For the first time this fall, box office fans, it’ll be a real war in multiplexes, as two very different movies — the R-rated political action flick The Kingdom and the PG-rated family comedy The Game Plan — open head to head. I’m gonna make my prediction below, but be warned: Either one of these films could prevail in the end. And because both are such strong contenders, I promise not to declare ”Mission Accomplished” until Sunday.
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
Universal · R · 2,792 theaters · NEW
Director Peter Berg’s Middle East war thriller gets my nod primarily because of its topicality and star power (Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Jeremy Piven, Jason Bateman — all the Js — appear in the movie). How much will it earn? Hmm, seeing as how Foxx is probably the biggest name here, let’s look at his action-flick track record: Jarhead debuted solidly ($27.7 mil), Miami Vice opened well enough ($25.7 mil), Collateral too ($24.7), and Stealth…yeah, not so well ($13.3 mil). But back to Jarhead — Foxx’s previous awards-baiting desert-war movie should be a good pacesetter. Minus, of course, the facts that this film has weaker reviews, less buzz, and no Jake Gyllenhaal.
Weekend prediction: $21 million
The Game Plan
Walt Disney · PG · 3,103 theaters · NEW
It’s downright eerie how nearly every film starring The Rock has earned pretty much the exact same amount of money over its first weekend. Consider: Gridiron Gang ($14.4 mil), Doom ($15.5 mil), Walking Tall ($15.5 mil), and The Rundown ($18.6 mil…and, hey, also directed by Peter Berg). I mean, clearly this ex-wrestler has a devoted fan base. But is anybody else interested in his movies? This weekend, the answer should be yes, as kids and families, starving for several weeks now without a major release of their own (look at all the R-rated films surrounding this one), are likely to flock to this comedy about a bachelor football star who must take care of the young daughter he never knew he had. (Think I’m off the mark? Well, just click here to see what happened the last time I smelled exactly what The Rock was cooking.)
Weekend prediction: $19 million
Resident Evil: Extinction
Screen Gems · R · 2,828 theaters · 2nd weekend
It was a nice $23.7 mil opening last weekend for the videogame franchise film, and one that was in line with the bows of the series’ previous two installments. Thus, we should expect this edition to decline the same 62 percent that its predecessors did in their second frames.
Weekend prediction: $9 million
Good Luck Chuck
Lionsgate · R · 2,612 theaters · 2nd weekend
Bad luck box office.
Weekend prediction: $5 million
The Brave One
Warner Bros. · R · 2,837 theaters · 3rd weekend
I suppose I was the Brave One for writing last week that… What was it that I said? Oh yeah that, ”we won’t really hear from it in theaters again.” See, I was trying to cover myself when I wrote ”in theaters” because I’m sure that The Brave One will make a mint on video. But now it turns out that, really, I shouldn’t have printed that entire phrase at all. Despite a weak $13.5 mil debut, Jodie Foster’s vengeance drama dropped just 46 percent last weekend and, in all fairness, it has been hanging on well in the two weeks it has been in theaters. So I get to write about it one more time — and sheepishly issue this mea culpa. Yay.
Weekend prediction: $4 million
THE OTHER NEW RELEASE
Feast of Love
MGM · R · 1,200 theaters · NEW
This story about romance and relationships features a strong cast (Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Fred Ward, Radha Mitchell, the great Jane Alexander) and, from my point of view at least, looks like a worthwhile contender. See, it’s based on an acclaimed book by Charles Baxter (who taught at the University of Michigan while I was there, so obviously it must be good), and it’s from director Robert Benton (who won an Oscar for Kramer vs. Kramer, among many other accolades). It also has been getting decent reviews. So why is MGM releasing Feast of Love in just 1,200 theaters with little fanfare?
Weekend prediction: $2 million