Weekend Forecast for June 29 - July 1, 2007

By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis

June 28, 2007

Some people are horrified by the love that dare not speak its name.

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The stumbling block for Ratatouille seems to be that people just aren't that jazzed to see a movie with a rat as its main character. While the movie truly has a wonderful message and all of the characters (including the human beings) are adorable, it's tough for some people to get past the "ick" factor, something we saw less than a year ago with Flushed Away and nearly a decade ago with the creepy crawlies in A Bug's Life. Reviews of the film have been rapturous, and having already seen the film, we can attest to the fact that Ratatouille ranks amongst the very best movies that Pixar has ever created. If we compare it to Cars, Ratatouille strongly exceeds it in terms of story and quality, but it seems to be missing that universal hook that Cars had - it was able to draw in both NASCAR fans and boys who love their automotive toys. We believe that people will still be out in droves to see Ratatouille, but perhaps not quite to the same level that Cars found.

We're foreseeing a weekend of around $56 million, though more would make us very happy. For what it's worth, if Ratatouille can't scrounge up more than $48 million, it would add up to being the worst Pixar opener ever when we take inflation into consideration (we'll throw out Toy Story since it was the debut film from the company). To beat A Bug's Life overall, it would need to bring in at least $236 million before the end of its domestic run. And if you're looking for a recommendation, we'd expect Ratatouille to end up amongst our favorite films of the year easily.

Live Free Or Die Hard is the other massive opener this weekend. Technically, it debuted with midnight sneaks at 12:01 on Wednesday, earning $9.1 million along the way. With a total approaching $14 million prior to the weekend, Bruce Willis' latest Save the World from Terrorists offering is already off to a strong start. After a dozen years of attempts to find the formula needed to type the buddy picture/Simon Says premise of the over-the-top (even by this franchise's standard) Die Hard: With a Vengeance, Fox finally came up with an intriguing reboot premise.


Using cyber-terrorism and the smirking malice of BOP fave (and former pupil of one of BOP's staff) Timothy Olyphant as a jumping off point, Live Free Or Die Hard sees John McClane evolve into the parent of a teen girl who barely knows him and definitely does not like him. Meanwhile, he also develops a mentoring relationship with his accidental partner, played by Justin "I'm a Mac" Long. As action heroes often do as they get older, Willis is asked to be not just the fearless warrior from the original Die Hard but also a teacher in the ways of on-the-fly crisis management not unlike Sean Connery's work in The Rock. He has accepted this concession to his advanced age with grace, but he still manages to look like an intimidating bad-ass at 52.

The end result is that Live Free Or Die Hard does not feel like a tardy rehash of a tired format to mainstream audiences. A brilliant marketing campaign featuring a couple of dazzling money shots involving violence, McClane's trademark gallows humor, and an old chestnut of a quote from the original has people jazzed to see the fourth movie. Die Hard is a franchise that debuted all the way back in 1987 before many of the MySpace generation consumers who want to see it were born, but the original still stands as the archetypal action movie of the past two decades. Audiences will flock to see what appears to be a worthy entry, making it likely to earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $34.1 million this weekend.

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