Weekend Box Office

Box Office Guru Preview: Keaton and Kids Hope to Score Touchdown

by | February 1, 2007 | Comments

As the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts get ready to rumble at the Super Bowl on Sunday, Hollywood goes into counterprogramming mode and targets female moviegoers with a pair of new releases.

Those looking for big names will get to laugh with the new comedy "Because I Said So" while those in the mood for a scare get the haunted house flick "The Messengers." Overall, it should be a low scoring game at North American multiplexes this weekend.

Diane Keaton leaves behind the men and anchors her own comedy in "Because I Said So" playing an overbearing mother trying to find the right man for her youngest daughter. Directed by Michael Lehmann ("Heathers," "40 Days and 40 Nights"), the PG-13 film boasts some added girlpower in the cast with Mandy Moore, Piper Perabo, and Lauren Graham playing the daughters. The Universal release will undoubtedly skew heavily female and heavily Caucasian, but the acting ensemble could lead to a broad age range with mature women drawn in by Keaton’s motherly problems and young women connecting with the sisters. Aside from Mother’s Day weekend, the Super Bowl frame could indeed be the best time to launch a film like this as male interest will be low.

In a world where Meryl Streep can open "The Devil Wears Prada" to $27.5M, Jane Fonda can drive "Monster-in-Law" to a $23.1M debut, and Helen Mirren keeps bringing in audiences month after month with "The Queen," there certainly is box office gold with Hollywood’s elder stateswomen. Whether Keaton can join the ranks with this particular vehicle might be a different story. The studio has been pushing "Because" with great energy, but poor reviews could prompt many to just wait for the DVD. Starpower should help drive women of different ages to the box office and away from football and in a weak marketplace, that may be enough to reach the top spot. Opening in 2,526 theaters, "Because I Said So" might debut with around $14M.

Diane Keaton in "Because I Said So."

Also opening on Friday is "The Messengers," the fourth horror film in as many weeks to hit multiplexes. The PG-13 film directed by the Hong Kong-born Pang brothers tells the story of a family that moves into a run-down old house only to find creepy forces at play. Audiences have rejected every fright flick Hollywood has offered since October and "The Messengers" does not seem to bring anything new and exciting to the table to change things. Teens and young adults seem to be the core audience and with the big game in Miami commanding a lot of attention from the boys, Sony is hoping that teenage girls will be up for a scare. Marketing has been textbook and identical to every other horror pic. The starpower battle will be lost against "Because" so this flick will have to cater to those young ladies who do not want to be reminded of how meddlesome mothers can be. "The Messengers" opens in 2,528 theaters and could scare up around $12M for the weekend.

Kristen Stewart gets a message in "The Messengers."

Among holdovers, the spoof comedy "Epic Movie" may have won last weekend’s box office derby beating fellow freshman "Smokin’ Aces," but the R-rated action pic has taken over at number one each day during the mid-week period as "Epic" fans have gone back to class. The Fox comedy should see the larger drop as word-of-mouth will be nonexistent given its pathetic 3% score on RottenTomatoes.com which makes it the odds-on favorite so far for next year’s Razzie Awards. A 50% fall would leave "Epic Movie" with about $9M and a ten-day cume of $30M.

"Smokin’ Aces" has held up better during the week and newcomers won’t threaten its audience of young men that much. A 45% drop would give the Universal release around $8M for the weekend and a total of $27M after ten days.

The blockbuster "Night at the Museum" will enjoy yet another weekend when no kid movies enter the marketplace. That should lead to a small drop, possibly 25%, giving the Ben Stiller pic roughly $7M for the frame pushing the cume to an amazing $225M.

LAST YEAR: Thrills ruled the box office as the scary pic "When a Stranger Calls" opened at number one with a strong $21.6M to easily lead the frame. Sony found its way to $47.9M. Fox’s "Big Momma’s House 2" dropped a notch to second with $13.6M in its second weekend while the kidpic "Nanny McPhee" finished in third with $9.8M. "Brokeback Mountain" climbed to the highest position of its entire run coming in fourth place with $6M. Rounding out the top five was the animated hit "Hoodwinked" with $5.3M. Focus opened its new cross-cultural romantic comedy "Something New" in seventh place with a mild $4.9M on its way to only $11.5M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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