Box Office Guru Preview: Can Speed Racer Defeat Iron Man?

What Happens in Vegas also happening this weekend.

Fast cars and comedy stars make their way into North American multiplexes on Friday hoping to shake things up after Iron Man's sheer dominance of the box office over the past week. Warner Bros. unveils its family actioner Speed Racer while Fox counters with its anti-romantic comedy What Happens in Vegas starring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher which targets young adults. Neither is expected to steal away the crown from Tony Stark, however they will provide some variety to the marketplace and try to keep the new summer season moving along. With three strong players, look for the box office to outperform last year's webslinger-led frame.

From the small screen to the big, Speed Racer zooms into theaters this weekend hoping to tap into nostalgia on its way to building an audience. The PG-rated film is from The Wachowski Brothers and is their first non-Matrix directorial effort in 12 years. This time the boys are going after young kids and their parents plus the cult following that the Americanized version of the popular Japanese cartoon series has built up over the decades. Emile Hirsch stars as the title character and is joined by Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Christina Ricci, and Matthew Fox.

Speed Racer offers amazing visuals that fans will want to catch on the big screen. Plus there are no films out there for younger children except for the PG-13 Iron Man which is playing very broadly. But the Mach 5 crew has an uphill battle as awareness is not too high and current tracking data suggests that excitement levels aren't so high. And that flying iron guy is certainly going to be tempting to the family audience even though technically it's not a kidpic. Speed Racer may also struggle with word-of-mouth as adult fans may find it too corny and childish while parents might feel many elements are a bit too racy for little kids. Long-term prospects are also shaky as Disney's rival PG flick The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian opens seven days later and is based on a property that is significantly more popular. Racing into 3,606 locations, Speed Racer could make off with around $32M.

Speed Racer opens this weekend.

Following a string of four successful comedies debuting over three frames, Fox's What Happens in Vegas becomes the latest offering giving moviegoers some laughs. The PG-13 pic stars Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher as down-on-their-luck New Yorkers who meet and marry in Vegas, but must try to make the marriage work in order to keep their $3 million jackpot. The film packs more starpower than just about any other live action comedy released this year and the studio is banking on that to pull in dollars. Cross-gender appeal is strong given the actor names and the premise. Creatively it's everything that 2006's The Break-Up tried to be, only it won't reach that film's commercial heights.

But a big problem with the marketing is with the television spots as the film is much funnier than the ads make it seem. Diaz is usually a pretty bankable draw at the box office, especially in comedies, and Kutcher lends some weight of his own too. Audiences may be interested in seeing the chemistry between the blonde superstar and the boy toy of her Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle co-star Demi Moore. Plus Mother's Day weekend could add some business from adult women looking for something to see that speaks to them. Iron Man probably won't be it. Most female-skewing comedies have opened in the $14-18M range over the past couple of weeks. Entering 3,208 theaters, What Happens in Vegas will probably score a bigger opening and debut with about $20M.

Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher in What Happens in Vegas

Despite the new releases, Iron Man is not worried at all and plans to remain in the top spot by a comfortable margin. The film has been cheered by critics and audiences alike so word-of-mouth is in its favor. Plus competition from new films is not too strong. However, the metal man was made to absorb much of its audience upfront so a sizable drop cannot be avoided.

In 2002, Spider-Man shattered the all-time opening weekend record and then went on to decline by only 38% to $71.4M in its sophomore frame. The following year, X2: X-Men United fell 53% in its second try playing out more like a sequel. Iron Man is more likely to mirror the Wolverine flick despite the positive buzz. Megahits just don't hold on like the first webslinger pic anymore. Iron Man could see its sales get chopped in half leaving Paramount with roughly $49M this weekend. That would make the cume surge to $171M after ten-plus days of play.

Made of Honor could see its sophomore drop cushioned a bit by Mother's Day. Recent declines for comedies aimed at the same audience have been 38% for Forgetting Sarah Marshall and 42% for Baby Mama. Look for Patrick Dempsey to snuggle into that range and see a 40% slip. That would give Sony's romantic comedy about $9M and a mediocre ten-day tally of $27M.

Universal's Baby Mama has been holding up pretty well and a 35% decline would give the surrogate motherhood pic $6.5M and a total of $41M.

LAST YEAR: For the second weekend in a row, Spider-Man 3 ruled the box office taking in $58.2M boosting the ten-day cume to a jaw-dropping $240.2M. The Sony megahit fell a steep 62% but still managed to be the only film to attract double-digit millions. Opening in second was the horror sequel 28 Weeks Later with $9.8M for Fox while Universal bowed its dramedy Georgia Rule in third with a dismal $6.8M. Final grosses reached $28.6M and $19.1M, respectively. Paramount's hit thriller Disturbia starring Spielberg's favorite new kid ranked fourth with $4.7M and a slim 19% dip. The comedy Delta Farce flopped debuting in fifth with just $3.4M for Lionsgate with an average of under $1,800. A $8.1M final resulted.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,



EthanEverett Burns

"while parents might feel many elements are a bit too racy for little kids.."

Haha. 'Racy'. Haha. Nice pun :]

May 8 - 03:43 PM


anonymous anonymous

No question about it...Iron Man will have a great hold, and Speed will mostly tank.

Too bad SR is getting such bad reviews. I actually like the look a lot, but it sounds like the script is a dog.

May 8 - 03:45 PM


Colin Troy

Iron Man: $55
Speed Racer: $23
What Happens in Vagas: $18

May 8 - 05:57 PM


jack giroux

Iron Man will definately be #1! But I also really wanna see Speed Racer do good so it could become a franchise, considering its the first kids flick in a while I am going to say 40 million for Speed Racer. Then 15 million for Vegas.

May 8 - 06:20 PM

Bloody Mathias

Mathias N/A

Iron Man - $50 million

Speed Racer - $37 million

Vegas - $17 million

May 8 - 06:27 PM


Lyle Ven

Nothing's gonna dethrone the Man of Iron until Prince Caspian comes along. It was very smart of Disney to place the much-imporved trailer on the previews of Ironman.

May 8 - 06:46 PM

Mr. & Mrs. B

Kevan and April Brenay

I hope Speed does well, but I just don't see it happening. With bad reviews, not too much excitement from viewers, and I really didn't see much of a marketing push for it. Oh well at least Iron Man will keep going for sure. And may even surprise again in it's second weekend.

May 8 - 08:28 PM


Gimy Moo

i say Speed makes 40-45. i'd actually be pretty surprised if it didn't. what other kid friendly movies are out, or COMING out this summer? other than WallE...there isn't much. i think iron man will still win out though...

May 9 - 06:05 AM


martin colarines

for me i'm not really excited about speed racer the only movies i was incredibly shakin' to watch are ironman,prince caspian,the dark knight and of course this movie is impossible to be not in yout list indiana jones 4 and of course this movie is gonna kill prince caspian and of course this movie is so goddamn great i cannot wait until may 22

May 9 - 06:31 AM


John Phillips

Iron Man $61 Mill
Speed Racer $39 Mill
What Happens In Vegas $16 Mill

May 9 - 07:26 AM


Alex Smith

I'm just not sure if the Speed Racer marketing will work. Most children's hits that really cross the margin to big time blockbusters appeal to a WIDE audience. Speed Racer looks like a ADD headache nightmare to anyone over the age of 14, and pronouncing that its made by the team behind The Matrix surely won't make any parent automatically want their 9 year old to see the flick.
I'm sure preteen boys will LOVE it, and I'll probably end up seeing it just because of the original, wacky anime avant garde feel the film has, I don't think it will crossover to huge numbers, but rather a moderate hit that will not meet most box office expectations.

Iron Man $56
Speed Racer $27
What Happens in Vegas $18

May 9 - 08:55 AM


Daniel Klein

Iron Man: $55 Mil
Speed Racer: $26 Mil
Vegas: $14 Mil

And not for nothin' but I can't bring myself to care worth a D#MN about Prince Caspian. ...granted, I'm about 20 years out of the kiddie market they're shooting for, but I was suitably unimpressed with Lion/Witch and Caspian looks like more of the same.

May 9 - 09:14 AM


Colin Troy

Even though Speed Racer doesn't have the momentum people hoped for, i still think some of you are predicting to high. $45 mil? No way. That would be a big success at this point. It'd be lucky to crack $30, but I'm saying $20-$23.

May 9 - 11:17 AM

Bloody Mathias

Mathias N/A

Iron Man seems to be hurting from the fact that kids are still in school.
Its weekday numbers aren't what they should be.
Looks like it won't reach the $300 million mark as some were hoping.

More like $275 million total domestic.

May 9 - 12:09 PM


EthanEverett Burns

IRON MAN - $56 million
SPEED RACER - $27 million

May 9 - 01:04 PM

Unbreakable Samurai

Unbreakable Samurai

They both look ok, but f'm I'm going to Redbelt, hopefully Iron Man continues to haul in the dough.

May 9 - 01:07 PM

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