Box office preview: Why 'Shrek' will topple all four new releases

donkeyImage Credit: DreamworksThe hand-wringing has begun. After both Sex and the City 2 and Prince of Persia garnered less-than-optimal results last weekend, chatter about why the summer box office is not performing up to par went into full effect. In the end, Sex and the City 2 — with $57 million in its coffers — should end its run in the green, but I’m sure talks of making a third are not happening. And though people expected more from Prince of Persia, which Disney must have spent a mint marketing, it’s a movie based on a video game starring a guy best known for his indie work. The lesson learned here: Jake Gyllenhaal is not a movie star.

This weekend is not going to improve things much. Yes, there are four new releases hitting theaters tomorrow, but it’s unlikely any of them will cross the $20 million mark. In fact, Get Him to the Greek, Marmaduke, and Killers will all be vying for second place in the $15-$18 million range.

What makes this summer feel so tragic is that, thus far, there is no movie that audiences have fallen in love with. Yes, Iron Man 2 is close to banking $300 million, but few would argue that it’s better than the original. And Shrek Forever After is a hit, but there is no groundswell of love surrounding the last installment of this billion-dollar franchise. June has more to offer between The Karate Kid, Toy Story 3, and, of course, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. We’re just going to have to wait out this week before we get to some meaty films that we can get excited about. Read on for my predictions.

1. Shrek Forever After: $25 million

Though Shrek has made $150 million since it debuted three weekends ago, it did not live up to either of its past two predecessors, which helped spur the May Blues at the box office. It will, however, hold onto the number one slot for another weekend, which is good news for DreamWorks Animation, since Toy Story 3‘s release is just around the corner. Despite the first-place finish, Shrek Forever After will have to reach over $270 million to not be deemed the lowest-grossing film of the Shrek series.

2. Get Him to the Greek: $17 million

Consider this the sequel to Forgetting Sarah Marshall, even though Jonah Hill plays a completely different character in this R-rated comedy produced by Judd Apatow. This time around, Hill is a hapless low-level music executive charged with bringing Russell Brand’s Aldous Snow from London to Los Angeles to play a show at the Greek Theatre. Marshall writer/director Nicholas Stoller is behind this film too, which is likely to open in the same range as Marshall, which bowed to $17.7 million back in April 2008. I fear, however, that with so much competition in the marketplace and tracking not all that strong, Get Him to the Greek will be yet another sequel that performs below the original.

3. Killers: $16 million

Yes, Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl are playing the latest version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but with both of them lacking the star power of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, it’s unlikely this film will do close to the business of Smith. Lionsgate is withholding the film from critics (never a good sign), and despite Heigl’s successful run on Grey’s Anatomy, there is an awful lot of animosity toward the star. Sources tell me the film cost Lionsgate over $75 million, which seems crazy expensive to me. Though the tracking speaks otherwise, I’m not confident this PG-13 rated movie can cross the $15 million mark.

4. Marmaduke: $15 million

The kids audience always confounds expectations, since they are really hard to reach with traditional tracking metrics. We know that talking dogs sell — just look at Beverly Hills Chihuahua — but if I’m going to take an informal poll of the children living in my house, I’d have to say this movie hasn’t connected with the little tykes audience. Who knows — it could gross much higher than $15 million, but it doesn’t seem like Twentieth Century Fox is spending advertising money like they’ve got a winner on their hands.

5. Prince of Persia: $14 million

Expect this to drop over 50 percent this weekend. The word-of-mouth has not been kind, and with so much other fare in the marketplace to distract, Persia will be lucky if it crosses $100 million for its run.

6. Sex and the City 2: $12 million

The R-rated comedy only took in $31 million over the three-day frame, having generated a lot of its cash on Thursday night when it made $14.2 million. Because of that, I think its second-weekend fall-off will be steeper than 50 percent. The first Sex and the City lost over 60 percent of its value during its second weekend in theaters — and that movie was embraced by fans.

7. Splice: $11 million

This was one of the hot movies coming out of this year’s Sundance. From director Vincenzo Natali (Cypher), the R-rated sci-fi thriller has the Guillermo del Toro seal of approval, and producer Joel Silver was aggressive in buying it out of the snowy festival. The casting choices are interesting, with indie queen Sarah Polley pairing up with Adrien Brody for this thinking man’s horror film, but whether the film can connect with audiences remains to be seen. It’s the best reviewed movie of the bunch, but it could have trouble reaching into the double digits this frame.

Check back over the weekend for the results.

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  • commenter

    What are you talking about? Talks of a third SATC was mentioned in like 3 different articles I’ve read in the last couple days.

    • Common Sense

      Tobey Maguire would beg to differ about not being able to make the jump from indie films to action star.

      The problem with Prince of Persia is that they didn’t get a good director.

      • Mac

        And it’s based on a shi**y video game! Inception cannot arrive fast enough.

      • Josh

        “Tobey Maguire, action star”???? The only action movies he’s done have been the Spiderman franchise where he plays a nerd who’s alter ego is played by a cross between a stunt double and CG. It’s common knowledge that the franchise is successful because of the character and not the actor. In fact, they just dumped Tobey for a few possible no-names which proves my point.

        The director has had acclaim with Comedy (4 Weddings), Drama, (Donnie Brasco) as well as made almost 1 billion worldwide with Harry Potter.

        If you want to point the finger, then don’t compare it to Spiderman which is based on the most succesful comic book of all time, or blame a director who made a film of the most successful kids books of all time, blame the fact that it’s based on a once somewhat popular videogame. To have made this work they needed either a star, or a breakout performance from Jake such as Iron Man, or Pirates of the Carribean which took weak franchises and made them famous due to their performances.

      • Jeff

        Mike Newell is a pretty good director. Not the best, but he’s made some pretty good films.

      • ryan

        Come on! Tobey basically made spidey! He was great, and probaly could be an action star. If he wanted to.

  • wrong

    Jake’s not a movie star, no third satc, wtf who is this person and why are they not reading the magazine they work for?

    • Common Sense

      In case you didn’t notice, this is an opinion piece.

      Jake is not a big shot movie star in his opinion.

      There may have been rumors of a 3rd SATC, but nothing has been green lit. So his opinion that a 3rd might not happen once the studio looks at the profit margin is well justified.

      • WIll

        Common sense, in case You didn’t notice, the “he” you are referring to is a woman, Nicole.

  • LOL

    SPLICE might be a “sleeper” hit (if you can call anything in the Summer a “sleeper.”).

  • Jon Dekerley

    Call me crazy, but I suspect that KILLERS, in spite of its derivative premise, will land at # 1. Besides, I don’t even think ‘derivative’ is a bad word, since the last few weeks at the box office have been all about sequels, rethreads, remakes, etc.

    Katherine Heigl’s last three films opened to 30, 23, and 27 million dollars (the last two with her name above the title) so I have a hunch this will not go below 20, not to mention that it’s getting great tracking numbers and the advantage of a co-star that while not a great actor still is a like able screen presence.
    In any case, it will be close, and if anything, KILLERS will open at # 2, above the Russel Brand film.

    • maiv

      Yeah, I agree about Killers. I’m not so sure that it’ll topple Shrek, but the animosity mentioned towards Heigl in the article doesn’t seem bother too many people. I doubt that Greek will open over it.

      • Gabby

        Yeah, the people who obsess over hating her are the people that pore over TMZ updates. Most moviegoers don’t give a damn about Hollywood politics and the fact that she once inadvertently dissed the writers for giving her stupid material.

    • jenn

      Killers will be #1. I know a ton of people are going to see it. Looks like a fun summer movie.

      • ethan

        No it wont win! Shrek will win hands down!

  • Barb

    Lots of “movie stars” have movies that do not do well at the box office. I remember when Denzel Washington had movies out that didn’t even make the top 5.
    Johnny Depp. In his long career how many “big hits” did he have before Pirates.
    Jake is an actor and he will continue to do all types of movies. Some of them will be the type of movies that aren’t the kind that large numbers of people go to see.
    Tho he did do “Day After Tomorrow” and it did make over 100 million.
    Guess America just wasn’t in the mood for this type of film. Tho I do know audiences have enjoyed it. Will do well on DVD.
    As for Prince of Persia it IS the #1 Movie in the World.
    With the world total and U.S. total it will make back its money.
    It’s not going to be the “flop” some hope it will be.

  • EWsMom

    “The lesson learned here: Jake Gyllenhaal is not a movie star”

    Ouch.
    He’s still a star (after all, people like Heidi Montag are considered to be ‘stars’ too). But he’s not a box-office draw at all…guess people were smart enough to see beyond his bod.

  • david

    Maybe the reason these movies are doing poorly is because they are mediocre at best… Video game movie or not, a bad film is a bad film. Sex and the city would of done much better if, well, it was much better. You can say the same about shrek. Sometimes, really lousy movies can do well, but shoddy sequels and poorly created adaptations alienate the core fans and can’t attract the casual audience members needed for a summer blockbusters…

  • R2D2

    I think that Killers will surprise and rule the weekend with Splice exceeding expectations and Marmaduke flopping big time.

    1. Killers $32 million
    2. Shrek 4 $27 million
    3. Splice $19 million
    4. Sex and the City 2 $17 million
    5. Prince Of Persia $16 million
    6. Get Him To The Greek $14 million
    7. Iron Man 2 $9 million
    8. Marmaduke $8 million

    • dipshat

      This could happen.

    • almost scared

      I for the most part agree. I expect splice to open a little lower and get him to the Greek a little higher.

      • Gill

        agreed.

    • LOL

      Marmaduke looks like pure sh*t.

      • Nathan

        It does indeed.

      • Shamus N.

        Exactly! The original comic strip isn’t great, but who were the ad wizards who decided to make Marmaduke talk?
        I wasn’t planning to see Splice, and every time I see an ad for it, I want to see it even less.

    • ethan

      Shrek will win for the third week and it will probably win next week as well

  • Heather2

    Toy Story 3 and Eclipse are gonna be massive. I think Eclipse will easily take the opening weekend record for this summer, and I think Toy Story 3 will make the most after staying in theatres for a while. Everyone’s going to see Shrek right now because it is really the only decent child safe movie to see.
    That is … until Inception or HP comes along later.

    • Lynn

      Eclipse has no chance at the three-day weekend record because it opens on a Wednesday. In terms of record-keeping, the “opening weekend” counts as Friday, Saturday and Sunday only.
      I also think Eclipse will do lower numbers than New Moon is true “third film” fashion (see also: Pirates 3, Shrek 3, Matrix 3, Harry Potter 3, etc.).

      • Lynn

        IN true “third film” fashion.

    • to Heather2

      I’m not so sure. I remember the New Moon PR barrage back in October and November, and Eclipse’s PR campaign is pretty limp in comparison. Like, EW had some Twilight-related crap on the front page EVERY DAY, and now, not so much. I just don’t think the excitement’s as high as it was, and a lot of people didn’t like New Moon.
      Also, Lynn’s right. The opening weekend numbers will only be Friday-Sunday, not Wednesday-Sunday. So its chances of any opening records are zilch, same way that Transformers 2 and Harry Potter 6 didn’t get the chance to break records.

  • Heather2

    Toy Story 3 and Eclipse are gonna be massive.

    • Heather2

      Didn’t mean to repeat myself, sorry.

      • dipshat

        Well now you just did it three times.

  • Monty

    People seem to forget that Forgetting Sarah Marshall had legs and it had a good life on DVD. You are underestimating the first R rated comedy of the summer. 20 Mil

    • Joel V.

      Actually Sex and the City 2 would be the first R rated comedy, depending on personal opinions of the movie. I think that last weekends trend will be the same this week and that Greek will underperform.

  • baj24

    Am I the only one who is sick of all the box office failure articles on this website? How is it that SATC2 makes 50+ million dollars in one weekend and is considered a failure? Ridiculous!

    • dusen

      It’s all about expectations vs actual results, not the absolute dollar value.

      Yes to you and I, 50M is a ton of money. But compared to how the previous SATC movie did (and likely higher budget), SATC2 can be considered a disappointment.

  • sam

    Both SATC2 and Persia are doing very well worldwide, so money will be made. And all of the hand wringing over SATC2 was ridiculous–over the 5 day weekend period (it opened on Thursday), it made almost as much as the three day opening for the first. And “fans” did embrace it–critics didn’t like it. I can’t wait to see Greek this weekend.

    • seno

      It’s also about bragging rights

  • Esmeralda

    Box office has been down across the board all year. You lose what little credibility you have blaming Jake. It’s too simplistic. Jake is one of the few things right with Prince of Persia. Prince of Persia’s not well known outside the gaming community. It’s no Spiderman. It’s also not a legendary Frank Miller-type graphic novel. It’s not Jake who isn’t a “star” it’s the game. Second, Disney/Bruckheimer dropped the ball with special effects. The movie looked cheesey, out of date, and derivative, like The Mummy and the Scorpion King. Desert. Sandstorms. Ninja assassins, scarey snakes. Come on, people! Audiences are more sophisticated! They expect more from Jerry B. Shrek 4 was in 3D. Pirates 4 will be in 3D. They invest $150M in Prince, but can’t spend $10M more for 3D? Jake, Gemma, Sir Ben, Alfred Molina did a superb job. Mike Newell, not so much. 20 years ago this would have been fine. Not now. Mike Newell screwed up Harry Potter. So you give him an “epic” to direct? Prince could have been a better movie. Disney, Bruckheimer, and Newell all share blame for it’s limited success. Not Jake or any of the other actors. Fact is, the real disaster no one wants to dwell on too much is Sex & the City. Saturation marketing ad nauseam, and still it comes in 3rd? Now there’s your story.

    My prediction, Karate Kid will be the biggest hit of the summer.

    • Shig

      The game is not a star ? It was considered the best game of 2003 simply. Beautiful art direction, good storytelling, great musics : it was a true 1001 nights tale.

      Whereas the movie just looks like any Hollywood movie, the lead actor does not fit the role (having a beard doesn’t make you Persian), and the story seems like a mash-up of different games, losing the marvel of the original game.

  • sam

    Is it really so difficult to understand that SATC2 opened on Thursday and if that money had been included it would not have been 3rd? Come on, it’s not that difficult to understand that the advertising worked and a whole lot of people saw it on Thursday!

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