Box Office Guru Preview: Underworld Battles Oscar All-Stars
Inkheart also opens this weekend; Revolutionary Road, Slumdog Millionaire, Frost/Nixon expanding.
Ron Howard's political drama Frost/Nixon, which did score a nod for the top prize from the Academy, also widens to about 800 runs this weekend. But unlike Road, this film has been steadily eroding away at the box office and posted a mediocre $4,375 average last weekend from 153 sites. Universal is hoping that the five Oscar nominations will reignite interest and open up a new chapter to the run now that it's a bonafide contender in a real awards race. The studio wisely bought plenty of television ads during the Inauguration on Tuesday to keep it on the radar with those interested in the subject matter. With no huge stars, Frost/Nixon truly needed Oscar's love in order to pull in paying customers so the next four weeks will be the most lucrative part of the theatrical run. A weekend gross of roughly $4M could result.
After hauling in a jaw-dropping $531M domestically and $997M worldwide, The Dark Knight will get one last mission this weekend with its re-release on Friday in about 250 locations including 143 IMAX sites. The eight Academy nods could fuel interest and lead many to see it again, plus those who were sold out of the IMAX run last summer get a chance to see the large-format version with crowds not likely to be as big. Of course millions now own the mega-smash on DVD so potential is limited, but the Gotham City faithful will seize this opportunity to see it on the big screen one last time. A gross of about $1M may result.
The Dark Knight
Last weekend, funnyman Kevin James did what buddy Adam Sandler twice failed to do last year - score a number one box office hit. The Sony hit Paul Blart: Mall Cop doesn't have much direct competition this weekend so the PG-rated pic will attempt to spend another week on top. A 40% drop may occur giving the security guard comedy about $19M for the frame and a robust $62M in ten days.
Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino only dipped by 26% last weekend over the Friday-to-Sunday session. Despite a total snub from the Oscars, it should be another strong hold this time. Expanding Academy Award nominees will provide competition here and there, but still a relatively low 20% slide to around $17M may result. That would lift the total for Torino to a superb $98M.
Lycans should cut into sales of My Bloody Valentine 3D which is set to drop sharply like most films of the genre. But the Lionsgate offering is more liked by audiences than most horror entries so a total collapse may not happen. Look for a 50% fall to around $10.5M which would boost the cume to $38M.
Fox Searchlight's Notorious is another film likely to have pulled in the bulk of its audience on opening weekend so it too could see sales get chopped in half. That would give Biggie Smalls about $10M for a $36M sum after 10 days. The kidpic Hotel for Dogs could hold up better so a 35% decline would give Paramount roughly $11M this weekend and push the ten-day tally to $36M.
LAST YEAR: With seven different films grossing $10-20M each, theaters were busy with plenty of business. The spoof comedy Meet the Spartans was king though opening to $18.5M for Fox on its way to $38.2M. Close behind was Lionsgate's bloody actioner Rambo with $18.2M finding its way to $42.8M. Fox's wedding comedy 27 Dresses fell a spot to third with $13.4M while the monster flick Cloverfield tumbled 68% from first to fourth with $12.7M. The Paramount thriller scored the second biggest opening in history ($40.1M) for a film that didn't reach $100M following only Scary Movie 4 ($40.2M). Debuting in fifth was Diane Lane's crime pic Untraceable with $11.4M for Sony leading to a $28.7M final.Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com