And so the most interesting time for Box Office begins.
MOST INTERESTING FILM OF THE WEEK
Now the world gets Spider-Man 3, and it's already doing great numbers abroad. It should clear $100 million this weekend, maybe get to $150, though my money's on $124, which falls short of Pirates 2's record $135. Failure would be anything less than the $114 the original Spidey did in 2002. Word of mouth is tinged with negatives, though, but, but, but, who fucking cares (though admittedly, I've begrudgingly convinced myself to go, as I did with M:I:3 last year, out of some sort of paean to the summer movie gods). It's on a lot of screens, so it should be easy to see this weekend, and there's really nothing else out there.
Except the most interesting movie of the week, Lucky You. Curtis Hanson's latest film has been sitting in a can for quite some time: Shot in early 2005, it was originally scheduled with a September 8th 2006 release date, only to be moved to battle Spider-Man. Though this may look nefarious - and either way this is a studio dump - it's likely that Warner's either needed to pad out their 07 summer schedule, or – more than likely – knew that last year's summer was so disastrous (remember, Poseidon, Lady in the Water, Dude Who Lifts Things) that they wanted to release some films that got into the black ink (which The Departed and Happy Feet surely did) before loosing another guaranteed failure. I mean they still rounded out December with Blood Diamond, We Are Marshall and Unaccompanied Minors, but it looks as though Diamond did better overseas, and probably cashed in okay with all the ancillaries after the five academy award nominations. And Minors was a holiday title (no helping Marshall). What I'm saying is, while this thesis is tenable, I'm really just spitballing. I don't think Lucky You was all that expensive (mostly it'd be the above the line talent – Bana, Barrymore, Duvall, Hanson and Horatio Sanz don't come cheap) - which means $50 million or less, as that's low budget for the majors. But, they're going to eat it on this one, unless somehow it gets good word of mouth, or critics stick up for it. But even as counter-programming, it should get outperformed by Disturbia.
Warner's had a great spring season with the smash success of 300, and a relatively good showing for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That said, they've got Ocean's Thirteen, which they're going to have to do a song and dance over, because - outside of Headmaster Nick Nunziata - was anyone all that crazy for Twelve. You've got stars, but a residual bad taste – which has already led to some public apologies. The question is: has everyone been backed into enough of a corner to actually feel like they have to make a good movie? Or, more to the point, a fun, cool ride of a film? Or will this be smug? Questions, questions. Warners does have Harry Potter and License to Wed, so they aren't going to break much of a sweat. Wait, License is a comedy starring Mandy Moore and Robin Williams? Oh, fucking.
Still, back on point, Soderberg needs this to work. Bubble and The Good German were at best interesting failures, experiments, and not really felt. I don't know if a film as ephemerally oriented as Ocean's Thirteen is the answer to that, but the man knows how to deliver a great commercial project - i.e. when he's got the material and feels motivated. Perhaps he will, since his partnership with George Clooney has dissolved and he won't have Clooney to fall back on again. I wish I could say the world is a better place with Soderberg's experiments, but they're usually more formal than audacious.
IN LIMITED RELEASE
Sarah Polley and Adrianne Shelley both have movies coming out this weekend. Both are Indie darlings, but only one is dead, so Waitress is surely the priority viewing. But Polley's Away From Her does have Julie Christie and she may have fucked Donald Sutherland on film for real. Paris, je t'aime features bits from the Coens, Christopher Doyle, Gus Van Sant, Alfonso Cuaron, and Tom Twyker, among others (some of whom are actually French) in this omnibus. I don't know if any film like this has ever worked, or if they do, it usually means one director hits it out of the park, and everything else bores. Still there's a lot of talent on display here.
Sometimes I make myself watch the trailer if I don't know anything about the film I'm speaking about, and I did watch the spot for The Flying Scotsman. It stars Jonny Lee Miller as an eccentric bike rider who wows a nation and defies the World Biking cabal with his bike made of spare parts! Watching the trailer, I wanted to put a gun in someone's mouth! Civic Duty has Peter Krause worried that his neighbor is a terrorist, while The Treatment brings us a starring role for Chris Eigeman where he's romancing Famke Janssen. Now that's my idea of escapist entertainment.
I'm skipping a top ten list this week, because it just doesn’t matter. I say Spidey gets to $124 Million, and everything else doesn't matter (let's say a generous $5 million for Lucky You, but a likely second place for Disturbia with $5.5 – the surprise would be Fracture holding well as counter-programming, but again, it doesn't matter). And hopefully Hot Fuzz will keep chugging with its good word of mouth.
The Guessing Tree:
-Devin with $120 Million
-Me with $124 Million
-Micah went high with $133 Million
-But Dan went highest with $136 Million (and threw in $6.5 mil for Lucky You)
-And Jeremy goes $1 Bob with $118 million
We're all crossing our fingers for no whammies come Sunday. I'm treatin' this like The Price is Right, mostly cause it gives me the most clearance room. Though I really should have said $120 Million and one dollar if that was true and if I was a complete dick.