Well, now that that's over, we can finally start to have a decent Summer Movie Season. Memorial Day weekend was the weekend we really wanted it to start anyway, right? The two big options this weekend could provide a record-breaking frame, very early in the summer season.
Weekend Forecast for May 27-30, 2005
By Reagen Sulewski
May 27, 2005
Although CGI animation has lost its bulletproof status with the recent underwhelming performances of Shark Tale and Robots, the genre has still not had an out-and-out failure, and there appears to be no sign of one coming. Madagascar, the latest from DreamWorks Animation, sticks with the anthropomorphic angle, focusing on the wacky adventures of a group of escaped zoo animals.
As usual, the plot is quite secondary to wacky slapstick and cultural references delivered by celebrity voices. The twist here is that the zoo animals are streetwise New Yorkers and unaccustomed to the rigors of the wild. The four leads are played by the very-New York Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith and Chris Rock, but it's easy to tell that the funniest characters are more likely to be a group of four scheming penguins, who happen to be voiced by the film's creators. Any port in a storm though, right?
The hype for Madagascar isn't on the level of a Pixar film or a Shrek, although the coveted Memorial Day slot is a sign of confidence in the film that wasn't there for Shark Tale, with an October slot. Plus, the antics of a group of wussified zoo animals are a little more relatable than, say, a bunch of machines or fish. Over the four-day holiday weekend, Madagascar should bring in around $56 million, with around $42 million of that coming Friday-Sunday.
The second big release of the weekend is The Longest Yard, the remake of the 1974 Burt Reynolds football classic, with Adam Sandler substituting in the lead role. To some that's likely to be blasphemy, but to those people I have to say prepare yourselves, because practically every film Burt Reynolds made during his peak is going to be remade in the next decade. If they can remake Texas Chainsaw Massacre, they can remake Deliverance. This has already been remade recently in England as Mean Machine with Vinnie Jones, but then just about no one saw that one.
At any rate, it's practically a return to form for Sandler, coming back to the kind of random violence film that first made him a big star, namely The Waterboy. Here playing a slightly more… normal… character, he's Paul "Wrecking" Crewe, a washed-up NFL QB sent to prison after a drunken bender. The crooked warden (they're all crooked, aren't they?) wants him to form a football team from the inmates and play his team of guards. Much comedy and violence ensue. As is typical with remakes these days, any real social context has been removed in favor of cheap jokes and vicious open-field tackles. Then again, who doesn't love those two things?
Also starring Chris Rock (who can't lose this weekend), James Cromwell, Nelly and a cast of former NFL and wrestling stars like Michael Irvin (playing a prisoner. Is this irony? I can't tell any more), Bill Romanowski and Brian Bosworth (who, shockingly, was available), this looks to be aiming directly at the crowd-pleasing (and coincidentally, more profitable) group of Adam Sandler fans who just want to see him flip out on people again. That's probably a sizable group of people, and this should be good for an opening weekend of about $47 million over the holiday weekend, and about $39 million of that coming over its first three days.
However, the champ of the weekend without a doubt will once again be Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which brought in the third-best opening weekend of all time at $108.4 million, sliding in just ahead of last year's Shrek 2 (from the same weekend, as it happens). It's approaching the $200 million mark with vigor as well, with that mark coming in either a record-tying eight days, or a measly, pathetic nine. The finale to the Star Wars saga, while not satisfying to absolutely everyone, has been mostly pleasing to a large group of die-hards, and as word gets out that the last Star Wars film, maybe, just perhaps, might not suck, the casual filmgoer is likely to get drawn in for one last go at this franchise. The Memorial Day weekend is kind to returning films of all stripes, and like the last two prequels, it will bring in a very significant chunk of its first weekend take again in the next four days. That should be around $95 million for the entire holiday weekend, and $75 million over three days. $300 million total by this Tuesday is certainly not out of the question and is even likely.
Because of the meager performance of films earlier in May, the other returning films are not much to speak of. Monster-in-Law came in a strong second with $14 million, the comedy holding onto a little over 60% of its opening business as counter-programming. Kicking & Screaming didn't fare as well, dropping close to half its total and falling to $10 million. Crash continues to be the leggy performer of the year, falling only 20% in its third weekend, and has earned a respectable $30 million so far. These will be the four, five and six films on the weekend, with nothing else approaching the $5 million mark, even with holiday Monday factored in.