General News

By the Numbers: April 26

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Apr 26, 2002 | 1:23pm EDT

In space no one can hear you snap a neck.

The last we saw of Friday the 13th's Jason Voorhees, the hockey-masked maniac seemed destined for a bloody showdown with Freddy Krueger.

That's no longer the case. In its second attempt to revive the aging Friday the 13th franchise, New Line rips off Alien by blasting Jason into outer space some 450 years in the future. Rather than terrorize the horny teens of Camp Crystal Lake, Jason now stalks the horny crew of a research vessel that had the misfortune to thaw out the cryogenically frozen murderer.

Jason X represents the 10th chapter in a series that can't be killed, much like its infamous antagonist. You could count on an annual visit to Camp Crystal Lake in the 1980s, but the series quickly experienced diminishing returns. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, released in 1989, opened with an OK $6.2 million but soon faded out with a total $14.3 million.

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, the sole Friday the 13th offering of the 1990s and the first from New Line, fared no better. The ninth Friday the 13th, released in 1993, earned just $15.5 million.

The change in hunting grounds, coupled with Jason's high-tech modifications, should result in the best gross for the series since 1984's erroneously titled Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter ($32.6 million). It also helps in this post-Scream era that Jason X has a much-needed sense of humor about itself. Debuting at 1,800 theaters, Jason X should match Jason Goes to Hell's $7.5 million opening.

A quick death, though, is certain. Jason X, which sat on the shelf for one year, won't buck the trend of losing half its audience in its second weekend, as most horror films endure. Blade 2, which has $77.8 million through Wednesday, is a good example of that.

Besides, there are only so many people who find pleasure in the monotony of watching Jason kill, die, return to life, kill, die, return to life ...

Talking of makeovers, a blonde Angelina Jolie tries her hand at comedy with Life Or Something Like It. She stars as a TV reporter who believes that she has one week left to live.

Jolie's not known for her comic timing, although last year's disastrous Original Sin did generate its fair share of unintentional laughs. Her last true attempt at comedy, 1999's Pushing Tin, earned a pitiful $8.4 million.

Yet Life Or Something Like It arrives at a time when other actresses seem content on kicking butt than making people smile. Plus, Jolie offers relief for those not amused by the body counts amassed in The Scorpion King and Jason X.

Life Or Something Like It will clearly lure audiences away from Cameron Diaz's sour The Sweetest Thing ($18 million through Wednesday).

Accordingly, Life Or Something Like It should enjoy a modest $10 million opening but stick around until About a Boy opens May 17.

Jolie also could beat Sandra Bullock at her own game. Bullock seems to excel in similarly goofy comedies--such as While You Were Sleeping--but doesn't have what it takes to keep crime off the streets.

Bullock's Murder By Numbers opened last weekend with a disappointing $9.3 million and has $11.3 million through Wednesday. Audiences could be tired of female-driven thrillers, given that Murder By Numbers arrived so soon after Jodie Foster's Panic Room ($83.1 million through Wednesday) and Ashley Judd's High Crimes ($31.7 million through Wednesday). Also, director Barbet Schroeder's thriller--pitting cop Bullock against two teens convinced they have committed the perfect murder--isn't half as clever as he thinks it is.

Bullock will have a couple of chances to bounce back this year when she appears in the comedies Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Two Weeks Notice with Oscar date Hugh Grant.

The Scorpion King's reign as the nation's No. 1 film should continue this weekend, but will definitely come to an end next weekend when Spider-Man swings into theaters.

If the intention behind The Scorpion King is to turn pro-wrestler The Rock into the next action hero, then this Mummy spin-off will succeed without question. The Scorpion King shattered April's opening records by debuting with a summer-like $36 million. The Matrix previously held the record with a $27.7 million opening weekend.

Neither prequel nor sequel, The Scorpion King's opening came somewhat close to The Mummy's $43.3 million debut in May 1999. The Rock's fleeting appearance in The Mummy Returns no doubt helped the sequel to open with $68.1 million and earn a total $202 million.

Given that its inspiration lies more with Conan the Barbarian than The Mummy, The Scorpion King won't rival its predecessor's $155.2 million total. The sword-and-sorcery epic is bloodier than The Mummy and doesn't boast as many breathtaking CGI-created scenes. Still, The Rock can look forward to a possible $100 million hit.

The Scorpion King did not force Changing Lanes to screech to a halt. The psychological thriller, with Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson locking horns after a traffic accident, slowed by a respectable 35 percent in its second weekend, from $17.1 million to $11 million. With $34.9 million through Wednesday, Changing Lanes is on course to hit $50 million.

A couple of veterans continue their solid runs. The animated Ice Age, the year's biggest hit thus far, has $160.5 million through Wednesday. The Rookie dropped just 20 percent in its fourth weekend, from $8 million to $6.4 million, and has $54.7 million through Wednesday.

Frailty, however, is the victim of its wide release. The acclaimed religiously themed thriller, directed by Bill Paxton, needed time to cultivate an audience. Instead, Frailty hit too many theaters at one time. The result: a weak $7.8 million in two weekends, through Sunday.

Going the art house route would have helped Frailty, as it has for several other small films that otherwise would have gotten lost among the likes of The Scorpion King and Changing Lanes. Tying the knot allowed Monsoon Wedding to earn $7.1 million through Sunday and My Big Fat Greek Wedding to debut with $597,632. Y Tu Mama Tambien and Kissing Jessica Stein, respectively, have $5.8 million and $5 million through Sunday.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring continues to work its magic. Peter Jackson's epic hit $306.9 million on Sunday to supplant Independence Day ($306.1 million) at No. 10 on the list of the top domestic earners. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring could conceivably climb higher: Return of the Jedi is at No. 9 with $309.2 million, while The Lion King, at No. 8, has $312.8 million.

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