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Number Two Aims for Number One

September 21st, 2006

The September dumping ground continues this weekend with only one real wide release with the other three new films opening in 1,500 to 2,100 theatres. On the other hand, the one film that is opening wide has a shot at becoming the biggest film of the month.

Jackass: Number Two is the follow-up to the surprise hit, Jackass. That film surprised movie analysts everywhere by taking in nearly $23 million during its opening weekend on a budget of just $5 million. What was even more surprising was its critical reception; while it wasn't the best reviewed film of all time, its Tomatometer reading of 49% positive was much higher than expected. This film costs twice as much and tracking suggests it should open slightly better. As for the film's legs, on the one hand, sequelitis usually prevents sequels from lasting as long in the theatres. On the other hand, its reviews are even better at 63% positive. Granted, it's still early and that figure could still drop. However, I'm willing to predict an opening of $25 million over the weekend (including $10 million of Friday), and $62.5 million in total.

Agree? Disagree? Know what The Rock is cooking? Put your prognosticating to the test and enter our Grease, Gymnasts, and Jackasses contest today.

The best-reviewed wide release of the week it Jet Li's Fearless. So far the film is pulling in 74% positive, which is better than Jet Li's career average, but not as good as his previous period piece. On the other hand, I have not been happy with the studio's release strategy. Jet Li's films tend to generate a strong Fanboy Effect with his last film earning a multiplier of less than 2.5. Because of this, the studio should hype the film and try to get it into as many theatres as possible, but instead its theatre count is just 1,806. Better reviews should help the film's legs somewhat, but a $9 million start and a $25 million total will leave this film well below its potential.

The first, and likely the only holdover in the top five will be Gridiron Gang. After missing expectations last weekend, it looks to avoid the 50% sophomore stint drop-off that has become all too common these days. Weak reviews will hurt its chances, as will the competition. On the other hand, real life inspirational coach movies tend to have better legs than other factors would indicate. Because of this, it will likely bring in $8 million over the weekend for a 10-day total of $25.5 million.

Flyboys features some of the best aerial combat scenes even put to film... and unfortunately little else. Possibly the biggest hurdle the film has to overcome is politics as the movie is decidedly pro-war. Granted, it's pro-World War I and comparing that to the current war in Iraq is not fair. But fair or not, it is likely something the movie will have to deal with. Add in a theater count that is barely more than 2,000 and an ad campaign that has not been aggressive enough and this film will struggle to make $7 million over the weekend and $20 million in total. This is very bad news for a film that cost $60 million to make.

Finally we have All the King's Men, which is clearly busted Oscar bait. In the preview we asked, "So why is it being released in September?" And now we know. The film is earning overwhelmingly negative reviews with a wide range of complaints hitting Sean Penn and the rest of the cast, Steven Zaillian's directing, the heavy-handed politics, etc. These problems are compounded by its low theater count, and even with a strong ad campaign it will struggle to top $6 million over the weekend and will be forgotten by the time Oscar ballots are handed out.

One last note, School for Scoundrels is having a preview on Saturday in 1,500 theaters. Check you local listings for details.

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Filed under: Jackass: Number Two, Gridiron Gang, Huo Yuan Jia, School for Scoundrels, Flyboys, All the King's Men