Box Office Guru Preview: Mummy Mia! Here It Comes Again!

Also: Swing Vote hopes to sway weekend box office voters.

One action sequel tries to knock another out of the number one spot as The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor launches more than seven years after the last installment of the franchise hit theaters. The Dark Knight will fight hard to try and keep its hold on the top position, but even a second place finish will get it within striking distance of the $400M mark. The weekend's other new release is the political comedy Swing Vote starring Kevin Costner which hopes to cash in on election fever. After red hot sales in June and July, the box office will start to cool off as the final month of summer kicks off.

Brendan Fraser is back in adventure mode with the new Mummy film which brings in Jet Li as the antagonist. The PG-13 film lost the director and lead actress from the first two chapters with Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious, XXX) taking over the director's chair from Stephen Sommers and Maria Bello stepping in for Oscar winner Rachel Weisz as the Mrs. In Dragon Emperor, the adventure-loving couple travels to China when their son uncovers an ancient relic with extraordinary powers that can awaken an evil mummy. Michelle Yeoh also stars. Reviews have not been too kind.

The franchise has aged and fans haven't exactly been clamoring for a new installment. A decent portion of the fan base will turn out but audience erosion will have an impact. Since the franchise has been locked away in a tomb since pre-9/11 days, new elements had to be added. Thus the casting of Li, the Chinese actor with the most commercial bang in the West. His fan base will take interest here especially since they rarely get to see him in big-budget effects-driven pictures. Li scored a number one hit already this year with The Forbidden Kingdom which bowed to $21.4M in April. But Li will learn what his Kingdom co-star Jackie Chan found out last summer with Rush Hour 3 - that a powerful franchise last seen in 2001 can lose its appeal all these years later. But Mummy is Fraser's baby and with his fans enjoying him now in Journey to the Center of the Earth which has been a leggy hit, many will not feel the need for another action offering from the man so soon.

The first two films in the franchise, 1999's The Mummy and 2001's The Mummy Returns, opened to $43.4M and $68.1M, respectively. That would translate to $60M and $85M at today's ticket prices. Both films debuted on the first weekend of May against no competition. In fact it was the first installment that started the industry trend of kicking off the summer movie season three weekends before the Memorial Day holiday frame. Universal was forced to try out the new strategy in order to get two weeks clearance from the unbelievably hyped Star Wars Episode I which launched a week before the holiday that year.

But the property has aged and the seven-year gap will take its toll this weekend. Since the last saga hit screens, fans of sci-fi, fantasy, and effects-driven actioners have moved on and have been wowed by numerous new franchises that have upped the standard like Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Spider-Man, Pirates of the Caribbean, and of course a rebooted Batman. The Mummy now feels like yesterday's entertainment, in more ways than one. Tied to Olympic fever spreading from Beijing, the film also bows in 28 international markets this weekend including most of Asia (except China), Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Invading 3,759 theaters in North America, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor could debut to about $48M this weekend.


Brendan Fraser returns in the third Mummy.

Kevin Costner returns to the big screen, this time playing an apathetic loser who gets tossed into the national spotlight overnight when his vote becomes the deciding factor in an ultratight presidential election in Swing Vote. Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper star as the candidates in this PG-13 film which is hoping to cash in on the current election buzz. But buzz is what's lacking as the Buena Vista release has none of it. The marketing volume has been low. No excitement has been generated which means that Vote will have to rely almost entirely on what's left of Costner's starpower. Given the cast, it will skew older than any other release which means that reviews will matter a whole lot. And critics have not been giving any big endorsements here. Mamma Mia! will provide the most direct competition for the target age group and will probably gross more in its third frame than Vote will bank in its first term. Most fans will wait for the DVD which will probably hit stores a week before the Obama-McCain showdown this fall. Landing in 2,213 theaters, Swing Vote could open to about $8M this weekend.


Kevin Costner in Swing Vote.

Two-time box office champ The Dark Knight has continued its record-shattering run all week and heads into the all-important third frame which will give the industry an idea of its long-term playability. The superhero sequel will have about $340M grossed in the first two full weeks which is the highest tally by far for any film in its first 14 days. The Mummy will be a direct threat, but not by too much as it lacks the event status carried by the Christopher Nolan megahit. A 45% drop could occur giving The Dark Knight about $41M boosting the total to a stunning $391M after 17 days.

It seems that every two years Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay get together for a comedy positioned in the second half of summer. Their latest Step Brothers should see the same kind of second weekend drops that their previous efforts saw. 2004's Anchorman fell by 51% while Talladega Nights tumbled 53% in 2006. Sony's Step Brothers will face a certain level of competition from the new Mummy pic so a 50% drop is likely. That would give the sibling flick about $15.5M for the frame and $62M in ten days.

Last weekend, Mamma Mia! posted the second best hold of any film in the top ten and this weekend looks to be another solid one. Universal's feel-good hit will see minimal competition from the frame's freshmen films so a 30% decline could be in order. That would give Meryl Streep around $12.5M and a superb 17-day tally of $87M. Meanwhile, the worldwide cume will soar past $200M this weekend.

Fox had nothing to celebrate with its dismal bow for The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Even Drillbit Taylor saw a better opening this year. The sci-fi sequel plays to a very finite audience which came out on the first weekend so it's no surprise that after its fourth-place debut, the film dropped to seventh place on Monday and Tuesday. A fall of at least 60% seems likely this weekend which would leave X-Files with only $4M for a weak cume of $17M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: Matt Damon unveiled the latest threequel of the summer with The Bourne Ultimatum which generated the best opening in the franchise with $69.3M. The Universal hit went on to collect $227.5M domestically and $443M worldwide while also garnering some of the best reviews of the year. The Simpsons Movie took a 66% tumble in its second weekend falling to second with $25.1M to push its ten-day cume to a terrific $128.1M. Disney's Underdog underwhelmed in third with an opening of just $11.6M on its way to $43.8M. Rounding out the top five were the long-titled pics I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry with $10.6M and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with $9.5M. A pair of rejects debuted on the lowest rungs of the top ten. Paramount's stuntman comedy Hot Rod opened to $5.3M while Liongate's girl flick Bratz debuted to just $4.2M. Final grosses reached only $13.9M and $10M, respectively.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Comments

DarthWonka

Jesse Rodgers

Swing Vote = Tank Movie.

Atomic bomb.

Jul 31 - 06:23 PM

ihatecarneys

Matt Lubisich

i wouldn't be surprised if The Dark Knight outdid The Mummy.

Jul 31 - 07:08 PM

jocampo

Jerry Ocampo

if ever The Mummy outdoes TDK, it would be by a very small margin.

Jul 31 - 07:32 PM

Sploich

First Last

I still think The Dark Knight will make at least $46 million this weekend. It's been breaking so many records, I don't see why it won't beat out Spider-Man for its third weekend as well (a movie that did only half as good in its second week as TDK has been doing since Monday).

Jul 31 - 07:34 PM

Floor Man

Floor Man

I soooo hope that TDK outdoes M3.... :/

Jul 31 - 08:57 PM

blattman

Mike Greenblatt

The Mummy is strictly for the Brendan Frasier crowd and Jet Li crowd. EVERYONE else was at Dark Knight.

Jul 31 - 08:58 PM

Comment

Craig Smith

R.I.P Kevin Costner's career.

Jul 31 - 10:21 PM

CoUcH ToMaToE DoUgIe

Shawn Amoroso

poor kevin costner, he deserves a better fate to a once magical

career. Here's hoping it does somewhat well because hell this man used to

be one of the A listers and he's still a legend in my book. Still, maybe he

should consider retiring, its getting ugly for him. And of course, I, along

with the rest of the world, am hoping for the best movie of the year to

remain # 1 for one more week. It would be so much better if Pineapple

would topple it but maybe that's wishful thinking at this point.

Aug 1 - 12:16 AM

wordweaver12

Afrika welang

I hope the Mummy 3 BOMBS...and I mean BOMB!!! What the hell are these producers thinking? first of all, replacing Rachel Weisz with Maria Bello was just a dumb decision. They should have written off her character. Do they think fans have notice the difference? Second of all, there's no "Mummy" in "Mummy 3" which is "slightly" off because the name of the movie is called "The Mummy"...and then the Indiana Jones rip-off, the recycled CGI effects like having a dragon monster spitting fire (W T F?), the dull dialogue, the unfunny humor...HOLLYWOOD has gone MAD! If there's any justice in the world, this movie should TANK!

Aug 1 - 03:10 AM

mattdaddy36

Matthew Weerts

The Talking Yetis will make it tank. That and the fact that it sucks. I will watch it on video because I have seen everything else this summer. Just think, most of the movies last summer were as crappy as this one...We have been pretty lucky to have some pretty decent movies this summer.

Aug 1 - 05:04 AM

Gimy

Gimy Moo

turdweaver, do you say anything original? or just copy/paste your posts? c'mon man, if you're going to bash something...at least come up with new material. i know its tough being a d3uche(believe me, i know) but work on it. c'mon...work on it...

Mummy 3 might tank, it might not. there's alot of haters out there but at least it looks better than Indy in my opinion. granted, i have to still see it but based on trailers...its no contest. i didn't laugh and go "oh my god, thats bad" during the Mummy trailer. if it's not as badly laughable as a few scenes in Indy...it should do decent. hopefully both TDK and the mummy make a crapload. but really...i'm not as pumped to see the Mummy as i am to see Pineapple Express.

i actually kinda hope Swing Vote does ok, i feel sorry for Costner. dude hasn't had anything in ages, and its clear he's not on his way back up...the movie looks horrible.

Aug 1 - 05:55 AM

TombstoneLawDog

Daniel Klein

Gimy- probably because you actually had expectations from Indy that were disappointed. I can't imagine you had anywhere *near* the same expectations from the Mummy commercials, so nowhere to fall.

Personally, I remember reading an article on RT about the director of Mummy 3 obsessing over how important it was for the CG to look 'believable' and 'real.'

...and then I saw the commercial and figured the guy was simply blind or retarded or both.

Aug 1 - 06:28 PM

TheIceGhost

Harry Myland

Oh TombstoneLawDog, the effects were TEEEERRRRIBLE! The whole time I was thinking, "wow, these are actually on the same par as the Scorpion King in Mummy Returns... and that came out what, seven years ago? Wow, that's sad..."

Jet Li ripping off his face and chucking it at people was pretty funny though... I think that alone should have all the naysayers rushing to this flick. :P

Aug 1 - 09:19 PM

HyperionChild

Warren John

Wait a minute.....Drillbit Taylor opened better that the new X-Files movie????
Great...now I really am depressed.

Aug 1 - 07:05 AM

HyperionChild

Warren John

Sorry about the wrong spelling. It happens when I get depressed.

Aug 1 - 07:07 AM

sportsrule101

Ben Halladay

TDK = 43
Mummy = 40
Step = 14
Mamma = 11
Swing = 8

Aug 1 - 07:39 AM

arendr

Arend Anton

I doubt The Mummy will will beat TDK this weekend. Hell, I'm probably going to make my 2nd trip to see TDK this weekend.

Aug 1 - 08:20 AM

TheIceGhost

Harry Myland

Mummy 3 is hilariously bad. It's the Evil Dead 2 of the Mummy movies.

Case in point: A yeti kicks a soldier over a field goal-esque pillar, and then celebrates by raising his hands in a "IT'S GOOD!" gesture. A yeti does this. Yeah...

Aug 1 - 02:48 PM

arendr

Arend Anton

Haha, that almost makes me want to see it.

Aug 1 - 03:49 PM

arendr

Arend Anton

Haha, that almost makes me want to see it.

Aug 1 - 03:49 PM

TombstoneLawDog

Daniel Klein

Gimy- probably because you actually had expectations from Indy that were disappointed. I can't imagine you had anywhere *near* the same expectations from the Mummy commercials, so nowhere to fall.

Personally, I remember reading an article on RT about the director of Mummy 3 obsessing over how important it was for the CG to look 'believable' and 'real.'

...and then I saw the commercial and figured the guy was simply blind or retarded or both.

Aug 1 - 06:28 PM

TheIceGhost

Harry Myland

Oh TombstoneLawDog, the effects were TEEEERRRRIBLE! The whole time I was thinking, "wow, these are actually on the same par as the Scorpion King in Mummy Returns... and that came out what, seven years ago? Wow, that's sad..."

Jet Li ripping off his face and chucking it at people was pretty funny though... I think that alone should have all the naysayers rushing to this flick. :P

Aug 1 - 09:19 PM

TheIceGhost

Harry Myland

Oh TombstoneLawDog, the effects were TEEEERRRRIBLE! The whole time I was thinking, "wow, these are actually on the same par as the Scorpion King in Mummy Returns... and that came out what, seven years ago? Wow, that's sad..."

Jet Li ripping off his face and chucking it at people was pretty funny though... I think that alone should have all the naysayers rushing to this flick. :P

Aug 1 - 09:19 PM

Gotham-iz-Ashez

Kevin Styp

TDK-44
Mummy-25
Step-15
Mamma-10
Swing-9

Swing vote just didn't have a good ad campaign. I must have only seen one tv spot for it. Mummy is not going to do as good as expected, and trust me on this. It's like Speed Racer, the reviews were not too hot, so people said screw it, lets see Iron Man again. Just like they'll say screw the Mummy, let's see Dark Knight! It's all part of the plan...

Aug 2 - 08:46 AM

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