Grown-up comedy. Family-friendly comedy. Family-friendly fantasy. Grown-up action. Teen drama. There'll be something for everyone at the multiplex this weekend, as three diverse new movies The Heartbreak Kid, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, and Feel the Noise are added to the mix. Who'll come out on top? Read on for my predictions.
And then when you're done, why not go ahead and give this old prognostication game a shot yourself? I'm glad to report that EW.com's globally renowned box office prediction game is back this week, with an all-new contest for fall. Just click Box Office Challenge to play along with me at home. (Actually, what am I saying? I'm at home now, too.) Anyway, have fun, and good luck because you're going down, suckas!
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
The Heartbreak Kid
Paramount · R · 3,229 theaters · NEW
A Farrelly Brothers movie just isn't as big a draw as it once was. The Rhode Island rascals' box office returns have declined since their gross-out comedy There's Something About Mary collected $176.5 mil nine years ago: Most recently, Stuck on You brought in a mere $33.8 mil in 2003, and the relatively straightforward rom-com Fever Pitch earned just $42.1 mil in 2005. Good thing, then, that this remake of Elaine May's 1972 comedy reunites the bros with their Mary star, Ben Stiller, who has become one of the most bankable movie stars during the past decade. His starpower alone will propel The Heartbreak Kid to No. 1, making it the year's sixth Paramount hit that the studio inherited from DreamWorks. That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that the film has lower buzz than you'd expect for a Ben Stiller comedy; its R rating will keep away many of the actor's younger fans (who helped make Night at the Museum a $250.9 mil smash); and its depiction of a hot-wife-from-hell (Malin Akerman) may turn off some women. So I'm thinking it'll come in a bit under Stiller's usual $27 mil-to-$30 mil opening-weekend take.
Weekend prediction: $25 million
The Game Plan
Walt Disney · PG · 3,105 theaters · 2nd weekend
Since Monday is Columbus Day, a sorta-holiday in the U.S., some kids will have a three-day weekend. That'll be a nice little bonus for The Rock's family comedy, whose sluggish mid-week numbers (it has trailed The Kingdom by a sizable amount every day since Monday, as all the young-uns have been in school) underscore just how key that young crowd is to its success.
Weekend prediction: $12 million
The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising
Fox · PG · 3,141 theaters · NEW
Why Fox is releasing this remarkably unheralded and star-free fantasy-novel adaptation on a whopping 3,000-plus screens is beyond me. Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series is pretty popular, sure, but, I mean, it's not like we're talking about Narnia here. Expect it to conjure up a moderate gross and a dreadful per-theater average.
Weekend prediction: $10 million
Universal · R · 2,796 theaters · 2nd weekend
Props to Jamie Foxx & Co. for milking a nice sum of money from the multiplex since their political action thriller underperformed on its opening weekend. The Kingdom has earned more than a mil per day during the week, which is wonderful and should ease the pain that'll come when its grosses drop from Friday through Sunday.
Weekend prediction: $9 million
Feel the Noise
TriStar · PG-13 · 1,015 theaters · NEW
Try as they might to make this urban dance flick from producer Jennifer Lopez look like the next You Got Served ($16.1 mil opening; $40.4 million total) or Stomp the Yard ($21.8 mil; $61.4 mil), a lack of boldface names and inferior screen count will cause this under-the-radar drama to feel the pain (man, I'm clever!) at the box office.
Weekend prediction: $3 million