Weekend Box Office (June 15 - 17, 2012)
THIS WEEKEND Wild times are in store for North American movie fans heading to the multiplexes as the all-star musical Rock of Ages and the Adam Sandler comedy That's My Boy both open Friday giving audiences a break from super heroes, aliens, and evil queens.
Offering summer moviegoers something different, Warner Bros. unveils its musical Rock of Ages with a star-studded ensemble cast including Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Mary J. Blige plus an endless string of 1980s hard rock anthems, many of which are sung by the cast. Based on the Broadway show, the PG-13 film should play more female and more mature although the music could attract more males than are normally seen for this genre. Much curiosity has been generated over Cruise's supporting role and the actor, whose career is rebounding now, has put himself into a win-win situation. If the film hits it big he can claim some of the credit, but if it fails it's not like the movie is riding on his shoulders anyway so he'll walk away without damage.
But Rock will skew older and the less-than-stellar reviews will have a harmful impact at the box office. The pic will need its younger stars to pull in teens and young adults who consider the tunes to be classic rock from an older era. That's a tough sell for today's audience. Last fall's Footloose remake - with Rock's Julianne Hough - had a mild $15.6M debut trying to make itself relevant for the Facebook generation with some 80s retro chic. Competition will not be too much of a factor as holdovers are playing differently although Adam Sandler will steal away some men looking for wild fun. Debuting in over 3,300 theaters, Rock of Ages may open with about $25M this weekend.
Stepping out of his PG-13 safety zone, Adam Sandler plays a loser dad trying to reconnect with his rich son in the R-rated comedy That's My Boy. Co-starring fellow Saturday Night Live star Andy Samberg, the latest Sony release of a Sandler vehicle will be showered with negative reviews from critics but those never matter much at the box office for the comedy superstar. His films sell on concept and how funny they seem. Sandler's last mainstream R-rated effort Funny People disappointed at the box office with a $22.7M debut, but despite being directed by Judd Apatow it was not a conventional raunchy laugher.
Boy follows the more typical Sandler formula only with enough rude and crude humor to get a harsher rating. Business from younger teen boys may be sacrificed, but the star has been around long enough that most of his fan base can buy their own tickets for R flicks. The studio hopes the story this time will connect with moviegoers over Father's Day weekend but female appeal is weaker on this one when compared to some of his recent films like last year's Jennifer Aniston co-starring hit Just Go With It which bowed to $30.5M. That's My Boy lands in over 3,000 theaters on Friday and could open to around $23M this weekend.
Top toon Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted debuted well last weekend at number one and should enjoy a solid hold thanks to no new kids competition and excellent audience feedback. A 45% decline for the Paramount release would give the talking animals about $33M and a ten-day cume of $117M as it tries to retain its box office crown. The frame may end up looking a lot like the weekend of June 25-27, 2010 when the animated sequel Toy Story 3 took the number one spot in its second session followed by two new releases starring Adam Sandler and Tom Cruise - Grown Ups and Knight and Day.
Fellow sophomore Prometheus has not been as well-liked by moviegoers and should erode faster the way sci-fi films normally do. Fox might see a 55% fall to around $23M giving the space film $93M after ten days. Look for Snow White and the Huntsman to drop by 50% to roughly $11M putting Universal at $120M after 17 days.
A similar fall could be in the works for Sony's Men in Black 3 which may take in about $7M upping its sum to $149M. The Avengers might drop by 40% to $6.5M lifting the mammoth cume to $584M.
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LAST YEAR Warner Bros. got off to a rocky start with its new super hero franchise with the 3D actioner Green Lantern which bowed on top with $53.2M coming in below expectations. The Hal Jordan flick went on to reach just $116.6M domestically and $222M worldwide finishing last among the summer's four-pack of comic book pics. The sci-fi tween drama Super 8 held up well in its second weekend and took second with $21.5M. Jim Carrey's kidpic Mr. Popper's Penguins debuted in third with $18.4M on its way to $68.2M. Rounding out the top five were X-Men: First Class and The Hangover Part II with $11.9M and $10.1M, respectively.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: June 14, 2012 at 12:45PM ET
Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.