FINAL WEEKEND TRACKING: Samuel L. Jackson to Scare Up a Weekend Win with 'Lakeview Terrace;' Cook's 'My Best Friend's Girl' Seems Headed for $12M!
by Steve Mason
The upcoming three-day will be much easier to call than last weekend's photo finish between Burn After Reading (Focus), Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys (Lionsgate) and Righteous Kill (Overture). The near-certain winner, according to industry tracking and conversations with multiple sources, will be Neil LaBute's Lakeview Terrace (Sony).
Early reviews for Terrace are decidedly negative with just a 42 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but the presence of Samuel L. Jackson on the marquee will give this genre pic the boost it needs to win. I am projecting $15 million or so for the frame, which would put it on par with Jackson's all-time 12th-best opening, 2000’s Rules of Engagement ($15 million). It will, however, easily mark the biggest opening of LaBute's film career.
LaBute has a knack for the edgy examination of unsettling and disturbing human relationships, as in his play In the Company of Men, which later became a film starring his Brigham Young University college friend Aaron Eckhart. The movie, shot for a reported $25,000, was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival, got picked up by Sony and grossed $2.8 million domestic. In 1998, he followed up with Your Friends and Neighbors ($4.7 million cume), starring Eckhart, Ben Stiller, Amy Brenneman and Catherine Keener. His most commercial film, the diabolically funny Renee Zellweger vehicle Nurse Betty ($7.1 million opening, $25.1 million cume), came along in 2000. LaBute's racially charged bad-guy-with-a-badge thriller will be a critical and box office rebound from his last movie, the disastrous remake of the Wicker Man ($11.7 million opening, $24.4 million cume) in 2006.
I suspect that the Coen Brothers's Burn After Reading will have an excellent hold, probably down just 35 percent-40 percent, and that may mean a second place finish, just ahead of the new Dane Cook comedy My Best Friend's Girl (Lionsgate). Industry tracking seems to suggest $10 million-$12 million for Cook's teaming with Kate Hudson and Jason Biggs, and I say it will be at the high end of that range. If the R-rated romantic comedy hits my prediction of an $11.9 million opening, then it will mark Cook's all-time second-best opening, trailing only last year's Good Luck Chuck ($13.6 million).
Holdovers Righteous Kill and Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys will likely round out the weekend Top 5. I am anticipating a steeper drop for Family That Preys, possibly 60 percent to about $6.8 million, compared to something closer to a 50 percent tumble for the Al Pacino-Robert DeNiro paycheck movie, to something in the $8.1 million range.
The other two new wide releases both seem headed for soft openings. Reviews are actually very good for the DreamWorks/Paramount release Ghost Town (80 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes as of Wednesday night), but the high concept comedy (co-written and directed by Steven Spielberg's buddy David Koepp) is on a limited number of screens and may be too hip for many rooms. Star Ricky Gervais is very funny, but he is also very HBO, and that does not help sell tickets in the middle of the country. I am calling for a modest $6.25 million for this one, but the critical reaction makes an upside surprise possible.
Meanwhile, MGM's animated Igor seems to be a low grade Monsters, Inc. riff with little to no promotional muscle behind it. Despite an assemblage of voice talent, including John Cusack, John Cleese, Steve Bucemi, Eddie Izzard and Jay Leno, I am expecting only $5.5 million over the three-day.
FINAL PREDICTIONS FOR WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 19
1. NEW Lakeview Terrace (Sony) — $15 million
2. Burn After Reading (Focus) — $12 million
3. NEW My Best Friend's Girl (Lionsgate) — $11.9 million
4. Righteous Kill (Overture) — $8.1 million
5. Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys (Lionsgate) — $6.8 million
6. NEW Ghost Town (DreamWorks/Paramount) — $6.25 million
7. NEW Igor (MGM) — $5.5 million
8. The Women (Picturehuse) — $5 million
9. The House Bunny (Sony) — $3.1 million
10. The Dark Night (Warner Bros.) — $2.9 million