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Weekend Forecast for August 10-12, 2007

By Reagen Sulewski

August 10, 2007

I take it back! Orange is a flattering color for you!

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A red hot summer box office fed by trilogies has yet another third film of a series ready to lead the way in earnings this weekend. An already impressive box office gets even stronger.

Chris Tucker ends his self-imposed exile from the big screen to team up once again with Jackie Chan for Rush Hour 3. The Brett Ratner-directed series, responsible for finally putting Chan over for good in the United States, is the sole entry on Tucker's CV in the past nine years. Obviously Tucker has a fantastic money manager, although the $20 million he got for Rush Hour 2 would give anyone a great start.

This blend of action and comedy has proven incredibly popular beyond most expectations, with the first film setting a record for September opening weekends in 1998 and the second setting the August mark in 2001 (broken only last weekend). Rush Hour 3 sees Chan and Tucker visiting Paris, where their character's international reputations accidentally draw them into a Chinese Triad gang war. I hate it when that happens.




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The biggest question for this film's prospects is just how much Tucker's extended layoff has hurt the franchise. The partnership between Tucker and Chan is clearly the lynchpin for the series, as Chan's non-Rush Hour films in English have been hit-or-miss affairs, certainly nothing that compares to the $67 million of Rush Hour 2. There's also a small question of whether Chan's 54-year-old body can hold up to the required fight scenes. Finally, and almost incidentally, there's the film itself, which seems almost a bit quaint as a buddy-film setup. Reviews are pretty poor, although there are a couple of great laugh lines in the ads. I don't expect this one to mimic the steady growth of last week's three-quel, the Bourne Ultimatum, though the slide back should be minor. Look for an opening weekend of $62 million and an easy win for the weekend.

One of the dividends of the enormous success of the Lord of the Rings series has been the increased willingness of studios to greenlight fantasy films. One of those opens this weekend, Stardust, based on the Neil Gaiman-written/Charles Vess-illustrated novel.

In the film, a young man named Tristan (relative unknown Charlie Cox) attempts to impress his object of desire (Sienna Miller) by tracking down a falling star. However, on the way to retrieve it, he passes into a magical land and discovers that the "star" is in fact, a magical woman (Claire Danes), who is pursued by all and sundry for her magical powers. Her pursuers include a septet of princes and a witch (Michelle Pfeiffer) who wants the star in order to help her become young again. The two will have to fight their way to safety under the protection of a pirate (Robert DeNiro) while Tristan finds that his true love may not be who he thought it was.

Stardust occupies the same general area of romantic-action-fantasy as The Princess Bride, and it's obvious that it wants to be that film so bad it can taste it. The finished product, however, doesn't appear quite up to that mark. Early reviews were harsh on it, although that has improved as the film gets closer to release. There's something just a bit off about the film that is difficult to put a finger on, like that it just doesn't have that magic touch. The story is one of Gaiman's best, and he has a small but dedicated following, but this feels like a film that will be slow to catch on with the general public, if at all. I foresee an $11 million weekend for its start.


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