'Tron: Legacy,' 'Tourist' Weak in Early Box-Office Tracking


Disney, Sony have their work cut out for them in raising interest in the two high-profile films, both of which open in December.

With some high-profile holiday movies starting to hit Hollywood's prerelease tracking services, it appears first-weekend prospects for Disney's Tron: Legacy are significantly below where the studio needs to be with its pricey tentpole.

The 3D sci-fi film has been marketed heavily for months en route to its Dec. 17 bow, and many have been suggesting a big opening and leggy theatrical run based on built-in interest from the cult base of its 1982 predecessor. But at this point, tracking suggests Tron: Legacy with as little as $35 million.

Technically a sequel, Tron: Legacy references characters and events from the original Tron in a tale that occurs years later. But its $200 million production heft alone puts the 3D romp squarely in the category of movie reboot -- the first picture cost just $17 million to produce -- and an opening well north of $50 million would seem necessary to put the picture on a path to profitability.

An exec at a rival studio said he believes it would be wrong to sell Tron: Legacy short just yet, suggested an opening of at least $50 million remains possible.

Elsewhere among the holiday-season releases, Sony's Dec. 10 opener The Tourist, starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, is showing soft prerelease interest. A Tourist debut of just $20 million or so is possible, based on light must-see sentiment expressed so far by respondents to tracking surveys.

Meantime, Fox's Dec. 10 opener The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is outpacing most of the other season titles in the breadth of its must-see sentiment.

Tron: Legacy also is drawing at least decent interest among all key demos (younger and older males/females form the four quadrants in prerelease tracking reports). But Disney execs are busily trying to figure out how to boost female interest in the two-plus weeks leading up to the release of Tron: Legacy, while Dawn Treader is displaying a pleasingly even appeal in all four quadrants.

Warner Bros.' Dec. 17 opener Yogi Bear is showing signs of a first-weekend haul well north of $20 million. But only the pic's distributor has seen a data breakout specific to prospective family patrons, and Warners execs aren't talking -- except to indicate optimism about a solid debut and long afterlife.

Two tentpoles set for release on Dec. 22 ahead of the Christmas play period -- Universal's comedy Little Fockers and Fox's Jack Black starrer Gulliver's Travels -- so far have hit only one of two industry tracking surveys.

But three weeks before release, must-see sentiment is tough to gauge in any event. Fockers and Gulliver's are set to open on the Wednesday before the Saturday holiday.