'Kick-Ass' looking for boxoffice win

2:42 PM PST 04/15/2010 by Carl DiOrio, AP

VIDEO: R-rated action comedy could open at $25 mil-$30 mil

Lionsgate unspools the proudly vulgar comic-book adaptation "Kick-Ass" with hopes of an eponymous opening weekend.

A $50 million production, "Kick-Ass" was directed by Matthew Vaughn ("Layer Cake") and features Nicolas Cage and Chloe Moretz ("(500) Days of Summer") as a foul-mouthed, costumed father-and-daughter duo. Aaron Johnson ("Nowhere Boy") portrays the latex-suited title character.

Lionsgate acquired domestic rights to the film for teen millions in August. Internet buzz for the R-rated action comedy -- stoked by the distributor's online-heavy marketing campaign -- has been building for months, and a bow in the $25 million-$30 million range appears in the offing.

Fanboys are the target audience, but positive word-of-mouth could broaden pic support notably. On the other hand, the film's restricted rating poses a built-in barrier to many prospective teen patrons.

Lionsgate launches "Kick-Ass" on Thursday night, with nearly 1,500 locations programming 10 p.m. and midnight performances. The movie is set for 3,000-plus locations starting Friday, and the Thursday coin will be included with Friday boxoffice.

"I'm cautiously optimistic, and I'm confident that it's playability will be great," Lionsgate executive vp distribution David Spitz said.

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"Kick-Ass" totes a ho-hum international cume of $12.5 million from earlier bows in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, where it was hurt by its positioning opposite the first two weeks of "Clash of the Titans." That Warner Bros. action fantasy should begin winding down a bit this weekend, its third, with prospects of adding teen millions to a current cume of $118 million.

Also on Friday, Screen Gems sends out the R-rated comedy "Death at a Funeral," starring Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence.

An estimated $21 million remake of a 2007 British farce starring Rupert Graves ("V for Vendetta") and directed by Frank Oz ("The Score"), "Funeral" was helmed by Neil LaBute ("Lakeview Terrace") from a script co-authored by Rock, TV scribe Aeysha Carr and Dean Craig, who wrote the original. Urban demos should provide core support for the pic, which co-stars Danny Glover and Regina Hall.

"We expect that it will play broadly," Sony distribution president Rory Bruer said. "The African-American audience has bought into it, but we know from our research that it should also have broader appeal."

A bow in the high-teen millions looks doable.

Notable holdovers include Fox's PG-13 comedy "Date Night." A $25.2 million debutant last weekend, the Tina Fey-Steve Carell starrer will be looking to sustain opening momentum for a leggy run of the sort expected for adult-skewing pics.

But even a 40% drop would see "Date" dip into the lower teen millions. So DreamWorks Animation's incredibly leggy "How to Train Your Dragon" could blow past "Date" in the Paramount-distributed 3D adventure's fourth frame to compete with "Funeral" for the weekend's silver medal.

"Date" likely will go toe-to-toe again with "Titans" in a battle for the weekend's top nonmedal ranking.

Limited openers today include Sony Pictures Classics' "The Secret in Their Eyes," which copped Oscar's best foreign-language film statuette this year. The Argentine crime drama opens in 10 theaters in four markets. IFC Films' "No One Knows About Persian Cats," a Persian-language Iranian musical dramedy, is set for two New York theaters.

Industrywide, the weekend will be compared with a light $108 million session topped by the $23.7 million bow of Warners' "17 Again."
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