The upcoming three-day will be much easier to call than the three-day photo finish between Burn After Reading (Focus), Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys (Lionsgate) and Righteous Kill (Overture). The near-certain winner, according to industry tracking and conversations with multiple sources, will be Neil LaBute’s Lakeview Terrace (Sony).
Early reviews for Lakeview Terrace are decidedly negative with just a 42 percent Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, but the presence of Samuel L. Jackson on the marquee will give this genre pic the boost it needs to win. I am projecting $15M or so for the frame, which would put it on par with Jackson’s all-time 12th-best opening 2000’s Rules of Engagement ($15M). It will, however, mark the biggest opening of LaBute’s film career.
LaBute has a knack for the edgy examination of unsettling and disturbing human relationships, as in his play In the Company of Men, which later became a film starring his BYU college friend Aaron Eckhart. The movie, shot for a reported $25,000, won the Sundance Film Festival, was picked up by Sony, and grossed $2.8M domestic. In 1998, he followed with Your Friends and Neighbors ($4.7M cume), starring Eckhart, Ben Stiller, Amy Brenneman and Catherine Keener, before scoring with his best film, the diabolically funny Renee Zellweger vehicle Nurse Betty ($7.1M opening – $25.1M cume). LaBute’s racially-charged, bad-guy-with-a-badge thriller will be a critical and box office rebound from his last movie, the disastrous re-make of the Wicker Man in 2006.
I suspect that the Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading will have an excellent hold, probably down just 35 percent-40 percent, and that may mean a second place finish, just ahead of the new Dane Cook comedy My Best Friend’s Girl (Lionsgate). Industry tracking seems to suggest $10M-$12M for Cook‘s teaming with Kate Hudson, and I say it will be at the high end of that range. If the R-rated romantic comedy hits my predicted $11.9M opening, it will mark Cook’s all-time second-best opening, trailing only last year’s Good Luck Chuck ($13.6M).
Holdovers Righteous Kill and Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys will likely round out the weekend top five. I am anticipating a steeper drop for Family That Preys, possibly 60 percent to about $6.8M, compared to something closer to a 50 percent tumble for the Al Pacino–Robert DeNiro paycheck movie, to something in the $8.1M range.
The other two new, wide releases both seem headed for soft openings. Reviews are actually very good for the Dreamworks/Paramount release Ghost Town (80 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes as of Wednesday night), but the high concept comedy co-written and directed by Steven Spielberg‘s buddy David Koepp is on a limited number of screens and may be too hip for many rooms. Star Ricky Gervais is very funny, but he is also very HBO, and that does not help sell tickets in the middle of the country. I am calling for a modest $6.25M for this one, but the critical reaction makes an upside surprise possible.
Meanwhile, MGM’s animated Igor seems to be a low grade Monsters, Inc. riff with little to no promotional muscle behind it. Despite an assemblage of voice talent, including John Cusack, John Cleese, Steve Buscemi, Eddie Izzard and Jay Leno, I am expecting only $5.5M over the three-day.
FINAL PREDICTIONS FOR WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 19
1. NEW – Lakeview Terrace (Sony) – $15M
2. Burn After Reading (Focus) – $12M
3. NEW – My Best Friend’s Girl (Lionsgate) – $11.9M
4. Righteous Kill (Overture) – $8.1M
5. Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys (Lionsgate) – $6.8M
6. NEW – Ghost Town (Dreamworks/Paramount) – $6.25M
7. NEW – Igor (MGM) – $5.5M
8. The Women (Picturehuse) – $5M
9. The House Bunny (Sony) – $3.1M
10. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) – $2.9M