De Niro and Pacino eye killing at box office

Thu Sep 11, 2008 9:55pm EDT
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - A week after the box office sank to its lowest level in five years, sales should rebound significantly this weekend with five wide openers, including a thriller starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.

"Righteous Kill," a rare pairing of the longtime A-listers, is a consensus favorite -- though no sure shot -- to top the weekend with an opening in the mid- to high-teen millions. The cop thriller, directed by Jon Avnet, comes from Overture Films, the indie studio behind the arthouse hit "The Visitor."

"We targeted the older male audience, and it looks like they're going to come," Overture marketing chief Peter Adee said. "From the tracking, it looks like the younger males are going to come as well."

Women could be another matter, given the presence of more female-friendly openers among the competition. Overture executives hope the usual appeal of Pacino and De Niro with older women will prompt a late surge in date-night support for "Kill."

The most obvious first choice for women -- Picturehouse's remake of the comedy "The Women" -- looks unlikely to vie for an upper rung in the weekend rankings. "Women" is a swan-song release for Picturehouse, which Warner Bros. is shuttering as the studio largely abandons the specialty-film business.

The likeliest competitor "Kill" will have to fend off for the session's crown appears to be the Coen brothers' comedy "Burn After Reading" from Focus Features and Working Title. Prerelease tracking indicates an opening in the mid-teen millions or higher, which would give Focus its biggest opening.

The first-weekend tally for "Burn" will depend on critical praise more than any of the other new releases. Early reviews have been mostly positive but hardly raves for the filmmakers' first release since their best picture Oscar winner "No Country for Old Men."

Tyler Perry's "The Family That Preys" from Lionsgate is a notable wild card in this weekend's mix of wide openers. Tracking indicates that a robust moviegoing weekend could see "Family" opening near the $21.4 million bow by Perry's "Why Did I Get Married?" in October.   Continued...

<p>Robert De Niro and Al Pacino (R) arrive for the premiere of the film "Righteous Kill" in New York September 10, 2008. REUTERS/Keith Bedford</p>