Fatal Attraction minus the taut suspense is how this film can best be described. Sharing the same director, Adrian Lyne, Unfaithful seems unlikely to gain the notoriety that Attraction did, as it lacks the hook that digs into mainstream audiences. The subject of infidelity has been tackled in films such as Mike Figgis' One Night Stand and Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut to mostly less-than-stellar box-office performances. The subject matter itself is quite dark and doesn't lend itself well to boffo business. The genre is only successful when there is a hook, the best examples of which are the previously mentioned Fatal Attraction and Eyes Wide Shut and the Robert Redford bore-fest, Indecent Proposal. As it is, Unfaithful lacks the star power of Eyes and doesn't have the hook of Proposal or Attraction. We instead have Richard Gere being betrayed by Diane Lane, who has an affair with a strange-looking Frenchman. Unlikely to find much of a crowd, the movie will most probably do no better than tenth overall for the month, and it only ranks on the list because the number 11 and 12 spots are occupied by Deuces Wild, a small film set in the '50s starring a number of mid-level actors, and Woody Allen's latest film, Hollywood Ending.
9. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
The first rule of making a kids' movie is that kids should be able to pronounce the title. Unfortunately, that's not Spirit's biggest problem. Its biggest problem is that it is a children's animated movie that is neither a musical nor a comedy. Very few movies can be successful when they are described as a non-comedy, animated kids' film. Dinosaur comes to mind, but little else. Whatever the reasons might be, it is just not a safe bet to release a kids' movie while not including any gags. And while Spirit resembles Dinosaur in that it seemingly has very little dialogue, that unfortunately is not a plus. DreamWorks is taking a huge risk here, and depending on whether their expectations are realistic or not, the movie will most likely be considered a failure.
8. Undercover Brother
I'll say this: No one sells a comedy like Eddie Griffin. No one. No other actor can repeatedly make a movie seem funny in the span of 60 seconds like Eddie Griffin can. His ability to deliver with a mere look and his dead-on delivery have sold every comedy he has been in and headlined (ignoring the minute release of Foolish). Griffin is definitely a star on the rise, and he stars in Undercover Brother as the black Austin Powers. While Powers takes shots at the old spy movies of the '60s, Undercover Brother takes shots mainly at the blaxploitation films of the '70s. Other than looking funny, the film is the first comedy in a long time to tap into the African-American demo, and with Griffin's notoriety and the comedy of the film, the film looks to be a sure success. The biggest obstacle this film will have is whether it will be supported by the studio or not, and that remains to be seen. If pushed well, the film can open really well, even better than eighth overall for the month.
7. About a Boy
Based on the critically-acclaimed and incredibly well-received book by Nick Hornby, About a Boy is a male-driven Bridget Jones' Diary in feel. Starring Hugh Grant as a man who preys upon single mothers to feed his sexual appetite, the film is a product of part of the production team responsible for Bridget Jones' Diary. If anything, this film will show us if light Brit rom-coms can and will be a trend. The genre has found success in recent years with hits such as Notting Hill and the aforementioned Bridget Jones. The popularity is a reflection of the quality of the films; while the films aren't directly connected, they seem to share a commonality that has caused them to enjoy continuing success. About a Boy should be no different. The novel on which it is based is extremely popular, and the early buzz on the film and Grant's performance have been great. Above all, it should be a tremendous break from what is an action-packed month.
6. The New Guy
See Number Eight. Eddie Griffin alone sells this movie. And while he might be in only one-third of it at the most, he is the sole person selling this film. DJ Qualls plays the skinny geek who, after a trip to jail, becomes the hottest thing in high school. It's true this film does not work without Qualls as the lead. Qualls' nerd puts Tobey and Screech's to shame, and it is his silly look that probably sold the concept to the execs, but now it is up to Griffin to sell it to the public. And sell it he does. Of course, this doesn't take away from the fact that the movie looks horrible and is opening a week after what could be the biggest opener of the year and might be lost in the fray, not due to competition but just to hype. The one thing to note here is that The New Guy is being distributed by the same studio that is backing said big opener, so the release might not be that big of a risk.
Yes, it's an eye-rolling trailer and yet another movie where evil men get their just desserts when a woman decides to empower herself and take matters into her own hands, but unfortunately, it's going to sell. There's an apparently perceived moral dilemma at the heart of this Jennifer Lopez starrer, whose trailer basically shows you the entire movie in two-and-a-half minutes. All of Lopez's films have received a decent push, as she is definitely the star of the moment. This film should appeal heavily to women, as it is meant to, even though the trailer is painful to watch. This film has the edge that Unfaithful doesn't, and promises enough scares and chills to pull in decent business.
I cannot wait for this film so I will assume that everyone else feels the same way. Actually, the film does look intriguing, and seems to be destined for a decent push. The movie is supported with some decent star-power, as Al Pacino and Robin Williams face off in what will most likely be a classic showdown. The hottest thing about this film is that it is being directed by Christopher Nolan as the follow-up to his 2001 indie smash hit, Memento. This fact alone promises twists and turns, but in a more mainstream fashion. For anybody who thought that Memento was a bit out there, this film could be a perfect step down. Cast against type, Williams is once again playing a serious role, although with no beard this time, something that usually promises a decent quality flick. What will sell this film is the creepiness factor; the scarier it looks, the more it'll sell, and with that in mind, the film should do well.
3. The Sum of All Fears
A nuclear blast ripping through a city is as good a money shot as you can get for a film. Surround that with a tense political thriller, and you have a recipe for a hit. It would not be a stretch to say that Ben Affleck really does have some true star-power. While not all his films have been runaway successes, he has helped sell a lot of movies other couldn't have. He is a very marketable face, and Changing Lanes showed that he - along with some help, of course - can draw people to what is seemingly a very lame film. Additionally, the ageless Morgan Freeman sells movies when cast in the right role, as evidenced by last year's Along Came a Spider. So we have excellent casting and a seemingly intense political thriller with a strong marketing campaign behind it. Oh, did I mention that this was based on a very popular novel in a very popular series by a very popular author named Tom Clancy? Yeah, there's that. It's all a recipe for a very successful film, and Sum could very well be headed for a $20 million-plus opening.
2. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Easy there, fan-boy; there's a reason this movie isn't number one on my list and it's a very good one, so listen up. Clones will likely open to over $100 million in its first weekend. Unfortunately, the weekend is a four-day weekend, and in considering the openers, we have to make things equal. If this was a five-day weekend or a holiday weekend, maybe I wouldn't make that exemption; however, it isn't. The fact is, Clones is opening a day early to keep Spider-Man from getting too many screens and for no other reason. While shady, it is nonetheless the nature of the business. So with that in mind, I truly think $100 million is an achievable number for Clones, but not only will that mean that on average, its first day should pull in $25 million, the movie will also be front-heavy, as the hardcore fans rush to see the film. I expect Clones to pull in a Friday-to-Sunday weekend total in the range of $70-76 million, with an expected $30-33 million Thursday. I'll also add that I am being optimistic here. I think that The Phantom Menace hurt this franchise more than people would like to admit, and that the kid-friendly film alienated some would-be fans. The buzz beyond the hardcore fans is just not as high as it was for Menace, so I'm keeping the guessing on the high side. Either way, the Friday to Sunday total should not equal that of what I think will be the biggest opener of May...
This film is as sure of itself as Peter Parker is when his voice-over proclaims, "I'm Spider-Man". This is THE most anticipated movie of the year, bar none. All the others worth mentioning are sequels (Attack of the Clones, Harry Potter 2, MIB2, Austin Powers 3, LoTR: The Two Towers) and none have or will have the anticipation around them that Spider-Man does. The reasons for Spider-Man's success go beyond the hype and marketing and to the nature of the subject of the movie. One need only look to the success of X-Men and, more accurately, to Batman to ascertain what kind of impact Spider-Man will make on the box office. This will be a Batman for a new generation, as it looks levels beyond anything that has come out recently. And while it probably will not break Potter's three-day record, it should come close.