Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale headline the WWII epic analysts say will blow away its toughest competition

By Lori Reese
Updated May 28, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
  • Movie

Moviegoers who’ve learned to expect big things from ”Armageddon”’s producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay — epic stories, enormous explosions, gargantuan earnings — won’t be disappointed by the pair’s dizzyingly hyped war saga, ”Pearl Harbor,” which debuts this Memorial Day weekend. The $135 million budgeted blockbuster-to-be is assured a No. 1 opening with earnings between $85 million and $100 million, analysts say. That’s right: ”Pearl Harbor” could surpass the $92.7 million record set during 1997’s Memorial Day weekend by ”Jurassic Park: The Lost World” for the biggest debut of all time.

”Pearl Harbor” offers a cocktail of romance (a love triangle between a military nurse, played by Kate Beckinsale, and fly boys Ben Affleck and Josh Harnett) and high testosterone action (bombs, bombs, and more bombs) that will be irresistible to most audiences, analysts say. ”Bruckheimer and Bay are taking a page from the ‘Titanic’ play book, setting a romance against this major historical disaster,” says Gitesh Pandaya of ”There’s not a whole lot of demographics out there that don’t want to see this movie.”

But because moviegoers are expected to pack theaters over the four day weekend, ”Harbor”’s competition should also post impressive numbers, especially the well reviewed mock fairy tale ”Shrek” (expected to finish at No. 2). Word of mouth about the ‘toon feature’s savvy humor and all ages appeal should help the ugly green ogre and Co. grab as much as $50 million over the four day holiday. ”This movie is just gold,” says Dan Marks, vice president of ACNielsen. ”Adults love it, and that’s the magic bullet for an animated movie.”

”The Mummy Returns,” meanwhile, is likely to gobble up a healthy $15 million to finish at No. 3, while the rock & roll joust fantasy ”A Knight’s Tale,” should score about $7 million for the fourth spot. Only Jennifer Lopez’s ”Angel Eyes” (No. 5) is due for tearjerking returns: Analysts say the critically skewered romantic thriller will earn less than $5 million, bringing its two week total to just $14 million. Too bad: Love don’t cost a thing, but movies do.

Pearl Harbor

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 183 minutes
  • Michael Bay