A well-placed studio source told me this week that there’s probably only one “big-time” movie remaining on the release schedule for August, and, no surprise, it is Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder (Dreamworks/Paramount). With a highly anticipated performance from Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. and a buzzed-about, scene-stealing turn by Tom Cruise, Tropic Thunder has been everybody’s sure-fire late summer hit for months, and industry tracking points to an excellent five-day opening, starting Wednesday, and an almost certain weekend win.
The Beijing Olympics are a huge ratings hit for NBC, and films in release this weekend will need to contend with Michael Phelps’ pursuit of eight gold medals at the Water Cube in China. The Baltimore-raised aquatic superstar will swim in his final event Sunday night. The Summer Games generally, and Phelps specifically, have the potential to dampen the weekend numbers at America’s movie theatres, but Tropic Thunder, like last week’s Pineapple Express (Sony) and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (Warner Bros), is getting a jump on the field with a midweek opening.
I am anticipating $11M-$13M on Wednesday for the Dreamworks/Paramount property, and the film will likely bank $43M-$46M by Monday morning, slightly better than the five-day performance for Pineapple Express last week. The traditional three-day will fall in the $24M-$27M range, which will probably be enough to win the weekend.
The George Lucas-produced animated Star Wars film The Clone Wars (Warner Bros) is a likely No. 2 for the weekend, but it may struggle. A competing studio exec tells me that, according to industry tracking, the percentage of moviegoers who say that they have no interest in the film out-number those that say they have Definite Interest, which is not a good sign. Still, hardcore Star Wars fans could power the film to $8M-$11M Friday and a front-loaded three-day of $20M-$23M.
Mega-hit The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) will likely be knocked from the No. 1 spot this weekend, dipping to $15M-$18M. Last Friday, I projected $515-$520M domestic for the Christopher Nolan-directed comic book adaptation, and Warner Bros distribution president Dan Fellman offered the same numbers in a Monday Hollywood Reporter story.
Fellman also told THR that Titanic was once in a lifetime, and I don’t think we’ll ever have another gross like that in the history of the industry.’ Those are the same sentiments I have been expressing for weeks. There has been a fundamental change in the way movies are distributed, and, with 4,000 location and 10,000 screen openings, it is completely improbably for any future Hollywood movie to demonstrate the week-after-week resilience that pushed Titanic to $600M domestic.
The other wide release this weekend is Mirrors (Fox), from The Hills Have Eyes director Alexandre Aja. May’s The Strangers (Rogue) demonstrated that there is still room in the market for an R-rated horror film, but this one does not have nearly the same market traction according to industry tracking. 24 star Kiefer Sutherland’s first feature since 2006’s The Sentinel seems headed for $10M-$13M.
There is a hodgepodge of limited releases also debuting Friday, each on fewer than 1,000 screens. I am anticipating $3M-$5M for Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Weinstein), $2M-$4M for Summit’s 3D animated family movie Fly Me To the Moon and $1M-$2M for Henry Poole Is Here (Overture), starring Luke Wilson.
PREDICTIONS FOR THE WEEKEND OF AUG. 15
1. Tropic Thunder (Dreamworks/Paramount) – $25M (five-day total of $45M)
2. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Warner Bros) – $21.5M
3. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) – $16.6M
4. Pineapple Express (Sony) – $12.5M
5. Mirrors (Fox) – $11.8M
6. The Mummy 3 (Universal) – $8.3M
7. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (Warner Bros) – $6.5M
8. Mamma Mia (Universal) – $5.4M
9. Step Brothers (Sony) – $5.2M
10. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Weinstein) – $4.6M
*Fly Me To the Moon (Summit) – $3.3M
*Henry Poole Is Here (Overture) – $1.25M