Martin Luther King weekend will hopefully bring some much needed “green” to the nation’s theaters as we continue to suffer through a down streak at the box office that has plagued the industry for nine straight weeks.
The unlikeliest of super heroes will attempt to save the day as Seth Rogen stars in Sony/Screen Gem’s big screen version of The Green Hornet. The original TV series ran just one season from 1966 to 1967 and starred Van Williams as Britt Reid (aka The Green Hornet) and famously Bruce Lee as his sidekick Kato. In this 2011 update the ironic yet effective casting of comedy star Seth Rogen in the title role will draw audiences looking for a decidedly tongue-in-cheek action movie experience. Cameron Diaz and Inglourious Basterds star Christoph Waltz round out a cast which also includes Jay Chou as the butt-kicking Kato.
Notably, the film is directed by indie-auteur Michel Gondry who helmed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and other offbeat films. A great marketing campaign and a release date that takes advantage of the less competitive early January marketplace will give The Green Hornet a solid debut. The film is poised for an opening weekend in the high $30 million range for the three-day portion of the weekend (and around to $50 million for the four-days) and will thus be considered the first official “hit” in the 2011 movie line-up.
Of course one dynamic duo deserves another and Vince Vaughn and Kevin James deliver the comedy in Universal’s The Dilemma in which the discovery of a wife’s infidelity leaves one of the buddies with the dilemma of how to tell his best friend. A strong cast that includes Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Channing Tatum and Queen Latifah, The Dilemma is the 21st feature film directed by Ron Howard whose first film was 1977’s Grand Theft Auto. The film should grab the date crowd and audiences looking for a new comedy to enjoy this weekend and therefore a second place finish for the three-day period with a gross in the high teens is to be expected.
The third and fourth spots will be filled by two films that have bridged the gap between critical and commercial success with the Coen Brothers’ True Grit fast becoming one of the highest grossing westerns of all-time and Black Swan taking the ballet-themed film to new box office heights. Look for Grit to collect a reward of around $10 million and Swan to plié its way to a Friday through Sunday performance of just under $10 million as the two films continue to draw discerning audiences to the multiplex.
Finally everyone’s favorite Fockers will make their mark as Little Fockers continues to perform solidly in the post-Holiday period. A weekend gross in the $5 million range will take the film to over $130 million in its fourth weekend of release and round out the top five.