Welcome back to the Summer of Meh, already in progress. Although there have been excellent choices out there for movie-goers this summer, response to them has been lukewarm at best, and we have just passed the 17th straight weekend where box office was down from 2004. A three-pronged attack might turn that around, but I wouldn't bet the farm on that.
Weekend Forecast for Jun 24-26 2005
By Reagen Sulewski
June 22, 2005
The film with the highest potential is Bewitched, starring Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman. While as we've seen recently, Ferrell can open any old piece of crap and Kidman has become Hollywood royalty, there are several reasons to be skeptical of this film's potential. One: it's an adaptation of a TV sitcom. Although the recent Honeymooners update has no effect on Bewitched(after all, no one saw it), it is illustrative of how bad these things can get. Two: Kidman has never particularly been big box office, and has been hit and miss in comedies. Three: and perhaps most importantly, it just doesn't look that funny.
They have done something clever with the film and have gone a bit meta, having the story center on Ferrell's spoiled movie star character, who stars in the remake of the Bewitched TV show and hires the unknown Kidman to be his female lead. Unbeknownst to him, she's a real witch and she starts to exert her real powers over the project. With the craziness in the ads, you can see why they wanted Jim Carrey for this. He probably would have been worth it, since he opened the similarly wacky Bruce Almighty to over $80 million.
Directed by Nora Ephron, not your usual person of choice for a wacky summer comedy, Bewitched seems to be stuck in that same area as Ferrell and Kidman's last comedies, Kicking & Screaming and The Stepford Wives respectively, both earning just over $20 million. Although it debuts on over 3,000 screens, look for Bewitched to open to about $24 million and to duke it out for the weekend's top spot.
Speaking of dusty old classics, Herbie: Fully Loaded opens on Wednesday, hoping to serve the lucrative Beetle enthusiast and Lindsay Lohan-stalker demographics. The Disney film gained some infamy early in its production, as the pre-starvation Lindsay Lohan cut too... ample a figure for the G-rated pic (big talk for the studio that used to employ Annette Funicello) and had to be digitally reduced.
Inappropriate lusting aside, a new incarnation of Herbie could be a decent idea. Updating him for NASCAR nation was certainly the incentive to make the film, but the target market is still the under-12s and whatever fanbase the leads have. At least they resisted the idea of updating Herbie to be a new Beetle.
Also starring Michael Keaton, Breckin Meyer and Matt Dillon (this is padding for his end-of-year Oscar push for Crash, I just know it), it's going to be a popular choice for families but will ultimately leave the larger audience cold. Over five days, this will earn about $28 million, with $20 million of that coming on the weekend proper.
The third new release of the weekend is Land of the Dead, the fourth in George Romero's series of zombie films. This one comes almost 40 years after Night of the Living Dead and 20 after the last one, Day of the Dead. We are very much in a zombie renaissance right now, and it's about time the original master returned to the genre. Romero's zombie films have always been the most socially aware of all horror films, with the stylistic gore being a backdrop for commentary. Land of the Dead should be no different, with a band of humans in a secure compound fending off a zombie horde that appears to be growing more and more intelligent and organized.
Romero gets a higher profile cast than he's used to, with Dennis Hopper, John Leguizamo, and Asia Argento being the names most likely to be recognized, in that order. Uncharacteristically receiving critical raves, Land of the Dead may be able to branch out beyond hardcore Romero fans. The Dawn of the Dead remake opened to $26 million last year, but with heavier promotion and a more action-packed attention grabbing trailer. Releasing on about 2,000 screens, Land of the Dead should be good for around $14 million this weekend.
Supposed summer box office savior number, oh, let's say five, Batman Begins was a critical and audience favorite last weekend, but that didn't translate into hero-sized box office. Its $48 million opening weekend was $10 million less than the adjusted figure for Batman & Robin and less than half of the two recent Spider-Man films. Warner Bros. will be sending the bill to Joel Schumacher, but for now the film will try for legs, which these days is apparently equivalent to a drop of less than 45% on a weekend. This movie deserves to be a bigger hit, but it may have to wait until DVD to achieve its full potential. It should however, retain first spot again, with about $29 million this weekend.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith had what has to be considered a disappointing 50% drop for such a potentially audience-friendly summer blockbuster. The melding of Prizzi's Honor and True Lies is creeping up on $100 million total, though, and may still be one of the bigger hits of the summer, for what that's worth this year. In its third weekend, Mr. & Mrs. Smith should earn about $14 million.
Slowly but surely, Star Wars Episode III is creeping up on the top ten all-time box office list. Sitting in 11th place after last weekend, it is an easy favorite to pick up the $5-6 million it needs to pass Jurassic Park. A bit of a reversal of fortune has seen it arrest its fall somewhat, likely due to repeat viewings of the film. What looked like a $375 million total now may end up close to the $400 million mark, with it trying to become the seventh film to reach that figure.
The second biggest grossing film of the summer so far is Madagascar, which is sitting just shy of the $150 million mark but is starting to show signs of weakness in its fifth weekend. In this box office climate however, its legs to this point have to be considered a bright point. It should earn around $6 million this weekend, but will drop to either sixth or seventh spot overall.