BOX OFFICE: We Blame the Gods for Adam Sandler’s Latest

November started off rather weakly and we don’t expect this weekend to pick up too much even with three new movies, two of them starring A-list box office stars. In fact, we might even see DreamWorks Animation’s Puss In Boots pulling a threepeat this weekend, as it will be helped out by the Veterans Day holiday on Friday which means some schools and government offices will be closed, and going to the movies is certainly something else to do that day.

This weekend will really come down to a battle between two very different movies, Adam Sandler’s PG crossdressing comedy Jack and Jill (Sony) and Tarsem Singh’s Greek Gods action epic Immortals (Relativity Media), both of which could theoretically knock Puss out of the #1 spot but both with their share of weaknesses.

There’s no question that Sandler is one of the biggest comedy stars working these days–something you can verify by reading this week’s The Career Analyst–although Jack and Jill looks like one of his stupidest comedies possibly since Little Nicky, which opened this same weekend 11 years ago. Fortunately, the idea of Sandler donning drag to play his own twin sister has the potential of being funny to kids and the PG rating means that parents who want to keep their kids entertained and who’ve already seen Puss In Boots might take them to see this. This is likely to open in second place behind Immortals and end up staying there as that tails off, ending up somewhere in the low 20s.

On the other hand, Immortals may not have nearly the star power but does play within a genre that guys tend to love, the historic war epic, with cool visuals and lots of fight action to appease them. Unfortunately, it’s coming out at a time when guys may be down on the genre, having skipped Conan the Barbarian altogether and one wonders if Relativity, whose biggest opener was Limitless with under $20 million, can pull off the type of opening of some of its predecessors like 300 and Clash of the Titans. Sadly, we have to say “no” because the commercials just haven’t looked that great. With the best thing going for the movie being its catchy “11-11-11” release date, we thinks this could win Friday but be heavily frontloaded to end up in the low $20 million range, especially once reviews get out. (Relativity have deliberately waited until the very last minute to screen the movie for critics.)

Last week, we spoke with director Tarsem Singh about the movie, an interview you can read here.

Opening in limited release on Wednesday (today!) then expanding to roughly 2,000 theaters on Friday, Clint Eastwood’s biopic J. Edgar (Warner Bros.) has him teaming with superstar actor Leonardo DiCaprio for the very first time for a biopic about the controversial FBI director, a movie that could interest history buffs and possibly some of the diehard fans of Clint and Leo, but generally will be playing to the over-30 crowd who don’t necessarily race out to see movies. We think this one will end up somewhere between $10 and 12 million this weekend and probably tap out around $35 million.

You can read our mixed review here.

As far as this week’s limited releases, we were really into José Padilha’s Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (Variance), a sequel to his record-setting Brazilian police thriller with Wagner Maura’s Captain Nascimento being relieved of duties as head of Rio’s special police battalion and finding himself having to fight political corruption which plans on using the favelas for their own means. Look for our interview with Padilha later this week.

We also liked London Boulevard (IFC Films), the new British crime drama from Oscar-winning screenwriter William Monahan (The Departed) in his directorial debut. It stars Colin Farrell as Mitchel, a criminal just released from prison trying to go on the straight and narrow. He ends up getting a job as a handyman for a shut-in actress being plagued by paparazzi, played by Keira Knightley, and getting in trouble with a local mob boss, played by Ray Winstone.

Two European auteurs have new movies in theaters this weekend, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia (Magnolia), starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland and Alexander Skarsgard, which starts out as a wedding reception for a newlywed couple that slowly becomes derailed by the bride’s (Dunst’s) erratic behavior. Oh, and there’s a planet headed on a collision course for earth. Oh, that Lars. You can read our review here and watch an interview with Skarsgard here.

Werner Herzog is back with his second documentary of the year, Into the Abyss (IFC Films), in which he looks at the death penalty in the United States via a triple homicide case in Conroe, Texas explored via conversations with 28-year-old death row inmate Michael Perry and those around him.

One movie we haven’t had a chance to see yet but we’re curious about is “Saw” director Darren Lynn Bousman’s timely apocalyptic thriller 11-11-11 (Rocket Releasing), although we’ve heard nearly nothing about it beyond seeing the trailer.

This weekend last year, director Tony Scott and Denzel Washington reunited for the runaway train thriller Unstoppable (20th Century Fox), co-starring Chris Pine, which opened with $22.7 million, but not enough to dethrone DreamWorks Animation’s Megamind in its second weekend with over $29 million. The low budget sci-fi thriller Skyline (Rogue/Universal), from the Brothers Strause, didn’t fare nearly as well, opening in fourth place with $11.7 million and hugely frontloaded due to negative reviews. Opening on Wednesday, the Rachel McAdams comedy Morning Glory (Paramount) with Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton ended up with a weak $9.2 million opening for fifth place. The Top 10 grossed $107.7 million and we think this week’s offerings may actually add up to a rare up week from last year. We’ll see.

This Week’s Predictions

1. Puss in Boots (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount) – $23.5 million -31%

2. Jack and Jill (Sony) – $23.0 million N/A

3. Immortals (Relativity) – $21.3 million N/A

4. Tower Heist (Universal) – $14.0 million -42%

5. J. Edgar (Warner Bros.) – $11.5 million N/A

6. A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (New Line/WB) – $6.2 million -52%

7. In Time (20th Century Fox) – $4.5 million -40%

8. Paranormal Activity 3 (Paramount) – $4.0 million -53%

9. Footloose (Paramount) – $3.3 million -26%

10. Real Steel (DreamWorks) – $2.2 -38%

Next week, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the release of the fourth “Twilight” movie The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (Summit) and it’s the moment all I’ve been waiting for, which is the release of George Miller’s sequel Happy Feet Two (Warner Bros.)

You can read stuff like this and regular box office, awards and festival coverage on the new Weekend Warrior Blog and to keep up with the latest articles and posts, you can follow us on Twitter.

Copyright 2011 Edward Douglas


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