'Yuma' likely to survive shootout

Crowe-Bale pairing in faceoff with Owen actioner, holdover

Whether the early fall boxoffice can find firm footing depends on how well this weekend's batch of genre titles connects with primary demographics.

But it wouldn't hurt if the films' targeted males manage to bring a few female friends to the multiplexes, with two testosterone-laden pictures unspooling in wide release and another bowing moderately wide.

"3:10 to Yuma," Lionsgate's remake of the classic Western, and "Shoot 'Em Up," a campy action thriller from New Line Cinema, open with 2,652 and 2,108 playdates, respectively. And Sony Pictures' sex farce, "The Brothers Solomon," joins the fray with 700 runs.

There also is a smattering of platforming pics bowing this weekend, including the Weinstein Co.'s Bosnian drama "The Hunting Party," which MGM is distributing on four screens Los Angeles and New York.

Industryites figure that the weekend's smorgasbord of genre offerings ought to ring up at least decent boxoffice. Yet receipts for the post-Labor Day frame often are modest, and this weekend's wide releases both carry audience-limiting R ratings.

Among those going wide, "Yuma" and "Shoot" show early traction with narrow sections of prospective male moviegoers.

"Yuma" is skewing older, as Westerns always do, but the solid pairing of Russell Crowe and Christian Bale could draw nicely across a broader range of demos. "Yuma" has been something of a critics' darling, with early reviews calling the film a well-executed remake of the 1957 original.

Gunning for up to $12 million in prerelease tracking forecasts, "Yuma" could capture the weekend crown with that kind of performance. That's unless the Labor Day holiday weekend's No. 1 finisher manages a better-than-average hold in its sophomore outing.

The Weinstein Co./Dimension reimagining of the horror classic "Halloween" grossed $30.6 million for distributor MGM during the four-day weekend, a record opening for the Labor Day frame. If "Halloween" were to hold its Friday-Sunday drop to a relatively modest 40%, that would shape a sophomore performance of about $16 million and potentially vie for a second consecutive weekend win.

Tracking data shows keenest interest in "Shoot" limited to younger males, for whom topliner Clive Owen has been something of a rock star since his star turn in the edgy thriller "Sin City." And the fanboys won't exactly hate seeing Monica Bellucci's name atop one-sheets, either.

Still, word-of-mouth could swing positive or negative, depending on how early audiences react to the film's quirky mix of cartoonish violence and dark humor. Anything in the teen millions would represent a solid outing.

"Brothers Solomon" might fetch a bit of date-movie business, but its humor is more of the gross-out variety, meaning that core appeal will be narrow. The film is likely to open in the single-digit millions.

"Hunting Party," set to expand nationwide Sept. 14, is joined in the weekend's limited-release competition by ThinkFilm's space docu "In the Shadow of the Moon." Featuring astronaut interviews from such famous crewmembers as Apollo 8 and Apollo 13's Jim Lovell and Apollo 11's Buzz Aldrin, the PG-rated specialty release debuts on four screens in Los Angeles and New York.

Three films unspool with single New York playdates: "The Inner Life of Martin Frost," a fantasy drama from New Yorker Films; "I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With," a romantic comedy distributed by IFC First Take; and "The Unknown Solder," a First Run docu.

The weekend tally will be looking to better a lackluster $71.5 million industry performance during the same frame last year, when a ho-hum opening of $8.8 million by horror thriller "The Covenant" was enough to take the boxoffice laurels.
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