Universal's "U-571" should rule the Easter Weekend box office waters.
The PG-13 World War II submarine drama, opening at 2,584 theaters, was a 17% first choice in studio tracking studies late in the week. With adult men making it a 29% first choice, it's on track to blast the adult male-driven drama "Rules of Engagement" out of first place.
"They could certainly do $18-20 million," predicts one insider. But that sounds high to another source, who cautions: "No females under 25 want to go see this movie. It's Nazis and subs and World War II."
"I don't know what the market will bear this weekend," says a distribution executive. Good Friday is typically a very strong box office day, but Saturday should only be fair, and Easter Sunday is never a great day for moviegoing.
A key factor affecting Easter weekend ticket sales, adds another studio source, "is the weather in the northeast. I don't think of it as being a substantial weekend necessarily. I don't think the holiday affects it that much. It's basically just another weekend. Where you really (benefit) is in mid-week business. You're seeing it this week and you'll see it next week when a lot of kids are out of school."
Directed by Jonathan Mostow, "U-571" stars Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel and Jon Bon Jovi.
New Line's "Love & Basketball" looks like a slam dunk for second place.
Opening at over 1,100 theatres, its core audience will be young African-Americans. The PG-13 rated urban appeal drama was a 15% first choice in the tracking and could score about $11 million. With African-Americans 25 and under, its first-choice tracking is 57% with males and 64% with females. In terms of all moviegoers 25 and under, "Basketball's" first-choice numbers are 18% with males and 24% with females.
Written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, it stars Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan.
Paramount's "Rules of Engagement" should retreat to third place in its third week. A 30% drop would give it about $7.6 million.
Directed by William Friedkin, "Rules" stars Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L Jackson.
Columbia's PG-13 rated dramatic comedy "28 Days" should slide to fourth place in its second week. If it holds up well and only drops 30%, it will do about $7 million.
Directed by Betty Thomas, "Days" stars Sandra Bullock and Viggo Mortensen.
Universal's Julia Roberts blockbuster comedy drama "Erin Brockovich" should round out the Top Five. If it falls 30%, it will do about $5 million in its sixth week.
The Jersey Films production, co-financed by Universal and Columbia, is directed by Steven Soderbergh and also stars Albert Finney and Aaron Eckart.
Warner Bros.' R rated drama "Gossip," opening at 1,525 theaters, isn't likely to have much to shout about. With a first-choice tracking of 5%, it will be a struggle for it to crack the Top Five.
"It's probably very young (and female in its appeal)," says an insider. "With movies like that, the marketing does its work in the last few days." He sees "Gossip" benefiting from kids being out of school for Good Friday.
Directed by Davis Guggenheim, it stars James Marsden, Lena Headey, Norman Reedus, Kate Hudson, Marisa Coughlan and Joshua Jackson.
Filling out lower rungs on the chart: "American Psycho," "Keeping the Faith" and "The Road to El Dorado."
Paramount Classics' R rated drama about teen suicide, "The Virgin Suicides," goes into limited release with limited prospects.
Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, it stars James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett.
After catching her live-in boyfriend in a compromising position Amanda sets out to find a new place to live. She ends up rooming with four supermodels (Shalom Harlow Ivana Milicevic Sarah O'Hare and Tomiko Fraser) whose apartment has a great view -- especially of Jim the "perfect guy" across the way. When Amanda in a "Rear Window"- type scenario witnesses Jim committing what she thinks is a murder she sets out to prove that he did it. However to her surprise she ends up falling head over heels (literally a lot of the time) for him instead.
The chemistry between Prinze and Potter is near perfect. Potter does a great job of playing a klutzy girl who can't seem to stay on her feet long enough to have a conversation with Jim. But then again who could? Prinze exudes his usual charm and winning smile while at the same time showing great comic timing. The more pivotal moments with the four models who are "struggling " as they like to say are well done and surprisingly hysterical. Who needs a drama when you can have four models who are actually funny?
Director Mark S. Waters and Prinze Jr. are together again after their 1997 film "The House of Yes." "Head Over Heels" is a cross between "Fatal Attraction " "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "There's Something About Mary " which means it's a bit muddled in its direction. Waters tries a little too hard for the shock value while at the same time trying to convey romantic comedy elements almost overshadowing the performances of the actors. But hey then again we get to see supermodels covered in poop. Priceless. Still the fairly clever and darker script plus the winning chemistry between the lead actors makes it worthwhile.
John Waters gives Hollywood the finger with this comedy about cinema purist Cecil B. DeMented and his band of guerrilla filmmakers who kidnap the industry's hottest leading lady Honey Whitlock (Melanie Griffith) during the Baltimore premiere of her latest film a "life-affirming screwball comedy" called "Some Kind of Happiness." DeMented and the group live Rocky Horror-style in an abandoned warehouse with plans to save the public from bad movies while shooting their anarchist film. Honey is won over helping to cause terror at location shoots including an attack at a multiplex screening of "Patch Adams: The Director's Cut." (Hey these guys aren't all that bad!)
Griffith either can't get work or has a great sense of humor. Why else would she play this far-out send-up of a Hollywood glamour girl who is all glitz in public all bitch in private? Cheers to her for taking bold risks and coming out on top. Stephen Dorff is over the top as the title character (even for this film) but still scrapes up laughs with his maniacal rage. Ricki Lake takes a break from her daily TV sleaze getting back to what she does best. Other Waters regulars including Mink Stole and Patty Hearst also return.
Anyone not familiar with the director/screenwriter's work should be cautioned that navigating this Waters could be rough sailing. Some of his films ("Polyester " "Pink Flamingos") would make the cast of "American Pie" blush. His dialogue is stiff and strained and his actors look like they're stuck in an awkward high school play. That said "Cecil" is full of hilarious jabs like the showdown with fat lazy teamsters on the set of the senseless sequel "Gump Again."