This weekend, Hollywood is spreading the love. For the first time all summer, a whopping three releases, each with a decent chance to earn big bucks, are set to debut: Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Meet Dave, and a new version of Journey to the Center of the Earth that's being shown in 3-D.
Yep, it'll be a multiplex filled with a little bit for everyone and a lot of suspense as we wait to see which film will come out on top. My picks are below and you can make yours in EW.com's Summer Box Office Challenge. Just remember: Three times the new releases equals three times the fun!
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Universal · PG-13 · 3,204 theaters · NEW
Thanks to his technical and critical success with Pan's Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro has, apparently, been elevated to auteur status since the premiere of the first Hellboy movie, four-plus years ago. Based on a relatively obscure comic book and featuring no major stars (Ron Perlman? The Beast? C'mon), that film earned an impressive $23.2 mil on its first weekend, en route to a $59.6 mil domestic total and major success on home video. So now we've got a sequel that appears to be bigger in every way: more star power (hey, British thesp Luke Goss!); a director sorry, auteur who's now a household name; and a much more substantial marketing push. Oh, and reviews have been very nice, too. Considering that this has been a good summer for comic-book movies (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Wanted have all been hits), Hellboy II sure smells like a winner.
Weekend prediction: $33 million
Columbia · PG-13 · 3,965 theaters · 2nd weekend
Will Smith will have tallied his fifth consecutive $150 mil domestic earner by the end of the weekend (bravo!) and that's even after Hancock drops nearly 60 percent while competing against so much fresh fare.
Weekend prediction: $27 million
Walt Disney/Pixar · G · 3,849 theaters · 3rd weekend
The latest Pixar fable has $140 mil in the bank so far, and its sights are set on the $200 mil mark. But will the opening of the kid-friendly Journey to the Center of the Earth have an impact on WALL-E's box office fortunes this weekend? Not likely (see below).
Weekend prediction: $20 million
Fox · PG · 3,011 theaters · NEW
It's never a good sign when a studio doesn't host advance screenings of a movie, which happened (or, I guess, didn't happen) in this case. Even still, tell me: Are you really dying to see this high-concept Eddie Murphy comedy, formerly known as Starship Dave, in which an alien spaceship/robot resembling Eddie Murphy and captained by someone who also looks like Eddie Murphy lands on Earth? Didn't think so. Does that plot summary even make sense? Didn't think so, either. The last time Murphy did the space thing, he crashed with The Adventures of Pluto Nash (which was one of the biggest flops ever, earning just $4.4 mil in the summer of 2002). Then again, as the somewhat inexplicably successful Norbit, Daddy Day Care, and The Haunted Mansion prove, Murphy is one of the most durable box-office draws around.
Weekend prediction: $11 million
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Warner Bros./New Line · PG · 2,811 theaters · NEW
Here we have the last official release from the old incarnation of New Line (the film was made and set to premiere before the studio was absorbed by Warner Bros. earlier this year), which is being shown in 3-D in 854 locations. (It is, in fact, the first live-action movie to be shot in digital 3-D.) I had the chance to see it at the ShoWest convention in Las Vegas in March and was impressed. But I also wondered if a remake of Jules Verne's classic adventure, featuring Brendan Fraser and a bunch of newcomers, will truly appeal to families who are accustomed to thrills courtesy of Hulks and Iron Men and Will Smiths these days. The 3-D aspect may attract some customers (and the more-expensive 3-D tickets are an added plus), but I fear this film could wind up a noble failure.
Weekend prediction: $10 million