'Kid' ready to come out and play

Remake might be slow builder; 'Seeker' sets sights on youth audience

It's safe to say the DreamWorks/Paramount remake of "The Heartbreak Kid" won't break any executives' hearts over its opening weekend, but the Farrelly brothers comedy likely won't break any records either, Ben Stiller's toplining draw notwithstanding.

Stiller and the Farrellys have been comedy royalty since their 1998 collaboration on "There's Something About Mary." But the only way for "Kid" to join that genre classic in laugher lore will be for the film to open solidly and build from there. Prerelease tracking shows "Kid" limited to a three-day gross somewhere just north of $20 million.

Of course, "Mary" did just that, and Stiller and the Farrellys often outperform tracking. So the inaugural frame could surpass ho-hum projections just a bit, with the honeymoon-from-hell comedy playing in more than 3,000 theaters.

Whether "Kid" can show the kind of sturdy legs displayed by "Mary" will depend on whether positive word-of-mouth from older-skewing opening-weekend audiences spurs the under-25 crowd to join in the R-rated fun over subsequent frames.

Happily for execs at DreamWorks/Paramount, Stiller's global appeal -- demonstrated most recently by the robust worldwide boxoffice for Fox's "Night at the Museum" -- should help "Kid" outperform the typical comedy in an international rollout that also begins this weekend in a handful of territories.

The other domestic ultrawide opener is Fox's "The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising." Adapted from a popular children's book series, "Seeker" is set for 3,200 playdates and looks to land somewhere in the double-digit millions.

Awareness of the film is slightly higher among boys than girls in prerelease tracking, but the girls' must-see interest actually is a bit keener. With some suggesting that "Seeker" represents a "Lord of the Rings" for kids, the film will compete with last week's No. 1, "The Game Plan," for the youth and family coin.

"Game Plan," starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, captured the boxoffice flag last weekend with almost $23 million. Second in the frame with $17.1 million was the Jamie Foxx starrer "The Kingdom," a Middle East-set thriller that skewed older and thus should hold up nicely in its sophomore outing.

Elsewhere this weekend, Sony's musical drama "Feel the Noise" targets teen females and looks likely limited to the single-digit millions with 1,015 playdates.

Sony Pictures Classics will expand its female drama "The Jane Austen Book Club" to 1,232 locations after a couple weeks in limited release, looking to capture interest beyond major markets in a film still seeking its audience.

"This is not a picture where everything is based on (how it does) in New York and L.A.," said SPC co-president Michael Barker, who added that execs were encouraged by last weekend's Washington grosses.

Still, overall per-screen averages have been tepid, and it's fair to say that the film's challenge will be to attract younger females and perhaps some date-movie business in addition to core support among older women.

Meanwhile, the weekend's continuing limited runs include several films hoping to maintain market traction until critics and awards voters help to hype broader outings.

Roughly in that category, Warner Bros. has "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" and Warner Independent Pictures has "In the Valley of Elah" in 975 theaters. The former will seek to build on early momentum, but the latter is challenged by limper recent boxoffice and will be looking to establish its playability as it adds additional engagements.

Warners has another high-profile art film in the lustrous mix this weekend with an exclusive bow for "Michael Clayton," a George Clooney-toplined thriller.