The third week of the summer movie season asks us the question “Is the Shrek franchise as popular as it once was?” Shrek Forever After should have an easy time making its way to the top of the box office, while another new release hopes to break a trend of bad SNL films. Here’s how I see the weekend breaking down:
Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas all return to lend their voices to Shrek Forever After. It is being billed as the final chapter, and is also the first Shrek movie to be released in 3D. This time Shrek gets in trouble because he is bored with his life. To have one day of adventure, he signs away a day of his life to Rumpelstiltskin in order to relive things that made him happy. Unfortunately for Shrek, the agreement that he signed with Rumpelstiltskin was a trick, and the little man now rules all of Far Far Away, and Rumpelstiltskin has created an alternate universe where Shrek and Fiona have never met, Shrek and Donkey have never met, and ogres are outlawed. I think the Shrek franchise is not as popular as it once was. A contributing factor to this is how disliked the third entry in the franchise was. There’s no denying that the Shrek films do big box office. Here are the opening weekends for the three entries in the franchise:
2001 – Shrek – $42.3 million opening weekend
2004 – Shrek 2 – $108 million opening weekend
2007 – Shrek the Third – $121 million opening weekend
I really do think that the third film has killed the popularity, and I have my doubts that Shrek Forever After will crack $100 million. Reviews for Shrek Forever After have been mixed, with Rotten Tomatoes currently listing the film at 47%. The consensus is that it is better than the third one, so that should help. The fact is that this weekend, people will go out and see this film no matter what the critics think. It’s getting the 4th largest opening weekend theatre count in history with 4,359, and with the 1h33m running time, it hopes to fit in a lot of screening each day. Add into that the higher cost of seeing the film in 3D, and it should get do all right. I’m still not sold that it is going to do business over $100 million on its opening. It’s just a gut feeling I have. My prediction for Shrek Forever After is that it will have an opening weekend gross of $92 million and a 1st place finish.
The other new release this weekend is the SNL sketch turned feature length film MacGruber. The film stars Will Forte as MacGruber who is out to save the world from the evil Dieter von Cunth played by Val Kilmer. MacGruber teams up with Kristen Wiig and Ryan Phillippe and together the three of them look to stop Dieter from detonating a nuclear warhead. The sketch is pretty one note, and everyone knows how the sketches end each time. So the question is, can a one-note sketch with the same outcome each time make a great movie? The answer apparently is yes. As of this writing, MacGruber has a 79% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes (from only 14 reviews). It’s incredibly tough to predict how this film will do, because SNL films usually are not the most popular, and do not open well. Also, there has not been a SNL film based on a character from Saturday Night Live in quite awhile. Here are some opening weekend grosses for SNL based films:
2000 – The Ladies Man – $5.4 million opening weekend
1999 – Superstar – $8.9 million opening weekend
1998 – A Night at the Roxbury – $9.6 million opening weekend
1993 – Wayne’s World 2 – $13.5 million opening weekend
1993 – Coneheads – $7.1 million opening weekend
1992 – Wayne’s World – $18.1 million opening weekend
Average opening weekend gross = $10.43 million
Another comparable film for MacGruber is Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery as it is in the same vein of being an action comedy and it starred an SNL man in the lead. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery opened with $9.5 million back in 1997. Getting back to the SNL films, the average listed above is actually around where I think MacGruber will open. The stars have been out promoting it hard, and there just seems to be some good buzz about the film. I think it will have a longer run with the good word of mouth, even though the opening weekend will not be that great. Opening in 2,551 theatres, I’m predicting that MacGruber will gross $11 million and finish in 4th place.
With Shrek Forever After and MacGruber both making the top five, I’m predicting that Just Wright and How to Train Your Dragon will not even be close to being in the top five group. (Just Wright leaves the top five in its 2nd weekend while How to Train Your Dragon leaves the top five in its 9th weekend). Here’s how I see rest of the top five shaping up:
Iron Man 2 will have the biggest drop in the top five as I’m predicting a fall of 57% in its third weekend. The fact of the matter is that audiences do not love Iron Man 2 as much as the first Iron Man. The 57% drop will give it a gross of $22.36 million and a 2nd place finish.
I’m predicting that Robin Hood will drop to 3rd place this week. The film is really the only adult movie in theatres right now, and despite the mixed reviews, I think older audiences are intrigued about the story of the famous Scotsman and his origin to become the leader who lived in Sherwood Forest. I’m predicting a drop of 46%, which will give Robin Hood a gross of $19.44 million.
Dropping from 3rd place to 5th place will be Letters to Juliet. The film got decent reviews, and it really is the only option for female audiences in theatres right now. There has been some good word-of-mouth on the film, and it’s a nice light film for a summer weekend. I’m predicting a 37% drop and a gross of $8.5 million.
Opening in limited release, we have the following films:
Racing Dreams – this documentary follows three youngsters who drive go-karts but have big dreams of making it in Nascar. It is being released in 33 theatres and has a 100% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Solitary Man – this film reunites Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito and is about a car mogul whose life is crashing around him. It is being released in 4 theatres and has an 86% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
After the Cup: Sons of Sakhnin United – this is a documentary about soccer in Israel. It is being released in 1 theatre and has a 71% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Perrier’s Bounty – this film stars Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson (who I think are two of the best actors in film today) in a film about a man who is on the run from a gangster loan shark. It is being released in 1 theatre and has a 50% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
John Rabe – this film is a drama about a German businessman who helped save over 200,000 lives during the Nanking Massacre in China. It does not have an official theatre count and has a 69% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Holy Rollers – this film stars Jesse Eisenberg and is about a drug mule who is also a Hasidic Jew. It does not have an official theatre count and has a 50% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Two in the Wave – this is a documentary about two of the most influential directors of the French New Wave: Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut. It does not have an official theatre count and has a 44% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Father of My Children – this film is being released in 1 theatre and does not have a rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
So to recap, here are my predictions:
- Shrek Forever After – $92 million
- Iron Man 2 – $22.36 million
- Robin Hood – $19.44 million
- MacGruber – $11 million
- Letters to Juliet – $8.5 million
Remember to check back on Sunday to see how I did!