Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 08-22-11

Zoe Saldana as Cataleya Restrepo in “Colombiana”

Zoe Saldana as Cataleya Restrepo in “Colombiana”

“Colombiana” – In Theaters August 26th

“Colombiana” – In Theaters August 26th

Katie Holmes and Bailee Madison in “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”

Katie Holmes and Bailee Madison in “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”

Dog days: They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb — and you can say the same thing about the summer boxoffice.

These dog days of summer are a far cry from the exciting May and early June weekends that brought us blockbusters like “Thor,” “Bridesmaids,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “The Hangover Part II” and “X-Men: First Class.”

This weekend’s trio of wide openings are all tracking in mid-single digits and aren’t expected to set the boxoffice on fire.

TriStar’s PG-13 action thriller acquisition “Colombiana,” which reportedly cost $40 million, is opening at about 2,500 theatres. Its first choice tracking isn’t great, but it’s been doing equally well with under-25 males and over-25 females.

“Colombiana’s” unusual combination of demos probably reflects the fanboys’ passion for Zoe Saldana (“Avatar”) as a beautiful butt-kicking assassin and adult females’ interest in the film’s back story about a young girl who sees her parents murdered and grows up to work for her uncle as a hired killer.

Under-25 women are the least interested in “Colombiana,” but adult men are only a few steps behind the fanboys.

Where “Colombiana” shows some real strength is with two key ethnic demos. It’s a big first choice with African-Americans and an encouraging first choice with Hispanic audiences. They’re both great demos to appeal to because they do a lot of moviegoing.

The Weinstein Company’s comedy “Our Idiot Brother,” starring Paul Rudd (“Dinner for Schmucks”), is tracking a little better than “Colombiana” as an overall first choice. Its strongest appeal is to under-25 females and its next best demo is under-25 males. It’s not a big first choice for males or females over-25.

“Brother,” opening at 2,000 theatres, is the latest in a string of R rated summer comedies. After sizzling ticket sales from “Bridesmaids,” “Hangover II” and “Horrible Bosses,” the genre’s cooled off lately with under-performers like “30 Minutes or Less,” “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and “The Change-Up.” Given “Brother’s” tracking, don’t expect to see that trend reversed.

Rounding out this crowded weekend is Film District’s R rated horror thriller pick-up “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” starring Katie Holmes (“Thank You for Smoking”) and Guy Pearce (“The King’s Speech”), opening at about 2,400 theatres.

“Dark’s” been tracking weaker than the other newcomers. Its strongest showing is with under-25 females, who are typically the core audience for horror thrillers. Unfortunately, it’s got competition for those young girls from “Brother” and both films are tracking equally well with them. Even though one’s a comedy and one’s a horror thriller, it’s not great news that they’re splitting one demo.

On the other hand, “Dark” reportedly only cost $12.5 million to produce and you can bet Film District paid a lot less to pick it up — so it doesn’t need to break the boxoffice bank to recoup.

That’s also true of “Conan the Barbarian,” which Lionsgate opened in fourth place to about $10 million last weekend. Hollywood handicappers were projecting a $15 million to $18 million launch. “Conan” was made by Nu Image, reportedly for $90 million, but Lionsgate is said to have only paid $25 million for North American and U.K. distribution rights (plus marketing costs, of course).

Between theatrical grosses that might get to $25 million and revenues from video-on-demand, digital downloads, DVD/Blu-ray and sales to pay and free TV, Lionsgate probably won’t get hurt.

DreamWorks and Disney, on the other hand, are looking at a neat upside with “The Help,” which mopped up in first place with about $20.5 million. “Help” fell only about 21 percent. It’s grossed nearly $72 million after two weeks in theatres and is clearly on track to do over $100 million as word of mouth continues to build. Plus, it’s already generating an early best picture Oscar buzz.

Bottom line: Three’s a boxoffice crowd this weekend, but don’t expect to see big crowds.