Box Office Guru Preview: Teens Dress Up For Prom Night

Street Kings, Smart People also vie for box office.

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Multiplexes gear up for another weekend of empty seats as Hollywood supplies three new films that are unlikely to energize the North American box office. The queen at the head of the class is the horror flick Prom Night which should scare up the most business and play to teens and young adults. The cop actioner Street Kings will target older males while adult women will be enticed by Smart People. The top ten could once again fall 25% below last year's levels making this a spring season to forget.

If there's one thing the geniuses at Sony's Screen Gems unit know how to do it's market fright films to teenagers. They get their latest shot with Prom Night, a loose remake of the classic 1980 Jamie Lee Curtis chiller about high schoolers stalked by a killer on their big celebratory night. Brittany Snow stars and the R rating of the old film has been replaced by a PG-13 which will be key to getting in the kind of kids who watch My Super Sweet 16. Horror film openings have gotten smaller and smaller this year as some fatigue has kicked in with consumers. But Prom Night has an appealing premise, a recognizable title, and a terrific marketing push behind it that is exciting the core crowd.

Sony hasn't released a terror pic since last October so it's had plenty of time to concentrate on getting this campaign right. And with trailers in front of its chart-topping studio stablemate 21, awareness is high with teens. Prom Night should perform better than this year's other horror flicks and could post the best bow for the genre since Saw IV from last Halloween. The running time matches the amount of time Al Pacino has left to live and multiplexes are double-screening the pic so there will be plenty of showtimes to meet the expected demand. The one downside is the weak marketplace which has made overall moviegoing sluggish. Opening in around 2,400 theaters, Prom Night might debut with about $15M.

Nice to see Thing from The Addams Family getting work these days

Former high school slacker Ted, AKA Keanu Reeves, leads the macho cast of Street Kings, a new dirty cop thriller set in Los Angeles. The R-rated pic also features Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Jay Mohr, and Cedric the Entertainer. Adult men will be the primary audience here looking for a hard-boiled polce thriller so numbers should be in the same vicinity as the debuts for similar spring flicks like 16 Blocks ($11.9M) and Shooter ($14.5M). Fox Searchlight will be hoping to bring in many of those who saw Training Day, however Denzel Washington's starpower in that role overshadows all those in this pic. Competition isn't too fierce which gives it a shot at connecting with the core demo. But overall demand is not too high. Street Kings lands in over 2,500 locations on Friday and could shoot up about $10M over the weekend.

"Turn in your badge and your gun!"

Miramax is making a play for adult audiences with its new dramedy Smart People starring Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church, and Ellen Page. The R-rated film about a professor having a mid-life crisis should skew female and have no appeal to younger adults despite the presence of the Juno star. Mixed reviews will make many in the target audience toss it onto their Netflix queues instead of seeing it on the big screen. The promotional push has not been very strong and overall buzz is lukewarm. The cast includes some likeable folks, but not the kind of stars that make people rush out to the multiplexes and pay top dollar. Rolling into roughly 1,150 theaters, Smart People might take in about $3M this weekend.

"Come on, we both know you're not the world's unsexiest woman."

After two weeks as the champ, the blackjack drama 21 will have to settle for a lower position on the charts. The Sony hit has been holding up well so a 35% decline would yield a $10M frame and boost the 17-day total to a solid $61M.

Fox's Nim's Island got off to a mediocre start last weekend posting a $3,760 average. But with no new films targeting families, competition will be light so a 35% drop may result. That would give the Abigail Breslin flick about $8.5M and a ten-day cume of $25M.

George Clooney attracted less-than-spectacular opening weekend sales for his football film Leatherheads and buzz has been mostly bad. A larger drop of 45% could be in order giving Universal a $7M take. The score would climb to just $22M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: Paramount replaced itself at the top of the charts with the teen thriller Disturbia which surprised the industry with a potent $22.2M bow at number one. The Shia LaBeouf starrer went on to bank an impressive $80.2M. The studio's Will Ferrell comedy Blades of Glory slipped to second after two weeks on top and grossed $13.8M. Both were supplied by DreamWorks. Disney's Meet the Robinsons followed with $12.5M, also in its third round. Sony's adult thriller Perfect Stranger underperformed with its fourth-place debut of $11.2M. A $24M final resulted. The studio's Ice Cube sequel Are We Done Yet? rounded out the top five with $9M. Fox's adventure film Pathfinder quietly opened in sixth with $5M on its way to just $10.2M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,