With schools letting out for the summer, Hollywood rolls out a pair of PG-rated films hoping to attract kids to the multiplexes with some mindless fun.
Fox unleashes "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" which looks to give the box office its seventh consecutive weekend ruled by a sequel. Warner Bros. counters the testosterone effects pic with its teen girl story "Nancy Drew" while The Weinstein Co. mixes the formulas by opening its all-female action flick "DOA: Dead or Alive."
Marvel super heroes look to top the charts for the third time this year with the new "Fantastic Four" film which reunites the main cast members of the first pic. That comic book actioner opened to a sturdy $56.1M in July 2005 and went on to gross $154.7M domestically and over $330M worldwide. Though panned by critics, it got the franchise going and Fox hopes to keep the cash registers ringing this summer. The studio aims to follow the same pattern it saw for its other Marvel ensemble series. 2000’s "X-Men" debuted to $54.5M and reached a $157.3M final with the 2003 and 2006 followups each grossing more and more.
But "Silver Surfer" is different from "X2: X-Men United" which bowed to $85.6M. That mutant sequel earned strong reviews, followed a predecessor that was well-received, and opened at the beginning of May when there was no competition. The current sequel fatigue that has been hitting the box office could prevent "Four" from expanding beyond its core base. The studio gets credit for building the marketing campaign around the Silver Surfer character so it feels like it is offering something new. The milder PG rating could allow it to reach a broader audience, but many parents may not even notice as the ads make it look like all the other PG-13 comic pics. Cruising into over 3,800 theaters, "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" could take in around $53M this weekend.
"Nancy Drew" hits the big screen with the teen sleuth from the popular mystery books moving to California to find herself in the middle of an unsolved case. The PG-rated film should see most of its business from the under-18 female set however since the property has been around for so long, it could bring in some older folks too. With Unfabulous star Emma Roberts as the title character, the Warner Bros. release offers little starpower beyond its core demographic. The studio will have to rely on the brand name and the current lack of films exciting girls. The turnout could be similar to what Warners saw two years ago in June 2005 with "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" which bowed to $9.8M over three days and $13.6M over its five-day launch. Opening in 2,612 theaters, "Nancy Drew" might debut with around $12M.
The videogame-inspired action film "DOA: Dead or Alive" gets a quiet release in 505 theaters on Friday. A babes-in-bikinis fight flick, the Weinstein Co. release is not being pushed too feverishly and will have little chance of drawing in business against the more high-profile action films out there now. With no major stars, the much-delayed PG-13 film might find itself with $1M or less this weekend.
"Ocean’s Thirteen" was met with the smallest jackpot ever won by the franchise last weekend. "Ocean’s Twelve" fell by 53% in its second weekend in December 2004. The new installment should also see a steep drop given that it is the third time around and people are not exactly loving the pic. Warner Bros. could suffer a 55% decline and collect about $16M for a ten-day cume of $67M.
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End" has been dropping by more than 50% each weekend and with the new "Fantastic Four" sequel arriving, this frame should be no different. Look for sales to get sliced in half and dip to about $11M pushing the domestic cume to $272M.
A 30% drop could be in the works for "Knocked Up" which will not face much competition for adults. Look for a $14M weekend giving the Universal comedy $90M in 17 days.
LAST YEAR: The Disney/Pixar collaboration "Cars" held onto the top spot for a second weekend with $33.7M for a reasonable drop of 44%. The Jack Black comedy "Nacho Libre" led the newcomers with an opening of $28.3M on its way to $80.2M for Paramount. "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" followed in third with a $24M bow while "The Lake House" debuted in fourth with $13.6M. Final grosses reached $62.5M for Universal’s racing sequel and $52.3M for the Warner Bros. romance. Jennifer Aniston‘s "The Break-Up" ranked fifth with $9.8M in its third frame. The kidpic "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties" opened in seventh with $7.3M for Fox on its way to $28.4M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com