There are four new wide releases this week, but only of them is likely to top $10M for the traditional three-day weekend. The Jason Statham vehicle Death Race (Universal) seems to be getting some traction in industry tracking, although a huge breakout opening is unlikely. Instead, the Paul W.S. Anderson-directed action pic will likely open with $13M-$16M. I suspect this movie, also starring Oscar nominee Joan Allen (The Contender) and Golden Gobe winner Ian McShane (Deadwood), will be enough to out-pace holdover Tropic Thunder (Dreamworks/Paramount), which will probably dip 40 percent-45 percent from its opening weekend.
Adapted from 1975’s Death Race 2000, which starred a pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone, the new Death Race features Statham, who is increasingly becoming a solid bankable action star. If the new movie reaches my $16M predicted opening, it would be his all-time fourth-best opening behind The Italian Job ($19.4M), The One ($19.1M) and Transporter 2 ($16.5M).
The Ben Stiller-directed satire Tropic Thunder, which was clearly hurt by Michael Phelps and the first week of the Olympic Games on NBC, has a real chance to repeat as the weekend box office champ with something in the $13M-$16M range, but I am calling for $15M, a tick behind Death Race. I still believe that Thunder is going to perform very well in coming weeks thanks to excellent reviews and positive word-of-mouth.
The Warner Bros mega-hit The Dark Knight should continue to hold extraordinarily well with a probable No. 3 finish. I am calling for a possible $9.75M for the Friday-thru-Sunday period, which would likely push the total domestic cume for the Caped Crusader to something over $488M.
The other wide releases are all likely to finish the three-day with disappointing results. The House Bunny (Sony), featuring the always-funny Anna Faris from Scary Movies appears to be the strongest of the titles in the marketplace. Lots of appeal with Females Under 25 could result in $6M-$9M, and my call is for $8.2M and a 4th place finish.
Fox’s The Rocker, starring Rainn Wilson (The Office), is trying to get a jump on the competition with a Wednesday opening, but this film is just not moving the needle. My sources tell me that industry tracking shows no buzz, low awareness, a poor Definite Interest score and a dismal First Choice. The result will be a possible three-day of $5M-$8M (my prediction is $6.2M) and a potential five-day of only $8M-$11M (my number is $9.3M). If those numbers hold, The Rocker will be fifth for the weekend.
FINAL PREDICTIONS FOR THE WEEKEND OF AUGUST 22
1. Death Race (Universal) – $16M
2. Tropic Thunder (Dreamworks/Paramount) – $15M
3. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) – $9.75M
4. The House Bunny (Sony) – $8.5M
5. The Rocker (Fox) – $6.2M
6. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Warner Bros) – $6M
7. The Longshots (MGM/Weinstein) – $5.25M
8. Pineapple Express (Sony) – $5.1M
9. Mirrors (Fox) – $5M
10. The Mummy 3 (Universal) – $3.7M