Even the indefatigable ”Spy Kids” can’t stay No. 1 forever. The espionage in grade school flick is soaring toward the century mark with $73.3 million in ticket sales. This weekend’s critically maligned newcomers — the ultra R rated Tom Green comedy ”Freddy Got Fingered” and ”Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles” — should offer little competition.
Analysts say ”Kids” is more likely to lose its pedestal to last week’s No. 3 film, ”Bridget Jones’s Diary,” which stars Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant, and Colin Firth as lovelorn Londoners. Miramax is expanding the Helen Fielding adaptation from 1,600 theaters to more than 2,200, and analysts predict the comedy will earn as much as $14 million this weekend.
Why is ”Bridget” succeeding when another, similarly themed movie, ”Someone Like You” withered just a couple of weeks ago? (The Ashley Judd – Hugh Jackman pairing has earned mixed reviews and a disappointing $22.3 million since its March 30 release) Analysts point to Zellweger’s critically praised portrayal of Bridget Jones, the always dieting, slightly soused ”singleton” with a unique view of the world. ”’Someone Like You’ is basically just another romance,” says Robert Bucksbaum of box office tracking firm Reel Source. ”Bridget is strong and smart. Women want to see that. They go in groups or they make their boyfriends go with them.”
The gross out fest ”Freddy Got Fingered” — written, directed by, and starring Green — will open in second or third place with as much as $10 million, analysts say. Fans of Green’s MTV series will be eager to see the X-tremely offensive comedian exploit the liberties of the big screen. ”The MPAA should have found a new rating for this film,” says Bucksbaum. But the ”Freddy” is unlikely to appeal to those who haven’t yet warmed to his finger down the throat humor. ”The movie’s success hangs entirely on the drawing power of Tom Green,” says Gitesh Pandya of boxofficeguru.com. ”There’s really nothing else to sell here.”
Moreover, ”Freddy” follows a string of similarly grotesque bombs that were also marketed to the MTV crowd. Last month’s ”Say It Isn’t So” (produced by Bobby and Peter Farrelly, makers of ”There’s Something About Mary”) debuted with a dismal $2.8 million followed by the gross out comedy ”Tomcats,” which bowed with a lower than expected $6.4 million. ”It makes ‘Freddy’ into a big question mark,” says John Shaw, president of Movieline International. ”You can’t pretend to know what the teenage audience wants,” agrees Bucksbaum. ”You’re a hit one day, the next day you’re Vanilla Ice.”
Meanwhile, another personality oriented debut, ”Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles,” is likely to land in fourth place, well below ”Spy Kids” and last week’s No. 2, the kidnap thriller ”Along Came a Spider.” The third installment in Hogan’s 15 year old franchise could snag about $7 million from families in search of a PG alternative to ”Kids.” ”If you were a 40 year old guy in Kansas with two kids, you might go see this film because you’d recognize the title,” says Bucksbaum. Yet most analysts agree that the market for the swaggering Australian outdoorsman has diminished significantly since the 1980s. ”Look at the posters,” says Bucksbaum. ”They just picture Paul Hogan in a pair of sunglasses. Who wants to see that? Big mistake.” Sorry, mate. One day you’re a hit, the next you’re…dingo meat.