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Weekend Forecast for February 24-26, 2006

By Reagen Sulewski

February 24, 2006

Paul reacts badly to criticism of his recent acting roles.

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It's a subdued trio of films going up against the last weekend of the Olympics, a group that doesn't offer that much of a challenge to skating, skiing and sliding. None receives more than a moderate release, though one of the group is a sequel to a film that succeeded from this position.

That film is Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion, the followup to Diary of a Mad Black Woman. That film was a surprise number one on this weekend a year ago, opening to $21 million on just 1,400 screens. Based on Tyler Perry's hit stage plays, this is the continuing story of his fiery central character, Madea, played by Perry himself. Apparently, this hit on some magical combination of sassy characters in fat suits and drag that audiences just couldn't get enough of (hence, Big Momma's House 2?). This outing, the second of a seven (!) picture deal, offers up more broad comedy, more drama, and more blunt proclamations of wisdom from the central character.

The audience for this film isn't large, but it is passionate and loyal, judging by the previous film's quick start and equally quick fall off. It took something of a critical lambasting as well, and even fans of the series felt it lost something from the plays. For that reason I expect it to have a strong opening, but not quite as strong as the original. Although it gets a boost to almost 2,200 screens, it should come in with around $18 million this weekend.

The newly formed Weinstein Company gives yet another animated feature this weekend, entitled Doogal, and based on a French movie called The Magic Roundabout. This adventure story centers around an unassuming mutt and his group of friends, who are thrust into a quest for three magical crystals that in the wrong hands, could freeze the sun. Celebrity voices here include Jon Stewart as the main villain (!), along with Jimmy Fallon, Chevy Chase (so that's where he's been), Bill Macy, Kevin Smith, Judi Dench and more.

The trailer offers up an amusing parody of the Lord of the Rings series, but appears to be aimed squarely at the 12 and under set. Some clever bits could bring a few adults, but they'd have to find out about it first. The Weinsteins appear to still be building their power as a distributor, and advertising for this film has been slight. Still, it appears on about 2,300 screens this weekend, about the same as Hoodwinked did last month. Look for this to open to around $11 million.




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The third new film this weekend is Running Scared, a stylish crime thriller starring Paul Walker. Perhaps it's a bit too stylish, though, lacking in plot, character and acting ability, all for the sake of making the film look cool. As a collector for the mob, Walker has to find a gun that was used in a murder before it becomes evidence, and he becomes fish food. The film offers a relentless energy, which has a certain appeal, but asks a lot of an audience to take Walker seriously as a tough.

The over eager trailers and commercials apply ever camera trick in the book and feature one of the year's early contenders for Unintentional Comedy of the Year, the torture by day-glo hockey puck scene. Opening it on just 1,600 screens, New Line is not showing a tremendous amount of confidence in the film. It should debut to just $6 million.

It's not even going to be the top Paul Walker movie of the weekend, coming in behind the second weekend of last week's number one film, Eight Below. Of course, Walker plays second fiddle to a team of Huskies, which is appropriate enough. The animal adventure film opened to $20 million, and nearly $25 over the holiday weekend. Appealing strongly to families, it should hold over quite well, and bring in about $14 million in weekend number two.

Just behind it in last weekend's standings was Date Movie, with $19 million over three days and $22 over four. A spoof in the "tradition" of the Scary Movie films, it should also share their tradition of steep second weekend dropoffs, in the 50% or higher range. Give it $9 million for its second weekend, bringing it to around $35 million total.

The Pink Panther had an incredibly strong holdover in its second weekend, dropping just 18% in a comparable period. The question of why people like to see Steve Martin embarrass himself in roles like this instead of his stronger, more dignified ones is a tricky one, but here we are. It's unlikely to perform quite as well without a holiday to support it, but a weekend of around $13 million could be in the cards.

More family films run through this weekend's slate, with Curious George also performing strongly to date. It dropped just 20% to $12 million in its second weekend, and although it faces tough competition from Eight Below and Doogal, the adaptation of the children's classic should earn another $9 million this weekend, bringing it to about $45 million total after Sunday.


Forecast: Weekend of February 24-26, 2006
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion 2,194 New 19.6
2 Eight Below 3.072 +6 14.5
3 The Pink Panther 3,313 -164 12.9
4 Doogal 2,318 New 11.1
5 Curious George 2,609 +37 9.2
6 Date Movie 2,898 +2 8.9
7 Running Scared 1,611 New 6.0
8 Firewall 2,740 -100 5.5
9 Final Destination 3 2,726 -154 4.8
10 Freedomland 2,361 0 3.2

     


 
 

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