42, the inspiring true life story of baseball icon Jackie Robinson will step up to the box office plate this weekend in 3003 theaters with a real shot at a swing for the fences number one debut. Starring Harrison Ford as Brooklyn Dodger's exec Branch Rickey and the relatively unknown Chadwick Boseman as Robinson, the film is a riveting and hugely entertaining account of Robinson's personal and professional battles with peers, colleagues and the general public who were unwilling to accept an African-American ballplayer in the Major Leagues in 1940's America. Boseman is a revelation as Robinson and Ford chews up the scenery as Rickey along with Christopher Meloni (Law and Order: SVU, Oz) who is a standout as Dodger manager Leo Durocher and a great supporting cast including Alan Tudyk and John C. McGinley. Brian Helgeland (screenwriter of L.A. Confidential, Mystic River & Man on Fire) directs from his own script.
The film has major crossover appeal beyond male sports-enthusiasts due to its civil rights and family-oriented themes along with a strong love story between Robinson and his wife (played by a stunning Nicole Beharie). An expected gross in the $17 to $19 million range is on deck (though we are root, root, rooting for a $20 million plus number) for the Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures release with solid word-of-mouth giving the film a likely strong boost on Saturday and an expectation of a number one debut by the bottom of the ninth on Sunday night.
Of course there will be competition for first place in the $15 to $18 million range with the opening of a very different type of film aimed at the teen audience as The Weinstein Co.'s Dimension genre label releases the fifth installment of the Scary Movie franchise. With over $800 million in worldwide box office, the franchise has been a profit center for the distributor since its first installment was released in year 2000. Opening weekend's have ranged from a high of $48.1 million for 2003's Scary Movie 3 to a low of $20.5 million for the second installment, so this one is on the low side, but still impressive for a fifth go 'round.
This will leave holdovers including Fox's animated family hit The Croods in its fourth weekend (expected to hold strong with a gross in the low teens and around $135 million by the end of the weekend), Paramount/MGM's G.I. Joe: Retaliation (with around $11 million expected for its third weekend and a possible shot at crossing the $100 million mark by Sunday night) and Sony/Tri-Star's horror hit and last weekend's number one movie Evil Dead ($10 million likely for the weekend and around $40 million total by late Sunday) to round out the Top 5.
Also keep an eye out for the incredible 3-D re-release of 1993's Jurassic Park which performed well last weekend, set records for IMAX as well and continues in 2,778 theaters nationwide.
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The Summer Movie season looms large on the not-too-distant horizon with the debut of Disney/Marvel's Iron Man 3 on May 3 and it comes not a moment too soon with YTD revenues running 11.36% behind 2012 at this point.
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros./Dimension]