We're completely into the dregs of September this weekend, with Jodie Foster, Billy Bob Thornton and some low-budget dragons leading the way. Thank goodness football season is into full swing.
By Kim Hollis
September 14, 2007
When it comes to consistency, there are few female performers with better track records than Jodie Foster. After winning two Academy Awards for her acting, she has carved out a fine little niche, mostly picking quality projects and in recent years, delivering decent box office results as well. In 2002, Panic Room had an opening weekend total of $30.1 million, and Flightplan, which debuted in September of 2005, had a similarly strong first weekend of $24.6 million. Most recently, Foster was part of an ensemble cast that included Clive Owen and Denzel Washington in Spike Lee's Inside Man. That movie started with $29 million, though clearly much of its success can also be attributed to the presence of Washington.
The Brave One also shares some kinship with another pair of past September releases. In 1999, Double Jeopardy stunned the world by opening to $23.2 million despite terrible reviews, while 2004's The Forgotten took in $21 million even though it looked decidedly awful. There is an audience out there for these female empowerment type of films, and having Foster's name on the marquee lends The Brave One a certain sort of credibility. Even so, this isn't a film that feels like any of its predecessor's. While those movies certainly featured "women overcoming adversity", they simply did not have the violent feel that seems to surround The Brave One. In fact, The Brave One actually feels a great deal like Death Sentence, which opened a couple of weeks ago. You probably don't even remember Death Sentence, do you?
We'll split the middle for The Brave One, as these types of movies seem to have hit their ceiling and fallen back to Earth in recent years. A $16 million opening seems fair, though it's important to bear in mind that these types of films have consistently surprised in the past.
Looking at our second opener for the weekend, Mr. Woodcock is being advertised almost relentlessly. If you have watched any kind of televised sporting event in the last 14 days, you have probably seen (or fast-forwarded through) a commercial for this Billy Bob Thornton-is-a-mean-SOB flick. Co-starring Seann William Scott and Susan Sarandon, it's a comedy that has seen a suspicious number of release date changes and that has direct competition this weekend from both college and professional football. It feels an awful lot like School for Scoundrels, which had an $8.6 million start and featured Napoleon Dynamite instead of Stifler. Despite the studio marketing support, Mr. Woodcock seems likely to open around $8 million before eventually finding life once it hits home video.
Our final wide release this weekend is Dragon Wars, which has actually seen a decent amount of advertising in the run-up to its theatrical debut. From Freestyle Releasing, this is a Korean-produced film starring North American performers like Roswell's Jason Behr and the awesome Robert Forster. It's perhaps a bit surprising that this film is even getting a theatrical release, but since oftentimes the marketing for the movie release is effective as advance advertising for DVD, it's probably not overly expensive other than the prints. Dragon Wars is probably looking at a slight weekend total of $3 million, as even the dragon fanboys can probably sense that this movie isn't going to give them a good fix.