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Weekend Forecast for February 4-6, 2005

By Reagen Sulewski

February 4, 2005

New England 27, Philadelphia 20

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Though we say goodbye to January and its slate of cast-off films, the Super Bowl still looms large over the weekend, with 50 to 100 million North Americans' Sundays all booked up. Counter-programming rules the weekend, as no studio wants to see the third day of release of their film knocked out with their target audience is glued to the TV.

With that in mind, we present... The Wedding Date, which no self-respecting football fan could place as his top priority for the weekend. While not technically a remake, I understand its working title was My Best Friend's Wedding (But This Time My Date Isn't Gay). Add in the fact that they're shamelessly trying to make Debra Messing look like Jennifer Aniston, and you've got one of the more derivative movies in recent history, and that's saying a lot.

Messing's character panics at the prospect of being dateless at her younger sister's wedding (because without a man, she's nothing) and hires a male escort to be her date, one Dermot Mulroney, whom you might remember as the main object of affection of... My Best Friend's Wedding (just shameless). This time around, the producers have figured out that if the supporting male is gay, the prospects for your female lead to have a romantic ending are low. However, they've swung entirely the other way, if you pardon the pun, and left entirely zero doubt as to what happy ending awaits.

On the other hand, that's not entirely a negative in the eyes of the target audience, who want safe, unchallenging, Cathy-esque hijinks. The cracks may be beginning to show in this formula, however. For a not entirely clear reason (other than horrible early reviews), Universal is premiering the film on a very modest 1,695 theaters. This is also Messing's first real test as a lead after Will & Grace fame, and we all know how well TV stars transfer to the big screen. On a weak weekend, The Wedding Date should still be able to capture top spot, albeit with a modest $14 million.

The early year horror parade continues with Boogeyman, debuting at 3,052 venues. Another generic title like last week's Hide and Seek, this film differs in that it is virtually starless, with no Robert De Niro or even Dakota Fanning in sight. Lucy Lawless doesn't quite fit the bill. It's telling that the film has not been released for review. The director is Stephen Kay, whose last film you'd remember is the remake of Get Carter, and who wrote The Mod Squad, which belongs to the elite "zero-percenter" squad at Rotten Tomatoes. You'll forgive me if I'm suspicious that he's suddenly been able to develop talent in the intervening years.

A good title can still draw, of course, and the boogeyman is a classic idea in terror. Children's monsters have worked before (Darkness Falls even made a ghoul out of the Tooth Fairy) and that should be good for a few million. But with just about no promotion, this is a "throw it against the wall and see if it sticks" release, and it's gonna hit the floor pretty hard. Look for Boogeyman to scare up around $5 million.

Its competition, if we're even allowing that, is Hide and Seek, which won last weekend with $22 million. Not entirely Robert De Niro's finest hour, it was met with hoots and hollers, and doesn't seem long for the world. It'll be lucky not to drop 50%, so $10-12 million is what to expect here.

The surprise of the weekend had to be the performance of Are We There Yet?, which dropped a mere 13%, giving the old-school rapper's film old-school legs. Another $16 million last weekend meant it had reached $38 million after the end of its 2nd frame. The cartoonish family film is unlikely to be very strongly affected by Super Bowl Sunday, though hoping for a repeat of less than 20% decline is optimistic. Give it $12 million over the next three days.

Oscar nominees, led by Million Dollar Baby, will continue to make their presence felt. Though Baby opened to "only" $12 million last weekend, that was on just over 2,000 theaters, and nominees typically have staying power through to the awards date and beyond. It's not expanding very much this weekend, so a small drop of about 20% or to about $10 million is to be expected.

The Aviator jumped up a couple spots after its field-leading 11 nominations, earning $7.5 on the weekend. Like Million Dollar Baby, it's not risking an expansion on Super Bowl Weekend, and with its longer running time, may suffer worse on Sunday. Look for a little over $5 million for Scorsese and company.

A film that is trying its luck this weekend is Hotel Rwanda, which is about doubling its screens to a little over 800. It's on the outside of the top ten and looking in and will remain so, as it was just under $2 million for last weekend, and tenth place in this field should be worth about $4 million. Don Cheadle's award-worthy turn here as a genocide stopping hotel manager should earn the film another $3 million this weekend.

A handful of limited release films are opening this weekend, as they're more or less immune to Super Bowl effects. The most promising looking among these is Rory O'Shea Was Here, about a pair of friends with cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy who attempt to forge a live for themselves outside institutional care. While this could be Hallmark Hall of Fame material, the film does not seem prone to lionizing the pair, giving them attitude and sarcasm as their chief defence mechanisms and attempting to turn them into real characters. From Focus Features, the film is debuting in three theaters but looks headed for bigger things.


Forecast: Weekend of February 4-6, 2005
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 The Wedding Date 1,695 New 14.4
2 Are We There Yet? 2,790 +80 12.1
3 Hide and Seek 3,005 0 10.9
4 Million Dollar Baby 2,025 +15 9.8
5 The Aviator 2,530 +27 5.3
6 Meet the Fockers 2,505 -501 4.9
7 Sideways 1,787 +93 4.8
8 Boogeyman 3,052 New 4.8
9 Coach Carter 2,574 0 4.2
10 Racing Stripes 3,003 -182 4.2

     


 
 

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