Weekend Forecast for August 29-September 1, 2008

By Reagen Sulewski

August 29, 2008

His Raybans are swallowing his face.

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The comedy hits just keep on not coming with College, a film that seems to want to give Disaster Movie a run for its money as the champion of Generic Town. Posing itself as a spiritual successor to Animal House, Porky's and probably American Pie, College fires away at the sex/grossout comedy audience, but I think manages the tricky feat of being too puerile even for them.

Written and directed by and starring no one you've ever heard of (okay, there are a couple of Nickelodeon actors in there – but does that really count?), College is about as cynical a project as I can think of – aping the recent Judd Apatow successes without understanding for a minute what made those films work, which is, namely, the heart and character those films had. I'm looking for a big old flop here, with a weekend of about $4 million.

Traitor was one of the two films that had a Wednesday debut, which it did to overwhelming apathy. The political thriller starring Don Cheadle, Jeff Daniels and Guy Pearce earned just $800,000 on its first day, which put it right between weekday takes of Death Race and Mamma Mia!. Since the idea is to build momentum into the weekend, it's safe to call this a miss.

In the film, Cheadle plays a SpecOps operative who may or may not have gone rogue, and could present a threat to the US. It seems not entirely unlike the Bourne movies in that sense, though the action quotient is certainly not there. Cheadle is still not a leading man, apparently, especially in an anti-hero role like this, and it's largely getting a pass. Look for a weekend of $3 million.

It could be worse – it could have had the debut numbers of Hamlet 2, which earned just over a quarter of a million in its Wednesday expansion. After pulling in $400,000 in about 100 theatres last weekend, it expands now to 1,500 or so, but doesn't look to earn all that much more. Starring Steve Coogan and from part of the creative team behind the South Park movie (but not the South Park guys), Hamlet 2 has Coogan as an Arizona drama teacher who tries to stage the most offensive play ever in order to draw attention to his school. It's a nice idea in general, but its sort of hard to shock people anymore with these things. Racism and bigotry for its own sake doesn't really faze anymore, although I'll give "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" points for trying.


It's possible that people just didn't realize that these two movies opened on Wednesday, but that's not a bet that's really worth taking. I see Hamlet 2 coming with a dismal $1 million.

This brings us to our returning films, starting with the Hollywood/war movie satire Tropic Thunder, which repeated in the top spot. Now with about $70 million in the bank and headed for around $110 million total, it's a modest success despite its strangely high budget. Ben Stiller's latest even managed to show a little bit of legginess, which is a bit of an upset lately. It's not impossible for it to repeat for a third weekend at number one given the weakness of the new films in release, but I think it'll fall just short with $11 million over the holiday.

The House Bunny grabbed $14 million in its opening weekend, which was something of a surprise, considering how dopey the comedy looked, though star power probably had something to do with it. Anna Faris seems more legit than ever as a leading lady, and has an outside shot at becoming the female Will Ferrell or Adam Sandler. It's Sandler's backing that got House Bunny made, which may have a part in this, but it is Faris's natural likeability and charisma to play the dumb girl smartly that makes it work. I don't see huge carryover, but it's already a hit and should earn $8 million this weekend.

If action junkies take to Babylon A.D., Death Race is possibly in trouble, though we're talking small degrees at this point. Statham's nihilistic cars and guns movie managed $12 million last weekend, missing its expected weekend win. These are generally "one and done" movies, so don't look for more than $7 million this frame.

The Dark Knight could match that figure, though, in its astounding seventh week of relevance in the box office charts. It's likely to come up just shy of the $500 million mark by the end of this weekend, but that's just a formality, and by next Friday, at the absolute latest, it'll be the second film ever to hit that mark.

Forecast: Weekend of August 29-September 1, 2008
Number of
Changes in Sites
from Last
Gross ($)
1 Babylon A.D. 3,390 New 12.5
2 Disaster Movie 2,642 New 11.6
3 Tropic Thunder 3,473 +121 11.5
4 The House Bunny 2,714 0 8.2
5 The Dark Knight 2,750 -413 7.6
6 Death Race 2,538 +6 7.4
7 College 2,123 New 4.2
8 Mamma Mia! 1,906 -420 3.1
9 Traitor 2,054 New 3.0
10 Star Wars: The Clone Wars 2,444 -1,008 2.8

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