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Weekend Forecast for March 28-30, 2008

By Reagen Sulewski

March 28, 2008

We go together like whamalamalama a dingity dingado.

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Gambling movies are a little hit or miss at the box office, with even the hits usually only becoming so after the fact (a la Rounders). This one's been heavily promoted and focuses less on the mechanics of the game and more on the people and the intrigue, which will help it. A star in the lead could probably given that extra boost, but then keeping this cheap was probably the right idea. Look for $14 million in its debut weekend.

Stop-Loss is the first film from Boys Don't Cry director Kimberly Peirce since tackling gender politics in 1999. No stranger to controversial issues, in this film she's turning to the biggest issue going - the Iraq War. As the title implies, it's less about the war itself than about Army policies regarding its soldiers tours of duty, and the effect it has one them.

Ryan Phillipe stars as a solider who after returning from his tour in Iraq, tries to settle back into his life, thinking he's done with the Army. However, on the day he's supposed to be getting his release, he's "stop-lossed", a designation that means the Army can extend his service indefinitely, sending him back to the front lines. The film follows him after he tries to deal with the designation, as it disrupts his plans and his life and tests his beliefs.

Iraq War films have proven, with basically no exceptions, to be extremely unpopular with moviegoers, regardless of their real or perceived politics. Stop-Loss appears to mostly avoid the political angle of the war and deals with it as it affects the soldiers on the ground. Even taking that into account, it's a subject matter that has people staying away in droves and I don't see this essentially depressing film changing that. Debuting on 1,291 screens, it's due for about $6 million in its opening weekend.

Run Fatboy Run is a film that we here at BOP have been awaiting for some time. The directorial debut of David Schwimmer, it� wait, come back! OK, so the director's name doesn't exactly inspire confidence, but we're just getting to the good part. Simon Pegg stars as a layabout who has spent five years trying to make up for leaving his pregnant fiancee at the altar. Since said fiancee is Thandie Newton, one wonders what Pegg was thinking in running away, but there you have it.




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When he discovers that Newton has gotten engaged to a successful American businessman, who also happens to be a hardcore runner, he decides that the way to get back into Newton's heart is by taking up running himself. The broad plot is fairly sitcom-y, I'll admit, but what's promising here is that the script is by Pegg and Michael Ian Black (who you may or may not remember as Phil Stubbs from the TV show Ed).

Even with the cult success of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Pegg's following is still relatively limited, if fairly dedicated. This doesn't have quite the innate geek hook of zombie or action-parody of Pegg's last two films, nor is it a collaboration with Edgar Wright, but it does appear amusing enough as a relationship comedy. Reflecting Pegg's status, it's premiering at around 1,100 theaters and should see about $4 million this weekend.

Horton Hears a Who! is set to give up the top spot at the box office after two weekends and nearly $100 million so far. It's the clubhouse leader for 2008 box office, passing Cloverfield on Saturday. Obviously, this isn't going to hold up for the rest of the year, but it's still something to be happy about at this early date in the year. With another $14 million or so this weekend, it should stay in the top three, and is headed for a total of about $140 million.

Second place went to another film with the Tyler Perry brand, Meet the Browns. Since 2005's Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Perry has been more or less unstoppable, directing or producing five (and honestly, it feels like more) of his plays for the big screen and hauling in wheelbarrows full of cash. Hey, we get it Tyler, you have a lot of crazy relatives! Meet the Browns opened to $20 million, an opening that's about par for the course at this point. As strong as his films have opened, they've also seen some pretty hefty drops in following weekends. I see no reason to deviate from that here, and I see a second weekend of $10 million in the cards.

Shutter and Drillbit Taylor both earned a near identical total at the box office, $10.4 and $10.3 million respectively, but those totals tell a different story for the two films. Shutter was a cheapo horror film, barely promoted and pretty much already assured a profit. Taylor, while not a bloated budget film by any means, came from Judd Apatow's production house, was co-written by Knocked Up's Seth Rogen, and starred Owen Wilson. Clearly expectations were higher for this one, along the lines of The Pacifier. Both should see only about $5 million this weekend.


Forecast: Weekend of March 28-30, 2008
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 Superhero Movie 2,960 New 19.2
2 21 2,648 New 14.4
3 Horton Hears a Who 3,826 -135 14.0
4 Meet the Browns 2,016 +10 10.4
5 Stop-Loss 1,291 New 6.2
6 Drillbit Taylor 3.061 0 5.4
7 Shutter 2,756 +3 5.2
8 10,000 B.C. 2,055 -399 4.6
9 Run Fatboy Run 1,133 New 4.0
10 College Road Trip 2,270 -305 3.2

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