May Forecast

By John Hamann

May is obviously all about The Matrix, but it’s also going to be about shattering records. May 2003 could possibly deposit three titles into the top 20 opens of all time, with all five generating more than $50 million over their opening weekends. The question everyone will be asking is whether The Matrix Reloaded and its R rating can unseat Spider-Man from the top spot on the biggest opener of all time list.

1. The Matrix Reloaded

The question isn’t whether the Matrix sequel will hit or not, but how big. The first film opened on a Wednesday, and took in about $10 million over the Wednesday-Thursday portion of the five-day weekend, and $27.8 million over the three-day, Friday to Sunday portion of the first frame. This time the Wachowski Brothers flick will open on a Thursday, which may make it hard for The Matrix Reloaded to unseat Spidey from top spot. Even with a Thursday open, I expect The Matrix Reloaded to do $100 million over the Friday-to-Sunday portion, and $135 million from Thursday through Sunday. After that, it will all depend on film quality, and whether or not the long-anticipated sequel will meet audience expectations. The trailer is hot and buzz is deafening; this film will be nothing short of huge.

Open $100 million, total gross $450 million.

2. X2: X-Men United

20th Century Fox has its summer hopes pinned on the month of May as they release three films in five weekends, the first being X2, which is virtually guaranteed a big open. Opening weekend numbers for the first film, released July 14 2000, were colossal – a $54.5 million breakthrough weekend, but the shine would quickly come off. X-Men’s second weekend box office plunged a massive 57% against What Lies Beneath (older than the target audience) and Pokémon 2000 (younger than the target audience) bringing $23.5 million in the second weekend. On the good side, X-Men was only a few hundred thousand dollars shy of $100 million in only ten days. The film ended with $157.3 million, which equates to a low 2.88 multiplier when dividing opening weekend by total gross. The “front-endedness” of X-Men may actually be a good thing for Fox this time out. With The Matrix reloading two weekends after the release of X-Men, the Marvel comic-based flick needs to earn its production cost of about $125 million before Neo and friends hit the streets. The Mutants should do it. A $70 million open is possible followed by a $30 million second weekend, throw in some change from the weekdays, and then anything you make against The Matrix is gravy. If The Matrix weren’t around, X2 would be the surest thing out there.

Open $70 million, total gross $170 million.

3. Finding Nemo

The magic word here is simple: Pixar. People equate quality family entertainment with that word in 2003 and that’s going to help the “little company that could” succeed again. The company releases its first quarter earnings report on May 7th, and I’m sure they will key on Nemo’s release, and how much the company needs this film to work. Disney takes 10-15% percent of the gross profit, so if Nemo grosses $300 million Disney gets $30-45 million, plus a split of the net proceeds. What’s left keeps Pixar afloat, so a miss would be costly for the company. Not to worry, all signs point to good things here, the product looks excellent, the marketing has already been working for a year, and the marketplace is free of kiddie competition. I’m looking for a $55 million open and a final gross of about $300 million, as Pixar films are always top notch.

Open $55 million, total gross $300 million.

4. Bruce Almighty

I had some reservations about Bruce Almighty, but after watching the trailer, this does look like a cute little film for Jim Carrey, although it almost seems a little too much like Liar Liar. This one also teams Carrey with Tom Shadyac, who directed the mad comic in the first Ace Ventura film and Liar Liar. Carrey has been on a losing streak box office wise since 1999 if you forgo The Grinch; that film would have opened to $55 million anyway. Since ’99, Carrey has starred in The Majestic (opened to a paltry $4.9 million, finished with $27.8 million), The Grinch, Me, Myself & Irene (open: $24.2 million, total: $90.6 million), and Man on the Moon (open: $9 million, total: $34.6 million). He needs a hit, and is going to get one here. Good or not, Bruce Almighty will have a $50 million open, but if it’s good and good natured, the subject matter could take it to $200 million.

Open $50 million, total gross $200 million.

5. Daddy Day Care

This blurb is tough for me to write, as I’m disgusted that Eddie Murphy is doing these kind of films, (geez, I’m starting to sound like Tipper’s opposite) but the marketplace seems to dig these movies. Put a funny person or Arnold Schwarzenegger in a room with some kids and you got a green light. People love to put their hard-earned money out for this schlock so we just get more and more and more. If any film in my top five for May is going to miss, this is it; I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Eddie: more Bowfinger, less Dolittle.

Open $40 million, total gross $120 million.

6. The Italian Job

After A Man Apart, should F. Gary Gray be directing a remake of a classic caper movie? Film geeks will revolt if this one goes wrong, but it does have a great cast: Mark Wahlberg, Ed Norton, Charlize Theron and Seth Green, among others. With some built-in awareness due to the remake factor, this one could find $25 million in its opening weekend if the marketing is able to get the message through during a busy May.

Open $25 million, total gross will depend on film quality.

7. Wrong Turn

The gap between four and five is extremely large here as I’m expecting Bruce Wrong Turn, due May 30th according to the Fox Web site, still has no stand alone Web site of its own. There is no poster for it on the Web site, and no trailer to download, even though the film is only four and a half weeks off. For those who don’t know, Wrong Turn is a horror film in the vein of the infamous Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Kids get lost in the country and are attacked by backwoods cannibals. One of these kids, though, is the luscious Eliza Dushku, which may get the film a bit more attention. If the trailer ever shows, and it’s scary, this one will work. If it doesn’t show soon, I bet Fox bumps it to Halloween where it will live briefly before video. I’m going to bet on the irreverent youth market, and go with an $18 million open.

Open $18 million, total gross less than $40 million.

8. The In-Laws

Albert Brooks deserves to be in a big hit, and something other than voice work in Dr. Dolittle. Brooks has teamed up with some great actors in American classics like Taxi Driver, Lost In America, Broadcast News, and Defending Your Life. This time he’s paired with Michael Douglas in the remake of The In-Laws, which, if its anything like Meet the Parents, could be a force to contend with at the box office. Films like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Meet the Parents and to a small extent Bringing Down the House prove that there is a huge market for these non-offensive family driven comedies. In-Laws won’t open big against Bruce Almighty, but it could have legs if its any good.

Open $15 million, total gross $60 million.

9. The Lizzie McGuire Movie

The Lizzie McGuire Movie stars Hilary McDuff as a vacationing teenager in Italy. That’s about all I know – oh – it’s supposedly based on a popular kids TV show, and it’s competing with X2 on May 2nd.. I also know that What A Girl Wants opened to over $11 million, so this one should do the same, no matter what the competition is.

Open $12 million, total gross $35 million.

10. Down with Love

I’m down with love, but I’m not sure if I’m down with Down with Love. The film is an homage to soft films like Pillow Talk and stars Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger. Down With Love is shot with the homage in mind, and the effect will either draw or repel viewers. I’m going to bet that it grosses $8 million in the shadow of The Matrix, but enjoys a healthy few weeks at the box office.

Open $9 million, total gross $55 million.

  • Read Tim Briody's May forecast
  • Read Marty Doskins' May forecast
  • Read Walid Habboub's May forecast
  • Read Kim Hollis' May forecast



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