"Tropic Thunder" set to dethrone Batman

Fri Aug 15, 2008 12:51am EDT
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - There's likely to be a bit of mayhem both on movie screens and in the box-office rankings this weekend.

"Tropic Thunder," an R-rated comedy from DreamWorks/Paramount, unspooled Wednesday to maximize late-summer . But it did so with just a smattering of midnight showtimes, compared with the hundreds of witching-hour screenings that helped Sony's "Pineapple Express" to a $12 million-plus first day a week ago.

"Tropic" grossed about $6.5 million in its first day, but studio executives claim that the feature, directed by and starring Ben Stiller, remains capable of a five-day opening close to the $41 million haul by "Pineapple." They suggested that, compared with the Sony release, "Tropic" will earn more of its first-week gross during the weekend. DreamWorks/Paramount insiders project that "Tropic" -- a farcically violent war movie-within-a-comedy -- will post a Friday-through-Sunday gross of about $25 million, compared with "Pineapple's" $23 million first-weekend take.

Such a performance likely would knock Warner Bros.' "The Dark Knight" from its four-week roost atop the domestic box office. The Batman sequel is expected to fall 40 percent to 45 percent from last weekend's $26 million tally to ring up $14 million or more, a performance likely to deliver only a bronze medal for the weekend.

Another new film -- Warners' animated feature "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" -- could reach north of $20 million with the support of the franchise's fan base and smaller-fry patrons accompanied by parents. Such a performance likely would be good enough for the weekend's silver medal.

Fox/New Regency's Kiefer Sutherland-starring horror film "Mirrors" should open in the double-digit millions and is likely to grab the fourth rung in weekend rankings.

"Pineapple" should pick up another $12 million or more during the weekend, for a sophomore ranking of fifth place or thereabouts.

Yet another weekend debutant -- Woody Allen's well-reviewed "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," from MGM and the Weinstein Co. -- unspools in more than 700 locations and likely will reach well into the single-digit millions.   Continued...

<p>Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black in a scene from "Tropic Thunder". REUTERS/DreamWorks Pictures/Handout</p>