Well, friends, we made it! This weekend’s premiere of Rush Hour 3 — by my count, the 20th franchise film of the season — marks, in many ways, the unofficial end of the summer movie calendar. After this week, the number of sure-thing blockbusters will drop off, the number of sequels will be fewer, and the box office grosses will almost certainly decline (buh-bye, juiced $70 mil debuts!). So will Hollywood’s biggest summer on record go out with a bang or a bomb? Read on, box office fans, read on.
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
Rush Hour 3
New Line · PG-13 · 3,778 theaters · NEW
Should we be concerned that it has been six years since Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker teamed up in their hugely successful action-comedy series (which has banked a whopping $367.5 mil domestically)? Should we be concerned that Chan hasn’t released a movie Stateside in the past three years, or that Tucker hasn’t starred in anything since 2001’s RH2? Should we be concerned that this film has been billed as ”Brett Ratner’s Rush Hour 3” when the director has become something of a playboy punchline in recent years? Should we doubt for one moment that this movie is going to be a big hit? Of course not! Still, even in this climate of bloated ticket prices, bloated release patterns, bloated…everything, RH3 will have to make up for lost time and work hard to bring back its core audience, let alone attract new fans. Thus, it’ll most certainly come in above RH1’s $33 mil opening, but will be challenged to improve upon RH2’s $67.4 mil bow.
Weekend prediction: $64 million
The Bourne Ultimatum
Universal · PG-13 · 3,687 theaters · 2nd weekend
As it turned out, last Sunday’s early estimate of $70.2 mil was a tad high for Matt Damon’s franchise flick, which wound up with a still-impressive $69.3 mil on its opening weekend. Either way, Ultimatum has been playing well during the week — it enters the weekend hovering near the $100 mil mark, and by Sunday it will have beaten The Bourne Identity’s $121.7 mil total take. Not too shabby.
Weekend prediction: $34 million
Paramount · PG-13 · 2,540 theaters · NEW
I’ll say straight out that this is the kind of movie I could get burned on. My prognostication could be totally wrong. Thanks to a variety of factors — weak buzz, poor star power (Michelle Pfeiffer? Robert De Niro? Claire Danes? Charlie Cox? Wait, who?), stiff competition, the fact that it’s not Harry Potter — I think it’s gonna do, eh, not so well. Then again, Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novella on which this is based has quite a following, and its fans could turn out. What’s more, director Matthew Vaughn has shown he’s got good chops: He made the fantastic 2004 Daniel Craig crime thriller Layer Cake. Of course, he was also the guy whom the aforementioned Brett Ratner replaced at the last minute on X-Men 3. So, well, go figure.
Weekend prediction: $16 million
The Simpsons Movie
Fox · PG-13 · 3,552 theaters · 3rd weekend
The animated adaptation’s two-week domestic total of $140 mil sure buys a lot of doughnuts.
Weekend prediction: $13 million
Daddy Day Camp
TriStar · PG · 2,332 theaters · NEW
Ah, the gods of snarkiness have pitched us cynical pop-culture pundits a softball! Eddie Murphy opted to sit out this sequel to his 2003 surprise hit (which earned $104.3 mil); in his place is, yep, Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. Oh, but it gets better. The film is directed by none other than former child star Fred Savage! Although, to be fair, the erstwhile Kevin Arnold has forged a very nice career as a TV director since he played the child version of Daniel Stern’s disembodied voice on The Wonder Years. Come to think of it, I’m gonna be nice here, I’ve decided. Okay, so the movie opened on Wednesday and brought in a disappointing $773,706. But if you wanna read cruel jokes about it, you know, look somewhere else. And be ashamed. Meanie.
Weekend prediction: $6 million
THE OTHER NEW RELEASE
Lionsgate · PG-13 · 737 theaters · NEW
It’s another cheapie horror movie (about werewolves — shiver!) with no buzz, a low screen count, and no stars, and it’s gonna get slaughtered at the box office like just about every other fright flick that’s come out in the past year. Oh, and speaking of the past year, it was originally supposed to premiere in late 2006. A delay like that is never a good sign. Come to think of it, you’re clearly not going to see Skinwalkers, so why am I even writing about it?
Weekend prediction: $1 million
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