Weekend Forecast for November 11-13, 2005

By Reagen Sulewski

November 11, 2005

Board games are like videogames from the 1940s, I swear!

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After last weekend's double success of new films, this weekend should see a more subdued result for the three new opening films in this frame.

If you a person that looks at the ads for Zathura and says, "hey, they're totally ripping off Jumanji", you're half-right. Children's author Chris Van Allsburg wrote Zathura as a quasi-sequel to Jumanji (he's also responsible for last year's hit The Polar Express). The concept, if you're not familiar, involves a board game that when played creates its own reality, filled with numerous hazards that really will do you in if you're not careful. The only way to get out is to finish the game, but it's doing its best to prevent you from winning.

Jumanji opened to $11 million in 1995 (!), with a little help from Robin Williams and Bonnie Hunt, and eventually went to earn $100 million, becoming one of the biggest hits of that year's holiday season. Zathura mostly rejects the addition of name actors, with Tim Robbins (in a small role) being the only notable name here. It also moves the action to space instead of the jungle, which could bring some extra ‘hip' appeal to the pre-teen set.

Directed by Jon Favreau, who is building quite a second career for himself, this film seems poised to take advantage of the market for action films for kids, featuring kids. Exemplified by the tremendously successful Spy Kids series, these films give their target audience characters to whom they can relate, and when done properly, provide a film that their parents don't mind shelling out money to see as well. Some fairly good-looking special effects and a heavy marketing campaign should lead this to a respectable $16 million opening weekend.

Get Rich or Die Tryin', covered in the Wednesday update, opened to $3.6 million on its first day. This keeps it more or less on target for a $14 million weekend, and $20 million over five days.

The other new film open this week is Derailed, which is significant for being the first Jennifer Aniston film in some time, and the first since her ugly public breakup with Brad Pitt. Also starring Clive Owen, French actor Vincent Cassel, and rapper RZA, the movie is a revenge thriller. It has Owen and Aniston turning the tables on a violent blackmailing criminal, who is threatening to reveal their affair together and destroy their families.

While it's clearly hoping to be the next Fatal Attraction, Derailed has been receiving a critical thrashing for ludicrous plotting, pointless twists and a general ‘been there, done that' feeling. With public sympathy running high for Aniston, much in the way it was for Nicole Kidman following her own messy public divorce, this could have been the film to really turn her into a movie star. However, the generic look and dark themes of the film make this one not likely to accomplish that feat. This is mostly going to appeal to that segment of the population that wants to see Clive Owen beaten up for two hours, and once Jude Law buys his ticket, there aren't too many people left. Look for Derailed to earn about $9 million this weekend.

Opening in limited release is Pride and Prejudice, yet another adaptation of a Jane Austen novel. This story is filled with romance, comedy and class tension in 19th century Britain, centering around the five Bennet sisters, the handsome but off-putting Mr. Darcy, and a host of other suitors. Famously adapted as a TV miniseries with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, it remains to be seen if fans of the story will accept another actor in the role. Keira Knightly plays Elizabeth, the feistiest of the sisters and the potential recipient of Mr. Darcy's advances. Opening on 215 screens, this should do fairly well in limited release, as Austen adaptations have been quite popular in the past. It should come in at just under $2 million this weekend

Likely to repeat as the number one film of the weekend is Chicken Little, which came in at just over $40 million last week. The first CGI animated film from Disney's in-house studio instead of Pixar, Chicken Little was a major test of their ability to make it on their own and a potential statement to Pixar in the middle of their negotiations for a potential new deal. Comparing this to other recent CGI films, this is both a moral victory and a bitter defeat. It's a victory, because few expected this film to do that well, as it looked generic and lifeless, and a defeat, since this still only brings it to the level of Shark Tale, Ice Age and Robots, three lower-tier CGI films. It should still come in at around $23 million this weekend, bringing it close to $70 million total.

Jarhead, the Sam Mendes Gulf War film, opened to $27 million last weekend in a minor surprise result. Its young, up-and-coming cast shouldn't have been able to open this film to quite so much, but a brilliant ad campaign and a serendipitous theme propelled it into the zeitgeist. A potential Oscar contender based on this weekend, it could prove to be a major box office hit through the rest of the fall. Look for Jarhead to bring in another $17 million this weekend.

Saw II had the expected 50% drop for a horror film, dropping to third place after a stunning $31 million opening. Now sitting at around $65 million after two weeks against a $4 million budget, this film is one of the biggest winners of the year so far. Even as it drops to around $8 million this weekend, its windfall for Lions Gate is already assured.

Forecast: Weekend of November 11-13, 2005
Number of
Changes in Sites
from Last
Gross ($)
1 Chicken Little 3,658 +8 23.4
2 Jarhead 2,445 +34 17.6
3 Zathura 3,223 New 16.5
4 Get Rich or Die Tryin' 1,652 New 14.4
5 Derailed 2,441 New 9.0
6 Saw II 2,949 0 8.1
7 The Legend of Zorro 3.053 -467 5.7
8 Prime 1,780 -57 3.1
9 Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story 2,735 +118 3.1
10 Good Night, and Good Luck 668 +11 2.4



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