There are three movies opening in wide release this weekend, but all I really want to do is talk about the one with the cat: Puss in Boots.
Why? First, because cats are awesome, and second, because they have consistently been overlooked by a Hollywood system that favors Corgis (like the cute one on our cover), Chihuahuas, and a myriad of dogs that — according to a theory I don’t comprehend — are so ugly they’re adorable. But not anymore! Viva el gato! Oh, and here are my box-office predictions for the top five:
1. Puss in Boots: $42 million
With generally favorable reviews, a marketplace starved for family fare, and a frisky feline that stole the show in the Shrek movies, DreamWorks Animation’s Puss in Boots has the makings of a hit. The only thing that could possibly hold the $130 million movie down is its timing. With Halloween landing on a Monday, many families may be engaged in pre-Halloween activities throughout the weekend. Puss was originally going to be released next week, but Paramount moved the PG-rated picture up a week to avoid Tower Heist and get a jump on upcoming kid flicks like Happy Feet 2 and The Muppets. DreamWorks Animation’s last two films, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Megamind, opened to $47.7 million and $46 million, respectively. Puss should debut slightly below those figures — by no means a dog of a result.
2. Paranormal Activity 3: $25 million
The R-rated horror prequel scored the best October debut ever last weekend with $52.6 million. Horror films normally drop like a rock — Paranormal Activity 2, for instance, fell 59 percent its second weekend. But unlike PA2, this entry doesn’t have to go up against a Saw movie or any other horror film. Also, with Halloween just around the corner, the mood is still ripe for a haunted-house thrill. Figure a decline that’s slightly more than 50 percent instead.
3. In Time: $14 million
The sci-fi premise — people stop aging after 25 and can live forever as long as they “buy” more time — is intriguing, and Justin Timberlake may be just one or two films away from breaking out as a box-office star. But director and writer Andrew Niccol, who was involved in two of my favorite films of the ’90s (Gattaca and The Truman Show), hasn’t really followed through on that potential since then. The $40 million film’s reviews have been mixed, and the last picture that Timberlake headlined — July’s Friends with Benefits — debuted to an okay but unspectacular $18.6 million. Fox would be thrilled if the PG-13 In Time reached the same level, but it’ll probably fall a bit short.
4. The Rum Diary: $9 million
This 1950s-set drama, which cost $50 million to produce, will depend entirely on two names: star Johnny Depp and the late cult author Hunter S. Thompson. Depp can struggle when his name isn’t promoting a tentpole franchise — see The Tourist and Sweeney Todd. And the film’s mild reviews won’t help. But there should be enough Depp and Thompson fans out there to push the R-rated movie’s opening to just under $10 million.
5. Footloose: $6.5 million
This ’80s remake slipped only 33 percent its second weekend. The PG-13 film should hold up nearly as well this weekend, ’cause you can’t stop the beat. Wait, sorry, wrong musical.