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Weekend Forecast for April 15-17, 2005

By Reagen Sulewski

April 15, 2005

Honestly, I just wanna talk.

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With April box office this year being as cool as April showers, only one new release challenges for business this weekend. A horror remake, it doesn’t look to be the film to heat up this pre-summer period.

The Amityville Horror is the sole new film in theatres this weekend, the latest in the Michael Bay’s attempt to redefine the horror genre in his image. It’s not Bay-directed, I should note, but like the recent remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, he’s producing and very much molding the film into his own style, a la Bruckheimer.

The textbook example of the Evil House movie (not to be confused with House), the 1979 film was ridiculously successful, making nearly $100 million and briefly turning James Brolin into a star (oh, those crazy days). It also spawned two theatrical sequels and about 106 direct-to-video “classics”. This version replaces him with Ryan Reynolds, aka Van Wilder, aka Mr. Alanis.

Reynolds could be on the verge of stardom, having shed his goofball image for actual leading man quality and some action cred for good measure, being the best thing about Blade: Trinity (not that that’s saying much). He’s not a star yet, though, and can be said to only mildly help this film along by being a recognizable name to the target audience (under 25s).

This new version borrows liberally from the style popularized again by films like The Others and The Ring, where special effects are used to superimpose visions of ghastly terror and we doubt our protagonist’s own sanity. It’s been a solid technique of late, and there’s a scholarly essay to be written about how these films have used old technology like 8mm film and analog records to evoke fear (don’t worry, this isn’t one). Amityville isn’t as embedded into the collective psyche as Texas Chainsaw Massacre was and it will suffer a little as a result, but not tremendously. Opening on about 3,200 screens, The Amityville Horror should scare up (sorry) about $21 million this weekend.

Leading the sorry crop of returning top ten films is Sahara, which opened to $18 million last weekend. Based on the Clive Cussler-penned Dirk Pitt series, it doesn’t look like it will jump start an action franchise for Matthew McConaughey in the same way that the Bourne series made one for Matt Damon. Of course Damon is a “bigger” star than McConaughey, but the chance was always there. Sahara should drop to about $11 million this weekend.

Sin City proved to not be to the taste of many - not that that’s surprising - with a 51% drop in weekend number two, although it did cross the $50 million mark. Compare this fall to the 43% Kill Bill Vol. 1 saw (and the 58% for Kill Bill Vol. 2) in the same time frame, and it doesn’t look too promising for the final total of the film, though with a bare bones budget, a sequel or even a series can’t be ruled out. Give it $8 million in its third weekend.

Fever Pitch may, combined with the failure of Taxi, put the final nail in the leading man career of Jimmy Fallon, brief as it was. Opening to just $12 million in one of the most baseball-centric times of the year, this sports-centric romantic comedy just turned off too many people from the get-go. Jocks hated Fallon and the nerds hated sports. It was a no-win situation.

A handful of films will be earning from $2 to 5 million this weekend, with only a couple being remarkable box office wise. Robots and The Pacifier are both over the century mark, though neither is likely to pass $125 million. That passes for a blockbuster in this bunch of films, as we’ve reached the pre-summer slowdown, where no one is really willing to let their film be fodder for the upcoming tentpole pictures.

We do have a few notables in limited release, however, including a documentary about Chinese basketball player/phenom Yao Ming, entitled The Year of the Yao (with several of its 12 screens going to Houston, no doubt). Palindromes is the latest provocative film from Todd Solondz (Happiness, Welcome to the Dollhouse), which explores the ideas of our conceptions of a character based on appearance. Revolving around a 13-year-old girl who wants to run away from home and become pregnant, Solondz has cast seven different actresses of varying age, race and build to play the lead character. As gimmicks go, it’s a doozy, but it’s unlikely to propel Solondz’s film into mainstream success. Not that he would even want it.


Forecast: Weekend of April 15-17, 2005
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 The Amityville Horror 3,323 New 21.4
2 Sahara 3,154 0 10.7
3 Sin City 3,002 -228 8.1
4 Fever Pitch 3,275 +8 7.3
5 Beauty Shop 2,260 -399 4.4
6 Guess Who 2,999 -65 4.3
7 Robots 2.476 -237 3.0
8 MIss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous 2,625 -368 2.6
9 The Pacifier 2,068 -307 2.4
10 The Upside of Anger 1,166 +15 1.9

     


 
 

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