Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Preview: "Premonition" Leads New Pics into Battle Against "300"

by | March 15, 2007 | Comments

Though a highly-paid and well-liked star, Sandra Bullock has never been a big pull on opening weekend for her films. Now the actress hopes to reach a career high with her new suspense thriller "Premonition."

The PG-13 chiller finds the acclaimed actress playing a woman who finds herself in a parallel existence where her husband has been killed in an accident. No other major stars are here so this is Bullock’s to make or break. Most of her major hits have opened only in the mid-teen millions. Surprisingly, the star’s biggest debut ever has been only $16.2M delivered by both "Speed 2" in 1997 and "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" in 2002.

"Premonition" should skew female and play to a mature crowd. Teen interest could be mild. Those who find "300" too gory and violent might choose this pic for their weekend thrills. And when it comes to marketing scary flicks, nobody does it better than Sony. But critics have not been too kind thus far and that may make older women hesitate. Plus "Wild Hogs" will provide some competition as Travolta and company have been drawing a solid female following. Creeping into 2,831 theaters, "Premonition" could open with around $17M this weekend.

Does the premonition say anything about a low box office?

Chris Rock takes on the roles of writer, director, star, and producer in his latest comedy "I Think I Love My Wife" playing a bored businessman and husband who is tempted by a curvy female friend. A remake of the 1972 French film "Chloe in the Afternoon," the R-rated pic co-stars Kerry Washington, Gina Torres, and Steve Buscemi. The Fox Searchlight release should play to a mature adult crowd given the theme and may struggle to connect with Rock’s single young male following. The African American audience will make up a significant portion of the overall turnout as the former Saturday Night Live star still has some pull at the box office. But reviews have been underwhelming which could affect older moviegoers. Rock has been out promoting "Wife" feverishly and is counting on his core fan base to show up. The previous spring comedies he headlined were 2003’s "Head of State" and 2001’s "Down to Earth" which bowed to $13.5M and $17.3M respectively. However, those more commercial pics were given wider releases. Stepping into 1,776 locations, "I Think I Love My Wife" could debut to about $9M.

Chris Rock tries the adult comedy genre in "I Think I Love My Wife."

Horror flicks have not exactly been on fire in 2007 and Universal’s new release "Dead Silence" is not about to change things. The R-rated film about a talking dummy that terrorizes victims comes from James Wan, writer-director of the first "Saw" film. That has become its only marketing tool as otherwise, "Dead" looks and feels like any generic fright flick. Even its title is blah. Typically there is always some audience for every slasher pic so a modest bow could result, especially if fans of Jigsaw who don’t want to wait seven months for another "Saw" installment come out to see what Wan has been up to. Young adults looking for violence this weekend are much more likely to see "300" which will be a hard film to battle. Opening in 1,802 theaters, "Dead Silence" might debut with a quiet $6M.

"Dead Silence," … I’m speechless already.

"300" reigned supreme over the box office last weekend leaving the competition in the dust with a colossal opening far bigger than anyone expected. The Spartan war tale has joined the year’s other biggest hits – "Ghost Rider," "Wild Hogs," and "Norbit" – as films lacking critical acclaim but still debuting far ahead of industry expectations. "300" is the best-reviewed of the lot and has generated the most buzz. A large drop is expected since last weekend’s tally included Thursday midnight shows and because of the intense upfront demand which drew so much of the total audience in the first week.

King Leonidas and company have kept the momentum going with strong midweek sales as Monday saw $7.6M and Tuesday dipped to $6.5M. These are huge numbers for this time of year and college students on spring break may certainly be a contributing factor. Competition from the new films will not be much of a factor, however the start of the NCAA college basketball tournament will take many young males out of the picture. A 55% fall for "300" would still give the Warner Bros. juggernaut a comfortable lead in first place with about $32M. The ten-day total would surge to a staggering $127M.

The motorcycle comedy "Wild Hogs" has been enjoying good legs with a 31% drop last weekend. The new crop of films should not pose too much of a threat and the Tim AllenJohn Travolta pic could retain its silver medal standing on the charts. A 30% decline to $19M should occur leaving Buena Vista with a terrific $103M after 17 days. That would give 2007 three $100M+ blockbusters by mid-March. A year ago, none had reached nine digits at this same point.

LAST YEAR: With a haircut that would later inspire Britney Spears, Natalie Portman debuted atop the charts with the sci-fi thriller "V For Vendetta" which opened to $25.6M. The Warner Bros. release went on to capture $70.5M domestically and $131M worldwide. Falling a notch each were the romantic comedy "Failure to Launch" with $15.6M and "The Shaggy Dog" with $13.4M. Paramount opened the teen girl comedy "She’s the Man" in fourth place with an estimated $10.7M on its way to $33.7M. "The Hills Have Eyes" rounded out the top five with $8M in its sophomore scare.

Source: Gitesh Pandya,