Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Preview: Mr. Skywalker and Ms. Storm in New Thriller

Awake is the lone film opening in wide release.

by | November 29, 2007 | Comments

Only one new film ventures into wide release. Studios typically avoid opening worthwhile pics during the weekend after the Thanksgiving frame since moviegoing subsides and holiday shopping becomes a bigger national priority. Overall ticket sales tumble by 40-50% from the previous frame and holdovers usually lead the way. That means Disney’s princess tale Enchanted should continue to reign supreme at the North American box office, but those looking for a scare will have the new thriller Awake to see. After a robust turkey frame, look for the marketplace to settle down as movie fans nibble on leftovers.

What happens when Darth Vader marries the Invisible Woman? You get a horror film set in a hospital, of course. Awake stars Hayden Christensen as a man who undergoes surgery while remaining conscious and Jessica Alba plays the troubled wife. The R-rated psychological thriller from MGM and The Weinstein Co. will target young adults with a semi-intriguing premise and a dash of starpower.

Outside of the Star Wars prequels, young Anakin has no pull with ticket buyers but Alba has shown box office strength over the years and can often be a draw even when not suited up in Fantastic Four gear. As with so many of her previous films, trailers feature quick shots of her semi-nude body which should titillate male moviegoers. But overall excitement is not too high and the audience could be limited here with the eventual DVD release reaching the bulk of the film’s fans. Opening in about 2,000 theaters, Awake may gross around $6M this weekend.

Hayden Christensen, Terence Howard and Jessica Alba in Awake

A pair of film festival favorites with Oscar hopes will open in platform release this weekend. Fox Searchlight offers the estranged sibling comedy The Savages starring Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The R-rated film played earlier this year at Sundance, Telluride, and Toronto. Debuting in the same two Manhattan theaters is Miramax’s French drama The Diving Bell and the Butterfly about a magazine editor who after suffering a stroke, can only communicate with one eyelid. The PG-13 film scored the Best Director trophy at Cannes.

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney in The Savages

With only one new offering in wide play, look for the box office chart to look awfully familiar. Nine of the top ten titles will probably be the same as last week’s. Disney’s family hit Enchanted is set to retain its crown and stay the leader. A 50% drop could result, especially since Friday is not a day off this time around. That would give the fairy tale flick about $17M for the weekend and a solid 12-day cume of $70M.

Following its surprisingly strong premiere, the family reunion film This Christmas should fall sharply on the sophomore session. A 55% decline would leave Sony with $8M and an impressive total of $36M after a dozen days.

Young males targeted by Beowulf and Hitman will be distracted somewhat by another one-word-titled film making its debut. With Alba in that cast, it could lead to steep drops of 55% each. That would put Paramount’s 3D adventure toon at around $7.5M for the weekend for a sum of $68M. Hitman would slide down to $6M for Fox and a total of $30M.

LAST YEAR: For the third straight weekend, the penguin-Bond connection ruled the box office with ease. The animated blockbuster Happy Feet remained the number one film once again with $17.5M for Warner Bros. while Sony’s 007 pic Casino Royale took the silver with $15.1M. In the first 17 days of play, moviegoers spent an astounding $237M on the dynamic duo. Denzel Washington‘s action thriller Deja Vu stayed put in third place with $10.9M in its sophomore frame. Debuting in fourth was the religious drama The Nativity Story with $7.8M on its way to a $37.6M final for New Line. Rounding out the top five was Fox’s Christmas comedy Deck the Halls with $6.7M. Also debuting but to modest numbers were Fox’s horror pic Turistas with $3.6M and MGM’s Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj with $2.3M. Final grosses reached $7M and $4.3M, respectively.

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