CG-animated family film is looking to gross over $50M, while Philip K. Dick adaptation should do over $20M as the domestic movie market looks to rebound from two very slow months at the multiplex
If the dynamic movie-making duo of Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski, with an assist from Matt Damon, can't fix the box office, who can?
Coming into a domestic market that's down nearly 30 percent through the first two months of the year, actor Depp and director Verbinski — who have paired on Disney's wildely successful "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise — will attempt to translate their box-office power into the CG-animation realm with Paramount's "Rango."
Opening in 3,917 theaters, the PG-rated "Rango" is predicted to be the first film this year to open to over $50 million, exploiting a wide-open chasm in the market for family films.
Universal's "Adjustment Bureau," meanwhile, has seen its tracking perk up in recent days, with several research firms predicting that the Philip K. Dick adaptation, which stars Damon, will gross over $20 million. (Universal officials have more conservative estimates, predicting the film will come in around the high teens.)
Two other films will open this weekend, with CBS Films releasing the young-female-targeted romantic fantasy drama "Beastly" into 1,952 theaters, and Relativity putting the Topher Grace comedy "Take Me Home Tonight" into 2,006 locations.
Both films are expected to open to well under $10 million.
The big focus is on "Rango," which was produced at a reported cost of $150 million.
Scoring solid reviews (83 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), "Rango" arrives into multiplexes that haven't had a lot of family-targeted films to show of late.
Disney's lightly promoted "Gnomeo & Juliet" has been the only CG toon to be released so far this year and has exploited this market opportunity well, hugely overperforming to the tune of $76.2 million.
As for "Adjustment Bureau," Universal acquired rights to release the film domestically and in 21 territories, day and date, from Media Rights Capital for $62 million, according to an individual with knowledge of the deal.
The PG-13-rated sci-fi drama co-stars Emily Blunt and John Slattery and has garnered a decent 71 percent Rotten Tomatoes score.
Even better for the film — which features romantic overtones between Blunt and Damon — 85 percent of women under 25 know about the film, with 53 percent of that demo expressing "definite interest" in seeing it, according to one tracking firm.
CBS Films is also hoping to hit the young-female quadrant with "Beastly," which stars Alex Pettyfer ("I Am Number Four") and costs $17 million to make. According to an individual with knoweledge of the film's economic model, CBS has already recouped its investment with foreign pre-sales.
Relativity's "Take Me Home Tonight," meanwhile, was co-produced with Universal and Imagine for $20 million, with Relativity acquiring U.S. distribution rights for $10 million. The film is tracking to gross between $5 million-$7 million this weekend.
Will it be enough to actually put the box office up year-over-year for only the second weekend in 2011?
Not bloody likely, since the first weekend in March of last year featured the massive $116 million opening of Disney's "Alice in Wonderland."
"I am concerned," conceded one studio distribution official. "I don't know if people are struggling financially, or if the prices for all this 3D stuff is having an impact. But hopefully, it'll be a big weekend."
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