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Weekend Forecast for September 21-23, 2007

By Reagen Sulewski

September 21, 2007

The next person to comment on her chaps gets cut.

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It's a moderately clever premise for a film once you get past how misogynistic it is, and not a million miles away from something the Farrelly Brothers might try – although tone is always important. However, even here the producers don't seem to have the courage of their scummy convictions, and have bailed on the premise in the weeks leading up to its release. Instead, they've attempted to push it as a straight-up romantic comedy with a focus on Alba's klutzy vet character, perhaps realizing that otherwise, no women would come see their film. Too little, too late, as the saying goes, and the number of times radically changing the advertising focus of a film has worked can likely be counted on one hand (they probably even like to insert a comma into the title). Although the initial advertising wasn't working great, at least it had the benefit of being different, and generifying the film stinks of panic. I'd look for this one to be a loud bomb, opening to just $6 million.

One significant expansion on the weekend sees David Cronenberg's latest, Eastern Promises, move into wide release in about 1,400 venues. Fresh off winning the audience award at the Toronto Film Festival, this thriller could replicate the success of last fall's A History of Violence, which also teamed up Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen.

Also starring Naomi Watts, Promises opened to a little over half a million on 15 screens, a nearly identical performance to Violence. Apparently there's a stock amount that this director and this lead actor in a revenge thriller are worth. The addition of Watts and the buzz from winning Toronto should make up for what appears to me to be an uglier and less appealing plot line and setting than Cronenberg's last, which should bring it up to that $8 million mark that A History of Violence was able to pull in on this many screens.




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Although none of them go wide, we also have a number of other films expanding, with visions of both box office and Oscars dancing in their heads. In The Valley of Elah, The Hunting Party and Across the Universe all move into a few hundred more screens this weekend, with Across the Universe holding the most box office potential. This Beatles-infused musical was a strong performer in its first weekend of limited release, earning two-thirds of a million dollars on 23 screens. This is slightly less impressive a per screen performance than Eastern Promises, which got the promotion to wide release, but still strong overall. With this expansion, Across the Universe should see around $2.5 million of business on the weekend.

Returning films are not a strong lot, with only The Brave One having broken double digits last weekend. One of approximately 354 revenge thrillers this fall, this was propelled by Jodie Foster to a $13.5 million opening weekend, well below the standard of Foster's last few films. The quite lukewarm reception to this one may kill any Oscar hopes it had, especially if it falls to $7 million or so this weekend. On the contrary, 3:10 to Yuma boosted its chances for end of year support with a strong second weekend of almost $9 million after a nearly identical opening weekend to that of The Brave One. Although it faces a big challenge from The Assassination of Jesse James, which opens in limited release this weekend, having audience support is a good first step for it.


Forecast: Weekend of September 21-23, 2007
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 Resident Evil: Extinction 2,828 New 25.3
2 Eastern Promises 1,404 +1,389 8.2
3 Sydney White 2,102 New 7.8
4 The Brave One 2,755 0 7.4
5 Good Luck Chuck 2,612 New 6.8
6 3:10 to Yuma 2,902 +235 6.4
7 Mr. Woodcock 2,237 +6 5.2
8 Superbad 2,305 -605 3.4
9 The Bourne Ultimatum 2,008 -603 3.0
10 Halloween 2,338 -713 2.6

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