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Weekend Forecast for September 19-21, 2008

By Reagen Sulewski

September 19, 2008

We don't take kindly to people who don't wear Hawaiian shirts around here.

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Ghost Town marks the start of The Office (BBC) star Ricky Gervais' attempt to become a comedic leading man, with the kind of movie that seemed to go out of style in 1985. Odd choice. Gervais stars as a misanthrope (that's a stretch) dentist who, after dying very briefly during surgery, starts to see dead people. Seeing as how he's one of the few people they can talk to, of course they want things, with one in particular, played by Greg Kinnear, asking him to talk to his former fiancée (Tea Leoni) in order to stop her from marrying a total jerkbag.

It's essentially Ghost in reverse crossed with The Sixth Sense plus some All of Me thrown in there for good measure, and it looks about as hackneyed as any studio comedy could be. Reviews have taken a general tone of "it's better than it looks, honest!" which, I suppose, it'd have to be. With this being Gervais' first real role, it's tough to judge just how popular he'll be – he's made his name for playing mostly unlikable characters, which play well on TV but are often hard to deal with on the big screen. This doesn't appear to be too far away from those, so you wonder a little who's going to show up, other than the built in Gervais fans, of which there aren't going to be that many.

Paramount has had the same thoughts, opening the film in just 1,500 theaters despite promoting the hell out of it, which is practically a limited release these days. I'd look for about $7 million this weekend for Ghost Town.

Lastly, we have Igor, the kids' option for the weekend. Starring John Cusack as a put-upon henchman in a world of mad scientists yearning to create some mad science of his own. Lessons are learned, monsters are created, yada yada yada, and a good time is had by all.




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You don't need me to tell you that animation is no longer the magic bullet of the cinema that it once was. Something like Fly Me To the Moon shows that only too well (what, kids aren't into animated maggots?). At this point, it's Pixar + every other DreamWorks + Ice Age, or nothing. MGM is giving it a valiant try, however. Although their animation looks sharp and interesting, they just don't have the buzz and the crossover appeal with adults to get this film moving. I predict a dismal $5 million or so this weekend.

The big question will be if the new films can surpass last weekend's surprisingly strong slate, led by Burn After Reading's $19 million. The quirky Coen Brothers spy-film didn't make a lot of friends in theaters because of its decidedly non-conventional plotting and odd humor, so while we're applauding Brad Pitt and George Clooney for taking this decidedly strange film to the top of the charts, let's not start gold plating Mercedes just yet. I'd look for a weekend take of around $10.5 million for its second frame.

Tyler Perry did it yet again with The Family That Preys, which earned a very predictable $17 million in its opening weekend. While there doesn't seem to be a law of diminishing returns kicking in on his films just yet, his family dramas do tend to be one weekend wonders. That's the benefit and a curse of a built in audience, I suppose. I'll give this $9 million this weekend.

Righteous Kill earned an almost shocking $16 million, after teaming up Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro in a cop movie about serial killers. I know, I know, such an innovative premise deserves to be rewarded with commercial success, but really, did this look like anything that special? Apparently we were just dying to see these two act in more than one scene together in a movie. We'll see if the novelty holds, but I'll give it $9 million as well for this weekend.

The Women was the fourth opener to break double digits, earning $10 million despite abysmal reviews and a cast of women who have seen better days. This is probably enough to call Diane English's directorial debut a winner financially, considering it cost just barely more than that to make. I don't see any legs whatsoever, though, and it should add about $6 million to its total.


Forecast: Weekend of September 19-21, 2008
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 Lakeview Terrace 2,464 New 13.3
2 My Best Friend's Girl 2,604 New 12.4
3 Burn After Reading 2,657 +6 11.0
4 Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys 2,070 0 9.5
5 Righteous Kill 3,152 0 8.8
6 Ghost Town 1,505 New 7.3
7 The Women 2,995 +33 6.4
8 Igor 2,339 New 4.8
9 The Dark Knight 1,905 -286 2.9
10 Tropic Thunder 2,333 -594 2.9

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