Weekend Box Office

Box Office Guru Preview: Fred Claus is Coming to Town

Lions For Lambs, P2 also opening wide.

by | November 8, 2007 | Comments

Vince Vaughn and Tom Cruise go head to head at the North American box office this weekend with their latest releases. The dodgeball champ goes for holiday laughs with Fred Claus while the top gun offers up a serious political tale in Lions For Lambs. For those looking for a scare, the horror flick P2 also attacks the multiplexes. Add in last weekend’s holdover titles and the marketplace should deliver three $20M+ grossers for the first time since mid-July.

Taming down their comedy for a family audience, the Wedding Crashers team of Vince Vaughn and director David Dobkin offer up Christmas cheer with the holiday comedy Fred Claus. The PG-rated pic features the comic actor playing the brother of Santa (Paul Giamatti). Rachel Weisz and Kathy Bates both scored a ‘with’ credit while Kevin Spacey‘s agents landed the coveted ‘and’ credit for their client. Family audiences will make up the bulk of the business but Warner Bros. is hoping to draw teens and young adults with Vaughn’s humor.

Reviews have been sour, but these types of holiday films are sold more on the comedy and the marketing. The studio is giving Claus a big jolly push and there are no major live-action options for parents to take their kids to. Bee Movie‘s second weekend will provide most of the competition, but usually two high-profile star-driven family pics can co-exist at this time of year. Debuting ultrawide in more than 3,400 theaters, Fred Claus may laugh up about $28M this weekend.

Vince Vaughn and some friends in Fred Claus

Studio boss Tom Cruise co-stars with Oscar winners Robert Redford and Meryl Streep in the new politically-themed drama Lions For Lambs from United Artists and MGM. Directed by Redford, the R-rated film examines the U.S. government’s involvement in the Middle East through three different stories. Cruise plays a hotshot senator who is interviewed by a veteran journalist, played by Streep. Redford stars as a wise college professor discussing the life with a star student. And in smaller roles, Derek Luke and Michael Peña are cast as university students determined to join the army to make this a better world.

In a smart move, Lions has downplayed its political storyline involving the Middle East as most others that have gone down that path have crashed and burned at the box office this fall. Audiences have told Hollywood on numerous occasions that they are not interested in paying top dollar for that kind of entertainment. Instead, the film is being positioned as a dramatic thriller with great acting performances almost the same way Cruise’s A Few Good Men was marketed 15 years ago. Lions will skew older than most other releases in the marketplace and will face intense competition for adults from American Gangster. Plus bad reviews will have a big impact too since the target audience plays close attention to the opinions of critics. This could very well be Tom Cruise’s lowest-grossing film in ages. Landing in 2,200 locations, Lions For Lambs might debut with around $10M.

Lions For Lambs

The horror genre discovers a new location to find fear in – the parking garage! The new suspense thriller P2 from Summit Entertainment tells of a trapped woman on Christmas Eve who faces a security guard that stalks her. The R-rated pic will appeal to the few who did not get their fill of fright flicks during October. With no starpower and only a moderate push on the marketing side, don’t expect big numbers here. Most genre fans will wait for the DVD. P2 opens in about 2,000 theaters and could debut with around $3M over the weekend.


After a powerhouse debut, American Gangster should witness a sizable drop in its second frame. Good word-of-mouth and Oscar buzz will prevent the decline from being too high though. A 45% fall would give the Ridley Scott pic roughly $24M for the weekend and a rock solid ten-day cume of $80M. Kidpics usually hold up well in early November so a slim decline for Bee Movie could result. Monday’s observance of Veterans Day will see many schools close and help give Sunday a boost too. Look for Paramount to see a 30% drop to about $27M for the Jerry Seinfeld toon which would raise the total to a healthy $75M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: Moviegoers kept annoying friends with their best Kazakh impressions as Borat tripled its theatercount and remained at number one for the second week with $28.3M for Fox. Disney’s The Santa Clause 3 and Paramount’s Flushed Away enjoyed sensational holds and stayed put in their spots as well with $16.9M and $16.6M, respectively. Will Ferrell‘s Stranger Than Fiction bowed in fourth with $13.4M on its way to $40.1M for Sony. Lionsgate rounded out the top five with Saw III with $7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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