Box Office News

B.O. ANALYSIS: Looks Like Smooth Sailing for 'U-571'

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Dec 31, 1899 | 7:00pm EST

Universal's "U-571" should still make the weekend's biggest splash at the box office.

With a 19 percent first-choice tracking, the PG-13 rated World War II submarine drama has the highest want-to-see numbers in the marketplace. It's a 24 percent first choice for men under 25 and a 36 percent first choice for men over 25.

"You're coming off a strong Friday because it was Good Friday (a week ago), but let's say it's down 30 percent," says one insider, who expects "U-571" to surface in the top spot again. "That puts it at $13.7 million."

Second place should see a close race between two new arrivals: Universal's "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" and 20th Century Fox's "Where the Heart Is."

"Vegas," opening at 3,036 theaters, is the PG rated prequel to the 1996 ""Flintstones" blockbuster that grossed over $350 million worldwide.

"The tracking is all over the place," says one insider, pointing out that family films don't usually track strongly in terms of overall audience interest. "First choice overall is 5 percent. First choice for parents taking children is 31 percent. For kids wanting to see it, the first choice total is 19 percent. But for females 7-11, it's 40 percent, and that's their target audience. For males 7-11, it's 27 percent. So it's going to skew young. It's the only kids matinee film out there, and that's what they're banking on."

"You can say it's a kids' movie, but it's also the sequel to a very successful movie that had to have played to more than just kids," observes one insider. "Let's say the tracking doesn't reflect what's going on out there; I think you're looking at a movie that's maybe low teens (in millions of dollars)."

20th Century Fox's PG-13 rated drama "Where the Heart Is," opening at 2,436 theaters, was tracking well late in the week with an overall 14 percent first choice. It, too, is likely to arrive to a gross in the low-teen millions.

"It's 27 percent first choice for young females (under 25) and 22 percent for older females," a distribution executive notes.

"Heart" should be nicely profitable for Fox, which reportedly picked up rights to the $15 million film for domestic and English speaking territories for just $9 million.

New Line's opening of its PG-13 rated time travel thriller "Frequency," at about 2,500 theaters, is a likely fourth.

"It's got an overall 12 percent first choice," a studio source says.

Fifth place is likely to go to Paramount's "Rules of Engagement" in its fourth week. A 30 percent drop would give it about $5.6 million.

New Line's "Love & Basketball" could wind up a close sixth in its second weekend.

"I think 'Love & Basketball' will take a big hit," one insider speculates. If it falls 40 percent, "Love" would wind up with about $5 million.

Filling out lower rungs: "28 Days," "Keeping the Faith," and "Erin Brockovich."

On the limited release front: Lions Gate Films is opening its R rated dark comedy "The Big Kahuna" in New York and Los Angeles.

Sony Pictures Classics will kick off its R rated romantic comedy "Bossa Nova" in New York.

Miramax's R rated dark comedy "Committed" will arrive in New York and L.A.

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