Box Office Guru Preview: Get Smart Spies Top Spot

Love Guru looking for love from moviegoers.

Two big star-driven studio comedies invade North American multiplexes on Friday giving audiences even more choices during what has been a scorching hot June box office. Steve Carell headlines the action-comedy Get Smart from Warner Bros. while Paramount counters with its Mike Myers starrer The Love Guru. Meanwhile a line-up of solid performers from past weeks will still be in theaters helping the overall industry deliver another busy session.

A full year after taking a beating for the mega-budgeted Evan Almighty, funnyman Carell aims to return to the number one spot with a film more suited for his talents - Get Smart. The PG-13 vehicle finds the star of The Office playing Maxwell Smart from the 1960s television show updated for today's modern era. Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson, and Alan Arkin co-star. The Warner Bros. title should play out as a major entertainer thanks to its mix of action and comedy. After recent hits like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Little Miss Sunshine, and his NBC sitcom, Carell is one of the most popular and relevant comedians working today. Add in a recognizable franchise property (for the 30+ crowd at least) and well-known co-stars that young people like and Get Smart's appeal becomes strong. Critics have had mixed reactions but audiences won't care anyway. Competition will be a factor since Mike Myers is out there plus there are three holdovers coming off of $30M+ weekends. Debuting in about 3,700 theaters, Get Smart could bow to around $38M this weekend.


Anne Hathaway and Steve Carell in Get Smart

Four and a half years after his last live-action film, Mike Myers returns to the big screen in his latest comic creation The Love Guru. The PG-13 film about a spiritual expert hired to help a star hockey player reunite with his cheating wife co-stars Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Ben Kingsley, and Verne Troyer. Direct competition will certainly come from Get Smart, but Myers has been around long enough to have a fan base he can tap into. The star has anchored all three of the biggest opening weekends in box office history for comedies - Shrek the Third ($121.6M), Shrek 2 ($108M), and Austin Powers in Goldmember ($73.1M). Reviews for the new Paramount release have been mostly negative but that is common for films with gross-out humor. Recent spoof comedies have opened in the high teen millions and this one has even more starpower. Teens and young adults will make up a big part of the audience but older folks might take interest too. Opening in over 2,700 theaters, The Love Guru may debut to around $23M this weekend.


Mike Myers and co. in The Love Guru

With male audiences distracted by two new laughers, and most comic fans having already come out to spend their green, The Incredible Hulk will have a steep fall ahead of it. The new incarnation is not as loathed as 2003's Hulk which crashed an alarming 70% on the sophomore weekend, but feelings are not too much warmer. A 60% decline could result giving Universal about $22M for the weekend and a ten-day cume of $97M.

Kung Fu Panda does not have very much to worry about with the family crowd so a 35% drop may result. That would put the DreamWorks-Paramount title at roughly $22M as well and would allow the total to soar to $155M.

M. Night Shyamalan is looking at suffering one of the year's largest dropoffs with The Happening. Most audience feedback has been negative so even though the Fox film opened better than the director's last effort Lady in the Water, it may match up with or exceed that film's 60% second weekend fall. That type of drop would give the Mark Wahlberg starrer around $12M this weekend and $53M after ten days.

LAST YEAR Steve Carell was on top of the box office but with an expensive concoction as the adventure comedy Evan Almighty bowed at number one with $31.2M for Universal. With a reported budget of $175M, the effects-heavy pic ended up with only $100.5M domestically and $173M worldwide. Opening in second with better-than-expected results and almost the same per-theater average was the thriller 1408 with $20.6M on its way to a solid $72M for MGM. Close behind was former champ Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer with $20M in its second frame tumbling a disturbing 66%. Rounding out the top five were Ocean's Thirteen with $11.4M and Knocked Up with $11M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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