Box Office Guru Preview: Pineapple Hopes To Defeat Knight

Also: Sisterhood hopes to beat Mamma Mia!

Studios got off to an early start by launching this week's two new films, the stoner comedy Pineapple Express and the girlpower saga The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, on Wednesday. The midweek launches allow the movies to tap into available students on summer vacation, generate some word-of-mouth going into the all-important weekend period, and get a headstart on the Olympics in Beijing which kick off with the tape-delayed broadcast of the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night. Audience overlap will be close to zero so each pic will have space to connect with its target audience which will be very much divided by gender lines. Meanwhile, a little film called The Dark Knight hopes to score its fourth consecutive number one finish.

The Judd Apatow factory has been churning out content like crazy in the last two years. Maybe too much content. But one of its more promising titles is Pineapple Express which teams factory regular Seth Rogen with James Franco as two potheads on the run after one witnesses a murder committed by a drug lord and a corrupt cop. The R-rated comedy will play as late-summer relief from the endless string of action and special effects flicks dominating multiplexes over the last three months. Pineapple also is an action film to some extent, but is aimed at the older teens and young adults that drove Superbad to a $33.1M number one bow this month a year ago. Stoner comedies have never been known to score huge openings, but this one should fly high thanks to solid buzz, the Apatow brand, and Franco's breakthrough performance as a character unlike any he's played before.

Young men will make up the core audience but some female interest is there too. Twentysomethings should come out in solid numbers but the 30+ crowd may not be as big as for past R-rated Apatow projects like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Sony's marketing push has been terrific and just as it did with Superbad last summer, the studio pushed its red-band trailer early to get the film on the radar. Competition from Batman will be a factor as that one has become a pop culture event whereas many Pineapple fans may choose to be lazy and wait for the DVD to pop into the mailbox three months from now to avoid leaving the house. But for the under-25 set, this film does have a substantial amount of hype right now and if word-of-mouth from Wednesday and Thursday is good, the recommendations could help encourage undecided voters to take a trip on the Express over the weekend. Rolling into 3,072 locations, Pineapple Express might gross $28M this weekend and $42M over five days.


Seth Rogen and James Franco in Pineapple Express.

Warner Bros. aims in a different direction this weekend going younger and much more female with its friendship sequel The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. The followup to the 2005 pic reunites all four stars in a new saga as the characters head off to college. The first Sisterhood also saw a midweek Wednesday bow although it was in early June when most of the under-17 crowd was still in school. Its fifth-place launch brought in $9.8M over the weekend and $13.6M over five days which was decent, but not too impressive. The film ended up with a respectable $39M and found a larger audience on video and TV. Also helping to justify a sequel was the rising starpower of the four young actresses from their respective television careers led by America Ferrera headlining ABC's Ugly Betty. Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, and Blake Lively also star in the PG-13 film.

The new installment should attract most of the folks who came out on opening weekend for the first round. But the numbers will be even bigger thanks to the growth of the fan base for the property, the increased drawing power of the cast, and of course the 10% bump in ticket prices since the last time Batman hit screens. Plus with guy flicks filling up the top ten competition will be light. An underserved crowd of young females done singing along to ABBA will have some new entertainment to pass the time with during the lazy days of August. Now playing in 2,667 locations, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 could open to about $16M over the weekend and $23M over five days.


The sisters of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.

With two new foes entering the ring, The Dark Knight will face yet another challenge but hopes to keep its grip on the box office crown for a fourth consecutive weekend. It will need a very strong hold on its part and for Pineapple Express to pull much of its audience out upfront on Wednesday and Thursday. The sixth Batman movie has been shattering every record in its path and should have $416M in the bank when it starts the weekend. Direct competition from the new releases should not be too potent so a 40% decline could result. That would give the Caped Crusader about $25.5M and boost the cume to a towering $441M after just 24 days. The Dark Knight would then climb up to number three on the all-time blockbusters list sitting right behind Titanic and Star Wars (including all re-releases). Ticket prices varied greatly in the years these films played so their admissions totals would still be far ahead.

The good news for The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is that it doesn't have a true action movie opening against its second weekend. But the downside is that buzz is not very good and as a threequel, it probably drew the bulk of fans upfront in the first week. Universal is seeing sensational numbers overseas, especially in Asia, but stateside a steep fall is set to occur. The Universal release could tumble by 60% to about $16.5M and raise its ten-day sum to $72M.

Step Brothers will face direct competition from Pineapple for young adults looking for raunchy R-rated humor. A 45% decline could result giving Sony around $9M boosting the cume to $82M. Universal's feel-good hit Mamma Mia! should post another low drop although Pants will steal away some of its female support base. Look for a 30% dip to roughly $9M which would up the total to $105M allowing the Meryl Streep musical to join the century club.

LAST YEAR: The buddy comedy Rush Hour 3 opened at number one becoming the sixth and final threequel of the summer to debut in the top spot. New Line went on to gross $140.1M domestically and $255M worldwide with the Chris Tucker-Jackie Chan flick. Dropping a notch to second was The Bourne Ultimatum with $32.9M in its sophomore session. The Simpsons Movie followed with a third weekend take of $11.3M. The fantasy flop Stardust bowed poorly in fourth with only $9.2M for Paramount on its way to just $38.6M. The leggy musical Hairspray rounded out the top five with $6.4M for a dip of just 31%. Launching with weak results in tenth place was the family sequel Daddy Day Camp with a pitiful $3.4M leading to a $13.2M final.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Comments

TombstoneLawDog

Daniel Klein

I'm not hurtin' over this, but I do hope TDK wins again..

Aug 7 - 05:20 PM

sunsaz

Chris Moore

It'll be another close margin between #1 and #2. This time however, TDK will be on the other end.

Aug 7 - 06:32 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

Itll be close this weekend, I saw Pineapple yesterday and it was really good. Im gonna go see The Dark Knight for the fourth time this weekend finnaly at an IMAX theature!

Aug 7 - 06:47 PM

cgcbooks

Robert Kimberlin

Not too many films stay number 1 for four weeks anyway. Pineapple Express opened Wednesday to over 12 million. TDK should be number 2, and that's ok.

Aug 7 - 06:56 PM

filmboy22

Colin Troy

saw Express and was a little underwhelmed but still appriciated it. Dark Knight deserves a 4th #1 bow.

Aug 7 - 07:11 PM

HectorMoran91

Hector Moran

Honestly I think they got the predictions slighty wrong.
Pineapple Express - 32 Million
The Dark Knight - 26.4 Million
SisterHood 2 - 20 Million
Mummy 3 - 14.5 Million
Mamma Mia - 10.2 Million

Aug 7 - 07:11 PM

Kokushi

Francesco Fernandez Martinez

PE won monday with 12mil.

1. Pineapple Express $12,085,679
2. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 $5,730,334
3. The Dark Knight $5,077,367

WTF with Sisterhood beating TDK!

Aug 7 - 07:42 PM

cgcbooks

Robert Kimberlin

Not Monday, "Wednesday"

Aug 8 - 04:26 AM

Kokushi

Francesco Fernandez Martinez

Wednesday, sorry.

Aug 7 - 07:43 PM

Some guy you dont know

Bruce Campbell

PE was amazing and deserves all the money in the world.

Aug 7 - 07:46 PM

Jack Waters

zachary leeman

hope Pineapple Express takes the golden crown from The Dark Knight which has had its time in the sun.

Aug 7 - 08:00 PM

blattman

Mike Greenblatt

James Franco did an amazing job in PE. Unfortunetly this is the wrong year to run against Heath Legdger. He set the bar real high!

Aug 7 - 11:18 PM

badass whit boy

sam DeTillio

i saw pineapple express today it was really hilarious james franco was awesome and even though i like all the judd apatow films i gotta say that i want TDK to win again

Aug 7 - 11:42 PM

Floor Man

Floor Man

Go TDK! Or PE! Or...no, wait. Those are the only two worthy of the #1 spot at the moment....

The Express will pull ahead of Knight, but the latter should still be solid, and I'll be seeing it (again!) this weekend.

:)

Aug 7 - 11:53 PM

cgcbooks

Robert Kimberlin

Not Monday, "Wednesday"

Aug 8 - 04:26 AM

Gimy

Gimy Moo

hopefully...PE doesn't beat TDK. saw it last night and i gotta admit...i was a little disappointed. the first 20 minutes...nothing. maybe a chuckle or two. it took awhile(the action scenes mostly) to actually be funny. it's between Superbad and Walk Hard in terms of a good Apatow flick. not garbage...but not his best. still funnier than alot of stuff that comes out. hopefully tropic thunder will be hilarious

by the way guys...HOPEFULLY the dipsh3ts(like the one i almost punched last night) will buy pg13 tickets to TDK and instead go to R rated PExpress cuz they're not old enough. eh, anything to get titanic off the tops...

Aug 8 - 05:05 AM

martinscorsese25

christopher cantos

WB got a huge break with TDK.. cause after the commercial failure of SPEED RACER, arent all in WB happy that batman returned???!!!

Aug 8 - 05:58 AM

ThinPhantom

james cochino

I really hope that Sisterhood takes #1. I've heard that chubby wanna be Mexican chick's performance is on par with Ledger.

Aug 8 - 07:02 AM

iamwhoiam1

Tzippy Shmil

Tropic Thunder will kille them all next week.

Aug 8 - 07:58 AM

lancerbird13

Clark Metheny

I love how people are comparing every single performance to Ledger's now. Its getting really old.

Aug 8 - 09:48 AM

astrangefish

Andrew Strange

'TDK' was a good film, but lets just calm down and move on shall we. Some of you are going on and on about it, and have seen it so many times, i wonder about your mental state and fear you may be experiencing your own personal 'TDK'-flavoured 'Groundhog Day' (which i shall name 'Bat-hog' Day). This 'Bat-hog' Day will slowly consume your soul and viewing 'TDK' will become more torturous than waking up to 'i got you babe' every morning.

Aug 8 - 10:27 AM

Zed'sDead

Ethan O'Brien

Very true... I saw Pineapple Express on Tuesday and while the first 20 minutes, I agree, were pretty slow, when it got up and running, I thought that it was great. There are some classic one-liners in this film. But I'm over The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger...both were exceptional, but nothing masterful about either.

Aug 8 - 10:54 AM

TombstoneLawDog

Daniel Klein

> This 'Bat-hog' Day will slowly consume your soul and viewing 'TDK' will become more torturous than waking up to 'i got you babe' every morning.

...uhm, ...'no.'

and also, 'no.'


Aug 8 - 10:56 AM

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