A crowded weekend at the box office serves up four new films for movie-goers, with all these films hoping to cover every market. The question this summer, though, is anybody interested?
Weekend Forecast for Jun 10-12, 2005
By Reagen Sulewski
June 10, 2005
One of the first movies for adults this summer that doesn’t involve anthropomorphic animals, knees to the groin or midichlorians, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is easily one of the most anticipated films of the season. Don’t worry, it’s still got plenty of ‘splosions. Starring new über-couple Brangelina Pittjolie (as long as we’re merging names), it’s about a pair of married assassins who don’t know each other’s real occupations, and are hired to kill each other. If you’re wondering why this plot sounds so familiar, go rent Prizzi’s Honor.
The film is an easy sell with this high-concept plot, big name stars and slick action scenes, although if you listen closely, you can hear the whispers of that ugly word “overexposed” (a 60 page photo shoot? Are you kidding me?). The Brad Pitt/Jennifer Aniston split was ridiculously public, with Angelina a strangely sympathetic figure as homewrecker. The wives of Jolie’s co-stars (and, let’s face it, the husbands) would do well to make sure their pre-nups are in order.
While most people still subscribe to the “any press is good press”, these love connections really don’t connect with Joe and Jane TicketBuyer. Russell Crowe stealing Meg Ryan from Dennis Quaid, then dramatically dumping her, resulted in mediocre box office for Proof of Life and the torpedoing of Ryan’s career. Eyes Wide Shut, for all its publicity, did quite poorly for a “Tom Cruise” film (more about him on this subject in a few weeks). The overexposure of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez turned Gigli from merely a bad movie into the Ishtar of our times. If all this sounds like I’m predicting a bomb, well, that’s not what I’m trying to say. It’s simply turned what might have been a ginormous hit into probably just a sizable one. These are technical terms, here.
Really, the smartest move the producers have made is to highlight Vince Vaughn’s supporting comedic role in the film, sponging off his recent comeback in films like Dodgeball and Old School. Let’s not forget the director of the film, Doug Liman, who piloted Matt Damon into the role of action star with The Bourne Identity and appears to have created another top-flight action film with a slightly comic bent. The widest opening film this week, it should bow to about $45 million this weekend.
With the Smiths handling action for adults, Robert Rodriguez is handling it for the kids, with The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D. This tortured title comes to us by way of Rodriguez’s eight-year-old son, who I’m sure is voting Rodriguez as World’s Best Dad for turning his idea into a movie. Best described as a updating of The Neverending Story, Shark Boy and Lava Girl follows the adventures of two pint sized heroes and the boy they recruit to help them save the world from something for some reason.
It’s tough to have a more divergent year for content than Rodriguez is having, with this film and his ultra-violent Sin City coming out two months ago. He’s no stranger to the kid angle, though, as his three Spy Kids films can attest. He has definitely tapped into some kind of zeitgeist with the kids and their parents, as two of the three Spy Kids films grossed over $100 million, while looking extremely strange and having virtually no star power.
This isn’t Spy Kids, of course, and the adults will probably be going to see Mr. and Mrs. Smith instead of sticking around for this. Crucially, the lowest grossing Spy Kids movie opened against xXx. Although the 3-D gimmick is a proven quality for Rodriguez, this isn’t quite the same as continuing his franchise, and it just looks plain odd. Look for Shark Boy and Lava Girl to open to around $18 million.
Among the bad concepts for making TV shows into movies, turning a sitcom with exactly one joke into a 90 minute film has to rank high up there. Although I have to give The Honeymooners credit for excellent casting, the concept and depth of material just aren’t there. Cedric the Entertainer and Mike Epps are excellent substitutes for Jackie Gleason and Art Carney, but even they won’t be able to do much here. The movie is getting the proverbial football to the groin from critics, partially out of loyalty to the original series, partially out of reaction to the fact they forgot to make this a comedy. On the scale of TV adaptations, this will be no Car 54, Where Are You?, but it’s not going to be a Brady Bunch Movie either, and just how sad is that comparison? This should open to a meager $8 million and disappear until it’s time for the Razzies.
Next we have High Tension, which is the most perplexing release of the summer so far. A French slasher film starring no one you’ve ever heard of, it’s getting generally positive reviews basically, as far as I can tell, for being French. An homage (he said with a straight face) to '70s exploitation films, it ramps up the gore, invents crazy settings for killings and in general grosses out the audience. We went through this a couple of years ago with Cabin Fever, including a pull quote from Peter-freaking-Jackson, and let’s not forget how crappy that film was. Still, people are being taken in by the novelty. I wouldn’t be shocked to see High Tension come in with about $7 million this weekend.
Madagascar remains the strongest of returning films, having taken first spot after finishing third over Memorial Day Weekend. It’s brought in $100 million so far, but is dropping steeply for a kids’ film and is probably going to end up in the same ball park as DreamWorks’ last animation effort, Shark Tale, at around $175 million total.
The Longest Yard leapfrogged Star Wars Episode III to stay in second place, but it likewise is showing weakness, dropping 45% from its comparable period. It should earn another $15 million this weekend on the way to the familiar $150 million total territory for a typical Adam Sandler film.
After jumping out to a near record $108 million in its opening weekend, Star Wars Episode III is fizzling out in near record time, having already dropped to under a quarter of that total by its third weekend. While Lucas isn’t going to be crying in his latte any time soon, it’s a remarkable thought that it’s going to earn about 40% of its final box office in its first five days of release.
Cinderella Man got some unexpected publicity this week, but unlike Russell Crowe, the film’s disappointing performance is going to be hard to arrest (thank you, I’ll be here all week. Try the veal). The prestige film’s $18 million opening hasn’t killed its chances for Oscars, but it has hurt them significantly. Positive word-of-mouth and critical reception might help, but that should have come into play on the first weekend too. It should earn another $12 million this weekend and will challenge Star Wars for sixth spot on the weekend.