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Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 05-31-11


 
DF-12486 Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) tells his mutant cohort Emma Frost (January Jones) about his plans to ignite a nuclear war. Photo: Murray Close TM and ©2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

DF-12486 Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) tells his mutant cohort Emma Frost (January Jones) about his plans to ignite a nuclear war. Photo: Murray Close TM and ©2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

XMFC-101 January Jones is Emma Frost, a telepath who possesses a diamond-like skin that is indestructible. Photo: Murray Close TM and ©2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

XMFC-101 January Jones is Emma Frost, a telepath who possesses a diamond-like skin that is indestructible. Photo: Murray Close TM and ©2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

123_ce0030_comp_v021.1044_21601_R January Jones is Emma Frost a telepath who possesses a diamond-like skin that can cut through glass. Photo: Murray Close TM and ©2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

123_ce0030_comp_v021.1044_21601_R January Jones is Emma Frost a telepath who possesses a diamond-like skin that can cut through glass. Photo: Murray Close TM and ©2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

X-pectations: With the boxoffice back on track after a five month slump, Hollywood expects to maintain that momentum with “X-Men: First Class.”

The fifth episode in 20th Century Fox and Marvel’s PG-13 franchise opens Friday in a marketplace that’s suddenly sizzling with ticket sales. After being down 12 percent for the year, the boxoffice is already looking better with an 8 percent decline that it should be able to reverse in the coming weeks.

But the hot marketplace means the mutants have their work cut out for them. They must battle the R-rated bad boys and gross-out girls of Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ “The Hangover 2” and Universal and Relativity Media’s “Bridesmaids.” And they’ve got competition for the PG-13 audience from week three of Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer Films’ “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”

That’s pretty stiff competition since “Hangover 2” just hauled in nearly $140 million, helping to make this the biggest ever Memorial Day weekend. “Bridesmaids” had a modest drop — really, the only modest thing about this film — of about 20 percent and has a very sexy cume of about $90 million after three weeks.

It doesn’t help that many moviegoers who were older teens when “X-Men” originated in 2000 are now young parents and could be torn between seeing “X” or taking their kids to DreamWorks Animation and Paramount’s animated 3D “Kung Fu Panda 2.”

“Panda 2” sold $68 million worth of tickets over its extended holiday weekend opening. It’s the most likely choice for parents bringing little kids since they’ve probably already seen Fox’s 3D animated “Rio,” which grossed $135 million-plus in its first seven week.

The good news is that “X” is tracking nicely, but it’s only doing about half as well as “Hangover 2” did. While “X” marks the sweet spot for males under and over 25, there’s less excitement from younger and older females. However, it’s still a double digits first choice for them.

Looking back at the “X“ franchise, it’s hard to know what to expect since none of the previous episodes’ openings parallel this one in terms of timing and none of them had to deal with as strong competition.

The first “X-Men” had a mid-summer opening to $75.9 million on July 14, 2000. That weekend’s second place film was Miramax’s horror comedy “Scary Movie” with $38.4 million.

The franchise’s second episode, “X2: X-Men United,” was a pre-summer release that opened to $107.6 million on May 2, 2003. Second place went to Disney’s family adventure “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” with $19.3 million.

Episode three, “X-Men: The Last Stand,” arrived May 26, 2006 to kick off Memorial Day weekend with a chart topping $122.9 million for four days. “Stand’s” closest competition was Sony’s adult appeal drama “The DaVinci Code” with $42.4 million in its second weekend.

The fourth episode, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” launched the pre-summer season on May 1,2009 with $85.1 million and had no real competition. It was a long way down to second place and New Line’s $15.4 million opening of the romantic comedy “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.”

So, basically, “X-Men” has never been up against significant competition before. If “Hangover 2” slides 55 percent from its three day gross of roughly $86 million, it will do about $39 million this weekend. If “Panda” drops 60 percent from its three day total of roughly $48 million, it will do around $19 million this weekend. If “Pirates” falls 55 percent from its three day take of roughly $40 million, it will do about $18 million. That adds up to about $76 million in ticket sales and is pretty stiff competition for “X.”

Of course, what represents “stiff competition” for “X” is music to theatre owners ears. Proving once again that this is a product driven business, having so many strong competitors in the marketplace means people are back going to the movies after staying home throughout the winter and spring watching Blu-rays and Netflixes on their flat panel TV’s. If you were in any multiplex parking lots over Memorial Day weekend you had to notice they were far busier than they’ve been in months.

They’re likely to stay that way, too, considering the product on deck for June, July and early August. The boxoffice sure-shots look like: Disney and Pixar’s 3D animated “Cars 2” (the first “Cars” did $244.1 million domestically in 2006); Paramount and Hasbro’s 3D sci-fi adventure “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (the original “Transformers” grossed $319.2 million in 2007 and the second, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” did $402.1 million in 2009); Columbia and Mosaic Media Group’s R rated comedy “Bad Teacher” (more girls-behaving-badly with Cameron Diaz); Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment’s 3D sci-fi adventure “Green Lantern” (superhero comic book roots plus franchise launching marketing usually equals big grosses); and Warner Bros. and Heyday Films’ 3D fantasy adventure “Harry Potter & the Deadly Hallows, Part 2” (who doesn’t want to find out how it all ends?).

There also are high hopes for a half-dozen originals, including: Paramount and Amblin Entertainment’s sci-fi thriller “Super 8” (from writer-director J.J. Abrams, who rebooted Paramount’s “Star Trek” franchise in 2009); Screen Gems and Castle Rock Entertainment’s romantic comedy “Friends With Benefits” (sex sells, especially with Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake); Universal, DreamWorks and Reliance Big Entertainment’s sci-fi action thriller “Cowboys & Aliens” (from Jon Favreau, director of “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2”); Warner Bros.’ romantic comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love” (Steve Carrell’s back and the buzz is that it’s funny); Universal and Playtone Productions’ romantic dramedy “Larry Crowne” (Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts in the summer’s big film for adults); and Universal and Relativity Media’s young adult comedy “The Change-Up” (more guys-behaving-badly from “Wedding Crashers” director David Dobkin and “The Hangover” writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore).

Bottom line: The good news is that bad behavior on screen is sparking a summer boxoffice turnaround that should have great legs.