Weekend Box Office

Box Office Guru Preview: Comedy vs. Cannibals at the Multiplexes

by | February 8, 2007 | Comments

Moviegoers get to choose between a master comic taking on three roles or a diabolical screen villain in his early years when they walk into their local multiplex this weekend.

Eddie Murphy stars in the outrageous comedy "Norbit" which is looking to rule the frame by pulling in teens while the dark thriller "Hannibal Rising" will play to an older adult audience interested in gruesome brutality. There should be little overlap between the audiences of the two films so each will have room to breathe and reach its potential. With the Super Bowl now history, Hollywood is looking for the marketplace to bounce back and score its biggest opening yet this year.

Movie fans adore films about loveable losers and the latest to add its name to the hit list is "Norbit." The PG-13 film stars Eddie Murphy as both a shy nerdy man and his vivacious wife who is large and in charge. The comic legend also plays a Chinese man who raised the title character when he was a child. Acting jobs were actually given to others too including Thandie Newton, Eddie Griffin, and Cuba Gooding Jr. The Paramount release seamlessly integrates the two Murphys on screen and the crude envelope-pushing humor will guarantee that every 15-year-old shows up on opening weekend. The marketing push has been solid too. "Night at the Museum"’s stellar box office run is proof of the hunger for big star-driven comedies and "Norbit" is finally the next biggie that will generate some major cash.

Timing for "Norbit" is pitch perfect. Murphy’s Golden Globe win and Oscar nomination for "Dreamgirls" has given him plenty of heat and media exposure over the last several weeks. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, the date crowd certainly could be looking for something fun to go out and see this weekend. Plus, Black History Month adds an extra spotlight to African American stars and the former Axel Foley is among the most reliable draws of any black actor working today with immensely broad appeal. And the box office needs a big hit to kick things in gear as for three consecutive weekends, no film has managed to sell at least $20M worth of tickets.

Murphy has spent much of the last decade doing family-friendly films and hasn’t had an all-out comedy smash since 2000’s "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" which opened in July of that year to $42.5M on its way to $123.3M. Fans turned out in droves to see the funnyman put on fat suits and play multiple characters that were rude and crude and led the sequel to a gross that nearly matched the original’s $128.8M from the summer of 1996. After all these years, moviegoers will certainly want another helping. Crashing into around 3,000 theaters, "Norbit" might see itself grossing $31M this weekend.

Eddie Murphy and, uh, Eddie Murphy in "Norbit."

Now that movie buffs know the whole story of Darth Vader’s teen years, another popular screen villain gets his puberty tale told in "Hannibal Rising." The R-rated revenge flick tells the story of a young Mr. Lecter who seeks vengeance on those who killed his young sister. Along the way, we see how his love of eating flesh and human butchery came about. MGM and The Weinstein Company are hoping to lure in fans of the previous installments of the saga. Certainly 2001’s "Hannibal" and 2002’s "Red Dragon" proved that money could still be made despite the losses of director Jonathan Demme and actress Jodie Foster, both of whom won Oscars for 1991’s "Silence of the Lambs." Now, the real test for the franchise will come as Anthony Hopkins is no longer in the cast. However, part of his image is used in a clever way in the television spots that could fool some folks.

Many of the adult fans of the first films will definitely take a pass on "Hannibal Rising" since leads Gaspard Ulliel and Gong Li just don’t sell tickets. But curiosity and the brand name will attract some in the first week, especially those who crave brutality and a little cannibalism in their weekend fun. Long-term prospects look weak. The new chapter is not likely to approach the $36.5M opening of "Red Dragon" and will only see a fraction of the $58M bow of "Hannibal" which shattered the February opening weekend record six years ago when it opened on the exact same day. Bad reviews will not help much either. While its three predecessors all debuted in the top spot, this latest tale should find itself eating into the runnerup spot. "Hannibal Rising" opens in about 2,900 theaters on Friday and could gross roughly $15M for the weekend.

Gaspard Ulliel in "Hannibal Rising."

Last weekend, the spooky thriller "The Messengers" beat out the Diane Keaton comedy "Because I Said So" for the top spot, but the chick flick has been winning the weekdays ranking first on Monday and Tuesday. The Sony horror flick should see the steeper drop especially with Eddie stealing the teen vote and fall 55% to about $7M for a ten-day total of $24M. "Said So" may decline by 45% and rake in a similar $7M for a cume of $23M after ten days for Universal.

LAST YEAR: New releases flooded into the marketplace swiping the top four spots for the frame. Leading the way was the much-delayed Steve Martin comedy remake "The Pink Panther" which bowed to $20.2M on its way to $82.2M for Sony. Close behind was the horror sequel "Final Destination 3" with $19.2M leading to a $54.1M final for New Line. Bowing in third was the animated kidpic "Curious George" with $14.7M while Harrison Ford slumped into fourth with his action pic "Firewall" which opened to $13.6M. Final grosses reached $58.4M for the Universal toon and $48.8M for the techno thriller from Warner Bros. The fright flick "When a Stranger Calls" dropped 58% from first to fifth and collected $9.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Tag Cloud

kong game show historical drama rom-coms Teen Cannes halloween Endgame Binge Guide Sundance TV concert Chilling Adventures of Sabrina CMT aliens boxing Musicals rotten movies we love DirecTV cancelled TV series AMC critics dogs Bravo social media Trailer Warner Bros. Marathons Masterpiece archives History romance Paramount Plus 21st Century Fox Countdown Awards Schedule WGN OneApp parents fast and furious laika Logo Rocketman superman Disney Britbox diversity remakes Mary Tyler Moore video on demand Creative Arts Emmys Academy Awards Winners screen actors guild saw Alien Premiere Dates rotten Star Wars Awards Tour USA Superheroe prank MSNBC Amazon Prime Lifetime First Reviews 99% Oscars child's play high school Infographic children's TV Netflix BAFTA Nominations Funimation golden globe awards fresh Ellie Kemper venice football telelvision christmas movies BBC Avengers GLAAD 93rd Oscars Marvel Television monster movies harry potter discovery Polls and Games quibi BET italian The Walt Disney Company space FX best Lifetime Christmas movies Quiz BBC One pirates of the caribbean tv talk Crunchyroll Comedy TCA Awards A&E indie war scary movies award winner political drama true crime teaser toronto ABC Signature Mudbound animated GIFs SDCC Classic Film spain Biopics Calendar period drama adventure blaxploitation Holidays Arrowverse GoT sequels franchise biography hist news VICE Esquire PBS satire YouTube joker razzies science fiction TV One Holiday natural history blockbuster Best and Worst X-Men cancelled Nat Geo Mary Poppins Returns dark Acorn TV sequel DC Comics 71st Emmy Awards movies Pop TV anthology Rom-Com Lucasfilm Rock BET Awards Comic Book foreign Reality Interview justice league First Look composers Apple TV Plus Summer cats anime Black History Month The CW golden globes Chernobyl new star wars movies DC streaming service dceu Captain marvel See It Skip It blockbusters Comics on TV Shondaland Hulu Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Family criterion Pixar comics New York Comic Con kaiju ViacomCBS japanese PaleyFest worst Box Office women television Paramount indiana jones 2016 Extras twilight Super Bowl Winter TV crime drama Amazon binge politics south america police drama Comedy Central zero dark thirty theme song Red Carpet finale nbcuniversal TCM Fall TV Trophy Talk Freeform Animation WarnerMedia hispanic Western directors Vudu crime thriller revenge stop motion 2017 Hear Us Out USA Network travel Apple TV+ Superheroes Adult Swim Exclusive Video spanish language SundanceTV Drama festivals Showtime reboot Cosplay cinemax SXSW Mystery french TLC Fox News werewolf spy thriller singing competition 2018 screenings Emmys Epix talk show sag awards Certified Fresh miniseries ratings obituary Television Academy Peacock video Kids & Family Opinion docudrama Christmas thriller independent canceled Valentine's Day CBS All Access Universal Photos MTV CNN Disney+ Disney Plus Tumblr canceled TV shows Spike Women's History Month Reality Competition IFC cars 24 frames halloween tv worst movies President king kong Heroines romantic comedy Cartoon Network scorecard hollywood superhero Tubi spinoff dragons Food Network Martial Arts MCU dc rt archives die hard cancelled TV shows ghosts ITV Writers Guild of America YA National Geographic documentary Film Watching Series james bond Broadway green book boxoffice Shudder mission: impossible psycho comedies all-time unscripted jurassic park elevated horror The Academy TV Land what to watch 2020 Toys reviews Spring TV Rocky HBO TCA 2017 versus festival Musical strong female leads cartoon Sneak Peek Tarantino RT History docuseries ESPN 72 Emmy Awards based on movie facebook streaming cooking comic books 2021 slashers Year in Review Sundance doctor who free movies Podcast Hallmark Christmas movies IFC Films Video Games Pet Sematary Pirates stoner Set visit San Diego Comic-Con Sundance Now renewed TV shows ABC Anna Paquin Marvel classics HBO Max Walt Disney Pictures zombie Ovation deadpool Film Festival Dark Horse Comics VH1 45 zombies supernatural ID stand-up comedy Sci-Fi Elton John Music Television Critics Association The Purge Turner sitcom LGBTQ NBC OWN Pride Month Spectrum Originals nature Election Stephen King serial killer asian-american Amazon Studios medical drama YouTube Red breaking bad godzilla Marvel Studios book adaptation Netflix Christmas movies Mindy Kaling Ghostbusters FX on Hulu El Rey vampires 20th Century Fox Disney Plus Country cops adaptation cancelled television witnail 007 Fantasy spanish HBO Go Nickelodeon CBS nfl disaster American Society of Cinematographers comic films cults TNT comiccon trailers Song of Ice and Fire batman Syfy Pop Grammys richard e. Grant toy story Disney streaming service kids CW Seed emmy awards FXX TCA Winter 2020 Disney Channel dramedy Fox Searchlight 4/20 universal monsters 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Character Guide Thanksgiving DC Universe mockumentary RT21 sports APB chucky Travel Channel TBS technology The Arrangement australia psychological thriller The Walking Dead Apple Paramount Network popular black DGA Star Trek A24 Starz Discovery Channel transformers VOD Black Mirror The Witch BBC America 2015 crime latino Lionsgate Mary poppins crossover jamie lee curtis PlayStation 2019 FOX TV ABC Family Crackle movie Amazon Prime Video series Trivia documentaries NYCC E3 LGBT book hidden camera Horror YouTube Premium TIFF Action name the review Tomatazos game of thrones spider-man Legendary Sony Pictures Turner Classic Movies TV renewals casting TCA heist movie Emmy Nominations E! Columbia Pictures a nightmare on elm street TruTV mutant Hallmark robots Brie Larson Baby Yoda