Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 08-08-11

“Final Destination 5” – In Theaters August 12th

“Final Destination 5” – In Theaters August 12th

Ellen Wroe as Candice Hooper in “Final Destination 5”

Ellen Wroe as Candice Hooper in “Final Destination 5”

Jesse Eisenberg as Nick in “30 Minutes or Less”

Jesse Eisenberg as Nick in “30 Minutes or Less”

Director Ruben Fleischer on the set of “30 Minutes or Less” – In Theaters August 12th

Director Ruben Fleischer on the set of “30 Minutes or Less” – In Theaters August 12th

After “Apes:” Is there life after “Apes?”

Well, don’t expect anything too lively at this weekend’s boxoffice, considering the soft tracking scores for all four new wide releases. None of them are likely to be aping the high climbing success of Fox and Chernin Entertainment’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”

The best of the bunch, according to researchers, are DreamWorks and Disney’s PG-13 rated drama “The Help” and Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema’s R rated 3D horror thriller “Final Destination 5.” But even with these we’re not talking about impressive first choice scores.

The weekend’s weaker contenders are Fox’s PG rated “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie” and Columbia’s R rated action comedy “30 Minutes or Less,” whose scores have only been in low single digits.

Those numbers may improve a bit by the time they open, but there’s no reason to expect anything too exciting. On the other hand, if all four pictures connect with their target audiences they could add up to decent enough business for mid-August.

Historically, August was Hollywood’s summer dumping ground for films that just weren’t good enough to launch during the prime weekends of June and July. In recent years, however, the studios have realized that early August still allows for enough lucrative summer playing time to generate blockbuster business.

That’s exactly what Fox has achieved with its $93 million production “Apes.” Its launch to about $54 million was a good $20 million more than insiders were anticipating based on its tracking. Fox’s marketing plus good reviews and favorable word of mouth added up to simian success and “Apes” is ending this summer on a blockbuster note that’s music to theatre owners’ ears.

Meanwhile, the best we can say about this weekend’s four new contenders is that they’ll benefit from appealing to different demos.

“Help’s” been tracking in double digits with over-25 females familiar with the best-selling book it’s based on by Kathryn Stockett set in 1960s Mississippi. It’s tracking best with adult female African-American moviegoers. If that audience isn’t fully reflected in its tracking scores, it could open with more boxoffice impact than anticipated.

By launching “Help” this Wednesday at about 2,500 theatres instead of waiting until Friday, Disney is betting it can generate favorable word of mouth and positive reviews. If so, that increased awareness should help boost its weekend ticket sales.

“Final” is the fifth in a successful but second-tier horror franchise that’s grossed nearly $221 million since 2000. It’s been tracking about equally well with under-25 males and females and having two demos to draw on is always a good thing.

With “Final” opening in some 3,100 theatres, it’s got the advantage of being the weekend’s widest newcomer. Plus, it’s in 3D and IMAX, which is well suited to its storyline about a suspension bridge collapsing.

“30 Minutes,” starring Jesse Eisenberg in his first post-“The Social Network” appearance on screen, is kicking off at about 2,600 theatres. It’s a bank robbery action comedy that’s only been tracking well with under-25 males. And that’s not great news since those fanboys are also wanting to see “Final.” Worse yet, their girlfriends want to see “Final,” but they’re not really interested in “30 Minutes.” If young girls drag their boyfriends to “Final,” that spells trouble for “30 Minutes.”

The TV series spin-off feature “Glee” is a concert documentary in 3D that’s opening at about 1,800 theatres. It’s tracking best with under-25 females, but they’re not wildly excited about seeing it. It should help that the PG rated “Glee” will play to younger females than “Final” will with its R rating (no under-17s without adults).

The only demo not accounted for by this weekend’s new titles is over-25 males. But, no worries, they can still catch up with Universal, DreamWorks and Relativity Media’s under-achieving western/sci-fi mash-up “Cowboys & Aliens.” “Cowboys,” which cost $163 million, is tracking best with older males. It slid about 57 percent in its second weekend and has a cume now of about $67 million.

As for moms with kids, they’ve got a big PG rated hit on their radar now with Columbia and Sony Pictures Animation’s 3D family comedy “The Smurfs.” In its second weekend it was only off 41 percent and it’s already grossed over $76 million. Those little blue guys will be wreaking havoc on multiplex screens for many weeks to come!

Bottom line: Everybody’s the target this weekend, but instead of one huge opening with broad playability we’ve got four openings targeted to different demos.