‘Max Payne’ Takes Box-Office Lead While ‘Secret Life of Bees’ Proves to be No Secret

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Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys and Dakota Fanning in The Secret Life of Bees
Photo: Sidney Baldwin / Fox Searchlight

Overall I would say it is a rather successful weekend with Max Payne coming in just slightly lower than expected, Oliver Stone’s W. doing as expected if not better and The Secret Life of Bees outperforming all expectations. There was one major casualty in Summit’s Sex Drive, but we’ll get to that in a second.

First, at the top of this week’s pile will be Max Payne coming in with an estimated $6.75 million on Friday and is expected to land somewhere in the realm of $18.5 million for the weekend, which is only $400k more than our Oscar Oracle predicted on Thursday. I am not sure how you compare it to other video game adaptations since the genre is a bit hit-or-miss and has certainly declined since the days of Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, but an $18.5 million finish would make it the #9 all-time just ahead of the first Resident Evil, which I would say is probably the best game-to-film adaptation I have seen but I did recently add Tomb Raider to the Netflix queue so things could change soon.

Next comes Stone’s W. which looks to be coming in right on target with an estimated $4.3 million on Friday and an anticipated $12.9 million for the weekend. The film garnered mixed reviews scoring a 54% at RottenTomatoes all while scoring equally mixed responses from the political realm with the likes of Jeb Bush calling it “Hooey” and most liberals believe it is too nice. The film is certainly a watered down version of the far more ridiculing script penned by Stanley Weiser, a move that turned it into a boring film, but at the same time an interesting “experiment” as Fantasy Moguls’ Steve Mason likes to call it. Nevertheless, it seems to have done its job.

The big surprise this weekend, however, is Fox Searchlight’s The Secret Life of Bees and boy are they going to be happy. The film was looking at tracking somewhere around $6 million or so for the weekend only to open to an estimated $4 million on Friday and is now expected to hit $12.4 million for the weekend, which puts the race for the second place at the box-office for the weekend way up in the air between W., Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Bees. A second place finish for Bees would be like winning the Super Bowl and seeing how it already looks to double its expected opening that would be icing on the cake.

We now come to our final newcomer for the week, Summit’s ode to American Pie and all things teen comedy related. Sex Drive may have a 43% rating at RottenTomatoes, but I think that has more to do with its content rather than its quality. I have not seen the film but have heard from several sources that it is quite funny and that test audiences loved it. Unfortunately it bombed at the box-office pulling in a meager $1.1 million on Friday and is expected to finish around $3 million, about $1 million or so off expectation.

The reason for Sex Drive‘s demise can only mean a shift in comedic expectations. I think a lot of people looked at it as too similar to the comedy of the ’90s as it compared itself to American Pie and looked to be a lot like Road Trip. As raunchy and outrageous as it made itself out to be, the lack of star power seems to be its biggest downfall. I will probably try and catch it on Netflix some time down the line just to see if it was a missed opportunity for audiences or a right call for them to avoid it.

I would mention previously released films but there are really no big surprises the top five should be rounded out by Body of Lies as it proves to be a longer lasting film than Quarantine, but as I already pointed out Beverly Hills Chihuahua remains strong at $3.2 million for Friday and will battle with W. and The Secret Life of Bees for the #2 slot for the weekend. Below are the complete early Friday estimates from Fantasy Moguls, Laremy will be here Sunday with a complete recap.

  1. Max Payne (Fox) – $6.75 million
  2. W. (Lionsgate) – $4.3 million
  3. The Secret Life of Bees (Fox Searchlight) – $4 million
  4. Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Disney) – $3.2 million
  5. Body of Lies (Warner Bros) – $2.37 million
  6. Eagle Eye (Dreamworks/Paramount) – $2.2 million
  7. Quarantine (Sony) – $2 million
  8. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Sony) – $1.18 million
  9. Sex Drive (Summit) – $1.1 million
  10. The Express (Universal) – $875,000