Weekend Forecast for July 4-6, 2008
By Reagen Sulewski
July 1, 2008
With the midway point of the year and the summer box office season arriving, a familiar face makes an appearance to attempt to reclaim his throne as King of Summer. And what do you know; it's with a comedy action film!
Hancock is Will Smith's fifth film to debut on the July 4th weekend (though as always, the actual date is flexible, with shows starting 7 p.m. on July 1st). He stars as John Hancock, a hard-living, alcoholic superhero who causes as much destruction as he stops. He's Superman, but with consequences, a bad reputation and a hefty legal problem.
It's an interesting and somewhat original take on the superhero mythos, a "why didn't I think of that" idea (or, maybe you did, but didn't have hundreds of millions of dollars to make the film). He's got powers, but he just doesn't care. In exploring the idea, Hancock sends its hero to prison in order to show his value to society, with the hopes of showing just how necessary he is as a hero. At the same time, Hancock also starts to reform himself, and become more of a proper hero and role model. It's a little more depth than we're used to out of our comic book movies (though this isn't adapted from any title).
Smith makes a perfect anti-hero in this, playing off his normally clean-cut image to great effect. He hasn't been a July 4th guy since 2002's Men in Black II, which is probably best left right there. However, after a few years of stretching his legs with drama and family acting chops, he reestablished himself as an action guy with I Am Legend (which also wasn't a typical hero role, but that's what makes it all the more compelling), which opened to $77 million.
After initially highlighting the comedy aspects of this film, such as Hancock's prison escapades, and the legal restrictions placed on him, recent ads have put more of an emphasis on the fireworks and action. It makes it a little less of a unique product, but I think Columbia has done enough to make it stand out. Director Peter Berg seems to have given this a deft touch, so it still shines through.
With a preview date and a Wednesday opening, the weekend total becomes a bit more academic. However, I'm expecting a strong opening night of about $6 million, with around $16 million for the next two days each. Add that to around $70 million for a $108 million five and a half day running total.
Hancock isn't the only film debuting to larger audiences, though the gap between the earning potential of these films probably couldn't be much wider. Kit Kittredge: An American Girl is based on the American Girl doll series and their associated stories. The first of these stories, Kit Kittredge follows the adventure of one girl during the Great Depression, with Abigail Breslin starring in the lead role.
This is a film about as tightly focused to its market as you're likely to see, with almost all of its audience bound to be pre-teen girls and their mothers. That can be a pretty lucrative market if done correctly, but we're essentially looking at Nancy Drew with a better marketing effort. Limited screenings have put up some decent numbers, with around $44,000 per screen in five venues. Expanding to just under 2,000 screens, it's due for about $8 million this weekend.
Returning champion Wall*E is very unlikely to repeat, but it's definitely in line for a strong second weekend. Pixar's films have always exhibited tremendous staying power, and with the rapturous reviews and word-of-mouth that this innovative film has been getting, I don't see any change in that trend. After one of the highest opening weekends for a Pixar film at $63 million, the benchmark is already pretty high, but with the holiday, I expect a second weekend of about $41 million.
Wanted is a film going in the opposite direction. Opening to $50 million was a great start for this hyper kinetic action film, but it's hard to imagine a film more likely to fall off the face of the Earth more quickly. With mixed reviews and middling-at-best audience reception, this effects-driven film should see a fall to as little as $21 million.
Get Smart took a bit of a surprising fall to $20 million, though it's still in excellent shape with about $80 million in the bank at this point. I expect it to bounce back, with some of this fall perhaps being due to a hotter than expected start. Give it $12 million for its third weekend.