Behind Enemy Lines

Release Date: November 30, 2001
Release moved up from January 18, 2002

Behind Enemy Lines

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Behind Enemy Lines tells the story of a pilot, played by Owen Wilson, whose plane crashes behind enemy lines and whose commanding officer, played by Gene Hackman, comes after him on a dangerous rescue mission that goes against army regulations. This movie will be the second dramatic role for Hackman in a span of 3 months after a four-year departure from such roles. Conversely, this is Wilson's first high-profile dramatic role; he is more known for comedic roles in movies such as Shanghai Noon, The Haunting and Meet The Parents.

Originally scheduled for an early October release, Behind Enemy Lines has moved to a possibly more lucrative weekend seeing as how Martin Luther King Jr. weekend has been showing signs of strong box office potential in recent years. 2001 saw a very strong debut for Save The Last Dance on this weekend and if not for the re-release of Star Wars in '97, Save The Last Dance would be the biggest opener in January in history. In fact, the MLK weekend of 2001 saw net new box office business of $53.18 million. Previously, strong openers have included Next Friday in 2000 with a weekend take of $14.44 million and a Wednesday through Friday lead-in of $4.5 million for a total of $18.94 million, Varsity Blues in 1999 with a take of $15.92 million, Legends Of The Fall in '95 with $14.04 million and many others. In fact, eight of the 14 largest openers in January history have opened on MLK weekend and this number includes the Star Wars re-release.

All this means is that Behind Enemy Lines has the potential to do well if only because its time of release has a decent track record. It still remains to be seen if the movie can be sold well. Star power is negligible and neither Hackman nor Wilson can be relied upon to bring in an audience. While it is true that movies that tend to skew adult have done reasonably well, with Legends Of The Fall, Finding Forrester and Thirteen Days as the most notable, only one movie, The Thin Red Line, is a movie with a decent action-base to it. Thirteen Days might possibly be looked at as a barometer here, and The Thin Red Line's heavy psychological feel certainly makes it a less than ideal comparison point for Behind Enemy Lines. It's certainly not a rock solid comparison point.

Behind Enemy Lines will certainly have potential to do well but the genre is untested for this time frame and the lead is certainly untested within the genre as well. It remains to be seen whether this film will be the one that continues the strong MLK weekend trend or if it'll just be another January whimper. (Walid Habboub/BOP)

November 5, 2001
Thanks to some outstanding results from test screenings, the release date for Behind Enemy Lines has been moved to the weekend following Thanksgiving. Though generally studios opt not to put new films in theaters on this particular weekend, Fox plans to kick the marketing blitz into high gear, so awareness should be quite positive.

Vital statistics for Behind Enemy Lines
Main Cast Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman, Gabriel Macht
Supporting Cast Charles Malik Whitfield, David Keith, Olek Krupa
Director John Moore
Screenwriter David Veloz, Zak Penn
Distributor Twentieth Century Fox
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating PG-13
Running Time 106 minutes
Screen Count 2,770
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture

Comparison films for Behind Enemy Lines
Adjusted Opening
Total BO
Adjusted Total
U-571 4/21/0019.55 21.87 2583 7569.00 8144.7 79.07 88.45 4.04
Three Kings 10/1/9915.85 18.88 2942 5387.00 6150.5 60.65 72.27 3.83
Courage Under Fire 7/12/9612.50 17.05 1986 6294.00 8259.1 59.00 80.49 4.72
Thirteen Days 1/12/019.78 10.43 2029 4820.00 4948.0 34.57 36.89 3.01
Thin Red Line, The 1/15/999.77 11.64 1528 6394.00 7300.2 36.39 43.36 2.93



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