Half-dozen ganging up on '300'
Filmgoers have their choice of horror, action, family, dramaAfter backing off competing with "300" earlier this month and facing a new threat from the 3-D "Meet the Robinsons" that opens next week, six studios have decided to open six wide releases this weekend. The crowded frame at the North American boxoffice is likely to produce a lot of dollars but also could confuse audiences about what they should be watching.
The weekend lineup includes two kid flicks, Warner Bros. Pictures' "TMNT" and New Line Cinema's "The Last Mimzy"; one horror film, Fox Atomic's "The Hills Have Eyes 2"; and three adult dramas, Paramount Pictures' "Shooter," Sony Pictures' "Reign Over Me" and Lionsgate's "Pride."
Altogether, the six should produce grosses north of last year's debuts at this time, but it's not clear whether any has the might to topple Warners' "300."
Fox Searchlight bowed its "Eyes" remake in March 2006 to $15.7 million. This time, Fox Atomic, the studio's nascent youth-oriented division, is hoping for a repeat performance. "Eyes 2" — directed by Martin Weisz, the German commercial and music video director behind 2002's "60 Seconds" — revolves around a group of National Guard trainees that is attacked by mutants during a training mission in the New Mexico desert. The R-rated horror flick, set to bow in 2,447 theaters, could open in the midteen-million range and has the best shot of taking first place from "300."
Warners is attempting to relaunch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise that was wildly popular in the late 1980s and early '90s. The studio opens the PG- rated "TMNT" in 3,110 theaters, looking to lure a young male audience that is new to the franchise. The CGI feature from writer-director Kevin Munroe ("Freaky Flyers") features the voices Sarah Michelle Gellar, Patrick Stewart, Ziyi Zhang, Laurence Fishburne and Chris Evans. Industry insiders place the film's debut in the low-teen millions.
From director Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day"), "Shooter" bows in 2,806 theaters; the film was pushed back a week to put more space between it and "300." "Shooter" centers on a marksman Marine (Mark Wahlberg) living in exile who is lured back into action after learning of a plot to kill the president. Michael Pena, Danny Glover and Kate Mara co-star in the thriller written by Jonathan Lemkin. "Shooter" is targeting the under-25 male audience and is likely to bow in the low-teen million range, competing primarily with "TMNT."
New Line executives are releasing their boss' first directorial effort in 17 years with the family-friendly "Mimzy." The PG film is directed by New Line co-chairman and co-CEO Robert Shaye with a screenplay from Bruce Joel Rubin and New Line production president Toby Emmerich. "Mimzy" revolves around two children (Chris O'Neil and Rhiannon Leigh Wryn) who develop special talents after they discover a mysterious box of toys. Joely Richardson, Timothy Hutton and Rainn Wilson also star. Bowing in 3,017 theaters, the film goes up against "TMNT" but is targeting girls more than boys. Industry insiders have the film pegged for an $8 million-$10 million opening.
"Reign," from writer-director Mike Binder ("The Upside of Anger"), stars Adam Sandler as a man who lost his wife and daughters on Sept. 11. He runs into his old college buddy (Don Cheadle), and they rekindle a friendship that helps Sandler's character deal with his grief. The R-rated film, bowing in 1,671 theaters, is expected to gross $8 million-$10 million.
Lionsgate opens the inspirational "Pride" in 1,518 theaters. The 1970s-set story centers on a high school swim coach (Terrence Howard) who resurrects an inner-city Philadelphia public pool and starts a team. Bernie Mac, Kimberly Elise and Tom Arnold co-star in the PG film, from Sunu Gonera in his directorial debut. It is expected to bow in the high-single-digit millions range.