Hollywood looks for Wednesday heat at box office

Wed Aug 6, 2008 7:49pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Wednesday's child may be full of woe, but for Hollywood's summer movie season, a Wednesday launch date is seen as potentially full of cash.

A flurry of films arriving in North American theaters between now and September are opening on a Wednesday -- long considered a moviegoing dead zone -- as studios seek to build early buzz for movies ahead of the traditional Friday dash to the multiplex.

Two of the latest examples of this trend are "Pineapple Express," a marijuana-stoked comedy starring Seth Rogen from Sony Pictures Entertainment, and "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2," a female-bonding drama from Warner Bros.

Both opened Wednesday bolstered by mostly positive reviews and, according to executives of the two distributors, good feedback from audiences at test screenings.

"We look at these first two days, today and tomorrow, as being almost like sneak previews for the weekend," said Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. "In the middle of summertime, when all the kids are out of school and everybody's available, it's just a way of expanding the weekend a little bit."

In the case of "The Sisterhood" sequel, Warner was inspired in part by the success of two other young female-oriented films that opened on a Wednesday -- Walt Disney Co.'s "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement" in 2004 and "Freaky Friday" in 2003, Goldstein said.

Studios also have been emboldened by the steady strength of the "The Dark Knight." While topping the box office chart three weekends in a row, the Batman sequel also has drawn ample movie audiences on days other than Friday through Sunday.

"The mid-week business this summer has been tremendous," said Jeff Blake, vice chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.   Continued...

<p>Blake Lively and America Ferrera (R), stars of the film "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2", pose during a portrait session in New York in this July 27, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Keith Bedford/Files</p>