It's probably either amazing or enlightening to you that it's been 16 years since the first in the series of new Batman films was released, and that it's just eight years since they botched it up so bad that they've had to reboot the franchise. It's taken that much breathing space for people to forgive it for being associated with something like Batman & Robin (but not for Joel Schumacher. Oh, no, we'll never forgive Joel).
Weekend Forecast for Jun 17-19, 2005
By Reagen Sulewski
June 15, 2005
This new series, which officially breaks with the previous films and starts over again, takes a more, well, realistic look at Batman, if that phrase can be used. The director is Christopher Nolan, he of Insomnia and Memento, and the man behind the cape is Christian Bale, he of American Psycho and Shaft (among other films). So, we know we're in good hands as far as the portrayal of psychotic individuals goes.
However, just to make sure we know they're serious about the whole thing, Warner Bros. has gone and loaded the cast up something fierce, with Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Katie Holmes, Liam Neeson, Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy. In case you lost count there, there are four Oscar nominees in that bunch. Mind you, overloading the cast was a big problem in the previous movies, but at least there's no Arnold prancing about in blue makeup and a plastic suit (and no nipples on the Bat costume).
A more organic, character-based rather than action-oriented Batman film could be just what the doctor ordered. Much murmuring through the Internet occurred over released pictures of the new Batmobile, which had more in common with an APC than the traditional sleek design (though if you stop and think about it for more than a minute, it makes a hell of a lot more sense). Bale was also something of a controversial choice for the Caped Crusader but appears to have come through in the part in the end.
The 1989 Batman was a record setter in its day, opening to the quaint figure of $42 million its opening weekend, and grossing about $250 million (an inflation-adjusted $380 million). These days, the franchise hopes to compete with the figures of the Spider-Man films, with their $100 million plus opening weekends. The candy-colored and decidedly less broody nature of those films make this a difficult level for Batman Begins to reach; however, he is still in the big three of instantly recognizable superheroes (along with Superman). People seem ready for a new Batman film, and this looks like it could be the film to bring them back.
Opening on Wednesday on approximately a bajillion screens (approximately 30% of North America's, to be more specific), it is set to be one of the biggest films of the summer. Over its first five days, it should earn about $115 million, with around $40 million of that coming on Wednesday and Thursday, leaving a weekend figure of about $75 million.
Counter-programming about as far away as possible is the weekend's other opener, The Perfect Man, starring Hilary Duff, Heather Locklear and Chris Noth (Diane Lane was apparently not available). Sort of a combination of The Parent Trap, an episode of the Simpsons and Cyrano de Bergerac, the plot has Duff's character setting up her single mom (Locklear, who's made a couple of trips to the Botox clinic) with a fictional man based on the description of what women want given by Noth. Of course, it's an incredible success and soon she wants to meet her mystery perfect man – who doesn't, and does, exist. Hilarity, wackiness and mother-daughter dance routines ensue.
Duff's star has cooled considerably in the post-Lizzie Maguire, all-Lindsay-Lohan-all-the-time world, with her last film, Raise Your Voice, barely registering at the box office with only $4 million opening weekend. A Cinderella Story, from earlier in 2004, did better, earning $50 million total; however, you distinctly get the feeling of "yesterday's news" from Duff unless she can come out with a film that's particularly interesting. Maybe her publicist should hook her up with Colin Farrell or fake a drug problem for her or something of the like. As a summer movie, this should do better than Raise Your Voice, but likely not as well as Cinderella. Setting up your parent just isn't as hooky to the teen audience as sappy romances featuring bland tossle-haired boy of the moment. Look for The Perfect Man to bring in around $8 million this weekend.
The main competition for the new films this week will be last week's #1, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, which came in at just a hair over $50 million, every one of those dollars a tiny stab into the flesh of Jennifer Aniston. The action-romance has a chance to be the biggest non-remake, non-sequel of the summer (a tough chore, to be sure) based on this opening and the positive word-of-mouth it's already received. Look for a strong second weekend of about $32 million for the Smiths, which would bring it to the $100 million figure at the end of the weekend.
Madagascar continued to hold well, keeping hold on second place with another $17 million. It is staying on track for $175 million total and could push up to around $200 million with a little luck. Star Wars Episode III righted its ship a little, falling a modest 40% to third place and $15 million. We could see a dead-cat-bounce for this film over the next couple of weeks. The Longest Yard dropped to fourth place and looks headed for around $160-165 million total.
The $12 million for The Adventures of Lava Boy and Shark Girl has to be considered a little bit of a disappointment, but with Robert Rodriguez's ability to make a film for next to nothing, it's almost impossible for this film to not be a success. It should come in with about $8 million for its second frame.
Cinderella Man took a dive in its second weekend, falling almost 50% to under $10 million, very likely killing the majority of its Oscar chances (keep an eye on Paul Giamatti). The hot-and-cold Ron Howard has run cold again, although it's still going to be in the neighborhood of a $70 million earner.