'Kingdom' coming on strong

Middle East-set thriller should intercept Rock's 'Game Plan'

There will be something on theater marquees for nearly everyone this weekend as three wide releases and several specialty films arrive for the last frame in September. The new arrivals carry MPAA ratings ranging from PG to NC-17, which all but ensures a broad demographic appeal.

Universal's "The Kingdom" is the highest-profile release of the group and is opening with the second-widest theater count of the newcomers, with 2,792 locations on tap. The action thriller, starring Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner and Chris Cooper, is a timely feature about a team of U.S. counterterrorism investigators who work with a local police officer, played by Ashraf Barhom, in Saudi Arabia to find the perpetrators of an attack on Americans in Riyadh.

Peter Berg directed the R-rated "Kingdom," which was produced by Michael Mann and Scott Stuber. Berg helmed Universal's "Friday Night Lights" and "The Rundown" and is working on the Will Smith starrer "Hancock" for Columbia Pictures.

Reviews have been mixed on "Kingdom," but its timeliness, star power and astute marketing campaign should help the film open in the high-teens to low-$20 million area, according to industry observers. The 18-49 demographic is the target audience, and "Kingdom" is expected to skew more male than female.

Disney's "The Game Plan" is on the boxoffice playing field with hopes of scoring big with family audiences because there hasn't really been a film aimed at that group since "Daddy Day Camp" seven weeks ago. The PG-rated comedy stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as an NFL quarterback and carefree bachelor who finds out that he has an 8-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. Madison Pettis plays the previously unknown daughter who throws a wrench into Johnson's lifestyle playbook.

The gridiron feature has the widest release of the session's new arrivals, unspooling in 3,103 theaters. Early tracking indicates that "Game Plan" should land in the high teens for the frame, but with the 12-and-under age bracket being notoriously difficult to track, that number could be higher.

MGM's "Feast of Love," an R-rated drama based on the novel by Charles Baxter, debuts in 1,200 theaters. The adaptation, produced by Lakeshore Entertainment in association with Revelations Entertainment and GreeneStreet Films, features an ensemble cast headed by Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Radha Mitchell, Selma Blair, Fred Ward and Jane Alexander.

"Feast" revolves around a community of friends in Oregon and explores the different facets of love. The picture appeals to a more upscale crowd and leans more female than male — a niche the distributor is actively targeting. Directed by Robert Benton, "Feast" has been generating mostly positive reviews and is expected to gross about $3 million.

Focus Features' "Lust, Caution" has been generating attention because of its director, Ang Lee, and its explicit sexual content, garnering the rarely given NC-17 rating. Lee's erotic espionage thriller is based on a short story from Chinese author Eileen Chang and stars Tony Leung and Tang Wei. "Lust" debuts today at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in New York and expands to select cities Oct. 5.

Another high-profile limited release this weekend comes from Fox Searchlight, which opens "The Darjeeling Limited" in two locations Saturday in New York. Wes Anderson helmed the comedy about three brothers who go on a life-altering trip to India. Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody star in the quirky, offbeat yarn from Fox's indie label.

Roadside Attractions' "Trade" will open in 90 theaters in the top 25 markets. Kevin Kline toplines the R-rated drama helmed by Marco Kreuzpaintner, which is set in the world of human trafficking and forced prostitution.

The boxoffice total for all films for the comparable weekend last year was $100.3 million, with Sony's "Open Season" debuting in the top spot with $23.6 million, followed by Disney's bow of "The Guardian" with $18 million.
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