MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Preview

The door should be open for newcomers this weekend, but the question is whether any of them can come into the top slot. I expect City of Angels to drop by about 35 percent to $10 million, so the apex of Box Office Mountain is as low as it’s been in months. But all three wide releases, Major League: Back to the Minors, The Object of My Affection, Nightwatch and Paulie are all carrying baggage and it’s not Louis Vuitton. The first Major League grossed $50 million domestically, the sequel $30 million, so this one should do what, about $18 million total? “Friends” stars have not been the object of moviegoer’s affection. Will a comedy about a woman in love with a gay man play in Peoria? Even if it’s actually worth watching?
Jennifer Aniston opened Picture Perfect, which did have some critical praise (which I couldn’t understand), to only $7.8 million last summer, though that was against much stiffer competition. Maybe. Nightwatch is essentially a low-profile release of a film that went through a series of aborted low-profile releases last year after sitting in the can since the summer of 1996). The Force is not with Ewan McGregor this time.
Last, but perhaps loudest, is Paulie. (“Paulie! Dey took my tumb!”) This one is for the birds as best I can tell. I don’t imagine your kids are clamoring to get to the theater. The sad part is that it could be quite good. (Or not.) But DreamWorks has shown a lack of aggression in pushing their product and that has meant comparatively slow starts for all their films and underdog status for films that people really like, such as Mouse Hunt. (I have a feeling that the media blitz for Small Soldiers, Saving Private Ryan and Prince of Egypt will turn this trend around.) What it means for now is no $10 million start for Paulie.
So, I think City of Angels and The Object of My Affection will duke it out for the top slot right around that $10 million mark. Lost in Space drops 40 percent but passes the $50 million mark as it takes in $8 million for third place. Titanic stays in the Top Five but continues its slow fade, dropping 30 percent to $6 million and fourth place. Major League: Back to the Minors should manage about $5.5 million for fifth and let’s give Paulie the benefit of the doubt with a $5 million, sixth place opening weekend for “the bird that talks.” (Note to DreamWorks: It’s not all that surprising that a bird talks. When pigs talk, THAT’S a surprise!) Then, Species II in seventh with a 45 percent drop to $4 million, The Players Club dropping just 35 percent to $3.8 million and eighth, Mercury Rising falling 50 percent to $2.7 million, and closing out the Top 10 is The Odd Couple II, dropping 35 percent to $3.1 million. Nightwatch is out of the money as will be last week’s Top 10 members My Giant (“A Giant Flop! – Not Ron Brewington”) and the John Travolta double feature, Grease and Primary Colors.
THE GOOD: The Summer Movie Season is coming.
THE BAD: It’s more than a month before it gets here and we’ll have to eat a lot of junk until then.
THE UGLY: Unless there is a serious surprise at the bottom of the weekly chart, there will be only one film in the Top 10 this weekend that’s been in theaters for more than three weekends. There are some films that I feel were underappreciated (like Primary Colors or Wild Things) and those that are just under the wire after exceptionally long runs (As Good as/Good Will Hunting and L.A. Confidential.) But mostly, it means that there have been some really ugly movies in the last couple of months.
THE CONTEST: This week’s Box Office Challenge is sponsored by Castle Rock’s Sour Grapes. No, I don’t expect the film to break out in a three-city release (NYC/LA/CHI) to beat the wide releases, but as yesterday’s Reader of The Day pointed out, the film isn’t getting as much of a media push as Larry David fans would like, so The Hot Button is ready to lead the charge. (Click on the movie’s link when you get to the Box Office Challenge page and make sure to roll your pointer over the grape.)
TWO BAD MOVIES EQUAL: My Giant + Forget Paris = My Giant Ego. A short man with receding hair and a tendency to make really funny faces (Billy Crystal) keeps making movies even though most people would rather just see him every year as a stand-up at the Academy Awards and Comic Relief. After six years of hitting the wall with movie after movie (Mr. Saturday Night, City Slickers II, Forget Paris, Fathers’ Day, My Giant) he doesn’t get the lack-of-a-joke. If the De Niro movie Analyze This doesn’t work, he might actually get the hint and do a sitcom.
JUST WONDERING: If you were Uma Thurman wouldn’t you be nervous about marrying Ethan Hawke if there was a remote possibility that anyone would refer to you as Uma Hawke? (Better than Tomma, I guess.)
BAD AD WATCH: Two faves today. One is Rex Reed calling The Object of My Affection “one of the happiest, most intelligent American films in years.” Most intelligent? How would Rex know? The other is the tag for limited release Suicide Kings, which features seven men, including tough guys Denis Leary and Chris Walken, in its ad. “A brilliant, twisting plot that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat.” The author of the pull quote? Mademoiselle. Isn’t that kind of like Guns & Ammo being quoted in The Object of My Affection ad?
READER OF THE DAY: From Ryan N: “With Titanic, Good Will Hunting, L.A. Confidential, As Good as It Gets, Boogie Nights, The Ice Storm, Gattaca, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Amistad — 1997 was a year I felt lucky to be in the audience. With U.S. Marshals, Lost in Space, Spice World, Great Expectations, City of Angels — 1998 is a year when I wish it were still 1997. Thank God for Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line, Velvet Goldmine, The Truman Show, and (yes, I admit I’m looking forward to these), Armageddon and The Avengers — I still have hope that 1998 will get better.”

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Leonard Klady's Friday Estimates
Friday Screens % Chg Cume
Title Gross Thtr % Chgn Cume
Venom 33 4250 NEW 33
A Star is Born 15.7 3686 NEW 15.7
Smallfoot 3.5 4131 -46% 31.3
Night School 3.5 3019 -63% 37.9
The House Wirh a Clock in its Walls 1.8 3463 -43% 49.5
A Simple Favor 1 2408 -50% 46.6
The Nun 0.75 2264 -52% 111.5
Hell Fest 0.6 2297 -70% 7.4
Crazy Rich Asians 0.6 1466 -51% 167.6
The Predator 0.25 1643 -77% 49.3
Also Debuting
The Hate U Give 0.17 36
Shine 85,600 609
Exes Baggage 75,900 62
NOTA 71,300 138
96 61,600 62
Andhadhun 55,000 54
Afsar 45,400 33
Project Gutenberg 36,000 17
Love Yatri 22,300 41
Hello, Mrs. Money 22,200 37
Studio 54 5,300 1
Loving Pablo 4,200 15
3-Day Estimates Weekend % Chg Cume
No Good Dead 24.4 (11,230) NEW 24.4
Dolphin Tale 2 16.6 (4,540) NEW 16.6
Guardians of the Galaxy 7.9 (2,550) -23% 305.8
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4.8 (1,630) -26% 181.1
The Drop 4.4 (5,480) NEW 4.4
Let's Be Cops 4.3 (1,570) -22% 73
If I Stay 4.0 (1,320) -28% 44.9
The November Man 2.8 (1,030) -36% 22.5
The Giver 2.5 (1,120) -26% 41.2
The Hundred-Foot Journey 2.5 (1,270) -21% 49.4