Hollywood is gearing for what is certain to be a spectacular five-day 4th of July holiday movie-going period with two strong holdovers and a brand new PG-13-rated superhero picture starring the world’s biggest box office draw.
Early reviews for Hancock (Sony), featuring mega-star Will Smith, are coming in very negative, with just a 31 percent Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes as of Sunday night, but it hardly matters. This Peter Berg-directed superhero flick for the TMZ/Perez Hilton generation is scoring big in industry tracking, and although I am lowering my box office prediction for the movie, the downgrade has more to do with positive word-of-mouth for Wall-E (Disney) and Wanted (Universal) than with the spotty early reaction from critics.
Hancock will, without question, be the 12th $100M+ grossing movie of Smith’s career (including the animated Shark Tale). That will move him back into a fourth place tie with Harrison Ford, whose Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull (Paramount) is still playing strongly in theatres and will likely crack the $300M mark sometime Monday.
MOST $100M+ HITS IN A CAREER
(Including animated films & excluding cameos)
Tom Hanks: 15
Tom Cruise: 14
Eddie Murphy: 13
Will Smith, however, is about to do something unprecedented–a feat never done by the Toms–Hanks and Cruise. Hancock will be his eighth consecutive $100M+ grossing blockbuster. Hanks and Cruise both had career-best streaks of 7 films with $100M+.
2002: Men in Black II; $52.14M opening; $190.41M cume
2003: Bad Boys II; $46.52M opening; $138.6M cume
2004: I, Robot; $52.17M opening; $144.8M cume
2004: Shark Tale; $47.6M opening; $160.86M cume
2005: Hitch; $43.12M opening; $179.49M cume
2006: The Pursuit of Happyness; $26.54M opening; $163.56M cume
2007: I Am Legend; $77.21M opening; $256.39M cume
I am predicting $100M-$110M for Hancock in its first five days, Wednesday-through-Sunday. Working against Hancock are soft reviews and the fact that it is a new character not based on a comic book character (like Iron Man) or a toy line (like last year’s Transformers). Stiff competition from holdovers Wall-E and Wanted is the biggest factor limiting Hancock’s upside. The truth is, anything in the $100M range for the five-day 4th of July holiday is a terrific outcome for Sony.
Coming off the third-best opening for a Pixar animated film with $62.5M or so, I am predicting a five-day of $58M-$63M for Wall-E. That would give the Chaplinesque little robot a 10-day domestic cume of about $140M. Meanwhile, the Angelina Jolie action picture Wanted should add $40M-$45M Wednesday-through-Sunday for a new cume of just over $100M.
If my predictions are close, the top three films for this year’s five-day Independence Day holiday will sell about $210M in tickets over the period compared to the $193M or so that Transformers, Ratatouille and Live Free or Die Hard combined for last July 4-8. That would represent a seven percent increase year-over-year.