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Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 07-18-11


 
“Friends with Benefits” – In Theaters July 22nd

“Friends with Benefits” – In Theaters July 22nd

On the set of “Friends with Benefits”

On the set of “Friends with Benefits”

“Captain America: The First Avenger” &ndash In Theaters July 22nd

“Captain America: The First Avenger” &ndash In Theaters July 22nd

Chris Evans as Captain America in “Captain America: The First Avenger”

Chris Evans as Captain America in “Captain America: The First Avenger”

“Captain’s” competition: When we talk about a movie’s competition we usually have in mind what’s opening against it, but sometimes there’s even more to worry about.

Case in point: Paramount and Marvel Studios’ “Captain America: The First Avenger,” which would top next weekend’s boxoffice if only it weren’t for last weekend’s uber-blockbuster “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.“

With Warner Bros.’ record setting opening “Hallows” to over $168 million, even if it falls 60 percent or so in weekend two it will still finish first with $65 million or more. “Hallows” should benefit from favorable word of mouth given its 97 percent fresh rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and, according to Warner Bros., its overall A rating from moviegoers polled by the marketing research firm CinemaScore.

“Captain’s” tracking nicely as a first choice in the low double digits, but that”s not enough to put it close to $65 million. It should, however, finish a solid second.

At this point, “Captain,” directed by Joe Johnston (“The Wolfman”) and starring Chris Evans (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”), is tracking slightly better than “Bad Teacher” was when it opened to about $32 million and a little less than “X-Men: First Class” was doing when it kicked off to $55 million.

While “Hallows” is the eighth and final episode in a franchise that’s already grossed about $2.2 billion domestically (including this episode’s opening weekend), “Captain” is the first in what Paramount and Marvel hope will evolve into a franchise. With its roots in a 1940s comic book, it’s no wonder “Captain’s” tracking much better with males than with females.

As you’d expect from a comic book driven movie, its under-25 male (fanboys) and over-25 male (former fanboys) first choice scores are nearly identical in the low double digits. As for women, “Captain’s” under-25 and over-25 female numbers are much lower right now, which limits its playability unless women start to discover the film and begin spreading favorable word of mouth.

Next weekend’s other wide opening, Screen Gems and Castle Rock Entertainment’s R rated romantic comedy “Friends With Benefits,” is tracking about 40 percent below “Captain” as a first choice. Its strongest scores are with under-25 females, for whom its sex-with-no-emotional-ties storyline resonates most. Directed by Will Gluck (“Easy A”), it stars Justin Timberlake (“The Social Network”) and Mila Kunis (“The Muppets”).

“Friends” unfortunately is following in the recent footsteps of another R rated romantic comedy about casual sex — “No Strings Attached,” from Paramount and Spyglass Entertainment. Directed by Ivan Reitman (“Ghostbusters”), it starred Natalie Portman (“Black Swan” and Ashton Kutcher (“Killers”).

“No Strings” opened Jan. 21 to $19.7 million and went on to gross $70.7 million domestically and about $77 million more internationally, which was quite nice considering that its budget was reportedly just $25 million.

“No Strings,” however, opened with a first choice tracking almost twice as big as what “Friends” has. While it mirrored “Friends” in terms of demographic appeal, “No Strings” had much greater strength with under-25 females than “Friends” is showing.

Bottom line: Next weekend’s biggest boxoffice footprint will belong to “Harry Potter.”