Box Office Guru Preview: Smith to Rule Again With Hancock
Kit Kittredge, Wanted, WALL?E to fight for second place.
Saving the world one drunken step at a time, Will Smith takes on starring and producing roles in Hancock playing a superhero with an attitude problem in need of an image upgrade. Co-starring Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron, the PG-13 film from director Peter Berg stands as the former rapper's latest venture to conquer the Fourth of July holiday frame, but the first in six years. Kudos to Smith and Sony for developing a new type of hero story.
But the awful reviews could make the undecided moviegoers hesitate a bit when making their holiday weekend movie selections. The core audience of action and Will Smith fans will disregard the complaints from critics and line up anyway. Negative reviews didn't stop his last film I Am Legend from generating the actor's all-time biggest debut. And a short running time of 92 minutes will ensure that each multiplex can serve up enough Hancock showtimes to absorb all the demand. In New York City for example, the Regal Union Square is offering 32 shows per day.
The former Fresh Prince's new film will be his eighth consecutive number one opener and will remind the industry who sits at the top of the mountain in Hollywood. Hancock could appeal to many of the same moviegoers who powered Smith's Men in Black films to record Fourth of July openings in the past. Those debuts amounted to $84.1M over five days plus Tuesday night previews for 1997's original installment ($130M at today's prices) and $87.2M over five days for the 2002 sequel ($106M today).
Hancock crashes into theaters this weekend.
Hancock has no true direct competitor this weekend, but other films will indeed eat away at parts of its target audience. WALL?E will grab younger kids and even some teens while Wanted will steal some of the adult action crowd. But the marketplace typically expands during holiday sessions and many movie buffs find the time to see more than one film. Early audiences have gotten basic satisfaction from the cussing superhero with over 3,000 users on Yahoo Movies giving it a decent B+ average. That's not a big endorsement, but it doesn't show that moviegoers are trashing the picture the way critics are either.
On Tuesday, the badass took in an impressive $6.8M from preview shows that began at 7pm. That's a bigger haul than 2003's Terminator 3 from its Tuesday night previews but less than the $8.8M of last July's Transformers from its Monday night previews from this same holiday week. Both of those began their shows at 8pm and had longer running times. The Schwarzenegger sequel went on to gross $72.4M over its five-and-a-half-day span when the holiday also fell on a Friday. That would amount to $85M at today's prices for the R-rated actioner. Terminator 3 was based on a better-known property, however Hancock has a more commercially-friendly rating and a more popular star.
Now playing in 3,965 theaters across North America, Hancock could open to around $66M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and $108M from Tuesday night through Sunday.
Will Smith as Hancock.