Weekend Forecast for June 4-6, 2010
By Reagen Sulewski
June 4, 2010

Wow, those Grey's Anatomy writers are saying terrible things about you on the Internet.

Hollywood will be thrilled to say goodbye to May and its legion of disappointing films at the box office. Some may be expecting June to be much better. Those individuals may wish to postpone those yacht buying plans if they ride on the success of this weekend’s movies.

Killers comes in with the best pedigree of the four new films, at least in terms of above-the-title talent. It’s a film that dares to ask the question, what would happen if you married a CIA agent and then he had a hit put on him, forcing you to run for your lives (a problem that’s happened to so many of us)? Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl star as that couple in this action-comedy, directed by The Ugly Truth and Legally Blonde’s Robert Luketic.

More than a nominally similar to later-this-month’s Knight and Day, it’s a film with pretty high hopes because of its leads, who are riding pretty strong streaks with their movies' opening weekends (excluding limited releases). Kutcher was a part of the ensemble of Valentine’s Day, which opened to a ridiculous $56 million, and going back a few years, has racked up solid opening weekends for What Happens in Vegas and The Guardian. Heigl, when not sabotaging her own career by badmouthing every project she’s in, has had a few $20 million plus openers in a row.

None of this may matter, though, if the film’s no good. While we don’t have a real way of knowing, as the film has been withheld from reviewers, that’s basically an admission that the film sucks. For a major Hollywood release to go this route is a huge failure, although it doesn’t always mean disaster. See: G.I. Joe last summer, which still pulled a solid opening weekend out of absolutely nothing. Killers doesn’t have an established brand to carry it, though, and the footage we’ve seen is basically just quick cuts of random action shots. There’s no jewel hiding under this crap, but its stars may give it one not-awful weekend of around $19 million.

Awful children’s entertainment is handled this week by Marmaduke, an adaptation of the comic strip. If that sounds like thin sauce to base a movie on, you’re right. To pad out the film to a 90-minute running time, they’ve made it into a dog version of high school and added a bunch of celebrity voices like Owen Wilson and Kiefer Sutherland (who kids will mostly be unfamiliar with, ultimately defeating their purpose). And then there’s the humiliation of William H. Macy, who’s hit repeatedly in the crotch. Why, Bill, why?

Talking and/or dancing dogs happen to sell well, unfortunately. The past two years have seen Hotel For Dogs and Beverly Hills Chihuahua violate the eye sockets of movie goers to the tune of $75 and $95 million respectively. Chihuahua was the greater offender in that regard, with its pyramid of singing and dancing dogs inspiring slack-jawed horror. Marmaduke seems to have twigged on this as being the key aspect of that film and repeating the abuse of CGI for a choreographed production number.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua’s greater success in the animated atrocity market can probably be explained by its connection to Disney, which neither this film nor Hotel For Dogs share. Still, this kind of film gets eaten up by kids, and even if adults will avoid it like tax time, Marmaduke should still grab an opening weekend of about $17 million.

Get Him to the Greek is that rarest of movie beasts, the spin-off. Russell Brand returns as his break-out character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a boorish, drug-fueled rock star who somehow remained pretty sympathetic. Jonah Hill confusingly plays his sidekick in this movie, but not as the same sycophantic character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall – rather, he plays an entirely different sycophantic character.

He’s tasked (by Puff Daddy!) with bringing Brand’s character from England to Los Angeles in 48 hours for a concert that might save his career. Sounds easy enough, right? Not if the person you’re ferrying has the mental focus of a six-year-old and the libido of… well, a British rock star. Wacky hijinks ensue and lessons are learned.

Wildly famous in the UK, Brand is still something of a wildcard in the US, despite his scene stealing performance in Marshall. And of those that do know him, a large proportion think he’s an intolerable douche. His co-star might be more familiar by sight, but he’s still “that chubby, weird guy from Superbad”. Teaming these two up for a road trip movie makes a certain kind of sense from a comedy standpoint, but doesn’t seem likely to yield mega-bucks. Reviews have been fairly kind to the film but it might be a case where they’ve had difficulty advertising the R-rated material effectively, as the ads have been rather listless. I’d look for about $16 million here this weekend.

The final new film of the week is Splice, a sci-fi horror film starring Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody. The pair star as biologists who defy a medical research ban and create a human hybrid life form, which then runs amok, as all such creatures do. Basically it’s Species without the alien part.

Directed by Vincenzo Natali of Cube-fame, it’s being praised as a smart sci-fi film that eventually devolves into stock horror clichés. Sadly, just this probably makes it one of the better quality horror films in some time, and also, one of the least likely to succeed. While its ads are solid, they don’t make a splash and its leads aren’t the kind of names that create a draw. A major wide release such as it’s getting is pretty much a triumph already. Think about $10 million for its debut.

Shrek Forever After pulled off a minor upset by retaining the top spot at the box office for a second straight weekend, and not actually dropping into oblivion. A lot of this can be pinned on Memorial Day Weekend, making a repeat unlikely as the piper has to be paid after these weekends. In other words, don’t expect that result to save Shrek relative to expectations. Perhaps counter-intuitively, with this week slate out there this weekend, it might still earn enough to win the weekend overall. A figure of $22 million might be enough to hold off Killers, Marmaduke and Greek and make let it back into three straight weekends at the top.

To explain it in the vernacular of its audience, Sex and the City 2 will be having a two-thirds off sale this weekend. Its opening weekend was really a one-day phenomenon, as it fell off on each consecutive day, only matching the opening weekend of the first film on its seventh full day of release. Bilious reviews and just plain franchise fatigue knee-capped this film from the word go. The first film dropped over 60% in its second weekend – imagine how ugly this one could get. A $10 million weekend isn’t out of the question here.

Prince of Persia will probably look like E.T. in comparison. It nearly snuck out a win over Sex and the City in the boys vs. girls cage match, but its $30 million opening weekend is cold comfort considering the $150 million plus it cost to make, and the fact that it torpedoes Jake Gyllenhaal's budding action movie career. Word-of-mouth is pretty blah, which is certainly better than raw hatred (like what faces Sex and the City 2) but won’t lead to anything special. Look for just $15 million this weekend.

Iron Man 2, which looked to be in some trouble as far as reaching the $300 million milestone a couple of weeks ago, has moved a lot closer to being able to reach that thanks to an okay Memorial Day Weekend. Barring an epic collapse, it should be in striking distance with a $9 million result in its fifth frame, which will help put a little more positive spin on future Marvel Avengers products.The same can’t quite be said for Robin Hood, which now looks like a longshot for $100 million, and should see about $5 million this weekend.