Thursday, August 21, 2008

Weekend Box Office Bingo (08/22/08)

Four new releases. The best reviewed release so far is The House Bunny, with a whopping 41% on Rotten Tomatoes. For the first time since May, the weekend box office is going to be lacking any mega-grossers. Just normal sized films trying to cash in on the last pre-school days. The box office analysis is going to be a lot less interesting for the next month or so, and it's going to be a lot harder to predict, since smaller films are harder to peg in a crowded marketplace. That's just the way it is.

Death Race - $15 million. If it's the end of August, it must be time for Jason Statham to beat the crap out of various rogues, quip wise, and make us all nostalgic for the days of trashy 80s action. The unneeded Paul WS Anderson remake is the annual end of August Jason Statham action vehicle that has been a tradition for literally the last four years. The Transporter 2 was a sequel to a cult action film and had a major studio (20th Century Fox) behind the wheel, so it's $20 million+ four-day opening over Labor Day was the exception to the rule. The last two years have had Lionsgate opening Crank (which was clever fun) and War (which was good for absolutely nothing, huzzah) to about $10 million apiece. So, he obviously has a consistent fan base as long as the budgets are kept in check.

Death Race has a major studio (Universal) and a modest budget (allegedly $18 million), so even if it performs more like The Bank Job (one of the year's best movies, by the way) than The Transporter 2, it'll do just fine. As it is, the $10 million-worth of die-hards will show up for sure. Also being targeted are the car junkies, and just people who want one last action blast, a trashy R-rated one at that. On an unrelated note, can I just add how great Joan Allen looks on her 52nd birthday? Just the fact that she's lending her gravitas to this sleazy B-picture almost makes me want to see it.

The House Bunny: $15 million. IE - Legally Blonde 3. Anna Faris has been due for a breakout for awhile now. Although if you count her Scary Movie franchise, she already has 3 $40 million+ openings to her credit. She is genuinely funny and the premise for this broad comedy is an easily marketable one. The positive reviews are very positive so this could surprise and end up number 01 for the weekend.

The Rocker - $2 million. It opened yesterday, did $500,000, it may need till Friday to cross the $1 million mark. Game over.

The Longshots - $12 million. Ice Cube has a family following, so this could break out just a little. It's intended to cash in on the beginning of football season, so that will help. On a slightly related note, it stars Kekee Palmer, who also starred in 2006's best film, Akeelah And The Bee. So any success for her will be most welcome indeed.

See, that wasn't so painful? To be fair, much of the above was only slightly educated guessing (that's how it is on these kind of weekends). Oh, and since my daughter turns one this weekend, I might just wait till the weekend finals to discuss the full weekend box office. Because, yes, some things are more important.

Scott Mendelson

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