Box Office Guru Preview: Sam and Dane Face Off With New Pics

Lakeview Terrace, My Best Friend's Girl, Igor, and Ghost Town battle for box office.

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Another four-pack of films heads into the multiplexes on Friday only this time there are some choices for the under-25 set. Leading the way are the Samuel L. Jackson cop film Lakeview Terrace and Dane Cook's romantic comedy My Best Friend's Girl. Adding to the mix, but expected to pull in smaller numbers, are the animated pic Igor and the Ricky Gervais laugher Ghost Town. Combined sales for the new titles are not likely to come close to the $63M pumped into last weekend's session by that frame's four openers, but the North American box office does look to match up with year-ago numbers.

Mace Windu hits the big screen headlining the suspense thriller Lakeview Terrace from Sony's Screen Gems unit. The PG-13 film features Jackson as a tough cop terrorizing his new neighbors, a young interracial couple. Marketing materials have been compelling and early fall is a good time for a tense thriller. There are no fright films in the top ten right now so those looking for a scare during this pre-Halloween month will have only this to see. And appeal could reach many different groups. But the one big question mark is Jackson who always adds value in supporting roles, but has an inconsistent record as a headliner. Openings for recent misfires include $1.7M for Resurrecting the Champ, $4.1M for Black Snake Moan, $5.8M for Freedomland, and $4.1M for The Man. Terrace is a more appealing film and its promotional push has been strong so look for a much better turnout. Lakeview and My Best Friend's Girl should come very close to each other on the charts this weekend, but the former could have the edge thanks to its more commercially-friendly rating and the solid track record of Screen Gems with marketing thrillers. Attacking roughly 2,400 theaters, Lakeview Terrace may debut with about $13M this weekend.


Samuel L. Jackson freaks out Patrick Wilson in Lakeview Terrace

Kate Hudson joins the line of ladies that comedian Dane Cook has gone gaga for with his recent string of fall comedies funneled through Lionsgate. My Best Friend's Girl finds Cook playing a 'rebound specialist' who falls for, well the title tells it all. Jason Biggs co-stars in this R-rated romantic comedy aimed at older teens and twentysomethings. As a brand, Cook has been a consistent draw at the box office following in the footsteps of Adam Sandler's early years in the mid-90s. 2006's Employee of the Month with Jessica Simpson bowed to $11.4M while Good Luck Chuck with Jessica Alba debuted to $13.7M this very weekend last year. The popular comedian makes films with plots that attract young women, but raunchy humor that plays to his core young male demo. Starpower is roughly on par with past pics although Chuck had a funnier trailer (plus shots of Alba in her underwear.) And having more producers than executive producers is never a good sign for the quality of a film. But the marketplace is ready for a date flick for young adults given how many films are currently crowding the marquees targeting mature adults. The average 20-year-old has few other good options at the moment. Heading into over 2,500 theaters, My Best Friend's Girl could take in around $12M.


Kate Hudson and Jason Biggs in My Best Friend's Girl

With multiplexes packed with R-rated content and the big-ticket toons not arriving until November, MGM has the family market all to itself this weekend with its release of the animated comedy Igor. The PG-rated film about a hunchbacked kid with big dreams features voices from John Cusack, John Cleese, Arsenio Hall, and Jay Leno. The computer-animated entry should appeal to parents looking for some weekend fun for kids just settling into the new school year. With a marketing push highlighting how Halloween comes early this year thanks to this monster mash, and virtually no competition, a respectable debut is likely. Declines in future weeks may be modest. Entering approximately 2,300 venues, Igor might walk away with around $8M this weekend.


Igor

Opening in the fewest theaters this weekend is Ghost Town, Ricky Gervais' first attempt at anchoring an American comedy. The PG-13 film co-stars Greg Kinnear and Tea Leoni and finds The Office star playing a dentist who dies for seven minutes during surgery and then finds himself having the ability to see and talk to ghosts. Between his award-winning British series and his newer HBO show Extras, Gervais has built up a cult following of sorts and Paramount and DreamWorks are counting on that crowd to take a chance at the multiplex. But the premise is not very intriguing and the humor is only moderately satisfying. Plus comedy competition will come from both Dane Cook and the Clooney-Pitt collaboration Burn After Reading. Most fans will probably wait for the video. Landing in around 1,400 locations, Ghost Town might take in about $5M this weekend.


Greg Kinnear and Ricky Gervais in Ghost Town

After a powerful number one debut, the Coen brothers caper hit Burn will try to hold onto the number one spot for a second time, or at least remain in medal territory. With a built-in fan following and buzz that's good but not electric, the Clooney-Pitt vehicle may have attracted a large portion of its total crowd in the first week with a gross that should reach $25M in seven days. A 40% fall for the Focus title would lead to about $11.5M for the frame and a solid ten-day cume of $36.5M.

Tyler Perry also has a way of drawing most of his fan base on the first weekend. Sophomore declines for his recent hits include 63% for Meet the Browns (on the post-Easter frame) and 43% for Why Did I Get Married? Lionsgate may witness a drop of 45% to around $9.5M leaving the Perry pic with $30M in ten days.

The cop thriller Righteous Kill bowed at number three over the weekend but has been running at number two during the mid-week period. De Niro and Pacino may find themselves losing 45% of the crowd this weekend. That would give Overture Films roughly $9M over three days pushing the overall tally to $30M as well.

LAST YEAR: The latest videogame thriller Resident Evil: Extinction debuted at number one with a solid $23.7M for Sony on its way to $50.6M. Lionsgate followed with its romantic comedy Good Luck Chuck which opened to $13.7M before closing up shop with $35M. Rounding out the top five were The Brave One with $7.3M for Warner Bros., Lionsgate's 3:10 to Yuma with $6.2M, and Eastern Promises from Focus which expanded nationally and placed fifth with $5.6M. Bowing poorly in sixth was the teen flick Sydney White with just $5.2M for Universal on its way to a weak $11.9M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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