While the calendar states that this is the first weekend of summer, the reality is that we are almost two months into the season now. Last weekend was the latest example that films with the same target audience can both break out if marketed well. This frame is going to be more of the same, with another pair of titles targeted squarely at young males. Unlike last weekend, though, there is a clear frontrunner here, one certain to dominate the box office.
By David Mumpower
June 22, 2006
In an era when even Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks need the right project to guarantee box office success, an unlikely overachiever has become Hollywood's safest bet. This unremarkable everyman is named Adam Sandler, and his track record is among the industry's most impressive. Since the 2000 disaster of Little Nicky, the boisterous comedian has carefully plotted his projects. Each has offered new yet familiar settings in order to implement the same brand of Screaming and Body Tackles Humor upon which Sandler's career has been based.
The carefully nurtured result is that Mr. Deeds, Anger Management, 50 First Dates and The Longest Yard have all been huge hits. They have each opened between $37.2 and $47.6 million with final domestic receipts between $120.8 and $158.1 million. In these blockbuster comedies, he has averaged a $43 million opening and final domestic box office of just under $135 million.
Even better, Sandler is riding as high as he ever has, with The Longest Yard claiming both his largest opening as well as his best final tally. It's good to be the king of comedy or, at worst, in a close race with Jim Carrey to claim the throne. Amazingly enough, Sandler's latest project might be the best comedic premise yet. In Click, he portrays a family man who discovers a magical remote. It enables him with the ability to fracture time in order to fast forward ahead, rewind backward and pause the magic moments in life. (Settle down, couch potatoes...this is why the movie is fiction.) In a generation known for its love of television, there is not a more universal premise upon which to base a plot. Given the subject matter as well as the degree of trust North America has with Sandler comedies, Click is a foregone conclusion to dominate the box office this weekend. Ultrawide in 3,949 venues, it is poised to become Sandler's biggest star vehicle yet. I expect an opening of $48.2 million with the star possibly even achieving his first $50 million opening.
The difference between Click and the other opener, Waist Deep, is the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it. Ridiculously handsome new movie star Tyrese Gibson found tremendous success with two of his past four projects. 2 Fast 2 Furious sold because of the premise and the cars, but there is no disputing the fact that Four Brothers surpised a lot of poeple. Its $21.2 million debut and $74.5 million domestic total indicate that North American is warming to him as an ensemble lead. Of course, there is a downside to this argument as well. Flight of the Phoenix managed less total box office ($21.0 million) than Four Brothers accrued in three days. And *that* total is better than what Tyrese's last outing, Annapolis, could attain. It was stuck in neutral with only $17.1 million in domestic receipts. The debate lies in whether Waist Deep is going to be more like Four Brothers or Annapolis, and I think the evidence is clear. This movie will be lucky to earn $5.5 million over the weekend before quickly exiting theaters by the end of July.
Last week saw four new releases attempt to stake out their own territory at the box office. The most successful of them (as predicted) was Nacho Libre. The fear is that it might quickly flame out now that the Napoleon Dynamite crew has had their fill. I don't expect that to be the case here. Jack Black's last solo hit film, School of Rock, showed dynamic staying power in its second weekend. It fell only 21% from the opening of $19.6 million to a second weekend tally of $15.5 million. Decent comedy films often show strong legs. While the WOM on Nacho Libre is not glowing, it's not terrible, either. A second frame of $16.2 million is in order.
The other two releases from last weekend that should hold up well are The Lake House and Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties. Both are genres that historically show legs. While neither opening was particularly noteworthy (calling a spade a spade, the Garfield sequel's was atrocious), each should recover. The Lake House even has an outside shot to surpass The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift despite the $10.3 million difference in their debuts. If it doesn't happen this weekend, it will happen in the next one. The end result is that The Lake House should hold well with a tally in the $8.4 million range. Garfield 2 should wind up with $4.8 million or so. And the unwanted third Fast and the Furious title will fall off the face of the Earth. I predict a sub-ten million total, $9.7 million to be specific.