Box Office Guru Preview: Jovovich vs. Alba in Multiplex Mayhem
Resident Evil: Extinction takes on Good Luck ChuckJodie Foster will find herself in the middle of a catfight over the number one spot this weekend. The star of current chart-topper The Brave One will face challenges from Milla Jovovich's new action sequel Resident Evil: Extinction, Jessica Alba's romantic comedy Good Luck Chuck, and the Amanda Bynes college laugher Sydney White. With adult-skewing dramas ruling the box office over the past couple of weeks, teens and young adults should be out in full force this weekend thanks to the selection of new options.
Deadly viruses and killer zombies are back in Sony's Extinction, the latest and final chapter in its video game-inspired action-horror franchise. The series has been a popular one with the first Resident Evil opening to $17.7M in March 2002 and its sequel Resident Evil: Apocalypse debuting to a stronger $23M in September 2004. Each averaged about $7,000 over the debut frame. The R-rated Extinction will play to the converted and is not likely to generate any new fans. In fact, some will drop out thinking a third helping is a bit too much. Still the built-in audience of young adults and gamers plus a solid marketing push guarantee a top spot launch. Attacking over 2,700 locations, Resident Evil: Extinction could capture roughly $20M over the three-day debut period.
Milla Jovovich fights a zombie in Resident Evil: Extinction
Dane Cook plays a dude whose every ex-girlfriend ends up engaged to the next guy she dates in the romantic comedy Good Luck Chuck. Jessica Alba co-stars in the R-rated release from Lionsgate which will use starpower to attract an audience of older teens and young adults. Last October Cook teamed up with another Jessica, Simpson that time, in the PG-13 comedy Employee of the Month which bowed to $11.4M. The marketing on Chuck has been good and cross-gender appeal seems solid too, although the rating could cut into business from younger teens who will certainly want to see this picture. Falling into 2,612 theaters, Good Luck Chuck may gross about $12M this weekend.
Jessica Alba and Dane Cook in Good Luck Chuck
Amanda Bynes headlines the college comedy Sydney White playing a freshman caught between the popular sorority sisters and her nerdy pals. The PG-13 film will aim itself squarely at teens and college students and should skew a bit more female. Hollywood has had a tough time reaching young females recently with flops like Nancy Drew ($6.8M opening), Bratz ($4.2M), and Gracie ($1.4M) all stalling. Sydney will try to appeal to the same crowd that powered Bynes' comedy She's the Man to $10.7M in March 2006. However the marketing push is not as strong and the release will not be as wide so the three-day take will be softer. The marketplace's current lack of offerings for this audience creates a great opportunity for a good marketable film to come in a loot some cash. But Sydney just doesn't seem to have what it takes to score a big opening. Pledging in over 1,900 theaters, Sydney White could debut with around $6M.
Amanda Bynes in Sydney White
Last weekend, David Cronenberg's latest crime thriller Eastern Promises enjoyed a limited release bow that was basically a carbon copy of his last film A History of Violence which opened to $515,992 from 14 theaters in September 2005 for a potent $36,857 average. Focus is now matching History's sophomore weekend expansion pattern by widening Promises to 1,404 locations nationwide. History in its second session expanded to 1,340 sites and grossed $8.1M for a solid $6,047 average. Reviews and buzz for Promises is just as good so a similar performance could be in the works. Ticket prices are slightly higher, but so are the number of films also targeting an adult audience. In fact, the top five this weekend should boast mostly R-rated fare. For this weekend, look for Eastern Promises to take in about $8M.
In the arthouse scene, which is quickly getting more crowded with each passing week, Brad Pitt rolls in as both actor and producer in the Old West drama The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Warner Bros. is unleashing the R-rated pic in only 15 theaters in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Austin hoping to generate a strong average and positive word of mouth. Pitt already scored the Best Actor trophy for his portrayal of the famous outlaw at the Venice International Film Festival and is making a bid for kudos attention over the months ahead. Reviews have been mostly positive and an expansion is planned for the coming weeks.
The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford
After a less-than-spectacular number one opening, Jodie Foster's revenge thriller The Brave One will try to fend off competition for its mature adult audience from the expansion of Eastern Promises. The frame's three newbies should play to other audience segments. A 45% drop would give Warner Bros. about $7.5M for the weekend and a ten-day cume of $25M which would be about how much Foster's last starring vehicle Flightplan grossed in only its first three days.
3:10 to Yuma posted a solid hold last weekend and this time a similar drop could result. The Lionsgate release might dip by 35% to around $6M raising the total to $37M after 17 days.
LAST YEAR: Johnny Knoxville and his partners in crime landed a big number one opening for Jackass: Number Two which bowed to $29M. The Paramount sequel went on to collect $72.8M. Focus debuted in second with another R-rated film aimed at young men, the Jet Li actioner Fearless, which grossed $10.6M. The historical pic reached $24.6M. Sony's football drama Gridiron Gang dropped two spots to third with $9.5M in its sophomore frame. Opening poorly in fourth was the action flick Flyboys with only $6M for MGM on its way to $13.1M. The animated film Everyone's Hero rounded out the top five with $4.7M. Premiering to dismal results was the Sean Penn vehicle All the King's Men (the third new release to take place in the past) with $3.7M for Sony. It quickly ended its run with a poor $7.2M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com