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Weekend Forecast for August 8-10, 2008

By David Mumpower

August 6, 2008

I've gotten so much more famous than you, Joan of Arcadia...if that is your real name.

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Clearly, the 2006 Winter Olympics did not disrupt the box office much if at all and the 2004 Summer Olympics didn't seem to do so, either. Keeping this in mind, the real subject matter here is not what else is happening in the world, but what is going on at theaters. The answer is that two new releases are entering the marketplace and each of them appears to poised to reach one of those demographics who believes The Olympics are no X-Games.

The slightly higher profile release is Pineapple Express, the stoner celebration that reunites Freaks and Geeks co-stars James Franco and Seth Rogen. Franco, who played a brooding heartthrob on mega-successful producer Judd Apatow's first show, has been famous since 2002 for his work as Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man franchise. The least successful of these three films is the (no longer) final entry, Spider-Man 3, which earned $336.5 million domestically, meaning Franco has been one of the three leads in three of the top 16 releases of all-time. He's a star.

Seth Rogen, the Canadian doughboy who was only 17 during the Freaks and Geeks run, has taken a more circuitous route to celebrity status. Not born with the same Hollywood looks of his buddy, Franco, Rogen relied upon his brain and sense of humor to make him famous. After a couple of minor roles including a part on Dawson's Creek (no, really), Rogen was hired to be on the writing staff of Undeclared. He also became a co-star on the short-lived program, proving his stripes enough to earn further work as a comedy writer for Da Ali G Show, the show that would birth the now-infamous character of Borat.




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After co-producing and co-starring in the surprise hit, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Rogen was bumped up to star status for the first time with Knocked Up, a film whose blockbuster success we chronicled last year. Opening to a surprising $30.7 million, the Judd Apatow release stunned the industry by demostrating old school Hollywood legs on its way to $148.7 million domestically. Not stopping there, Rogen's dream project since his formative years, Superbad, was released two months later. Celebrating the beauty of penile art, the sophomoric comedy provided just the right note of slapstick schtick to engage teen audiences. Made on a budget of only $17.5 million, the title earned a magnificent $121.5 million domestically, making it one of the most productive earners of 2007. Seth Rogen, a goofy looking guy (to be polite) with a sense of humor that would make Red Foxx blush, had made a pair of movies that combined for $270 million worth of revenue.

While Franco had a brief cameo in Knocked Up as a man who watches Katherine Heigl vomit (ordinarily, it's the other way around as men vomit when watching Katherine Heigl), this is the first time he and Rogen have paired up on screen since Freaks and Geeks. What's shocking here is that Franco has never had a $10+ million opener on his own that didn't involve Spider-Man. His biggest starring role to date in terms of opening weekend is Annapolis, which earned $7,681,171. Most of his titles fall in the $20 million or less category, indicating that as odd and counter-intuitive as it may seem, Rogen is the draw here.

Their reunion is a film that celebrates Reefer Madness in a way that must make the also reunited duo of Cheech and Chong (come on, I had to mention them) proud. I strongly suspect that the same people who made Superbad such a sleeper sensation are going to line up en masse for this release. I expect the title to make around $40.4 million between now and Sunday while also becoming the unlikeliest of titles to usurp The Dark Knight's throne.


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