This turns out to be the box office’s Lost Weekend.
Universal comedy “Couples Retreat” will represent the weekend’s only major studio release, with the $60 million comedy — written by and starring “Swingers” duo Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau — likely unseating Sony’s incumbent box-office champ “Zombieland.”
An ensemble project that also stars Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell and Kristin Davis, "Couples" is projected to do “north of $20 million” worth of business, one Universal official who didn’t want to be named told TheWrap.
Some box-office trackers predict the movie, minority-financed by Relativity Media, could go as high as $28 million.
According to one studio distribution exec, the light release schedule is somewhat of an accident — “Zombieland” and Fox’s “Whip It,” both released last weekend, were scheduled to debut Friday, “and nothing slid in to replace those,” he said. “Overall, it’s going to be pretty ugly.”
“Zombieland,” a $23.6 million comedy-horror title that debuted to $24.7 million last weekend, is expected to drop by as much as 45 percent, according to studio trackers.
Sony’s animated 3D film “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is projected to continue to hold above $10 million for the three-day period. The movie, which cost $100 million to make and is entering its fourth week of release, has grossed $83.5 million domestically through Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Paramount’s micro-budgeted viral-marketing phenom “Paranormal Activity” will be expanded out of midnight runs to play in 40 locations — this after the $11,000 horror movie took in an impressive $535,000 playing midnight shows at 33 theaters last weekend.
Also on tap: a flurry of smaller titles. Among them, Sony Classics’ romantic drama “An Education” will open in a handful of New York and Los Angeles theaters. The movie was written by "High Fidelity’s" Nick Hornby and stars Carey Mulligan as a young Londoner coming of age and Peter Sarsgaard as the playboy who sweeps her off her feet.
Sony Classics also will release another U.K.-centric title, “The Damned United,” a biopic that stars “Frost/Nixon’s” Michael Sheen as former Leeds United soccer coach Brian Clough.
Also releasing two titles this weekend, Roadhouse Attractions will target African-American audiences with the Chris Rock-produced and narrated follicle-focused documentary “Good Hair.” Roadhouse will also seek to entice fight fans with boxing-themed “From Mexico With Love.” Both movies will debut in more than 200 locations.
Further crowding the arthouse circuit, Overture-distributed Michael Moore film “Capitalism: A Love Story” will stand pat in 932 locations, while Focus Features will expand Joel and Ethan Coen’s “A Serious Man” beyond last weekend’s 21 engagements.
“As we get further into October, it’s just going to get harder and harder to find screens,” said Magnolia Pictures distribution executive Neal Block, who’s company will debut U.K. film “Bronson” in Manhattan Friday.