Box Office Guru Preview: Audiences Surrounded by Lies

Also: The Express, Quarantine, City of Ember rush into theaters.

by | October 9, 2008 | Comments

Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, two men that have on more than one occasion anchored blockbusters that have also won Oscars for Best Picture, team up for the anti-terrorism action flick Body of Lies which leads the new round of debuting titles. Also fighting for a finite number of screens in an overcrowded marketplace are the football drama The Express, the horror thriller Quarantine, and the sci-fi adventure City of Ember. With such variety, there should be little audience overlap between the new releases. Monday’s Columbus Day holiday will see many schools and businesses closing helping the Sunday box office post stronger sales than usual.

The War on Terror comes to a theater near you packaged as a star-driven spy thriller in Body of Lies. The Ridley Scott film brings together big-name stars DiCaprio and Crowe and is selling itself as an action picture. In the process, the marketing materials have done everything possible to hide the fact that the story takes place mostly across the Middle East and deals with the U.S. hunting down a major terrorist leader. You can’t blame Warner Bros. That subject matter just doesn’t sell and who really is in the mood for it? Instead, the names of the stars and director are being pushed to the forefront. Watch the trailer and TV spots and it’s hard to tell what exactly the story is about. Instead, the studio is hoping that audiences look at it as they would a JB flick (Bond or Bourne, you pick) – a globe-trotting espionage film with gritty action elements and a handsome hero in the lead.

Downplaying the subject matter and focusing all attention on the stars is a smart way to go. Both actors are well-respected and have been known to sell tickets – in the right film. Mature adults will make up the prime audience for this R-rated film with older teens and college students likely to pass. Last weekend’s top three films skewed heavily to the under-25 set so Body of Lies has an opportunity to score at this moment. Look for the film to appeal to the same crowds that came out for other fall action thrillers like The Kingdom ($17.1M), Righteous Kill ($16.3M), and The Departed ($26.9M). Since adult men will make up a big part of the audience, competition from football and the baseball playoffs this weekend will have an impact. Infiltrating 2,710 sites, Body of Lies might debut with about $20M this weekend.

Russell Crowe amd Leonardo DiCaprio in Body of Lies

Following films like Finding Forrester and Coach Carter, Rob Brown anchors the new inspirational football drama The Express telling the story of Ernie Davis, the first black man to win the Heisman Trophy. Dennis Quaid stars as the coach in this PG-rated title. Pigskin flicks generally do well at the box office as do stories of African American trailblazers in sports. A solid third place debut could result this weekend. Though not terribly strong on the starpower side, Express does have an uplifting feel-good true story on its side and that should resonate with moviegoers. Universal’s sneak previews last weekend helped to generate positive word-of-mouth and promotions during the current football season will allow it to connect directly with the target audience as a timely autumn film. Add in good reviews and appeal spreads across a wide age range. The studio scored a big hit this very weekend during the last presidential campaign with the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Friday Night Lights which bowed to $20.3M. The Express may not rush that far, but with 2,808 theaters it could debut with around $15M.

Rob Brown as Ernie Davis in The Express

Sony unleashes the first true horror film of the Halloween season with Quarantine. The R-rated thriller about a group of people trapped inside an apartment building where a mysterious force of terror spreads will play to genre fans at a time when fright flicks are in demand. Two weeks clearance before the arrival of Saw V is all the time it needs to carve up the bulk of its business. With a TV news reporter filming the events, Quarantine has the look and feel of Cloverfield and is hoping to tap into that type of marketing. Starpower is not ample but scary trailers and commercials will be enough to pull in a solid number of older teens and young adults. Plus with no other horror films around, it will have its audience to itself. Locking itself into 2,461 theaters, Quarantine could deliver an opening of about $10M.

Jennifer Carpenter in Quarantine

Two teens try to save the human race in the futuristic fantasy adventure City of Ember, the frame’s second PG-rated entry. The Fox release features Bill Murray and Tim Robbins as the most well-known cast members but is aimed at younger teens looking for some sci-fi action. Of course that combo didn’t work so well two years ago for the effects-heavy Zathura which starred Robbins and made just $28.2M overall. In fact, in the post-Hobbit world most fantasy films have struggled to find audiences in the U.S., even though results overseas have generally been much better. Even the latest Chronicles of Narnia film this summer ended up grossing less than half as much as its predecessor. Ember might connect with a core fan following, but overall it will be a tough sell. Plus the marketing push has not been too forceful. Entering the fewest locations among the new releases with 2,023 playdates, City of Ember could collect about $6M this weekend.

Bill Murray in City of Ember

Disney is hoping to hold onto its box office crown with the second weekend of Beverly Hills Chihuahua. The hit family pic has only mild competition this weekend and will have a better-than-usual Sunday thanks to many children having Columbus Day off. A 35% decline would leave the PG-rated entry with about $19M and a solid ten-day cume of $53M.

Eagle Eye has taken in a similar amount in its first ten days and looks to remain a relevant contender in its third session. The Paramount release may slip 35% to roughly $11.5M boosting the 17-day tally to $70M. Sony’s teen comedy Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist should fall harder and might drop by 45% this weekend. That would give the Michael Cera flick around $6M for a sum of $20M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: With a little help from Janet Jackson, Tyler Perry conquered the box office with his latest film Why Did I Get Married? which bowed to an impressive $21.4M and $10,618 average. The Lionsgate release went on to score $55.2M. Disney’s family comedy The Game Plan held up well after back-to-back weeks on top dropping 34% to $11M. Opening in third was Sony’s action drama We Own the Night which took in $10.8M followed closely by $10.4M for the nationwide expansion of George Clooney‘s Michael Clayton for Warner Bros. Final tallies reached $28.6M and $49M, respectively. Rounding out the top five was the Paramount comedy The Heartbreak Kid with $7.3M. Universal landed in sixth with the debut of its period sequel Elizabeth: The Golden Age which opened with just $6.2M leading to a disappointing $16.4M final.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,

Tag Cloud

Fargo deadpool casting mcc quibi Comedy live event Heroines CBS All Access YouTube Premium Paramount Plus Song of Ice and Fire Trailer Nat Geo true crime Year in Review Universal Pictures sequel japanese 2016 Trivia TNT Food Network halloween tv Columbia Pictures black comedy ViacomCBS ABC Family E! Prime Video Drama singing competition Starz movie foreign Black History Month streaming movies 2019 strong female leads comiccon documentary nfl child's play king kong cops book adaptation tv talk elevated horror breaking bad art house canceled TV shows Trophy Talk GoT festivals 2020 First Reviews posters AMC TIFF psycho spy thriller The Academy hispanic heritage month PBS Pixar TBS Arrowverse Writers Guild of America spinoff Disney streaming service GLAAD aliens emmy awards PlayStation remakes comedies Paramount Hallmark Christmas movies blaxploitation Dark Horse Comics teaser Horror franchise slashers films HFPA Freeform target 21st Century Fox stoner Wes Anderson japan Hollywood Foreign Press Association anthology sequels Emmy Nominations Thanksgiving RT History satire The Walking Dead facebook revenge 1990s HBO fast and furious Awards golden globes video Fall TV sitcom boxing lord of the rings parents rom-coms feel good cats action-comedy stand-up comedy renewed TV shows diversity The Arrangement Emmys twilight CW Seed trophy ABC Signature LGBT TV One suspense directors BBC One adaptation pirates of the caribbean Reality Broadway black justice league zero dark thirty rt archives critics Showtime Biopics video on demand CBS cooking anime toy story Netflix Christmas movies MCU TruTV AMC Plus PaleyFest dramedy CMT documentaries The Purge dreamworks Super Bowl ID vampires comic book movie Disney+ Disney Plus news streamig Amazon Prime Video Television Academy Nominations BBC America Turner crime drama Pet Sematary nature olympics South by Southwest Film Festival Masterpiece king arthur name the review Musical jurassic park slasher latino travel MSNBC IMDb TV psychological thriller Family worst rotten movies we love science fiction finale Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Quiz Marathons Black Mirror Syfy Bravo versus blockbusters Creative Arts Emmys FOX green book universal monsters National Geographic Warner Bros. animated docudrama canceled Peacock basketball 007 dogs docuseries TCA Apple TV+ Turner Classic Movies Video Games Hallmark TCA 2017 73rd Emmy Awards Funimation political drama Grammys Music DC streaming service rotten Fantasy transformers MGM TV movies rt labs critics edition E3 Pop TV Countdown IFC archives TLC Nickelodeon police drama HBO Go scary Comedy Central BAFTA romantic comedy Western NYCC gangster BBC Disney YA Marvel Television CNN X-Men ESPN Disney Channel kong Exclusive Video international robots medical drama hist SXSW 2022 Winners hollywood Lifetime Christmas movies popular new star wars movies biography hispanic superhero Alien USA Instagram Live saw Epix Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Teen VH1 what to watch Tumblr witnail VOD romance BET Oscars DirecTV Television Critics Association SundanceTV children's TV space Cartoon Network Rocky 2018 reboot laika television supernatural DC Universe Shudder cars Discovery Channel screen actors guild BET Awards Chernobyl south america independent scene in color Crackle mockumentary hidden camera harry potter 2017 Britbox Fox Searchlight comic books Rocketman indie Cosplay golden globe awards HBO Max Anna Paquin American Society of Cinematographers werewolf Tomatazos 99% USA Network new york Valentine's Day Oscar TCA Awards Sundance politics movies Sundance Now Apple Spectrum Originals Schedule thriller vs. Tarantino comics doctor who 72 Emmy Awards Animation miniseries wonder woman Tubi discovery screenings Esquire classics Walt Disney Pictures Best Actor Spike historical drama Apple TV Plus superman Acorn TV war Pride Month FX on Hulu new zealand Mary Tyler Moore telelvision Image Comics DC Comics Summer Pop NBA nbcuniversal Ghostbusters GIFs Pacific Islander Watching Series monster movies sports prank Interview italian Captain marvel First Look See It Skip It technology Superheroe Star Wars El Rey 2015 high school unscripted VICE Vudu Star Trek Ovation criterion cancelled concert Fox News Endgame NBC spanish language Holidays Cannes SXSW LGBTQ TV game show comic book movies mission: impossible OneApp A&E Marvel 20th Century Fox cancelled TV shows Hulu indiana jones Musicals Superheroes biopic binge FXX Film Festival spain zombies a nightmare on elm street Best Picture 2021 Shondaland jamie lee curtis Rock mob book cancelled television Character Guide Mystery crime scorecard Sundance TV young adult joker theme song Mary Poppins Returns Winter TV composers 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards series History festival The Walt Disney Company disaster adenture crossover dc Logo best cinemax OWN Disney Plus New York Comic Con asian-american obituary rt labs Amazon Spring TV dark Toys Travel Channel spider-man TV Land Podcast TV renewals The Witch royal family serial killer 90s Premiere Dates 24 frames kaiju Infographic Crunchyroll MTV Adult Swim dragons spanish all-time Avengers cancelled TV series dexter award winner Opinion A24 scary movies Rom-Com Christmas comic know your critic natural history Action obi wan 94th Oscars The CW Tokyo Olympics talk show 4/20 live action Elton John critic resources Binge Guide Awards Tour 79th Golden Globes Awards ghosts Ellie Kemper Brie Larson sag awards halloween heist movie Holiday zombie Martial Arts Extras marvel cinematic universe ABC SDCC chucky 45 james bond YouTube Red free movies YouTube Classic Film Tags: Comedy debate dceu WGN Paramount Network 93rd Oscars Mary poppins Marvel Studios Lifetime godzilla RT21 social media ratings Sci-Fi cults mutant aapi San Diego Comic-Con Polls and Games Lionsgate DGA Pirates Reality Competition blockbuster Amazon Studios Netflix genre Box Office french Women's History Month Film Stephen King worst movies Mindy Kaling Best Actress legend reviews Baby Yoda stop motion Lucasfilm kids batman Calendar APB fresh Sony Pictures adventure spider-verse razzies IFC Films President toronto TCM Red Carpet streaming 71st Emmy Awards football Neflix Comic Book Country Best Director Mudbound leaderboard crime thriller based on movie Election australia Kids & Family Universal game of thrones Legendary trailers Sneak Peek ITV Academy Awards cartoon Comic-Con@Home 2021 Certified Fresh Comics on TV Hear Us Out richard e. Grant die hard Best and Worst women boxoffice christmas movies marvel comics Set visit TCA Winter 2020 WarnerMedia sopranos FX Amazon Prime Photos period drama venice