Whaddya know: Another summer weekend, another new comic-book flick. But unlike Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, Angelina Jolie’s graphic-novel-based Wanted isn’t going to finish No. 1. Why? Because it’s Pixar weekend, kids! And this summer’s requisite release from the digital-animation house, WALL-E, should take the cake, duh.
Wait, what? You disagree? If so (or even if not), go ahead and make your own picks in EW.com’s Summer Box Office Challenge. Whaddya got to lose?
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
Walt Disney/Pixar · G · 3,992 theaters · NEW
The latest Pixar movie features an adorable little robot who speaks in beeps and bops. (I mean, how cute?! Maybe Angelina will adopt him.) But will audiences take a shine to the metal guy? At the risk of repeating myself: Duh! All this talk about the movie being a hard sell because its main character doesn’t talk much, and about how Pixar is going to have a flop at some point because, well, it just has to happen for some reason — all bunk. Remember how everyone said that Ratatouille was going to struggle because it was about an icky rat and it was all, like…French? Well, yeah, other than its $47 mil debut, its $206.4 mil domestic total, its $621.4 mil worldwide total, its five Oscar nominations, and its win as Best Animated Feature, things clearly sucked for Pixar’s 2007 release. Goodness gracious, of course this future resident of every American child’s bedroom is gonna be huge! Seeing as how the less-anticipated Kung Fu Panda recently bowed with $60.2 mil, WALL-E is likely looking at an opening that’s more in line with Finding Nemo‘s $70.3 mil, I say.
Weekend prediction: $71 million
Universal · R · 3,175 theaters · NEW
Wanted has hot stars (Angelina and Atonement‘s James McAvoy play assassins), it looks like a fun action movie, its reviews have been pretty good, and that R rating shouldn’t hurt too much in a summer when more adult films like Sex and the City, The Strangers, and The Happening have premiered remarkably well. So what’s the problem? Oddly enough, it may just be those sexy stars. McAvoy isn’t big enough yet to open a movie (though that could change soon), and as I mentioned in this space a year ago when A Mighty Heart debuted (and promptly floundered), Angelina’s box office track record is spotty. Totally strange, I know, but true. Her résumé is riddled with flops like Original Sin, Beyond Borders, and Taking Lives — that’s the bad news. The good news is that while she has just two bona fide blockbusters as a lead actress, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Wanted appears to be more like those hits than just about anything else she’s done.
Weekend prediction: $37 million
Warner Bros. · PG-13 · 3,915 theaters · 2nd weekend
Its reign at the top of the box office was short-lived, but Steve Carell’s spy spoof is the kind of broad comedy that can morph into a slow-building blockbuster: It has brought in more than $4 mil each day during the week, so it should be able to stick around a while.
Weekend prediction: $20 million
Kung Fu Panda
Paramount/DreamWorks · PG · 3,670 theaters · 4th weekend
There’s no doubt that WALL-E‘s opening will hurt Jack Black’s animated juggernaut, which has had the kid-movie monopoly on the multiplex for three weeks running. Something tells me, however, that the $165 mil it has already banked domestically — not to mention its rise to No. 3 in the 2008 box office rankings — should ease the pain.
Weekend prediction: $12 million
The Incredible Hulk
Universal/Marvel · PG-13 · 3,354 theaters · 3rd weekend
The Marvel movie (which just passed the $100 mil mark) suffered a steep decline last weekend, indeed. But, hey, it has outlived both The Happening and The Love Guru in the top five. Bravo!
Weekend prediction: $10 million