"Get Smart," "Love Guru" compete for laughs

Fri Jun 20, 2008 12:18pm EDT
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Oh, we've got comedy. "Get Smart" and "The Love Guru" will open in North American theaters on Friday, saddled with middling to bad buzz, and the result could make the weekend no laughing matter for at least one of them.

"Get Smart" -- the big-screen adaptation of the classic TV show -- looks likely to top the weekend rankings with ticket sales of $30 million-$35 million. The $80 million film, which stars Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway, is a co-production between Warner Bros. and Australia's Village Roadshow. The two previously partnered on the recent bomb "Speed Racer."

Paramount's Mike Myers spoof "The Love Guru" should conjure about $20 million, finishing third after a second-weekend haul of $25 million or so for Universal's incumbent champion "The Incredible Hulk."

Paramount has been subjected to industry snickering for deciding to release its $60 million comedy at the same time as the clearly stronger "Get Smart." But though Warners is operating from a position of strength, even its willingness to stick with its first-choice date has many suggesting that the situation is less than ideal for either studio.

"The thought was always, 'When is one of these two pictures going to move?"' a rival distribution boss said. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that they're going to hurt each other and that one of them is going to do better than the other."

Paramount executives said their film's lower cost and a crowded summer schedule make such concerns much ado about something that little could be done about. Additionally, the studio shared the financial burden with independent producer Spyglass.

Myers hasn't appeared onscreen in six years. His biggest live-action bow remains "Austin Powers in Goldmember," which debuted with $73.1 million in July 2002. "The Love Guru" has drawn fire -- some might say free publicity -- from activist groups claiming that its mocking of a phony-baloney Indian spiritual leader treads heavily on Hindi religious sensitivities.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

<p>Cast member Mike Myers gestures at the premiere of "The Love Guru" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California June 11, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>