For whatever reason, somewhere over the course of the last few decades, a Hollywood executive must have thought it was a good idea to claim that the first week in May was the start of Summer movie season. Logical? No. Summer doesn’t actually begin for another 7 weeks, and I see no reason why the whole world should follow anything that Hollywood says, but for whatever reason, we’ve all bought into this lie, and its expected that the first film of the “Summer” (seriously, though, we aren’t even halfway through Spring!) will be huge. “Huge” would certainly be an appropriate term to describe this weekend last year, as Iron Man found $98.6 million in its opening weekend on its way to a $318 million finish. This year, the debut of X-Men Origins: Wolverine begs the question: Which is stronger, iron or adamantium? Also, Matthew McConaughey opens his latest romantic comedy, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, and an animated movie I honestly know nothing about, Battle for Terra, hits screens.
Sorry Beyonce, but your brief reign atop the box office chart here ends with the opening of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The rebellious Marvel character that Hugh Jackman popularized in the first three X-Men films gets his own treatment with Wolverine, which also serves as a foundation for the dozens of “Origins” spinoffs that Fox will instantly put into production if Wolverine breaks out. Advertising has been pervasive, and awareness is huge for Wolverine, and if the success of Fast And Furious is any indication, audiences are more than game for a loud, explosive action movie this year, and it doesn’t even matter if reviews aren’t great.. Some analysts have argued that audiences might be getting tired of Wolverine as a character after the trilogy of X-Men films, but in this Era of Easy Entertainment, comfortable familiarity is what sells, so I don’t think that should have a negative effect on box office. Wolverine is clawing its way into a whopping 4,099 theaters, and it should have no trouble trouncing the rest of the Top 12. Look for $96 million by the end of this weekend, and a greenlight for Magneto and Gambit by Monday.
With a film as huge as Wolverine hitting screens, everything else ends up seeming like an afterthought. Still, Warner Brothers may be able to find a decent gross for the rom-com Ghosts of Girlfirends Past, which stars Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner. This is a classic example of counter-programming, and as The Devil Wears Prada showed us in 2006 when it debuted to $27 million against Superman Returns, there’s more than enough room for two big openers in one weekend. Personally, I don’t understand why people like McConaughey so much. He has always come across to me as smarmy, cocky, and dumb. Ladies, if that’s what you’re looking for in a man, then I’ve sadly got little to offer you. Despite my disapproval, though, McConaughey is a proven draw, and Garner makes for a likable romantic lead. Reviews are saying that the fantasy comedy is lacking in originality and humor, which is pretty much consistent with every other romantic comedy released these days, but advertising has been strong, and this provides women with an option other than Wolverine. Popping up in 3,175 theaters, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past could nab $20 million this weekend.
What the heck is Battle For Terra? I’ve seen literally no advertising for this Lionsgate release. With a little cyber-sleuthing, though, I’ve gathered that it’s a 3-D sci-fi animated film about a space war between aliens and humans. Reviews are only alright, there is zero awareness for this title, and similarly themed Monsters Vs. Aliens, even in its sixth week, will outshadow this one for sure. Terra zaps itself into just 1,159 theaters this weekend, and a gross of $3 million should result.
Among holdovers, we’ll probably see some larger-than-usual drops due to Wolverine‘s debut. Last week’s champ, Obsessed, which was destined to be front-loaded anyway, will probably fall by a steep 60% to about $11.5 million. Fighting has a lot working against it. It’s a teen film, which always signifies a big second weekend drop, and it’s an action film, which looks a lot less cool than Wolverine. The Channing Tatum feature might find $4.5 million. It will be interesting to see if Jamie Foxx’s non-sequitur appearance on American Idol this week will soften the second weekend drop for The Soloist. Still, unless there is some sort of divine intervention, The Soloist (with its $60 million pricetag) won’t be considered a hit. Give it $4.7 million as well. Disney’s re-edited version of the popular Planet Earth miniseries, Earth, actually has the best chance for a solid holdover this weekend. Appealing to families and intellectuals alike, Earth has been doing well during the week, and it might find $5.5 million over the weekend frame.
Predicted Top 12 For May 1-3, 2009
1. X-Men Origins: Wolverine – $96 million
2. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past – $20 million
3. Obsessed – $11.5 million
4. 17 Again – $6 million
5. Earth – $5.5 million
6. Monsters Vs. Aliens – $5.5 million
7. The Soloist – $4.7 million
8. Fighting – $4.5 million
9. State Of Play – $4 million
10. Hannah Montana The Movie – $3.6 million
11. Fast And Furious – $3.3 million
12. Battle For Terra – $3 million
How much do you think Wolverine will earn at the box office this weekend? Can it break the $100 million barrier? Put your predictions in the comments!