Whoooooooooooooo! Happy Halloween, boys and ghouls. It's not that often that the calendar configuration is set up so that the creepiest holiday of the year is on Friday, but when it is, all the good little trick-or-treaters stay away from theaters as parties and family fun are the priority. Will the same hold true in 2008? Stay tuuuuuuuuuuuuuuned.
By Kim Hollis
October 30, 2008
There are two new movies and a couple of expanding films, but the highest profile release of the weekend belongs to a little Kevin Smith title known as Zack & Miri Make a Porno (or if you're watching television commercials, just Zack & Miri - the entire title was apparently far too prurient for TV viewers). Ordinarily, this would be the time where we look to the past at all of Kevin Smith's past projects and point out that there seems to be a maximum level of success possible. After all, the writer/director's biggest opener up to now had been Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, which earned $11 million during its debut weekend back in 2001.
Zack & Miri Make a Porno is different than his past work. Smith has moved away from having his signature players (Jason Mewes, Brian O'Halloran, Matt Damon, Jason Lee, Ben Affleck, Jeff Anderson) in the key roles. Instead, this time around, Seth Rogen is front and center. Why is this important? Thanks to his recent work with It Guy Judd Apatow, Rogen has become a legitimate box office draw, taking such films as Knocked Up, Superbad, and Pineapple Express to stellar results. With Zack & Miri, Rogen continues to play to the audience that has embraced him as well as the built-in audience that comes from Kevin Smith's name being on the marquee as well. Commercials and trailers are aiming for their target and hitting. With all that said, there is the slight possibility that audiences are experiencing Rogen Fatigue, but I don't think we're quite to that point just yet. Look for Zack & Miri Make a Porno to be Kevin Smith's highest opener to date, with a total around $16 million.
The other new release this weekend has an awfully low profile, and doesn't seem to be receiving any significant support from Freestyle Releasing. In fact, I'm not sure I would have heard of The Haunting of Molly Hartley if I weren't running a movie Web site. Of course, I'm hardly its target demographic. This is a PG-13 horror flick that aims to scare teenage girls who think Gossip Girls' Chace Crawford is oh so dreamy. Okay, I think he's dreamy, too, but I'm still not going to go out and see this movie.
Freestyle Releasing has attempted horror before. An American Haunting is a film that looked pretty darned good, but earned $5.8 million in its opening weekend before going on to make $16.3 million total. Last year's October Freestyle release, Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour, might be closer in spirit to The Haunting of Molly Hartley (even the names sound familiar). It made only $586,283 from 1,121 screens in its opening weekend. The Haunting of Molly Hartley is certainly getting more support as it's on over 2,000 screens, but I see Chace Crawford as being the only positive here. Freestyle will be overjoyed if this thing sees $3.5 million this weekend, and I honestly think I'm being generous with that number.
We do have two movies moving from limited release to wider distribution. The first of these is Changeling, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Angelina Jolie. Ordinarily, I'd forecast an expanding Eastwood movie to have a solid performance; however, this one hasn't done much in its limited release, and reviews are not kind. This is a rare miss for Eastwood. The film earned around $33,000 in 15 venues last week, which is decent. Even if we allow for massive deflation due to poor word-of-mouth, it's all the way up to 1,800 venues and should hold a fair portion of its audience. It should bring in around $9 million for the weekend. Eastwood will have to look to December's Gran Torino to make a splash with the critics and audiences.
Guy Ritchie has more going on these days than just his divorce from Madonna. His newest movie, RockNRolla, is moving into just over 800 theaters this weekend, giving lots and lots of people the opportunity to see his caper-themed project. After a playing in 22 or fewer theaters over the past few weeks, it's probably looking at $3.0 million for the weekend with the expansion.
As for the returning films, I see a pretty massive drop in store for High School Musical 3. Since families are likely to be spending Halloween Night going to fun parties or trick-or-treating, HSM3 is going to suffer. I also suspect that there was a fanboy/girl rush. It's going to drop 50% to $21 million, still good enough for first place. Saw V is a bit of a different beast, since it directly targets the horror crowd on Halloween. Previously, when Halloween has fallen on a Friday, movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre saw very slight drops from their previous weekend (in the case of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it was 25%). Saw V isn't going to do quite that well, as it will have experienced a slight early rush last week, but I think it might hold 60% of its audience for an $18 million total and a battle with Zack and Miri. Pride and Glory, which barely anyone noticed during its debut weekend, will fall off the face of the Earth with a $3 million total.