Box Office Guru Preview: Four New Players Join The Game

21, Superhero Movie, Stop-Loss, and Run, Fat Boy, Run play for box office pot.

by | March 27, 2008 | Comments

Four new releases take a gamble debuting in theaters across North America hoping to hit the jackpot with audiences. The blackjack drama 21 and the spoof comedy Superhero Movie lead the way and will try their best to reach the number one spot. Other choices for ticket buyers include the soldier drama Stop-Loss and the marathon comedy Run, Fat Boy, Run in what should be another down weekend for the industry.

Kevin Spacey leads a team of math wizards from M.I.T. to a life of card-counting riches in Las Vegas in the new Sony pic 21. The PG-13 flick stars Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, and Laurence Fishburne and is based on a true story. Teens and young adults will be the target audience here as well as card sharks everywhere. The marketing has been slick and even though the film is not all that high on starpower, the subject matter and the look should help it connect with audiences. The studio has given 21 a big push and it should play as something new for young adults to get excited about instead of the same tired old formula. Competition will be a factor though, given that some of the other new flicks will appeal to the same age range. Opening in more than 2,500 locations, 21 could debut with about $15M.

Kevin Spacey and Jim Sturgess in 21

The spoof comedy, the movie staple that won’t go away, returns again with the new film Superhero Movie from MGM and The Weinstein Company. Rated PG-13, the pic lampoons several comic book flicks like Spider-Man and Fantastic Four and will target teens and young adults looking for immature fun. Meet the Spartans proved in January that the genre still makes money thanks to its $18.5M top spot bow. However, Superhero does not look as funny as some of the recent spoof hits as commercials are lacking in the joke department. Plus it lacks the special touch that Fox gives to these kinds of films to steer them to solid debuts. Flying into 2,700 theaters, Superhero Movie could capture about $14M this weekend.

Drake Bell in Superhero Movie

The frame’s sole R-rated title is also the best-reviewed film of the lot. Paramount’s Stop-Loss stars Ryan Phillippe as a decorated soldier home from Iraq who tries to reclaim his former life in his small Texas hometown. Channing Tatum and Abbie Cornish co-star giving the film some star wattage with teens and young adults. And good marks from critics can’t hurt. But the rating could cut into some of the sales from younger teens and subject matter remotely related to conflicts in the Middle East have driven audiences away time and time again. The studio and producer MTV Films have downplayed the war element and instead wisely focused on the young hip stars. Competition will come mostly from 21 and Superhero Movie which will play to many of the same folks and carry a more commercially viable PG-13. Landing in roughly 1,200 sites, Stop-Loss could take in about $6M this weekend.

Channing Tatum and Ryan Phillippe in Stop-Loss

An overweight man fights for his true love in the new comedy Run, Fat Boy, Run which arrives in the fewest theaters of any new release. The PG-13 film stars Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead fame and could tap into his cult fan base in the U.S. which grew bigger after last year’s Hot Fuzz. Unfortunately that audience is not large enough to command big numbers at the turnstiles. Picturehouse’s sneak previews last weekend helped to circulate some buzz but most other major films have more. Mixed reviews won’t do much to spark a frenzy either. Running low on starpower, hype, and theaters, Run, Fat Boy, Run could debut to the tune of around $4M from 1,050 locations this weekend.

Hank Azaria and Simon Pegg in Run, Fat Boy, Run

Horton Hears A Who will try to become the first film of the year to threepeat atop the box office charts but will have to fend off the advances of a couple of potential new hits. Luckily the Fox toon has no direct competition for its family audience so its decline should be less than last weekend’s. A 40% drop would give the Dr. Seuss pic around $15M over three days and boost the overall tally to $114M.

Tyler Perry will see a sizable fall for his latest venture Meet the Browns since his loyal audience shows up in big numbers on the first weekend. Look for Lionsgate to lose half of its sales and bank around $10 for a ten-day total of $35M.

Fellow sophomores Shutter and Drillbit Taylor should fall hard too. The weekend could result in a 55% fall for the Fox thriller to $4.5M and 50% decline for the Paramount comedy to $5M. Totals would rise to about $19M a piece.

LAST YEAR: Two new comedies posted strong debuts to end the first quarter with a bang. Will Ferrell‘s figure skating pic Blades of Glory opened at number one with a solid $33M for Paramount. After spending two weeks on top, the sports comedy went on to score $118.6M domestically. Disney’s animated film Meet the Robinsons snagged second place with $25.1M on its way to $97.8M. The stylish actioner 300 placed third with $11.4M for Warner Bros. and was followed by the studio’s kidpic TMNT with $9.2M and Disney’s biker comedy Wild Hogs with $8.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,

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