Sorry for the delay on this column! It won’t happen again! This weekend Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans and Inkheart hit the big screen, while lots of Oscar bait like Slumdog Millionaire, Revolutionary Road, and Frost/Nixon have major expansions. All in all, it should be a busy weekend. Let’s get to some analysis:
The likely number one flick this weekend is Sony’s Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans, the third film in the popular Underworld franchise, which pits vampires in an epic, ongoing battle with werewolves. Where this rivalry came from, I don’t know. Nor do I know about ninjas and pirates, for that matter; I guess there’s just not enough room in this world for too many fantastical characters at once… Despite the currently “in” subject matter, I’m not thinking that this is going to suddenly be another Twilight. Kate Beckinsale, the leading lady of the first two movies did not come back for Rise Of The Lycans, which will hurt its weekend gross some, and there is an extremely crowded marketplace. Underworld: Evolution opened to $26 million back in 2006, but with less star power and smaller theater count of 2,924 theaters, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans should see a softer $23 million this weekend.
The other new opener is Inkheart, yet another action-adventure-family film from Brendan Fraser, who seems to be reinventing his career around the genre. Inkheart, which is a story about stories in books coming to life, looks a heckuva lot like last year’s $100 million hit Journey To The Center Of The Earth, but it hasn’t had as much of an advertising push as that film did. Still Brendan Fraser has proved that he can draw in audiences (I mean, he actually got $100 million worth of people to go see the new Mummy picture!), so this should still have a somewhat solid debut. The Warner Brothers feature is hitting 2,655 theaters, and It should find $14 million over the frame.
Over in Oscar bait land, three films are moving into wide release. Slumdog Millionaire, which is all but a lock for Best Picture at this point, will add over 800 theaters this weekend for a total count of 1,411 theaters, which should lead to a solid $9.5 million. Revolutionary Road, the depressing Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio marriage film, is moving from limited release into 1,058, but it does not have the same playability as Slumdog. Remember, this is the EEE, and people don’t want to be sad! Give it $5 million over the weekend. Finally, Frost/Nixon, a film that should be thankful for the much-needed Oscar attention, will be expanding into 1,097 theaters. This movie is suffering from the fact that it jsut looks really boring. Give it $4 million over the weekend.
As far as last weekend’s openers, Notorious and My Bloody Valentine should fall hard, while Hotel For Dogs and Paul Blart: Mall Cop should see much smaller declines. Gran Torino will reamin a power player on the charts. Here are my predictions:
Predicted Top 12 for January 23-25
1. Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans – $23 million
2. Paul Blart: Mall Cop – $18 million
3. Gran Torino – $15 million
4. Inkheart – $14 million
5. Hotel For Dogs – $11 million
6. Slumdog Millionaire – $9.5 million
7. My Bloody Valentine: 3D – $9 million
8. Notorious – $8 million
9. Bride Wars – $6.5 million
10. Defiance – $5.5 million
11. Revolutionary Road – $5 million
12. The Unborn – $4.5 million