Every once in a while, you’ll see a weekend frame that has two debuting films for which it would be absolutely awesome if you could switch their casts. The last time I remember feeling that way was on October 24-26, 2008, when Saw V and High School Musical 3 both premiered, and this weekend I feel the same way, as Disney’s Miley Cyrus vehicle Hannah Montana The Movie and Seth Rogen’s Observe And Report hit theaters. Those two films will take on reigning champion Fast And Furious in the battle for the Easter crown, and I don’t mean the religious kind. Dragonball: Evolution is also debuting, but it’s not looking like it will make much of an impact.
You may have read a certain devilish post by my unfortunately misguided colleague, Reed, about the inevitable apocalypse that will accompany the debut of Disney’s Hannah Montana The Movie. Well, I’m a bit more optimistic about the situation, so allow me to stick up for the tween sensation. I’ve never picked on Disney and their veritable pantheon of singing/dancing/acting stars like Zac Efron, Selena Gomez, or Miley Cyrus. Considering the sexed-up alternatives (Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, etc), I’d rather see my little sisters fawn over the clean-cut kids in High School Musical or Hannah Montana any day of the week. Furthermore, I really do think that Disney finds the best of the best when it comes to talent. Say what you will about the company, but they’ve got a pretty great track record when it comes to finding the most talented children (Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, etc), and despite her occasionally grating public persona, Miley Cyrus is a great entertainer that audiences clearly connect with. She seems to me like a perfectly normal 16 year-old, and I don’t think she’s done anything that any other girl her age hasn’t. Plus, she gets major respect points from me for actually singing live!
Okay, now that I’m done defending Miley Cyrus, let’s focus on her equally (more?) famous alter ego, Hannah Montana, and her chances at the box office this weekend. The Disney Channel has never had a show as successful as Hannah Montana, which has become an industry in its own right. Dolls, video games, soundtracks, concerts, 3-D concert movies- it all just keeps making money! Last year, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best Of Both Worlds Concert Tour opened to $31 million dollars, but that was with $15 tickets, the 3-D gimmick, and the idea that the film would only be running for one week. Hannah Montana The Movie will be lucky to achieve that high of a number, but it should still find a solid debut. In 2003, Disney’s Hilary Duff vehicle, The Lizzie McGuire Movie earned $17 million in its opening weekend, but Hannah Montana is way bigger than Lizzie McGuire ever was. Marketing has been strong, excitement is high among the core fanbase, and reviews are fine, though I can’t think of a more review-proof film than this one. Rolling into 3,111 theaters, parents will be happen to take their daughters to a film that is guaranteed to be sweet and non-controversial. Give it $28 million over the weekend.
On the completely opposite end of the spectrum is Warner Brothers’ Observe And Report, which looks essentially like an edgy, crude, funny version of Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Starring Seth Rogen as a police officer who takes his mall security very seriously, the film also features the wonderful comedienne Anna Faris. Critics are split on the film, which is currently sitting with a 59% rating at RT. Some are praising Observe And Report for its ballsy approach to comedy, while others disapprove of its blatant meanness and lack of a moral. Historically, audiences prefer conventional humor, and this shounds to me like a film that’s tough to love. Still, Rogen has considerable drawing power (I attribute the underwhelming $31 million finish of Zack And Miri Make A Porno mostly to the title of the film), and other male-oriented comedies like Role Models, Pineapple Express, and I Love You, Man have been successful lately. Debuting in 2,727 theaters, Observe And Report might apprehend about $18 million this weekend.
The final new film debuting this weekend is Fox’s Dragonball: Evolution, which actually seemed like a good idea two years ago. I’ve never seen a film lose steam quite the way that Dragonball has, and excitement over its production has steadily decreased in the past year. Based on the popular TV show, which was in turn based on the popular manga series, Evolution tells the story of a group of powerful individuals all vying to control the Universe by possessing mystical objects called “dragonballs.” Sound silly? That’s because it is. While the TV show definitely created a built-in audience for this flick, bad reviews and general disinterest are going to keep this from becoming a fanboy favorite. The lowish 2,181 theater count doesn’t reveal that Fox has a hue amount of cofidence in Dragonball: Evolution, and I think Goku and the gang should probably come in with about $11 million this weekend.
Fast And Furious should race to the top spot (I made a palindrome!) again this weekend. After its record-breaking $70.9 million debut, it has decelerated pretty quickly throughout the week, and a drop of about 60% seems in order for the actionfest. But at this point, it’s all gravy for the studio, and Paul Walker and Vin Diesel have to be thanking their agents for convincing them to come back to the franchise. Give the Universal effort $30 million, with Hannah Montana hot on its heels. Meanwhile, Monsters Vs. Aliens should benefit from the family friendly nature of Easter weekend, and see a drop of about 35-40%, which would give it $20 million over three days and $138 million overall. It should be a great weekend at the box office! Here are my full predictions:
Predicted Top 12 For April 10-12, 2009
1. Fast And Furious – $30 million
2. Hannah Montana The Movie – $27 million
3. Monsters Vs. Aliens – $20 million
4. Observe And Report – $18 million
5. Dragonball: Evolution – $11 million
6. I Love You, Man – $5 million
7. The Haunting In Connecticut – $4.8 million
8. Knowing – $4.7 million
9. Adventureland – $3.5 million
10. Duplicity – $2.3 million
11. Sunshine Cleaning – $1.8 million
12. Race To Witch Mountain – $1.6 million
Am I totally off base or right on the money with my predictions? And am I crazy for defending Hannah Montana? Let me hear your thoughts and predictions in the comments!