Box Office Guru Preview: Zack and Miri Want Your Vote

Also: Changeling, RocknRolla, Haunting of Molly Hartley in the race.

In the final weekend before a new president is elected, all polls show that the raunchy comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno is the leading ticket among the frame's new candidates. Horror fans will get a fright flick with The Haunting of Molly Hartley which creeps into theaters on Friday, Halloween Day. Two films in limited release expand nationwide too - Angelina Jolie's missing son drama Changeling and Guy Ritchie's crime pic RockNRolla. All will have to work hard in order to beat out the incumbent hit High School Musical 3 which is coming off of a spectacular debut. Overall, the five-week box office winning streak should come to an end as North American ticket sales are not likely to top year-ago levels when November kicked off with a bang.

Years before Judd Apatow became a brand name in the business of R-rated comedies there was Kevin Smith who now leaves behind New Jersey for Pittsburgh in his newest laugher Zack and Miri Make a Porno. The Weinstein Co. release stars Apatow regular Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks as two life-long friends and debt-ridden roommates who decide to film an X-rated flick in order to make some quick cash. Older teens and young adults will take interest here and cross-gender appeal is solid. Reviews have not been glowing, but they are more than adequate for a pic like this. The catchy title and savvy marketing materials will also spark interest with audiences looking for envelope-pushing humor. And a divide and conquer approach to the advertising has led to tame television shows having spots for Zack and Miri while commercials on more crude shows use the full Porno title.

It's been a good year for raunchy R-rated comedies with openings of $17.7M for Forgetting Sarah Marshall, $30.9M for Will Ferrell's Step Brothers, and $23.2M for Pineapple Express. All were produced by Apatow. But Smith is a bankable name too especially when he's outside the Jersey Girl world. Zack should build upon the audiences that came out for the 2006 pic Clerks II ($10.1M) and 2001's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back ($11M). Rogen has become a superstar in this genre so his name will draw sales too giving Smith his biggest debut ever. Competition will come primarily from Saw V and Max Payne. Young adults looking to get away from the non-stop election coverage this weekend will have a very appealing option with this one. Bowing in 2,735 locations, Zack and Miri Make a Porno may gross around $19M this weekend.

Elizabeth Banks and Seth Rogen in Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Aiming for 14-year-olds that can't get into Saw V and find HSM3 uncool, Freestyle Releasing unleashes its PG-13 horror flick The Haunting of Molly Hartley on Halloween Day. The story of a teenage girl whose soul was sold to the devil lacks starpower, but its intriguing concept and spooky marketing materials should allow it to connect with its target audience in the short term. Plus the rating will allow it to reach a wide audience of younger teens looking for a good scare so the timing is good. Competition from the Jigsaw sequel's second weekend will certainly curtail Molly's potential. And Freestyle is not known for drawing large crowds to their releases so don't expect a runaway smash like The Grudge or The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Creeping into 2,250 locations, The Haunting of Molly Hartley might bow to about $11M.

The Angelina Jolie mother-in-crisis flick Changeling got off to a robust start last weekend averaging $32,601 from only 15 theaters. Universal got the word out for the Clint Eastwood-directed pic with that limited bow and will now go nationwide expanding to 1,856 sites on Friday. Changeling has starpower working in its favor as Eastwood and Jolie are both popular draws - in the right movie. Plus there is little competition for older adults right now. However, the mixed reviews and grim subject matter will dampen interest with mature audiences. The long running time and lack of Oscar buzz won't help either. Plus films that take place in the 20s and 30s generally do not perform all that well. There was a time when dramas like Seabiscuit could pull in over $100M outside of awards season. Those days are gone. Changeling might take in about $9M this weekend.

Angelina Jolie in Changeling

By what must be pure coincidence, Guy Ritchie's confirmation of his divorce plans got the director plenty of press right when his new film RockNRolla was hitting theaters in limited release. The Gerard Butler starrer bowed in seven theaters to a muscular $20,672 average, but then saw the figure slump significantly to $6,103 from 22 sites and then dip again to $5,404 from 19 locations in the third session. That does not bode well for the nationwide expansion on Friday when the R-rated crime pic widens to 826 theaters. Look for the average for RockNRolla to get diluted down much further with a weekend gross of under $2M.

Gerard Butler, Idris Elba, et al in RocknRolla

Last weekend's top two films should suffer hefty declines thanks to their built-in audiences all rushing out on opening weekend, but given their relatively low costs each is already singing in the rain. High School Musical 3 will have more than $45M in the bank after its first full week of release, but its 9% Friday-to-Saturday drop during the debut frame indicates that the G-rated film is very front-loaded. Fans will buy the DVD and get most of their repeat viewing done that way so a large 55% fall could result this weekend. That would still be less than the sophomore drops of 58% and 67% seen by past Disney Channel pics The Lizzie McGuire Movie and Hannah Montana, respectively. HSM3 could end up with about $19M this weekend and reach a cheery ten-day total of $66M.

Saw V tumbled by a whopping 30% on Saturday from its powerful opening day. The sophomore slide should be on par with what the last installments in the torture franchise have seen. 2006's Saw III fell by 56% while last year's Saw IV crumbled by 67%. With Halloween falling on Friday, some fans may get a kick out of spending the later hours with Jigsaw. A 60% decline could result putting Saw V at $12M over three days and pushing the cume to $47M.

Disney will have no new competition for its doggie hit Beverly Hills Chihuahua so a 35% dip may occur. That would give the kidpic roughly $4.5M for the weekend and $84M after one full month of play.

LAST YEAR: Denzel Washington scored a career high opening with American Gangster which bowed at number one with a potent $43.6M for Universal. Ridley Scott, who will be lucky to reach that figure with the entire run of his latest Russell Crowe starrer Body of Lies, found his way to a stellar $130.2M domestically and $265M worldwide. Opening in second targeting families was Jerry Seinfeld's animated entry Bee Movie with $38M for Paramount and DreamWorks which went on to collect $126.7M with a global gross of $287M. Saw IV collapsed losing two-thirds of its opening and fell to third with $10.3M for Lionsgate. Rounding out the top five were Buena Vista's Dan in Real Life and The Game Plan with $7.9M and $3.9M, respectively.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,



Greg Guro

I'm going to see ROck N' ROlla. as I've posted elsewhere, I'm so sick of Seth Rogen I'm going to skip "porno". . .

Oct 30 - 04:51 PM


adam ramberg

Nows a tough time for movies. Iffy weekend everyweek. Few to look forward too for now. Quantum of Solace is one but even thats showing kind of risky. Its at a good 76 percent but the rotten reviews completely bash it and the fresh ratings even say that its OK. Man....

Oct 30 - 05:24 PM

CoUcH ToMaToE DoUgIe

Shawn Amoroso

Sorry Tom, but I can't have enough of Seth Rogen!! The man's

comedic gold everytime for me and its pretty clear he and Banks are making

Smith's film a solid fresh movie. Can't wait to see Porno and hope that

Ritchie flick is worth watching. Still, don't know if I'm going Angelina's

new movie a chance considering the horrible reviews its getting, but I must

prove R.T. writer Gitesh Pandya wrong... Movies taking place in the 20s &

30s will always rock for yours truely!!

Oct 30 - 05:48 PM


Martha Boatright

Zach and Miri and RockNRolla are rentals for me. Still waiting for a movie I really want to see in the theater...

Oct 30 - 05:53 PM

inactive user

Jared King

Hey Almost Famous. You really think what others say is going to stop me from seeing QOS. I don't think so.

Oct 30 - 06:02 PM


Mike Greenblatt

I will buy Zach and Miri on dvd sight unseen just because it is Kevin Smith and I dig his work. So with that in mind I will go this weekend just because his movies do not open well and could always use some extra box office gross. This is just to show support. It will do well in theaters, but it will kick *** in dvd.

Oct 30 - 06:06 PM


Afrika welang

So Elizabeth Banks be Laura Bush on Monday and then a hot roommate who dabbles in porn on Tuesday? seriously Hollywood, seriously? there's a difference between versatility and plain stupidity. Judging from the crap I've seen in theaters lately, it's obvious that you guys don't know where to draw the line

Oct 30 - 06:47 PM


Patrick Garcia

HSM3 will be #1 at the box office for week a 2nd week! Getcha head in the game!!!

Oct 30 - 07:47 PM


Brandon R

Halloween falling on a Friday is going to take a big toll on HSM3. Plus, its weekdays have been horrible, even for a family film. I think it will fall around 65% to $15 M which might still be enough for #1.

Oct 30 - 08:24 PM


Jay Rog

I think that Quantum of Solace is going to be an adreneline junkies wet dream unlike Casino Royale which was appealing to a broad audience. But who cares Daniel Craig and the actin are going to make it great, even if the movie is way too dark. Im just worried, i think they need to give people a reason to root for Bond because it sems that Bond is becoming a shoot em kill em for revenge and darkness thing. Oh well i think its gonna be good, and hey Zack and Miri is gonna be good for a laugh so why not go see it?

Oct 30 - 08:30 PM


John s

The biggest problem reviewers are having with changeling is that is not the traditional oscar winning Eastwood movie it is a lot darker and has scenes that are just this side of horror, so the critics are split on the movie but my advice is give it a chance you will be in for a suprize.

Oct 30 - 08:44 PM


Chris Scharlau

Im gonna see RocknRolla and Zack and Miri. Changling is still on my list of movie's to see because I just really like Clint Eastwood's film's, to hell with the review's.

Oct 30 - 08:44 PM


Matt St. John

Not sure what to go see this weekend. I'm torn between Zack and Miri and Zack and Miri Make a Porno. They can talk about condoms and teenage sex on Two and a Half Men and show a guy getting a blowjob on 90210 but the word "porno" is just going too far! F-ing republicans!

Oct 31 - 02:30 AM

Unbreakable Samurai

Unbreakable Samurai

I love Kevin Smith, plus my girl really wants to see it, so I'm taking her to Porno tonight. Next weekend I think I'll checkout RocknRolla and Changling. Last night I went to Pride & Glory which I enjoyed, it was a solid film.

Nov 2 - 08:38 AM

dave b.

dave bickford

I saw Z&M this weekend and i loved it. I knew it would be great just looking at the cast and director but it was even better than my wee little mind imagined. I especially enjoyed seeing Craig Robinson drunk and dancing that was hysterical. Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks had such believable chemistry that i almost believe she's a true geek lover. For all i know she could be i don't know anything about her love life. Justin Long's character was really funny too and Brandon Routh was there. Nothing against him personally but he does not hold my attention on screen. Superman returns was boring (for a funnier speech on this subject see "Sold Out: A Threevening With Kevin Smith") . I also saw that this weekend and it did not disappoint. Anyone who enjoyed any Kevin Smith or a Seth Rogen movie will totally get there money's worth.

Nov 3 - 10:46 AM

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