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Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 03-28-11


 
Greg (Zachary Gordon, center) meets up with pals Rowley (Robert Capron, left), Fregley (Grayson Russell) and Chirag (Karan Brar). Photo by: Diyah Pera TM and ©2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

Greg (Zachary Gordon, center) meets up with pals Rowley (Robert Capron, left), Fregley (Grayson Russell) and Chirag (Karan Brar). Photo by: Diyah Pera TM and ©2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

DF-12638 Emma Frost (January Jones) and Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) are powerful mutants scheming to trigger a nuclear war that will result in the demise of humanity – and the ascension of mutants. Photo: Murray Close TM and ©2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

DF-12638 Emma Frost (January Jones) and Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) are powerful mutants scheming to trigger a nuclear war that will result in the demise of humanity – and the ascension of mutants. Photo: Murray Close TM and ©2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

Michael Bay on the set of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

Michael Bay on the set of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

Franchise front: It was another soft weekend at the boxoffice and we’ve seen too many of them this year.

Ticket sales fell about 7 percent, which is better than the 9 percent decline the weekend of Mar. 18-20 or the 12 percent drop the weekend of Mar. 11-13. Of course, those dips aren’t so bad compared to the 33 percent plunge the weekend of Mar. 4-6 when we were looking back to last year’s $116 million launch of “Alice in Wonderland.”

What accounts for the lackluster ticket sales? Well, this year’s product has been almost entirely originals and moviegoers just haven’t sparked to them in a big way. What’s been missing are franchise films or even familiar titles like “Alice” that people recognize. That’s a big part of the problem.

Actually, last weekend’s number one film, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules,” is one of only two franchise films to surface so far this year. The other one, “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son,” didn’t turn things around when it opened Feb. 18 in fifth place to just $16.3 million. “Wimpy 2,” at least, kicked off in first place to over $24 million, which looks good considering what else is out there now.

Fortunately, there are some familiar franchises on deck this summer and they should play a part in reversing the year’s downward spiral.

Here’s a look at what’s ahead on the summer franchise front:

Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” sets sail May 20 with Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz on board, Jerry Bruckheimer producing and Rob Marshall directing.

Warner Bros.’ “The Hangover, Part II” awakens May 26, reteaming Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis with director Todd Phillips.

May 26 also sees DreamWorks and Paramount’s 3D animated sequel “Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom,” starring the voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman and Angelina Jolie.

X marks the spot June 3 with Fox’s launch of “X-Men: First Class,” directed by Matthew Vaughn and starring James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender.

Disney is back in the driver’s seat June 24 with Pixar’s 3D animated “Cars 2,” starring such voices as Tony Shalhoub, Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy.

DreamWorks and Paramount’s 3D fantasy adventure “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” explodes July 1, starring Shia LaBeouf and John Malkovich.

Warner Bros. opens the last of its “Harry Potter” episodes, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II” July 15, reteaming Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson with director David Yates.

Fox’s “Planet of the Apes” prequel “Rise of the Apes” opens Aug. 5, starring James Franco and Freida Pinto, directed by Rupert Wyatt.

Lionsgate’s 3D fantasy adventure “Conan the Barbarian” hits theatres Aug. 19, starring Jason Momoa, directed by Marcus Nispel.

Disney’s horror thriller “Fright Night 3D” checks in Aug. 19, starring Colin Farrell and Anton Yelchin, directed by Craig Gillespie.

The Weinstein Company and Dimension Films’ 3D action adventure “Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World” arrives Aug .19, starring Jessica Alba and Joel McHale, directed by Robert Rodriguez.

Warner Bros. and New Line’s 3D horror thriller “Final Destination 5” opens Aug. 26, starring Emma Bell and Nicholas D’Agosto, directed by Steven Quale.

Bottom line: If these franchises work and some of the high profile originals coming into the marketplace also perform well – like “The Green Lantern,” “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Bad Teacher” — we could be looking at a much healthier boxoffice.