Denzel Washington is probably one of a few actors that could hold a candle to the spectacle that is Avatar. But even his post-apocalyptic journeyman film Book of Eli isn’t likely to be crowned king on this Martin Luther King holiday frame. Rather, Avatar will continue on its incredible journey, likely to drop minimally for its fifth weekend in theaters. It’s not helping Eli that reviews haven’t been overwhelmingly positive, though I’m sure the younger male moviegoer still has the latest from the Hughes Bros. on his “to-do” list this weekend, that is if he’s not planning on seeing Avatar for a third time. Read on for my four-day predictions.
1. Avatar: $45 million
The movie grossed $50 million last weekend, so who’s to say it can’t earn another $45 million with a holiday to help it out? As of Wednesday, the film’s domestic cume stands at $445 million. Tack on another $45 and The Dark Knight’s domestic tally of $533 is in Avatar’s sight line. Everyone I talk to sees the film and must go back for another round, preferably in IMAX. So it will be no surprise given the holiday break that moviegoers charge to the movies for another journey to Pandora.
2. The Book of Eli: $30 million
This four-day frame should put Washington’s box office smack in the middle between his last two movies: The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 at $23 million and American Gangster which bowed to $43 million. Maybe it will open bigger but with the noise of Avatar still pretty loud and Eli’s reviews not sparkling, I doubt it. The opening will be solid which will portend good things for The Hughes Brothers – Eli marks their first film since 2001’s From Hell. Welcome back boys!
3. The Spy Next Door: $15 million
With the number of movies out there about men who are forced into the mother hen role you would think Hollywood was run by women. No such luck. But it is amazing how often this tired premise is wheeled out: The Pacifier, The Game Plan, Daddy Day Care, to name a few. This time around Jackie Chan plays the fall guy as a former CIA agent who must protect his girlfriend’s kids from a nefarious Russian spy. Nonetheless, the film may just work. Kids are out of school. The Squeakquel is on its fourth weekend. And if my six-year old daughter is any indication, the trailer is working magic with the younger set.
4. The Lovely Bones: $12 million
First this movie was Oscar bait but when the critics didn’t come through Paramount switched gears and focused its marketing campaign on teenage girls. This weekend we’ll find out if it works. The book was a monumental bestseller but watching a teenage girl murdered is a whole lot tougher than reading it in a novel. In limited release, the Peter Jackson helmer has grossed less than half a million domestically. Paramount’s expansion to over 2,500 theaters needs to work to get this fancy movie profitable.
5. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel: $10 million
An additional $10 million will put this movie on the brink of $200 million, which is pretty much a given for this CG’d mess. And with dollars like that, it’s got to be only a matter of days before Fox puts Alvin and the Chipmunks III into production.