Iron Man (Paramount) will almost certainly comfortably win a 2nd consecutive weekend at the box office as Speed Racer (Warner Bros) struggles to reach $30M. I have not been able to find a studio exec who believes that the Wachowski Brothers’ adaptation of the late ’60s anime cartoon classic will be able to outrun its bad industry tracking and generally negative reviews (only 29 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes as of Wednesday night).
A source just filled me in on the latest tracking, and Awareness for Speed Racer is fine at 90 percent, but Definite Interest is hovering around 30 percent and its First Choice score is stuck at 16 percent, behind Fox’s What Happens in Vegas at 18 percent. In fact just 19 percent of young males name Speed Racer as their First Choice this weekend, and the Ashton Kutcher/Cameron Diaz comedy is a close 2nd in that demo with 16 percent.
One well-placed exec at a competing studio pointed out something that should be especially disturbing to Warner Bros. When moviegoers were asked about their First Choice from a list of films, including titles already in release, those scheduled to open Friday and ones that are due through May 30, only 5 percent of respondents named Speed Racer. Seven movies scored better including Indiana Jones at 27 percent, Iron Man at 23 percent and Narnia at 14 percent. Even last month’s Baby Mama has a stronger number with 7 percent.
The 2nd weekend of May was described to me as a ‘death slot’ on the release schedule. Back in in 2006, Warner Bros flopped with Poseidon, which opened with only $22.1M on this same weekend despite a reported $160M budget. The good news for Warner Bros is that Speed Racer has been made for something closer to $100M.
As I reported earlier this week, Paramount has been watching Speed Racer tracking closely. They saw that ‘there was blood in the water,’ and they ramped up spending on ad buys for Iron Man . That should drive the 2nd weekend gross for the first Marvel Studios film to $43M-$46M, representing a respectable drop in the 53 percent-56 percent range.
The other major wide release opening this Friday is the PG-13-rated What Happens in Vegas. With Kutcher and Diaz on the marquee, this comedy has excellent female appeal. Definite Interest with Females Under 25 is at 48 percent and First Choice with young females is 20 percent. What Happens in Vegas should reach something in the $20M-$23M range, good for 3rd place behind the family-oriented Speed Racer.
As I detailed in a story I titled “A Mamet Miscalculation,”, Sony Classics is rolling out Redbelt on 1,000 screens, and it would have been far-better-served by a traditional platform release on the arthouse circuit. Instead, the Chiwetal Ejiofor extreme fighting/ martial arts drama is unlikely to top $3M.
FINAL BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS FOR MAY 9-11
1. Iron Man (Paramount) – $45M
2. Speed Racer (Warner Bros) – $30M
3. What Happens in Vegas (Fox) – $21M
4. Made of Honor (Sony) – $8.5M
5. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Universal) – $3.5M
6. Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo (Warner Bros) – $3.4M
7. Redbelt (Sony Classics) – $2.7M
8. The Forbidden Kingdom (Lionsgate) – $2.1M
9. Nim’s Island (Fox) – $1.5M
10. Prom Night (Sony) – $1.2M