Weekend Forecast for February 25-27, 2005

By Reagen Sulewski

February 24, 2005

Charlize! No!

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As the Academy prepares to hand out its hardware on Sunday, the box office moves from the gothic horror of Constantine to the straight ahead classic horror of Cursed, which reteams a pair that was responsible for the genre’s revival in the late '90s.

Wes Craven was a horror legend long before meeting up with Kevin Williamson. However, when they came together to make Scream and its brand of self-aware meta-horror in 1996, it both revitalized Craven's legend and inspired a legion of copycats, including, you might argue, its two sequels.

Since then, Craven has mostly stuck to production work and Williamson to teen soap opera, but both apparently felt the itch to get their hands dirty in the big screen again. Cursed, their take on the Wolfman mythos, is the result, starring Christina Ricci, Shannon Elizabeth and Joshua Jackson, among others.

While the Craven/Williamson pairing is undoubtedly exciting as a prospect, the bloom has come a little bit off the rose in the past decade or so; Williamson was kicked off Scream 3 (which was just plain awful anyway) and the run of cheap horror has diluted the waters somewhat. A young cast and a PG-13 rating might offset those issues at the box office.

I’m not much of a fan of CGI-laced horror, which a Wolfman film pretty much has to be these days (although perhaps not: see Ginger Snaps), although hopefully the real attraction is crisp dialogue like we saw in... well, at least the first two Screams. Opening on 2,805 screens, Cursed is likely to be a tier above most of the cheapo stuff, owing to a better cast, better production values and most important, better promotion. Look for about $31 million for Cursed this weekend.

I think in Tommy Lee Jones’s nightmares, he’s playing the role from The Fugitive forever and ever. While Man of the House isn’t technically related to that series, it doesn’t take much of a stretch to see that the makers of the film are trying their hardest to put that impression in our heads. Jones’s character, a Texas Ranger, is assigned to guard a passel of cheerleaders after they witness a murder. Before you can say, “Bring it on”, culture clash ensues, with Jones’s gruff demeanor running head-on into bubble-headed cheerleaders.

Jones has a pretty good head for comedy, as in Men in Black, and the comic touches he brings to less “serious” films like Space Cowboys. He makes an almost perfect foil in this situation (“This is my happy face” just kills) and doubly so when placed against Cedric the Entertainer, his co-star in the film.

The trailer definitely has the spirit of the Cheerleading renaissance film Bring It On, as well as other comedies that followed such as The New Guy and to a lesser extent, things like The Hot Chick. Hopefully this film is better than all of those (though Bring it On was pretty good). A well-produced trailer and spots should lead this to around $18 million this weekend.

Bound to make anyone with a Y-chromosome shrivel up a little inside, Diary of a Mad Black Woman hits theaters in a targeted release of around 1,300 screens. Based on a stage play of the same name, Diary stars Kimberly Elise as a cruelly dumped woman who moves back in with her grandmother (playwright Tyler Perry, in full Big Momma’s House drag) and learns life lessons and to be true to herself and yada yada yada.

The play has a bit of a phenomenon surrounding it, having spawned several “sequels” around the grandmother character; however, it’s something of a niche product when it comes to the big screen. Think of Woman Thou Art Loosed, which premiered last October (and coincidentally also starred Kimberly Elise).

Surprisingly, this film is getting trashed by critics so far, calling it shrill and sitcom-like, and perhaps most damningly, hypocritical in regards to religion. The audience is likely to be self-sold on this, though, even if they may have to hunt to find the film a little. It debuts in 1,483 locations, which should make for about $7 million on the weekend.

Hitch was able to fend of Constantine for first place last weekend, earning $31 million over its second frame to Constantine’s $29 million. That’s a drop of just 27%, an outstanding figure these days, even if it was aided just a bit by a long weekend. It probably won’t repeat that performance, but it’s not about to come careening down to Earth, either. It should bring in about $22 million from Friday-to-Sunday, cresting the $125 million milestone and expanding its lead as the highest grossing film of 2005 so far.

Constantine fared quite well with audiences even as a lot were split on its merits. This means that the film is not likely to be a long-lived performer at the box office; however, it’s not likely to die a quick death like many other horror/comic movies before it. Expect around $18 million for weekend number two.

Because of Winn-Dixie pulled in a little over $10 million over three days from people who apparently can’t get enough of cute puppies and doe-eyed children. As the top family choice out there, it’s likely to stick around for awhile, sort of like a cold you can’t shake. It should earn around $7 million this weekend.

We dodged a bullet with Son of the Mask, though as far as I’m concerned, $7.5 million is still far too much for it to earn in a weekend. I’ll be happy with nothing else short of one of the highest second weekend drops ever, to teach studios a lesson about unnecessary sequels.

My money’s still on The Aviator to win Best Picture; however, Million Dollar Baby and Sideways are already the winners when it comes to box office. The former continues to cruise along, dropping a miniscule 9% last weekend, while Sideways is close to $60 million, or $55 million more than most people might have expected. The Aviator will take the box office lead into Oscar weekend among Best Picture nominees, followed by Ray ($75 million), then Sideways, Million Dollar Baby and Finding Neverland drawing up the rear at $45 million so far.

Forecast: Weekend of February 25-27, 2005
Number of
Changes in Sites
from Last
Gross ($)
1 Cursed 2,805 New 31.0
2 Hitch 3,571 -4 21.7
3 Constantine 3,006 0 18.2
4 Man of the House 2,422 New 18.1
5 Because of Winn-Dixie 3,188 0 7.2
6 Diary of a Mad Black Woman 1,483 New 6.9
7 Million Dollar Baby 2,125 +20 6.3
8 Are We There Yet? 2,242 -277 4.9
9 The Aviator 1,579 -131 3.5
10 Sideways 1,229 -71 3.0



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