August 2005 Forecast
By Michael Bentley
1) The Dukes of Hazzard
I'll just leave it to good old Cooter (Ben Jones) himself to give his thoughts on the Dukes of Hazzard movie:
"...ours is a classic family show with positive values, great action, wonderful slapstick comedy, mighty fine country music, and a very gifted cast who had great chemistry. America could tell that we were clearly enjoying what we were doing and for that hour folks could forget their troubles and just have fun along with us. It is exactly the kind of entertainment that families crave right now."
"Frankly, I think the whole project shows an arrogant disrespect for our show, for our cast, for America's families, and for the sensibilities of the heartland of our country."
"Unless they clean it up before the August 5th release date I would strongly recommend that true blue Dukes fans hold their noses and pass this one up."
...Now I'm all on board with Jones on holding our noses and not going to this, but not for the reasons he gives. I don't want to go because it looks like yet another crudfest. And Seann William Scott is in it. But to say that the original television series had good family values is rather amusing. That being said, I'm sure that a lot of people are clamoring to see the new Bo and Luke, and will ignore Jones's plea so that they can see the General Lee flying through the air once again.
Opening weekend prediction: $36 million.
2) The Skeleton Key
Kate Hudson stars as a woman who takes a job caring for an elderly couple in New Orleans in The Skeleton Key. She is drawn to the mysterious nature of the house and, well, I bet that there is something having to do with a key unlocking a door somewhere. The trailer for the film has provided some very encouraging glimpses of what could be a very spooky, supernatural thriller. The great Peter Sarsgaard costars.
There have been a number of thrillers and horror films so far this year, and people may be getting burned out on them (see: The Ring Two). But the setting and Cajun atmosphere in The Skeleton Key could prove to be a winner.
Opening weekend: $18 million.
3) Four Brothers
In John Singleton's newest flick, four adopted multicultural brothers (including Mark Wahlberg and Tyrese Gibson) come together to avenge their mother's violent death. The trailer makes the movie look pretty fun and entertaining, and the cast and crew and sure to bring in a sizeable urban audience. Four Brothers could fight for the top spot in its crowded opening weekend.
Opening weekend: $17 million.
4) The 40 Year-Old Virgin
Steve Carell stars as The 40 Year-Old Virgin, a 40 year-old man who... well, use your imagination. Carell has been building up his image with strong supporting roles in a number of comedies over the years (such as Bruce Almighty and Anchorman), and was also a key member of John Stewart's Daily Show team. The question is whether it will be able to duplicate the strong success of another R-rated comedy from this summer, Wedding Crashers. My sources say no; after all, Carell doesn't exactly have the name recognition as Vince Vaughn yet. Still, this should bring in plenty of people looking for a good laugh.
Opening weekend: $16 million.
Produced by Disney as well as the producers of the megahit Shrek, Valiant is a CGI-animated film about a carrier pigeon that tries to make his way through the Royal Pigeon Service boot camp during World War II. The cast of voice actors is pretty impressive including Jim Broadbent, Obi Wan Kenobi, The Office's Ricky Gervais, and Ben Kingsley, among others. This has all the makings of becoming yet another in a long line of CGI smash hits.
But for whatever reason, there seems to be much less advertising and promotion on Valiant than there normally is for a Disney picture. At this rate, they'll be pleased if it makes just a fraction of what Shrek did or a typical Pixar release.
Opening weekend: $16 million.
6) The Brothers Grimm
Poor, Terry Gilliam. The former Monty Python cast member has had several struggles throughout his career. First, there was the clash with studio executives over Brazil. Then some trying movie shoots, culminating with the absolutely disastrous The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. (And if you haven't heard of that one, it's because it was axed after about a week of principal photography; check it out in the great documentary Lost in La Mancha.)
What does that have to do with The Brothers Grimm? Probably nothing. Even so, despite the fact that several of the titles in his filmography are warmly remembered and have mass followings, he has never had a big hit film. The Brothers Grimm is based on creators of the classic fairy tales, who should be familiar to many people. Throw in a big-name cast including Matt Damon, Heath Ledger and Monica Bellucci and the odds of Gilliam finally having a hit increase considerably. Will it break the Gilliam curse?
Opening weekend: $13 million.
7) Red Eye
One of the masters of the horror and thriller genre, Wes Craven, is back with Red Eye. Rachel McAdams (seen recently in the Wedding Crashers, and also in last year's The Notebook) plays a woman help hostage on an airplane by the Scarecrow, Cillian Murphy (of Batman Begins). The madman has threatened to kill her father if she doesn't turn into Patty Hearst for him, and help him out. It's been a mixed bag from Craven over the years, and other than the Scream series he hasn't had a true box office hit. But his core audience has been pretty loyal and he opened Cursed to okay business earlier in the year.
Opening weekend: $11 million.
8) Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
Seriously? Was anybody seriously requesting a Deuce Bigalow sequel? I doubt that even Rob Schneider's family really cares. Even so, the dimwitted man-whore is back. This time he'll be infecting the ladies in Europe. The original film was a modest hit six years ago, showing decent staying power on its way to $65 million in the domestic box office. I'm hoping that some of those people will stay away from this one, but I'm not counting on it.
Opening weekend: $10 million.
9) The Great Raid
If you haven't heard of The Great Raid yet, you're not alone. This is based on a true story, set in the Philippines during the final months of World War II, about a daring rescue mission to free a large number of American POWs. They are at the Cabanatuan prison camp, some of whom were forced to undergo the infamous Bataan Death March a couple years before. There are a couple recognizable names in the cast including James Franco (of Spider-Man), Benjamin Bratt, Connie Nielsen, and Joseph Fiennes, but none of these actors have any drawing power. This will have to rely on the history fanatics out there.
Opening weekend: $4 million.
Only because something needs to be number ten.
Opening weekend: $4 million.
Just Under the Radar
Bill Murray has been getting a lot of buzz for his performance in director Jim Jarmusch's new effort, Broken Flowers. The romantic comedy is about a self-styled bachelor who is dumped by his girlfriend and then receives an anonymous letter from an ex-flame claiming that he has a son. This causes him to reevaluate his life and he seeks out old girlfriends, High Fidelity style.
On the heels of March of the Penguins comes another nature documentary, Grizzly Man. This tells the story of a man who spent some 12 years living among grizzly bears. He shot the footage himself, and legendary director Werner Herzog (of Aguirre: the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo) pieced things together into this acclaimed film.
This award-winning feature from Hong Kong features the lovely Zhang Ziyi and Maggie Cheung (plus Tony Leung) in an intriguing science-fiction story. Leung stars as a writer who imagines a mysterious train that takes its passengers to the year 2046.
* Please note that all opening weekend estimates are preliminary and do not account for final screen counts.