Weekend Box Office

Box Office Preview: Will Lady Sink Pirates in the Water?

by | July 20, 2006 | Comments

Directors take center stage this weekend providing starpower to four new films opening in North American theaters all hoping to take down reigning box office king Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

M. Night Shyamalan leads the way with his latest creepy tale Lady in the Water while fellow east coast helmer Kevin Smith lets the expletives fly in the comedy Clerks II. Oscar winners Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis serve as producers on the animated film Monster House which is aiming for kids, and Ivan Reitman provides a different type of super hero film in My Super Ex-Girlfriend. With four interesting new films and Johnny Depp still firing off his cannons, the overall marketplace should expand as it moves into the late July period.

Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan returns to theaters with his fantasy chiller Lady in the Water which marks his departure from the Disney family. The Warner Bros. release tells the story of a superintendent who discovers a mysterious creature in his building’s pool that must be sent back to her world. Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeffrey Wright, and Bob Balaban star in the PG-13 pic. Known for his small cameos in previous pics, Shyamalan the actor has been promoted this time around and gets a meaningful supporting role. As they say, it pays to know the director. Could he be preparing himself for playing the lead role in a future film? Only time will tell.

The Philadelphia-based director has been seeing diminishing returns at the box office over the last few years. In 2002, his alien drama Signs with Mel Gibson opened to a sturdy $60.1M on its way to a robust $228M. Two years later, The Village tested Shyamalan’s brand name since it lacked any A-listers and the opening was still strong with $50.7M. But poor word-of-mouth quickly set in with the film plunging 68% in its second frame on its way to $114.2M overall. This time around, the director is once again the biggest name attached to the project. Giamatti won plenty of acclaim with Sideways, but he’s still not a star who drives in audiences on opening weekend. Shyamalan’s starpower will be put to the test once again, and some who left The Village with a bad taste might just pass on Lady. The new film should also open weaker than Village because it will debut in 500 fewer theaters.

Many elements to the film and its marketing are new this time around. With a different studio in charge, a notable difference is the female voiceover on the television commercials where a little girl whispers to viewers in a creepy way. This reinforces the new angle where the picture is being sold as a bedtime story. Shyamalan also became very visible this year with his American Express commercial. Instead of relying again on a twist, Lady instead plays out like a fantasy arthouse film that offers more comedy than all of Shyamalan’s past films combined. Audiences may end up once again dividing themselves into the love and hate camps after coming out of theaters. But in a world where people complain about the lack of originality coming out of Hollywood, the filmmaker does deserve credit for offering moviegoers something new and different.

The summer has not seen too many scary movies yet so Lady in the Water will stand out to audiences who like a good fright. With a story that is really out there, the film may find more fans with the fantasy and sci-fi crowds than with mainstream moviegoers. That will hurt ticket sales in the long term. Still, like with other Shyamalan movies, there is a mystery to them which draws in fans. That magic will work its charm again as the film will try to attract enough moviegoers to knock the popular Pirates out of first place. Emerging in 3,235 locations, Lady in the Water might find itself with around $33M this weekend.

The late-summer cartoon wars begin with Sony launching the first attack with its computer-animated entry Monster House. The PG-rated film tells the story of some teenage kids who believe that a neighborhood house is actually a ferocious beast. Although directing duties fell on newcomer Gil Kenan, it’s executive producers Spielberg and Zemeckis whose names are used most prominently in the marketing materials. Many families are sure to be fooled into thinking these brilliant filmmakers were behind the camera. The studio reported encouraging results for the sneak previews it offered last weekend to help spread advance buzz.

And advance buzz will be essential to box office success since rival studios will be unleashing their big toons in each of the next two weekends with Warner Bros. opening The Ant Bully on July 28 and Paramount tossing in Barnyard on August 4. There might not be room for all three to thrive so Sony’s early jump on the competition gives it a major leg up. The Disney/Pixar hit Cars has raced past the $220M mark, but is aging so young kids will be looking for something new to rally behind. Direct competition should not be too fierce for Monster this weekend since even the PG-13 Pirates is a bit too scary for smaller children. Sony is going all out with their push of Monster House which debuts in 3,553 sites on Friday. An opening of about $25M could result.

Mixing the date movie formula of The Break-Up with the comic book antics of X-Men, Fox unleashes its new comedy My Super Ex-Girlfriend. The PG-13 film stars Luke Wilson as a man who dumps his squeeze only to learn that she is secretly a famous super hero who now will use her powers to exact revenge. The plot has ample appeal to both men and women so interest from the date crowd will be solid. But the marketplace has been flooded with comedies over the last several weeks so those looking for a laugh can easily go elsewhere. The concept does, however, offer a unique what-if scenario that is sure to attract business. A slight female skew is likely.

Starpower is also an important component here. Uma Thurman has had many hits and though Wilson is not much of a leading man, he does offer value when playing second fiddle to a bigger star, like in this case. Trailers in front of the studio’s recent mutant sequel have raised awareness with the comic book crowd. But Wilson’s brother Owen, coming off of a $21.5M bow for You, Me and Dupree, won’t help any and Super probably has the most direct competition in its way among the weekend’s four freshmen. Flying into 2,702 theaters, My Super Ex-Girlfriend could take off with around $13M this weekend.

Kevin Smith leaves the Jersey girls behind and revisits the boys in Clerks II, a sequel to the 1994 indie hit that launched his career. The R-rated film finds his Garden State slackers in their thirties and working at a fast-food restaurant where colorful customers make their way in and out each day. Released by The Weinstein Company and MGM, Clerks II has a very specific audience of Smith fans it will appeal to. Others will be hard to reach as there is little starpower on the screen. The director’s 2001 summer comedy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back opened to $11M from 2,765 theaters for a $3,985 average while 1999’s Dogma starring Matt Damon and a pre-J. Lo Ben Affleck bowed to $8.7M from 1,269 theaters for a $6,832 average.

Clerks II will debut in a level of theaters that is in between those two pics. Males in their twenties and thirties will make up the core crowd and there will be other options competing for their attention like Pirates and Lady. The marketing push has been good, but multiplexes will be crowded this weekend so getting in the undecided vote will be difficult. Opening in over 2,100 sites, Clerks II might bow to roughly $12M this weekend.

After two weeks of sailing ahead of the rest of the box office fleet, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest will face a serious challenge for its number one position this weekend. The Johnny Depp megahit dropped 54% in its second frame, but should suffer a smaller decline this time around. A number of new enemies will invade its waters so audiences will be scattered and competition should be formidable. Pirates may fall by 45% this weekend giving Disney about $34M for the frame. That would push the adventure sequel past the triple-century mark in a record 16 days and up to a staggering $321M by the end of the weekend.

Last weekend, the competing comedies Little Man and You, Me and Dupree battled it out for the distinction of being the biggest non-pirate movie in the country. Man inched ahead of Dupree by less than $100,000, but this weekend, the Wayans Brothers could see the larger decline losing about half of its business. That would give Sony around $11M for the frame and a ten-day cume of $40M. Dupree won’t have it easy though. My Super Ex-Girlfriend will offer direct competition for its core audience. A 45% drop could occur leaving Universal with roughly $12M for the frame and a stronger $44M after ten days.

Superman Returns
has been chugging away trying to get itself to the $200M mark. But the Man of Steel’s third weekend gross of $12.3M was weaker than the corresponding takes of some of last summer’s big action offerings like Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Batman Begins, War of the Worlds, and even Fantastic Four. Pirates has been taking its toll on Superman and this weekend, the Clark Kent flick will no longer be in a massive 3,700+ theaters. Warner Bros could see a 45% decline to about $6.5M which would push the cume to $178M.

LAST YEAR: Johnny Depp spent his second weekend atop the charts with his cooky comedy Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which fell 50% to $28.3M fending off competition from a quartet of new releases plus some solid holdovers. Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn spent another week in the runnerup spot with Wedding Crashers which held up remarkably well in its sophomore date slipping only 24% to $25.7M. The super hero flick Fantastic Four remained in third with $12.6M in its third mission. Among new movies, the highest gross came from the action thriller The Island which bowed to $12.4M. Given its enormous budget, it was a big disappointment for DreamWorks which found its way to just $35.8M. Paramount did not fare much better with the remake Bad News Bears which debuted in fifth with $11.4M. The Billy Bob Thornton pic scored just $32.9M overall, but at least it didn’t have a huge production cost. Opening in fewer theaters, but with an impressive average, was the pimp drama Hustle and Flow which bowed to $8M and a $7,915 average. The horror film The Devil’s Rejects followed with a $7.1M opening. Final tallies reached $22.2M for the Paramount Classics hip hop pic and $17M for the Lionsgate gorefest.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Tag Cloud

Star Wars ghosts talk show festival biography sag awards rom-coms Pride Month doctor who halloween Spring TV Marvel Mudbound TruTV Summer 2018 Marvel Studios USA docudrama Shudder National Geographic Wes Anderson political drama Cartoon Network binge hispanic Disney travel Tarantino justice league indie Trophy Talk Anna Paquin History renewed TV shows American Society of Cinematographers strong female leads historical drama emmy awards documentaries Certified Fresh cancelled TV series anthology target Captain marvel 1990s Walt Disney Pictures nfl cancelled period drama Teen Amazon Prime Pet Sematary marvel comics Disney+ Disney Plus zombies CW Seed Amazon Studios hispanic heritage month stop motion Avengers Comic-Con@Home 2021 lord of the rings crime thriller parents versus New York Comic Con Polls and Games toy story romance 2020 politics ABC Signature FX on Hulu BBC One LGBTQ dceu Hulu natural history HBO Max Britbox Reality 99% witnail Paramount Set visit obituary FX Red Carpet thriller comic book movie spy thriller Lucasfilm Fantasy foreign Year in Review fresh 45 wonder woman book YouTube TLC IFC Reality Competition award winner Pirates docuseries dramedy Apple TBS concert Pacific Islander 2017 Disney Channel war scene in color fast and furious FOX australia golden globes comedies blockbuster Logo crime drama Endgame television Hallmark Christmas movies Film Starz NBA Brie Larson basketball TCM VH1 series Women's History Month HBO Go medical drama italian science fiction Action movies BET Awards james bond breaking bad 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards batman prank latino Spike Dark Horse Comics Countdown zero dark thirty asian-american worst Creative Arts Emmys criterion nature social media 72 Emmy Awards what to watch Academy Awards AMC Best and Worst based on movie documentary Mary poppins Biopics Emmy Nominations Photos Rock high school First Reviews video Rocketman RT History MTV debate Fox Searchlight Film Festival Cosplay Binge Guide reviews Toys werewolf Grammys adenture Super Bowl new zealand VICE Crackle Hear Us Out The CW french Black Mirror Martial Arts psychological thriller VOD name the review theme song Holiday cops Crunchyroll Box Office biopic toronto revenge new star wars movies game of thrones psycho DC Comics hidden camera spanish language Fox News twilight Lionsgate movie slasher First Look ABC TV Land monster movies Writers Guild of America Holidays Mary Tyler Moore unscripted animated Turner reboot A24 international festivals The Purge miniseries Exclusive Video Marathons worst movies diversity critic resources Podcast robots Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt boxoffice President japan dc Pixar Tomatazos E! king kong ViacomCBS CBS All Access 93rd Oscars posters book adaptation supernatural Horror Esquire Arrowverse franchise scary movies Sundance nbcuniversal Musical aliens Infographic Amazon Musicals 24 frames Quiz Disney streaming service sports DGA Mystery harry potter gangster Universal green book popular Election Epix Funimation MSNBC rt archives ESPN Black History Month Spectrum Originals Calendar Lifetime cults Disney Plus casting action-comedy CBS Adult Swim satire mission: impossible 2019 73rd Emmy Awards 2021 Mindy Kaling PlayStation See It Skip It Bravo suspense archives NYCC Ellie Kemper TCA Winter 2020 Columbia Pictures mutant kong Masterpiece comics Mary Poppins Returns venice free movies canceled TV shows Legendary YouTube Red japanese Shondaland video on demand Classic Film pirates of the caribbean kaiju rt labs critics edition sequels quibi heist movie The Walking Dead Alien Paramount Plus feel good remakes San Diego Comic-Con Peacock screenings finale comic dark transformers Oscars cancelled TV shows know your critic technology OWN Sundance Now Interview slashers boxing Video Games child's play Kids & Family Rocky blaxploitation PaleyFest 2016 007 Chernobyl Family Television Academy El Rey X-Men Cannes discovery rt labs football space Discovery Channel Comic Book young adult facebook cartoon The Walt Disney Company Fall TV disaster ratings Trailer richard e. Grant legend Western DC Universe joker adaptation dexter spinoff black SXSW spain new york Drama Rom-Com Awards Syfy LGBT TV movies Travel Channel chucky halloween tv classics comic books Comics on TV WarnerMedia anime aapi Pop TV zombie Ghostbusters Emmys universal monsters streaming movies Apple TV Plus The Witch Food Network Tubi films directors Vudu sequel comic book movies trailers mcc indiana jones BET vampires Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Schedule TV saw NBC TV renewals Thanksgiving Christmas Acorn TV sitcom The Arrangement ITV live action Ovation Broadway The Academy game show Music tv talk Tumblr GIFs marvel cinematic universe CMT MCU telelvision RT21 adventure true crime 71st Emmy Awards Star Trek BBC SDCC Comedy Central Amazon Prime Video superhero serial killer deadpool cooking kids IFC Films Superheroes Image Comics Country Superheroe hist police drama Nat Geo ABC Family Animation TV One Lifetime Christmas movies Comedy die hard stand-up comedy TCA Awards critics Pop Television Critics Association Sci-Fi FXX Apple TV+ Premiere Dates Stephen King DC streaming service dragons rotten movies we love laika hollywood Warner Bros. Marvel Television 90s A&E HBO SundanceTV blockbusters independent 21st Century Fox cars crossover Winners Character Guide composers Freeform Song of Ice and Fire Netflix Christmas movies streaming Baby Yoda BBC America E3 women Heroines 4/20 spider-man CNN PBS Tokyo Olympics godzilla Turner Classic Movies YA Showtime 2015 dogs BAFTA children's TV superman Sneak Peek christmas movies golden globe awards ID Awards Tour GLAAD Sundance TV elevated horror cats Hallmark Opinion OneApp Trivia romantic comedy TNT Paramount Network Valentine's Day 20th Century Fox screen actors guild Nominations Winter TV DirecTV singing competition olympics scorecard TCA canceled all-time WGN Extras comiccon king arthur GoT TCA 2017 south america jamie lee curtis royal family cinemax Elton John a nightmare on elm street APB Watching Series news Nickelodeon Netflix stoner mockumentary USA Network best YouTube Premium cancelled television razzies Sony Pictures TIFF jurassic park teaser spanish crime rotten