A veritably packed Friday-through-Sunday marks the last weekend before the big summer hopefuls start coming out. Yes, summer starts in April now. What do you expect from southern California types? They have no concept of seasons.
Weekend Forecast for April 22-24, 2005
By Reagen Sulewski
April 22, 2005
Although the overall box office prospects for the group aren’t fantastic, we do have the first legitimate Oscar contender of the year in The Interpreter. A political pot-boiler from director Sydney Pollock starring Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman, if it were released in December, that pedigree would likely be enough to have the Oscar nomination ballots pre-printed with its name checked off. Being released in April, it’s going to have to work harder.
The first film ever allowed to shoot at the United Nations headquarters, The Interpreter revolves around an overheard assassination plot in an obscure language at the international organization. Penn’s FBI agent is assigned to the case, watching over the potential witness (Kidman) who probably knows more than she’s saying. Despite a trailer that gave away far too much crucial information (alas, it’s the way things are these days), The Interpreter looks like a capable thriller. Considering that it’s been several months since anything with prestige has come along, the film could fill a badly underserved niche.
Despite being one of the bigger name actresses in Hollywood, Kidman has strongly resisted conventional leading lady roles, with her films just as likely to end up in limited release as in a huge blockbuster rollout. Penn, of course, is notorious for staying on the fringes of stardom and liking it that way, although in the past couple of years have seen his more commercial movies be much more successful, such as Mystic River. This film looks to be in the same vein, but with a slightly wider release pattern. It should take the top spot for this weekend with around $22 million.
Its main competition will be from the romantic comedy A Lot Like Love. It’s your standard boy meets girl, boy and girl get angst, break up, get back together, do-they-or-don’t-they with the hard-fought happy ending (maybe? Oh, who are we kidding?) chick flick, although they seem to have cross-pollinated it with the quirky nature of Say Anything... and/or Garden State.
A key difference here is the leads, Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet, who are, shall we say, lacking in the leading person department. Kutcher made a leap out of his comfort zone with last year’s The Butterfly Effect, but his doofus-persona continues to follow him around. Peet was about to break through as an It Girl following The Whole Nine Yards, but has been stuck in second banana roles ever since. The critics have been fairly kind to this film so far, and it looks to be a relatively inoffensive little comedy, if you can stand Kutcher for 90 minutes or more. It’ll find a spot in the marketplace, but don’t look for it to make too big of an impact, earning about $14 million this weekend.
Expanding into wide release is Kung Fu Hustle, the latest import from Stephen Chow of Shaolin Soccer fame. Hustle brings Chow’s madcap Jim Carrey-esque energy into a pastiche of venerable old kung-fu films, melding dance numbers and special effects into what can best be called a live-action cartoon.
Soccer got but a token release last year after languishing in Miramax’s vaults for over a year. Hustle, on the other hand, is handled by Sony Pictures Classics, and has already earned more in limited release on just seven screens than Shaolin Soccer did in its entire run. This particular film also looks a little more palatable to a North American audience, looking more, well, professional. Expanding to 2,500 theaters, the slapstick comedy should earn around $9 million this weekend.
King’s Ransom is the fourth new release for most this weekend, and its title is what it would take to get me to pay money to see it. The film stars Anthony Anderson as a philandering millionaire who, in order to avoid losing his money in a divorce, has himself kidnapped in order to hide his wealth. Zaniness ensues as several competing kidnapping schemes cross paths, each perhaps more incompetent than the last. I suspect there will also be scenes where stupid characters are slapped for being stupid, women have their worth judged based on their physical appearance, and each character receives a comeuppance. Hope I didn’t ruin the film for you. Opening at about 1,500 theaters, King’s Ransom should bring in about $5 million, all from relatives of the cast and crew.
Step right up, Amityville Horror! You’re the next contestant on “How Low Can You Go!” The ‘one and done’ nature of most modern big budget Hollywood films is becoming laughable, with the conveyor belt of new films pushing anything that doesn’t receive rapturous word of mouth out of theatres in just a handful of weeks. Fifty, 60 and 70 percent drops are becoming the norm. Amityville will be no different here, having derided slightly more than most. It’ll tumble down to $10 million this weekend. Sadly, the greater message, “Make better movies, morons!” doesn’t seem to be getting through.
Contrarily, Sahara and Fever Pitch hung on well in one of the weakest weekends in the last few years, each holding about 70% of their business in their second weeks. The honeymoon should be over for both, though, and they’ll both be chased out of - or will hang very near to - the top five. Sahara will bring in about $8 million, taking it close to the $50 million mark (not much against a $100 million budget), while Fever Pitch will earn around $5 million.
Sin City continues to drop precipitously, falling over 50% for a second straight weekend. Its core audience showed up early, but not often, though it’s still on pace for a healthy $75 million against a $40 million budget.