Box Office Preview: 'Babylon' No. 1?
Did you enjoy last weekend, when Hollywood regurgitated a slew of movies into theaters, none of which came with much buzz or wound up earning much money? You did? Wonderful! Because here’s another weekend just like it — supersize! Yep, the Labor Day holiday makes this a four-day frame…not that any movie is expected to bring in much dough during this notoriously slow late-summer period.
That said, four new flicks are giving it a shot: the sci-fi extravaganza Babylon A.D., the spoof Disaster Movie, the thriller Traitor, and the raunchy comedy College. Who will win (i.e., who won’t flop as badly as the rest)? My predictions are below, and you can make your own in EW.com’s Summer Box Office Challenge.
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
Fox · PG-13 · 3,390 theaters · NEW
Every time Vin Diesel rolls out a new genre movie, it’s hard not to lament the fact that the magnetic bit player from films like Saving Private Ryan and Boiler Room never followed through on an apparently promising career as a fine dramatic actor. (And, no, his last release, Sidney Lumet’s good-but-unseen 2006 courtroom dramedy, Find Me Guilty, doesn’t count.) Of course, Diesel has had plenty of success with stuff like The Fast and the Furious, XXX, and The Pacifier, so I’m sure he’s quite content. And he should see more good fortune with this sci-fi flick, which is the likeliest winner-by-default coming out this weekend. Oh, and as for the fact that Babylon A.D.‘s mercurial French director, Mathieu Kassovitz (Gothika), has effectively disowned his film, for whatever reason (uh, can anybody say ”Alain Smithée”?) — don’t worry about that. Because, I mean, what does he know?
Four-day weekend prediction: $15 million
Paramount/DreamWorks · R · 3,473 theaters · 3rd weekend
You know, Ben Stiller‘s Hollywood satire has only made about $72 mil in two weeks. When they ultimately look back on its run, pundits may very well say that Tropic Thunder failed to live up to its potential (or, you know, its reported $90 mil-plus production price tag). Still, playing opposite a bunch of duds, it should remain near the top for another week.
Four-day weekend prediction: $13 million
Lionsgate · PG-13 · 2,642 theaters · NEW
Oh, the fun headline writers could have if this comedy tanks at the box office — and if anybody cared! Filmmakers had a good streak of crowd-pleasing (if indistinguishable) spoof flicks going there for a while: Date Movie, Epic Movie, and Meet the Spartans all opened in the neighborhood of $19 mil. But Superhero Movie‘s disappointing $9.5 mil bow last March showed that genre fatigue may be creeping in.
Four-day weekend prediction: $12 million
The Dark Knight
Warner Bros. · PG-13 · 2,750 theaters · 7th weekend
Amazingly enough, Christian Bale‘s sequel could actually finish even higher in the rankings this weekend, boosted by all those folks who have yet to see it. (Personal observation: Such people do, in fact, exist.) Either way, look for The Dark Knight to become just the second movie in box office history to cross the $500 mil mark.
Four-day weekend prediction: $11 million
Overture · PG-13 · 2,054 theaters · NEW
Let’s be honest: Any major momentum that Don Cheadle’s espionage thriller may have had going into the weekend evaporated when it premiered with a good-but-not-great $792,214 on Wednesday.
Four-day weekend prediction: $9 million
THE OTHER NEW RELEASE
MGM · R · 2,123 theaters · NEW
Let’s be honest: Any major momentum that this comedy featuring Nickelodeon star Drake Bell (in an R-rated movie? Huh? Go figure…) may have had going into this weekend evaporated when, well, when it was greenlit.
Four-day weekend prediction: $7 million