This week, the two new openers, Pineapple Express and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, have chosen to get a jump start by opening on Wednesday. While both are comedies, they are targeting different genders so both have an opportunity to thrive.
The Judd Apatow brand of humor has been growing in popularity ever since The 40 Year Old Virgin hit it big back in August 2005. Since Virgin, the films that Apatow have been involved in (directing or producing) have, for the most part, become big hits at the box office. His films have helped some actors ascend to A-list status, such as Steve Carell. Carell headlined the star filled cast of Get Smart to strong results earlier this summer. Sony Pictures is hoping that last summer’s hits, Knocked Up and Superbad, have done the same thing to Seth Rogen whose name is above the title for the first time in Pineapple Express. This film is a real test for Rogen to see how much box office muscle he actually has. The ‘R’ rating will not hurt Express because this is what the audience has come to expect from an Apatow film. ‘R’ rated films have actually performed very well at the box office this summer, especially compared to recent years.
Tuesday midnight showings performed well and even exceeded Superbad. The high school set comedy opened on a Friday and posted the largest R-rated debut last summer with $33.1 million. For Express, look for $9 million on Wednesday (including Tues. midnights), $6 million on Thursday, and $29 million over the weekend for a strong five day start of $44 million. Even with Tropic Thunder debuting next Wednesday, the stoner action comedy could still ultimately smoke up 100 million greenbacks by the end of its run.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 is hoping to build on its predecessor’s decent box office run from 2005. The first Sisterhood also opened on a Wednesday to a 5 day start of $13.6 million and finished with nearly $40 million. In the three years since, the film has gained some new followers on DVD, and two of actresses, America Ferrera and Blake Lively, have gained exposure from being the stars of their respective hit television shows, Ferrera in “Ugly Betty” and Lively in “Gossip Girl”.
Female led films have hit it big this summer with Sex and the City and What Happens in Vegas getting ready to conclude with strong totals of $155 million and $80 million, respectively. Mamma Mia! is still very much a contender in its fourth week of its strong box office run, but there should be enough room for both films to thrive this weekend, even with overlapping target audiences. The estrogen fueled Sisterhood 2 should make out with $12 million over the weekend and an $18 million five day start.
Even in its fourth weekend, The Dark Knight stands a chance of repeating again as box office champion. Pineapple Express will take away some of the repeat business from the 17 to 30 age group, but this blockbuster is playing to an extremely wide and diverse audience. Older moviegoers who are curious to see what the buzz is all about will not be distracted by anything else opening at multiplexes this weekend. Instead, Knight’s biggest competition will come from the start of the Summer Olympics, which tends to skew older in the television ratings. Still, Knight is not losing many screens this weekend. I’m going to make a pretty bold statement in predicting that the Batman will edge out Express with $30 million this weekend representing only a 30% drop from last week. That amount will also be enough to post the largest fourth weekend take in history. The total will soar to a massive $445 million, enough to dethrone Shrek 2 to become the top grossing film of the decade.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor has not been performing very well during the week. On Monday, it posted the largest drop among all wide releases and then again on Tuesday. There isn’t much in the way of overlap from the two new openers, which should help soften the blow. Look for a 58% drop to $17 million and a $71 million 10 day running total.
Predictions for the weekend of August 8-10, 2008:
- The Dark Knight – $30 million, -30%
- Pineapple Express – $28.8 million, NEW
- The Mummy 3 – $16.9 million, -58%
- The Sisterhood 2 – $12.4 million, NEW
- Step Brothers – $7.8 million, -53%
- Mamma Mia! – $7.3 million, -42%
- Journey to the Center of the Earth – $5.2 million, -22%
- Wall-E – $3.6 million, -22%
- Swing Vote – $3.5 million, -44%
- Hancock – $3.2 million, -37%
- Return of the ‘R’ Rating to Summer Cinema
- ‘The Dark Knight’ Soars Above ‘Spider-Man’
- ‘The Mummy’ Targets ‘Dark Knight’
- ‘Step Bros.’, ‘X-Files’ Try to Take Down ‘The Dark Knight’
Box Office Data Source: The Numbers