Box Office Preview

Weak-end Warrior

Joshua Rich's prediction: The heart-tugger about a regular Joe who soared with the football Eagles will be No. 1, but it's a victory against the second division as summer turns to fall

UP AGAINST THE WAHLBERG Invincible should be in line with its star's other summer openers at around $19 mil, says Rich
UP AGAINST THE WAHLBERG Invincible should be in line with its star's other summer openers at around $19 mil, says Rich

Don't let this week's glut of new movies fool you: Late August is typically one of the slowest times of year at the box office, as folks load up their family trucksters and head to Wally World, rather than the local multiplex. All of which is a nice way of saying that we have now arrived at Hollywood's prime dumping ground. So... welcome! Sorry about the smell.

First up, Disney's Invincible, the true story of a regular dude who got to play for the Philadelphia Eagles a while back. But, of course, you knew that from the title — or, maybe not. (Oh, crystal-clearly named Snakes on a Plane, we hardly knew ye.) Anyway, Marky Mark Wahlberg stars in the movie, which is supposed to be some sort of uplifting inspirational tale for the whole family. But I'm not sure about that. I mean, come on, the dude went to play for the Eagles. That sounds like torture to me! Now, if he had been on the Washington Redskins, that would be a happy, heartwarming story.

Interestingly, even though the NFL is now America's biggest sports league by far, football movies never do very well at the box office. Only three have ever grossed more than $100 million in total: the Adam Sandler comedies The Waterboy ($161.5 mil) and The Longest Yard ($158.1 mil), plus Remember the Titans ($115.7 mil). Even really great gridiron movies like Friday Night Lights ($61.3 mil) and Rudy ($22.8 mil) have struggled. Moreover, I'm a little unsure of Marky Mark's drawing power. And then there's the fact that, well, if Disney really had high hopes for Invincible, they wouldn't be releasing it in the dumping ground. Add it all together and we're looking at a solid $19 mil opening in 2,917 theaters — which is about where Wahlberg's last big summer vehicles, The Italian Job and Four Brothers, bowed.

Moving quickly through the rest of the castoffs, Warner Bros. is blessing us with Beerfest in 2,964 locations. It's the latest bawdy comedy from Broken Lizard. Crass R-rated movies have had a tough go of it lately (see: Snakes on a Plane), but rest assured that once this little gem comes out and earns $10 mil, the world will be a better place. How to Eat Fried Worms, from New Line, is billed as another ''family comedy,'' because, you know, it sure sounds like a movie for moms and dads everywhere. I can see it earning $8 mil in 1,870 venues — which will be on par with Universal's musical Idlewild, opening on just 973 screens, but getting a nice boost from OutKast fans, of whom, yes, I'm a member. See, I'm not a total geek.

Originally posted Aug 24, 2006