40 Days and 40 Nights

Release Date: March 1, 2002
Pushed back from February 1, 2002

40 Days and 40 Nights

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A romantic comedy starring the white-hot Josh Hartnett, 40 Days and 40 Nights tells the tale of Matt Sullivan, a young man who has just endured the bitter break-up of a long-term relationship. Still smarting from that debacle, he swears to remain celibate, including self-gratification, for the 40 days of Lent. Naturally, this being Hollywood, he meets the girl of his dreams after taking the vow; to complicate matters even further, his ex schemes to get him back by seducing him into breaking his promise.

Romantic comedies are dependent more than most film genres upon the charisma and audience recognition of their actors to succeed. The only well-known face here is Josh Hartnett, who is coming off the summer blockbuster Pearl Harbor and is tagged as one of Hollywood's hottest rising young stars; his co-stars are largely unknowns, which could be a considerable drawback. But another thing romantic comedies depend on is the chemistry between the leads, and at this stage, we have little evidence of chemistry, or lack thereof. The trailer, not surprisingly, focuses mainly on its recognizable star, who reveals an easy charm and likeability that work well in this genre. Add in a premise that is a bit outside the norm, but that also uses some predictable plot points, and you have a film that is difficult to gauge with regards to box-office success.

Miramax originally scheduled the film for an August 24, 2001 release date; the film has been pushed back to January 25, 2002. This could work to the film's advantage; rather than getting lost in the shuffle and bombast of summer blockbusters, 40 Days and 40 Nights will debut in the relative calm of winter, when a smaller, quieter film has a better chance of finding an audience. The downside of that is the first of the year is also seen as a dumping ground, where films that the studio has little confidence in go to die. It remains to be seen which of these attitudes Miramax holds towards 40 Days and 40 Nights.

In the end, it all boils down to young Mr. Hartnett. Does he have the appeal to carry a romantic comedy to box-office success? As the date draws nigh, we should be closer to finding an answer. (Stephanie Star Smith/BOP)

November 8, 2001
The film's release has been delayed again. It had been pushed back a week to February 1st but is now on the schedule for the beginning of March. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

February 25, 2002
You'd think that a story about a young man (voluntarily) abstaining from sex for 40 days would be a very, very tragic story but alas, it's a comedy starring an actor so Hollywood hot that he probably couldn't abstain from sex even if he wanted to. Of course, playing a clearly insane character is the challenge that most drew Josh Hartnett to this role, or maybe it was just the fact that most men can imagine being, and most probably have been, in a situation where a sexual dry spell has driven them close to hysteria.

So the appeal of this film is two-fold; for one, the women will be out to see Hartnett be a good boy and to dream what it would be like to seduce him, you know, standard fantasy stuff. Secondly, the guys will be drawn to see an all too familiar subject and pretend that they have as many temptations as Hartnett's character does. "Yeah, don't you hate when women are all over you and you have to turn them away." Ultimate fantasy time here. Of course, the comedy lies in the over-indulgence of the audience and also in some truly hilarious comedy bits as presented by the advertising.

Most of the jokes in the film seem hinged on the exaggeration of the frustrated guy's temptations and most of them work. The Mr. Butterworth gag is one for the ages and it's only one of seemingly many. Still, the film faces challenges. For one thing, it's an R-rated comedy targeted towards teens and while the R-rating might bode well for how edgy, and therefore funny, the film is, it could shy away a few exhibitors as well as consumers. It should nonetheless perform quite well.

With studio-backed advertising that is highly targeted towards its main demographic group, and facing very little competition, 40 Days and 40 nights should do quite well at the box office considering the recent dry spell of teen comedies in the movie market. Its advertising and pattern remind me a lot of Road Trip's and I see enough similarities to think that 40 Days will pull in similar box office if not slightly higher. (Walid Habboub/BOP)

Vital statistics for 40 Days and 40 Nights
Main Cast Josh Hartnett, Shannyn Sossamon, Paulo Costanzo
Supporting Cast Adam Trese, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Lorin Heath
Director Michael Lehmann
Screenwriter Rob Perez
Distributor Miramax
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Rating R
Running Time 96 minutes
Screen Count 2,399
Also see Calvin Trager reviews the teaser trailer
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture

Comparison films for 40 Days and 40 Nights
Adjusted Opening
Total BO
Adjusted Total
American Pie 2 8/10/0145.12 48.15 3063 14729.00 15120.0 145.10 154.86 3.22
American Pie 7/9/9918.71 22.29 2507 7463.00 8520.7 101.74 121.24 5.44
She's All That 1/29/9916.07 19.15 2222 7232.00 8257.0 63.32 75.45 3.94
Road Trip 5/19/0015.48 17.31 2530 6119.00 6584.5 68.53 76.66 4.43
Lost Souls 10/13/007.95 8.89 1970 4036.00 4343.0 16.71 18.69 2.10
Say it Isn't So 3/23/012.86 3.05 1974 1450.00 1488.5 5.52 5.89 1.93
Virgin Suicides, The 5/12/000.60 0.67 270 2222.00 2391.0 4.78 5.34 6.15



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