Whaddya know — another sequel is coming out this weekend! And to think that it has been a mere seven days since the last one opened! Boy, the Hollywood studios sure do know how to treat us well, huh, box office fans? They’re so creative, so original, so prone to sarcastic attacks by EW.com’s box office savant. Ah, well, so be it. Evan Almighty is the aforementioned franchise flick this week, and, as the summer-movie rule book states, it won’t require any acts of God to finish at No. 1. But which of its competitors will come in second place? Do yourself a favor, dear friends: Read on, and then cast your vote in the poll below.
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
Universal · PG · 3,602 theaters · NEW
In this case, I suppose, with Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston, and the general plotline of 2003’s smash comedy Bruce Almighty gone, the movie isn’t so much a sequel as it is a spin-off. Steve Carell reprises his bit part as Evan Baxter (a TV anchor in Bruce and now a congressman), and this time he’s the one who God (Morgan Freeman) has his eye on. Apparently, a flood is coming and the Big Guy needs someone to build an ark. You get the idea. Sounds funny enough, and the potential financial damage done by Carrey’s absence (Bruce opened with $68 mil and brought in $242.8 mil total domestically) should be mitigated by the fact that Carell is a much bigger star now than he was four years ago. Also, family comedies tend to be critic-proof, so I’d disregard the early poo-poohs from reviewers (Evan had a weak 40 out of 100 score on Metacritic.com as of Thursday). No, the wild-card factor is all those reports of cost overruns (the film is said to be the most expensive comedy ever, with a price tag in excess of $175 mil) and related problems. They could be a sign of trouble on the horizon. Might want to start lining up your animals two by two!
Weekend prediction: $45 million
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Fox · PG · 3,963 theaters · 2nd weekend
This superhero sequel opened above expectations with $58.1 mil, and it has been playing well through the week, earning around $5 mil per day. Considering the dearth of competing comic-book fare — or, for that matter, of movies featuring dudes who look like the offspring of the front bumper of a ’57 Buick — a standard 50 percent drop should be about right.
Weekend prediction: $29 million
Warner Bros. · PG-13 · 3,450 theaters · 3rd weekend
Stop! Thieves! No, they’re not stopping!
Weekend prediction: $12 million
Universal · R · 2,972 theaters · 4th weekend
It’s a…$100 mil box office hit (as of Sunday)!
Weekend prediction: $10 million
MGM · PG-13 · 2,678 theaters · NEW
Some of my fellow box office prognosticators are betting that this film — a ”psychological thriller” involving John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, and a rented room — will open well. But I’m not convinced. Honestly, there’s little hope for scary movies these days — even one that is based on a story by EW columnist Stephen King, stars reputable actors, has drawn critical coos (a nice 72 out of 100 on Metacritic.com), and is rated PG-13. Really, why believe that this under-publicized fright flick will do much better than other recent hotel-themed horror pics — Vacancy ($7.6 mil debut), Bug ($3.2 mil opening), and Hostel Part II ($8.2 mil bow)?
Weekend prediction: $8 million
THE OTHER NEW RELEASE
A Mighty Heart
Paramount Vantage · R · 1,355 theaters · NEW
Angelina Jolie’s latest movie, from docudrama auteur Michael Winterbottom, is a noble endeavor indeed. She plays Mariane Pearl, the widow of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, in the days around his kidnapping and eventual murder in Pakistan. Heavy stuff. Certainly, money matters aren’t what’s most important here, but it’s still my job to weigh in. Amazingly enough, despite being probably the biggest celebrity in the world right now, Jolie remains a bit of a box office question mark. She’s had only two big hits as a lead actress (the first Tomb Raider movie made $131.2 mil, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith nabbed $186.3 mil), but has yet to score a win with her non-blockbuster fare. Worst case, this important fact-based drama will open like Jolie’s important fact-based drama from 2003, Beyond Borders ($2.1 mil). Best case? Well, considering Heart‘s sobering subject matter and moderate theater count, it’s not a whole lot better.
Weekend prediction: $5 million