Hey, do you hear something buzzing? What’s that sound? Why, it’s Jerry Seinfeld’s Bee Movie, subject of many a publicity stunt and ”TV Junior,” here at last, in theaters, for your viewing pleasure. Which is great news, box office fans, because it means that pretty soon you won’t be bombarded with any more ads for the movie. Old Jer and the folks at Paramount/DreamWorks Animation have been selling themselves harder than anybody this side of Mitt Romney in an Iowa five-and-dime. Okay, people, we give! We’ll make your movie No. 1 this weekend — even up against a strong challenge from Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe’s period crime saga American Gangster.
Anyway, that’s how I see it. Agree? Disagree? Read on for all my picks and then click on over to EW.com’s Fall Box Office Challenge to make a few of your own.
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
Paramount · PG · 3,928 theaters · NEW
The top spot at the box office is a sure thing, but just how well will this movie, about a honeybee (voiced by Seinfeld) who falls for a sweet New Yorker (Renée Zellweger), do? It all depends on whether audiences buy its outlandish premise — I mean, who’s gonna believe that there’s such a thing as a sweet New Yorker? Oh, I kid. Seriously, prospects are very good for this animated flick, which was produced and cowritten by Seinfeld and also features the voices of Chris Rock, Matthew Broderick, and old Puddy himself, Patrick Warburton. Thanks to all its star power, not to mention a broad appeal and that huge marketing push, Bee Movie should have no problem outpacing last fall’s debuts of Flushed Away ($18.8 mil) and Open Season ($23.6 mil), and it could come close to matching Happy Feet‘s $41.5 mil opening. Even without any penguins.
Weekend prediction: $41 million
Universal · R · 3,054 theaters · NEW
Certainly, it’s the movie I’ve been psyched for this fall: A crime thriller featuring two A-list actors (Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe) and a top-notch director (Ridley Scott), American Gangster looks aheckuvalot like my favorite movie of 2006, The Departed. And, goodness, wouldn’t the film’s uber-producer Brian Grazer love it if that were so? After all, The Departed opened a little more than a year ago with $26.9 mil, en route to a $132.4 mil domestic total and the Best Picture Oscar. Well, critics sure have warmed to this ’70s-set true story, in which Washington plays a Harlem drug lord and Crowe is the cop on his trail. Add in Washington’s recent box office track record (last year Déjà Vu debuted with $20.6 mil and Inside Man opened to $29 mil), and a Departed-esque debut appears due.
Weekend prediction: $30 million
Lionsgate · R · 3,183 theaters · 2nd weekend
More than $35 mil in the bank and the bloodlust continues.
Weekend prediction: $15 million
Dan in Real Life
Touchstone · PG-13 · 1,925 theaters · 2nd weekend
Steve Carell’s dramedy has been holding well through the week after its nice $11.8 mil premiere. A general dearth of subdued, female-baiting, grown-up competition should help it stay strong, with just a small decline.
Weekend prediction: $7 million
New Line · PG · 2,020 theaters · NEW
This movie, about a sci-fi writer and widower (John Cusack) who befriends a boy who believes he’s from outer space (Bobby Coleman), sounds cute enough. But yeah, I know what you’re thinking: I hadn’t heard about it before now, either.
Weekend prediction: $5 million