, a $14 million opener on the back of Kate Hudson. What might hamstring this movie is the terrible reviews, and the recent notoriety of Lohan, who has crossed over from the "aw, lookit the little diva" kind of tabloid behaviour into "holy hell, she's flipped her nut" activity. These kind of things have a way of keeping people out of theaters, and unless you're Tom Cruise, it's difficult for your movie to survive. I think this one comes out just moderately scathed, with a bow of $10 million.

Moving from the unappealing to the genuinely offensive, we have Delta Farce. The latest "vehicle" for Larry The Cable Guy (an increasingly awkward stage name), it attempts to answer the unasked question, "What if Stripes had more gay and ethnic jokes?"

Larry (real name: Dan Whitney), fellow Blue Collar Comedy Tour member Bill Engvall and DJ Qualls play hapless Army recruits who are accidentally dropped in Mexico on the way to Iraq. Thinking they've been dropped into battle, they immediately start "fighting terrorists". Because Mexicans and Iraqis are both brown, and look alike! Ha haw!

Larry the Cable Guy's last film, the nonsensically titled Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, had a mercifully short run after an opening weekend of $7 million. His star as the standard bearer of trailer-park comedy seems to be rapidly failing, which is extremely encouraging for society. This looks to be a bit more cohesive of a movie than Health Inspector, but the bloom is off the rose, so to speak, and this looks truly awful on several levels. It's also been held from preview screenings, in the hopes that the inevitable awful reviews don't hurt business. Good luck with that. Look for a start of about $5 million.

It's entirely possible that a Zach Braff comedy might throw under Delta Farce this weekend, mostly due to a lack of support by its studio. The Ex stars Braff as a layabout forced to go back to work when his executive wife (Amanda Peet) goes on maternity leave. There, he runs into the usual office politics, along with his wife's ex, played by Jason Bateman, who isn't quite ready to give up the chase. For added sympathy, he's in a wheelchair. And thus, wacky hijinks, as they say, ensue.

Braff is of course well known from his TV series Scrubs, which has seen better days in the ratings, but he's also got a burgeoning film career, starting with Garden State, which was set back by the flop of The Last Kiss last fall. The Ex is put out by The Weinstein Group, which is still finding its footing as a studio, and cannot seem to command a great deal of screens for just anything yet. On just over 1,000 screens, The Ex should probably bring in only $3 million this weekend.