This weekend, it's 'Kill' or be killed

'Women,' 'Burn,' Perry comedy put pressure on Pacino-De Niro cop thriller

After a session topped by the limpest No. 1 opening in five years, industry boxoffice should rebound significantly this weekend with five wide openers, including three likely to hit the double-digit millions.

Overture's "Righteous Kill," starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, is a consensus favorite — though no sure shot — to top the weekend with an opening in the mid- to high-teen millions. The rare pairing of the longtime A-listers is the biggest draw for the cop thriller.

"We targeted the older male audience, and it looks like they're going to come," Overture marketing maven Peter Adee said. "From the tracking, it looks like the younger males are going to come as well."

Women could be another matter, given the presence of more female-friendly openers among the competition. Overture executives hope the usual appeal of Pacino and De Niro with older women will prompt a late surge in date-night support for "Kill."

The most obvious first choice for women — Picturehouse's remake of the comedy "The Women" — looks unlikely to vie for an upper rung in the weekend rankings. "Women" is a swan-song release for Picturehouse, which Warner Bros. is shuttering as the studio largely abandons the specialty-film business.

The likeliest competitor "Kill" will have to fend off for the session's crown appears to be the Coen brothers' comedy "Burn After Reading" from Focus Features and Working Title. Prerelease tracking indicates a weekend in the mid-teen millions or higher, which would give Focus its biggest opening.

The first-weekend tally for "Burn" will depend on critical praise more than any of the other new releases. Early reviews have been mostly positive but hardly raves for the filmmakers' first release since their best picture Oscar winner "No Country for Old Men."

"Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys," from Lionsgate, is a notable wild card in this weekend's mix of wide openers. Tracking indicates that a robust moviegoing weekend could see "Family" opening near the $21.4 million bow by Perry's "Why Did I Get Married?" in October.

On the low end of prerelease projections, the comedy would ring up just $15 million or so. So far the casting of Kathy Bates — the first white actor with a major role in a Perry film — doesn't seem to be broadening interest in the release beyond the filmmaker's usual base of support with urban demos.

Elsewhere this weekend, Slowhand Releasing unspools the patriotic documentary "Proud American" in a barely wide bow of about 750 playdates.

Just added to the release calendar two weeks ago, prospects appear limited to the low- single-digit millions for the maiden theatrical voyage of writer-director Fred Ashman. (partialdiff)
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