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B.O. Update: 'Tropic Thunder' Likely to Win over Labor Day Weekend

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Aug 28, 2008 | 12:36pm EDT

The end of August is a dumping ground for marginal movies that are, in many cases, barely worthy of release. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer made friends on “the island of misfit toys,” but not even Rudolph would pay to see the “misfit movies” bowing for Labor Day weekend.

I am putting my money on a third consecutive weekend win for Tropic Thunder (Dreamworks/Paramount) with another excellent hold. With Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black and Tom Cruise all continuing to generate laughs in this Stiller-directed movie satire, it may have just enough juice to win another weekend with a three-day of $11M-$13M (my prediction is $12.5M) and a four-day of $14.5M-$16.5M (I am calling for $15.75M). That would push its US cume to $86M-$88M. At this pace, Tropic Thunder appears headed for $115M-$120M domestic. 

Babylon A.D. (Fox) will probably finish at No. 2, the strongest opener of a weak crop of new titles. The last movie from director Mathieu KassovitzGothika starring Halle Berry, was a disappointment with a $19.2M opening. This Vin Diesel sci fi vehicle will open even softer. Barely screened for critics, Babylon A.D. will likely finish with a 3-day of $11M-$13M, probably a tick below Tropic Thunder, and I am targeting $14.5M for the 4-day Labor Day weekend.

Vin Diesel, whose career seemed promising after his work in Saving Private Ryan, will likely post only his 6th-best opening, behind XXX ($44.5M), The Fast & The Furious ($40M), Saving Private Ryan ($30.6M), The Pacifier ($30.5M) and The Chronicles of Riddick ($24.3M).

The latest Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer movie spoof seems headed for a performance well below their previous silly satires. Tracking for Disaster Movie is pointing toward $9M-$11M for 3-days and $11M-$13M for the Friday-thru-Monday period. If my 3-day number of $10.5M holds, it will finish behind previous Friedberg/Seltzer openings Scary Movie 3 ($48.1M), Scary Movie ($42.3M), Scary Movie 4 ($40.2M), Scary Movie 2 ($20.5M), Epic Movie ($18.6M) and Meet the Spartans ($18.5M). 

The House Bunny (Sony) has a strong chance of hopping to a #4 finish with $8M-$10M (my call is $9.3M) for the traditional weekend and $10M-$12M (I see $11M) for the long holiday weekend. The PG13-rated comedy’s new cume will be at about $30M by Tuesday morning.

MGM has rounded up an odd group of young actors to star in College. Included in the cast are Drake Bell, who has 54 episodes of the Nickelodeon series Drake & Josh on his resume, along with Andrew Cardwell (a few episodes of Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel), Kevin Covais (the singer known as Chicken Little from American Idol), Alona Tal (10 episodes of Veronica Mars on the CW) and Ryan Pinkston (a season of the Andy Richter series Quintuplets). With virtually no Awareness, little Definite Interest and a very soft First Choice, College will struggle to $3M-$4M for the 3-day and $4M-$5M for the 4-day.

The Focus comedy Hamlet 2 (Focus) expands to 1,500 screens on Friday, but the Sundance favorite has limited upside. I am expecting about $3.7M for the 3-day and $4.5M by Tuesday morning. That three-day would represent only Director Andrew Fleming’s sixth-best opening, trailing Threesome and Bad Dreams, both at $4M, but ahead of his political satire Dick ($2.2M).

Meanwhile, Don Cheadle’s Traitor (Overture), getting a jump on the weekend with a Wednesday opening, is receiving decent reviews, and it could reach $3.6M for Friday-thru-Sunday, $4.4M for the four-day and about $5.6M for 6 days. This will continue the streak of soft “War on Terror”-themed movies that has included Lions for Lambs ($6.7M), Rendition ($4M) and In the Valley of Elah ($1.5M).

FINAL PREDICTIONS FOR THE FOUR-DAY LABOR DAY WEEKEND

1. Tropic Thunder (Dreamworks/Paramount) - $15.75M

2. NEW – Babylon A.D. A.D. (Fox) - $14.5M

3. NEW – Disaster Movie (Lionsgate) - $12.6M

4. The House Bunny (Sony) - $11M

5. Death Race (Universal) - $10.8M

6. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) - $8.3M

7. NEW – College (Fox) - $5M

8. Hamlet 2 (Focus) - $4.5M

9. NEW – Traitor (Overture) - $4.4M [$5.7M for 6 days]

10. Mamma Mia (Universal) - $3.5M

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