Weekend offers a "Race" to the summer finish line

Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:55pm EDT
 
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Box-office grosses will start to fade this weekend as inevitably as a summer tan.

The comparable period from 2007 rung up less than $109 million, the second-smallest tally of the box-office season. A similarly underwhelming industry performance is likely this weekend, even with four new titles hitting the marketplace in wide release.

Still, one of the market entrants is well positioned to capture the flag of the summer's penultimate box-office session, thanks to relatively weak competition from new releases and holdovers alike. "Death Race," Universal's remake of the 1975 thriller "Death Race 2000," will try to go for the gold -- supported primarily by young male moviegoers -- with a bow in the mid- to high-teen millions.

DreamWorks/Paramount's R-rated comedy "Tropic Thunder" could drop as much as 50 percent or so from its chart-topping opening session. That could find it fetching less than $13 million this weekend while still potentially competing for second place.

But Sony's PG-13 comedy "The House Bunny," starring Anna Faris ("Scary Movie"), also looks likely for the low-teen millions and could outpace "Tropic" if its grosses climb into the midteens, mostly on interest from young females.

Warner Bros.' box-office behemoth "The Dark Knight" likely will finish third or fourth during its sixth frame, with $10 million or so. But two additional wide openers look unlikely to make it out of the single-digit millions.

Rated PG, the Ice Cube/Keke Palmer-starring "The Longshots" -- a family football tale from MGM and Dimension directed by rocker-turned-helmer Fred Durst -- hasn't shown much strength in prerelease tracking. But the topliner usually can deliver at least middle-single-digit millions from his core fan base alone, so a late surge of interest in the film could see it climb just a bit higher during its opening frame.

Fox's PG-13 comedy "The Rocker" might need five days to reach a similar range. Having earned some positive early buzz, the Rainn Wilson-starring comedy unspooled Wednesday to stimulate additional word-of-mouth, but its first-day tally was just $600,000.   Continued...