A pair of new star-driven comedies will try to steal away some treasure from the record-breaking hit Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest in a laugh-filled battle for the number two slot.
Universal launches You, Me and Dupree starring Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson, and Matt Dillon while Sony counters with Little Man anchored by Marlon and Shawn Wayans. Neither film, though, is expected to come close to the massive second weekend haul that Johnny Depp will take away as his blockbuster sequel looks to shatter the quarter-billion mark in a mere ten days.
52 weeks after Wedding Crashers opened to stellar business, Owen Wilson returns to the big screen playing a slacker in his mid-thirties who moves in with his best friend and his wife who are a newlywed couple. The PG-13 film stars Hudson and Dillon as the lucky duo while Michael Douglas plays the father to Hudson’s character. The date crowd will be the primary audience here and like most romantic comedies, Dupree should skew a little more female. However, the starpower and the concept give the film solid male appeal so both genders should show interest which will be important. Though formulaic and predictable as can be, the Universal release does offer up lots of laughs which will work with audiences willing to check their brain at the door.
As the anchor, Wilson has seen his share of box office hits, especially when there are other stars surrounding him. The R-rated Wedding Crashers with Vince Vaughn bowed to $33.9M this weekend a year ago, 2004’s Starsky and Hutch with Ben Stiller opened to $28.1M, and his last Jackie Chan action-comedy Shanghai Knights debuted to $19.6M. The blonde funnyman plays the exact same character for the umpteenth time, but somehow audiences keep buying it.
June has served up a steady diet of hit comedies like The Break-Up, Click, and The Devil Wears Prada so audiences are certainly not starving for a laugh right now. Competition will be tough and Little Man’s arrival will take away some folks looking for a chuckle too. Even Pirates, which packs a hundred laughs into its two-and-a-half-hour package, will be a factor. But Dupree does offer four big and likable stars even if Douglas has been underutilized in the marketing campaign. The plot has come across very clear in the advertising which is crucial. And the same audience that powered March’s Failure to Launch to a $24.4M opening could be out once again for this one. Making itself comfortable in 3,131 locations, You, Me and Dupree could gross around $22M this weekend.
For the fourth time in seven summers, the Wayans brothers regroup for some raunchy fun in Little Man opening this Friday. Keenan is once again at the helm while younger siblings Marlon and Shawn take to the screen in another high concept story. This time, a pint-sized criminal disguises himself as a toddler in order to uncover a stolen diamond from an unsuspecting couple. CGI allows Marlon to become a little man and laughter ensues. The Wayans clan last hit theaters two years ago in White Chicks which opened to $19.6M and a five-day $27.2M take. Little Man’s plot is not as catchy as Chick’s, but much of their loyal fan base is still likely to give it a try.
Sony has been pushing its latest summer comedy heavily, but with so many other laughers in the marketplace right now, some of the audience will get split. The Wayans team has always had a strong urban following which will once again be out in solid numbers. Waist Deep has been the only summer film anchored by black stars so an underserved audience is sure to come out and drive ticket sales. With about 600 fewer theaters than Dupree, Little Man is likely to find itself debuting in third place with an average that will challenge Owen’s. Poor reviews should not make a difference and a PG-13 rating will open the doors to a large teen crowd that might find Dupree to be too mature. Hiding out in 2,533 theaters, Little Man could make off with about $18M over the weekend.
Dead Man’s Chest set off the kind of box office fireworks last weekend that the industry has never seen before with a towering $135.6M opening and a per-theater average of nearly $33,000 from more than 4,000 locations. Despite its popularity, the Disney smash is bound to see a substantial drop this time coming off of such a large number. Spider-Man, which previously held the record for the largest opening weekend, dropped only 38% in its second session in May 2002 while fellow megahit Star Wars Episode III fell 49%. However, the webslinger was not a sequel and did not have Thursday night preview grosses during its debut frame, and the final Jedi flick had the Memorial Day holiday prevent its decline from surging too high.
Even though audiences are happy with Johnny Depp and his motley crew in their second adventure, big budget summer sequels like Chest are made to erode quickly. Plus with no holiday or expansion to soften the blow, sales could get sliced in half and then some. Weekday sales have been red hot with the Davy Jones pic looting $18.1M on Monday and $15.7M on Tuesday. By the end of its first full week in theaters, Disney should have more than $190M in its chest. A weekend fall to about $66M would give Pirates the third largest sophomore weekend gross in history after Shrek 2 ($72.2M) and Spider-Man ($71.4M). Coincidentally, all three franchises will launch their third installments next May. After only ten days, Captain Jack Sparrow would drink down an amazing $261M worth of rum.
Superman Returns has been completely overshadowed by Pirates. Its 59% sophomore fall last weekend was troubling but this weekend’s decline should stabilize to around 50%. No new action films will be opening which is good news to Warner Bros. A weekend gross of about $11M would give the Man of Steel $163M in 19 days.
Meryl Streep‘s The Devil Wears Prada is likely to see more competition from Dupree than from Little Man.this weekend. A 40% drop would give Fox a weekend take of about $9M and a 17-day cume of $81M surpassing the $71.4M of 2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary which was also based on a best-selling book.
LAST YEAR: Starting an annual tradition, Johnny Depp was the handsome groom and Owen Wilson settled for the best man spot at the mid-July box office. The dashing pirate reteamed with his favorite filmmaker Tim Burton for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which opened impressively at number one with a $56.2M debut. The Warner Bros. remake would go on to collect $206.5M domestically and over $470M worldwide. Premiering in its shadow at number two was Wedding Crashers starring Wilson and one of his favorite co-stars Vince Vaughn. The New Line sleeper smash bowed to $33.9M but enjoyed amazing legs and eventually outperformed Charlie in North America with $209.2M. The global gross reached a terrific $285M. Dropping 59% to third place was Fantastic Four with $22.8M in its sophomore frame for Fox. More effects-driven actioners rounded out the top five. Paramount’s War of the Worlds grossed $15.2M and Batman Begins captured $6M for Warners.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com