After a weekend where Hollywood studios gathered a bunch of films and threw them against the wall to see which ones would stick, they now show a bit more purpose with their new releases. We have the big sports comedy targeted at a broad demographic, the CGI animated Disney film, and the one that is on absolutely no one's radar. Will the first two live up to expectations?
Weekend Forecast for March 30 - April 1, 2007
By Kim Hollis
March 29, 2007
The movie that has the greatest chance at having a massive impact this frame is the Will Ferrell/Jon Heder ice skating comedy Blades of Glory. Ferrell is pretty much at the top of his game at the moment, and despite a slight stumble with the more serious Stranger Than Fiction during the 2006 holiday season, he is the go-to guy for silly comedies that require people to yell frequently. He's had successes with Anchorman, Elf and his biggie, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. That film shares some commonalities with Blades of Glory, though it's a long way to go from reaching the fans of NASCAR to making ice skating an appealing subject.
Talladega Nights opened to $47 million on the strength of a summer opening and a brilliant marketing campaign that specifically put the film at top of mind for NASCAR viewers. Ferrell seems to have a fair amount of audience goodwill that has carried over from that project, and having him join forces with Napoleon Dynamite's Jon Heder seems to be a clever way to cross demographic lines. Where ice skating and Ferrell might tend to skew slightly older (and by older I mean 30+), Heder brings in some additional fans from the younger camp (though frankly that's a bit astounding given his post-Dynamite work). Also present are Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and his real-life wife Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live) as rival skaters to compete with the Ferrell/Heder team. Blades of Glory has been rigorously marketed with a bevy of commercials and trailers, and awareness is definitely high. Ice skating might not have quite the fan base that NASCAR does, but it's infinitely easier to mock. Look for Blades of Glory to come in with a debut weekend around $35 million.
Next up is the Disney animated film Meet the Robinsons, which features kids, time travel, a Snidely Whiplash-esque villain and a Tyrannosaurus Rex ("I have a big head and little arms!"). While it's obviously not going to compete with the likes of Pixar or Shrek, it certainly feels like it could fill a void in the kid flick area (yes, we have Terabithia and Mimzy, but do any of them have any steam at this point?). Audiences who have had the opportunity to preview the film have responded positively, and it's tracking fairly well. Meet the Robinsons is not as easy to sell as shiny animal stuff like Chicken Little and Happy Feet, which will deplete its chances for a debut on those levels. Still, I foresee an opening of $25 million and a great chance for holdover in the coming weeks. It's also important to note that movies like this sometimes have great breakout potential that is tough to forecast, so if anything has a chance to surprise, it's Meet the Robinsons.
The final new wide release for the weekend is The Lookout, which despite starring the very talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the main role, will probably struggle to draw many people into theaters. In addition to Gordon-Levitt, the Miramax project features Jeff Daniels, Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) and Carla Gugino. It will fill a need for those who are hankering for a good crime/heist film, but it's not getting any real support either in terms of marketing or venues. Give it $3 million, and if it's any good, a chance at a cult following that will throw faithful word-of-mouth behind it.