Box Office Guru Preview: Proposal and Year One Bring More Laughs

Both films attempting to unseat The Hangover, Up.

by | June 18, 2009 | Comments

Five of the top six films are comedies right now but Hollywood believes that’s not enough so two new laughers open on Friday to give moviegoers even more options. Sandra Bullock headlines the phony engagement pic The Proposal while Jack Black and Michael Cera star in the lowbrow flick Year One targeting an audience that is younger and more male. The overall marketplace will need to work hard to avoid posting its fourth consecutive down weekend versus last year.

Sandra Bullock returns to her most profitable genre with the new romantic comedy The Proposal hoping to score her first number one hit in over ten years. The PG-13 pic finds the actress playing a Canadian-born book editor who forces her male assistant (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her in order to dodge deportation. Few in Hollywood would think to pair Miss Congeniality with Van Wilder, but the Buena Vista release does just that and will appeal to a core audience of adult women due to the main star and the subject matter. Despite the misleading title, the film should attract decent male business and score points with the date crowd.

Bullock and fellow A-lister Two Weeks Notice with Hugh Grant, which bowed to $14.3M in December 2002 on its way to $93.4M. If Proposal breaks $20M this weekend, her publicists will be touting a new career high. What they’ll leave out is that she’s been absent from the number one spot this entire decade last reaching the top in March 1999 with Forces of Nature co-starring Ben Affleck.

Father’s Day weekend isn’t usually a time when chick flicks open, but the timing is actually quite right for The Proposal. Adult women have had little offered to them this summer and it’s been a good seven weeks since the last major romantic comedy Ghosts of Girlfriends Past opened. Direct competition will be light, but The Hangover will still be a factor for adults while Year One should take away some teens looking for a laugh. Opening in 3,056 locations, The Proposal could debut with about $22M.


Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock in The Proposal

Teen boys not interested in fake engagement hijinks will get to line up for the comedy Year One starring Jack Black and Michael Cera. The PG-13 pic about two slacker hunter-gatherers that venture out of their village to explore the ancient world is aimed squarely at teenagers looking to switch their brains off after a long school year and sit and laugh at mindless fun. Both leads carry some starpower with this crowd and teen girls may also take some interest.

The recent flood of comedies of all types will provide substantial competition. Fearing being crushed by Optimus Prime, studios avoided programming any big action tentpoles in June opting instead for an endless string of laughers. Opening two star-driven comedies on the same day is never a good idea, but Sony is hoping that there is room for Year One to service its audience while Ms. Bullock taps into her crowd. But that puts a limit on the grossing potential since neither has must-see buzz. Young males are pretty reliable at this time of year so those not saving their cash for Transformers on Imax could give the pre-historic comedy a try. Year One makes its way into over 2,900 theaters on Friday and might collect about $20M this weekend.


Jack Black and Michael Cera in Year One

Fox hopes to get early buzz going for its 3D toon Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs with sneak previews this Sunday for Father’s Day in 330 theaters nationwide. The threequel opens on Wednesday, July 1, ahead of the long Independence Day holiday frame and will steal away most of Up‘s 3D screens.

Two-week leader The Hangover will try to score that rare three-peat, but it won’t be easy with two new competing star-driven comedies entering the scene. The men-behaving-badly pic has been showing remarkable strength with its 27% dip in the sophomore frame. Direct competition is much tougher this weekend so sales may fall by 30% to about $23M. That would give The Hangover a sensational $148M in only 17 days for Warner Bros.

Up has been neck and neck over the last two frames and this weekend should continue that trend. The Pixar smash could crack the $200M mark on Thursday in its 21st day of release becoming the animation company’s eighth consecutive blockbuster to join the double-century club. New releases should not steal away too much thunder from the flying house adventure so a 30% decline would give Up around $21.5M boosting the cume to an eye-popping $223M.

Denzel Washington saw a decent but not spectacular bow for his hostage thriller The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 last weekend. Adult audiences are coming out, but are not exactly rushing with excitement. Look for a 45% drop this weekend giving the Sony release roughly $13M for a ten-day tally of $44M.

LAST YEAR: Proving that a remake of an older TV series anchored by a popular funnyman can work if done right, Steve Carell hit the top spot with Get Smart which debuted with $38.7M, or more than twice the opening of Will Ferrell‘s Land of the Lost this month. Warner Bros. found its way to a solid $130.3M with Smart. Tumbling 60% in its second weekend was Universal’s comic actioner The Incredible Hulk which grossed $22.1M which was an improvement on 2003’s Hulk which collapsed by 70% to $18.8M in its sophomore session. Kung Fu Panda held up well in third with $21.9M for Paramount and DreamWorks. Opening in fourth to disappointing results was eventual Razzie champ The Love Guru with $13.9M on its way to just $32.2M for Paramount. Fox rounded out the top five with the thriller The Happening which lost two-thirds of its opening weekend audience grossing $10.5M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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