Three new releases roll into multiplexes across North America – one the size of an elephant, the others like specks of dust. Fox aims to deliver the largest opening weekend of the year so far with its animated family event film Horton Hears A Who which could very well triple the gross of its nearest competitor. Summit counters with its action title Never Back Down while Universal also targets young men with its horror flick Doomsday. Overall, the marketplace looks to bounce back and even stands a chance of beating year-ago figures for the first time in a month.
Almighty pals Jim Carrey and Steve Carell play nice this time in the first-ever animated feature version of a Dr. Seuss tale in Horton Hears A Who which goes into
saturation release on Friday. The G-rated pic tells of a playful elephant that discovers an entire city living on a tiny speck on a flower, but can’t convince others of its
existence. Fox has a mighty big hit on its hands for a number of reasons. The property is from an author that all generations are familiar with so parents and kids
alike can relate. The marketplace has very few viable options for children at the moment. Plus starpower from the two leads makes this a comedy juggernaut that
will allow the film to go beyond its core family audience and tap into business from teens and young adults too.
With one of the sharpest marketing departments around, Fox has the means to mine riches from this surefire spring blockbuster. Who else could propel lame
kidpics like Night at the Museum and Alvin and the Chipmunks to $200M+ megahit status over consecutive holiday seasons? The studio has used March as a
launching pad for its animated offerings from Blue Sky Studios allowing the films to steer clear of summer and holiday hits from Pixar and DreamWorks. In 2002,
Ice Age surprised everyone with its $46.3M debut. Three years later its Robots opened to $36M while the 2006 sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown bowed to a
mammoth $68M. Forgotten are the days of Titan A.E. Horton Hears A Who is destined to join its March brothers on the hit list.
The key to grosses skyrocketing lies in the interest of teens. Will they look at this as a Carrey-Carell dream team laugh-a-thon and line up? Chances are many will,
especially with no other major comedies doing substantial business. Appeal is broad with males and females of all ages opening their wallets. Sure it’s not as funny
as you’d hope given the two big C’s involved, but moviegoers will eat it up nonetheless. Plus with Good Friday and Easter helping the second weekend, long-term
prospects seem rosy too. Debuting ultrawide in over 3,900 theaters, Horton Hears A Who could collect about $50M over the Friday-to-Sunday period.
Disney’s College Road Trip will take a direct hit from Horton this weekend as the family crowd will have a much bigger film to rally behind. A 40% drop would
put the Martin Lawrence–Raven-Symone comedy at $8M for a ten-day cume of $25M.
Audiences have been receptive to the presidential assassination storyline of Vantage Point which could drop another 40% to $4.5M this weekend for a cume of
$58M for Sony. Lionsgate’s The Bank Job probably saw the bulk of Jason Statham fans rush out on opening weekend so a 45% fall would give the heist thriller
$3M and $11M in ten days.
LAST YEAR: New releases were no match for the top two films in North America which remained on top of the charts. The mammoth Spartan smash 300 tumbled 54% in its second weekend but still posted a hefty $32.9M sophomore tally. The Disney comedy Wild Hogs showed good legs dipping 31% and ranked second with $19.1M in its third lap. Faring best among the freshmen, Sandra Bullock‘s supernatural thriller Premonition opened in third with $17.6M for Sony on its way to a solid $47.9M. Rounding out the top five were fellow newcomers Dead Silence with a moderate $7.8M and Chris Rock‘s I Think I Love My Wife with a disappointing $5.7M. Final grosses reached $16.8M for the Universal pic and $12.6M for the Fox Searchlight laugher.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com