Two high profile comedies duke it out at the box office this weekend. In one corner, the hilarious Steve Carell will try to lead the Warner Bros. TV adaptation Get Smart to victory. In the other corner, Mike Myers comes out of hibernation with Paramount’s The Love Guru, his first live action comedy in nearly five years.
First of all, this battle should not be happening in the first place. Two high profile comedies targeting similar audiences should never open on the same weekend. Smart and Guru will likely cannibalize each other limiting their chances to succeed. Plus, Adam Sandler’s latest comedy, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, is still playing at a very wide 3,000+ theaters in its third weekend.
When I first saw the funny teaser trailer last summer for Get Smart, I had high hopes for this film. The Office has become one of the best comedies on television right now and Carell’s idiotic, naive character on that show seemed like a pretty good match to translate to the main character of Maxwell Smart. Unfortunately, the most recent theatrical trailers and tv spots have been only sporadically amusing. I am not a huge fan of the director, Peter Segal, who has helmed such recent Adam Sandler comedies as Anger Management, 50 First Dates, and The Longest Yard. Segal hasn’t directed a really good comedy since Tommy Boy.
Get Smart is currently sitting at 52% positive on Rotten Tomatoes, not bad but I was hoping for better. The film is also flanked by a respectable supporting cast including Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson, and Alan Arkin. ‘Smart’ will likely skew older than Love Guru because the television show is over three decades old, but it will attract a decent enough younger audience who regularly watch Carell on The Office. Carell starred as the title character in Evan Almighty, which bowed to a disappointing $31.2 million at 3,604 theaters on the same weekend last year. Get Smart is even wider at 3,911 theaters, among the highest ever for a live action comedy. The largest opening ever for a spy spoof is Goldmember with $73.1 million back in 2002. Smart will not be quite as high because it does not have the built in audience that the third Austin Powers film had, but at least half of that number is reasonable. I’m predicting about $37 million, but I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised.
The Love Guru looks to make considerably less this weekend. Every trailer or tv spot I have seen for this (alleged) comedy have been downright awful. The 15% positive reviews confirm my suspicions. I really enjoyed the first two Austin Powers films and Myers was perfectly cast as the voice of the famous green ogre, Shrek. Love Guru just seems like an ego trip for Myers, which is a shame because he used to be such a talented comedian. Still, the $18.5 million launch for Meet the Spartans back in the dumping ground of January proves that there is a demand for such a juvenile comedy. With decent star power from Myers, Love Guru could have opened much higher than Spartans had it not been going up against another comedy. I’m predicting a $19 million opening, making it Myers’ lowest debut since the first Austin Powers eleven years ago.
UPDATED (Sunday, June 22): Get Smart beat my $37 million prediction slightly with $39.2 million, according to studio estimates from Warner Brothers. Smart rose 5% on Saturday from Friday potentially indicating a lengthy word-of-mouth driven run in theaters. Meanwhile, The Love Guru did not fare so well with a $14 million 4th place opening, quite a bit lower than my $19 million prediction, which was already lower than what most were predicting.
Box office data source: the-numbers.com