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Movie projector: 'Couples Retreat' could bring Universal much needed good news

After a brutal summer at the box office that contributed to the ouster Monday of co-chairmen David Linde and Marc Shmuger, Universal has a clear run at the box office and a potential hit on its hands.

The romantic comedy "Couples Retreat," the only film opening in wide release tomorrow, is tracking to sell between $25 million and $30 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada, according to people who have seen pre-release audience polling. That would be a solid, if not spectacular, start given the film's cost. A person involved in "Couples Retreat" said it cost at least $70 million to produce, though Universal said the production budget was about $60 million.

Since April's "Fast and Furious," the studio has seen eight consecutive movies it distributed and marketed domestically -- including "Land of the Lost," "Funny People" and "Love Happens" -- perform poorly at the box office. On the plus side, Universal also owns 50% of the successful Weinstein Co. release "Inglourious Basterds," which it handled overseas.

Universal owns 75% of "Couples Retreat," which co-stars and was co-written by Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn. Relativity Media covered the other 25% of the movie's budget.

The weekend's other big story will be "Paranormal Activity." After two very successful weeks screening only in midnight shows at 33 locations, the ultra-low-budget horror flick will expand to 159 tomorrow and play at all hours of the day. The film is on track to gross more than $2 million, a strong number for a such a limited release. If it performs that well or better, Paramount will likely continue to expand it around the country.

"Paranormal Activity" has been marketed primarily through an online viral campaign, although Paramount has started to buy radio and cable television ads recently.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Jon Favreau, from left, Malin Ackerman, Vince Vaughn, Faizon Love and Kristin Davis in "Couples Retreat." Credit: John Johnson / Universal Pictures

Comments () | Archives (8)

I just don't know if this is going to get the box office returns you'd think given the cast. I don't know many people who are excited to run out and see this movie this weekend. But then again, it could just be my age group isn't the target demographic. Not many 22 year olds want to go on a couples retreat. It seems to be getting pretty good reviews, based on this site: http://moviereviewintelligence.com/index.aspx?RID=622

Doesn't look that good. The trailers aren't grabbing me. I think I'll go see Zombieland.

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Good reviews? I checked yesterday, I believe, and it was at 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. It looks like the same old comedy routine we got used to 10 years ago. I'm seeing 'A Serious Man.'

Memo to Universal execs (oh yeah...the ones who greenlit this got fired this week...but I digress): PG-13 rated comedy is out. R rated comedy is in.

"Couples Retreat" is an R rated premise on paper with 3 male leads (Vaughn/Favreau/Faizon Love) whose comedic tastes flow on the R rated side of the fence but the end result is PG-13. That's what's going to kill this movie. The worst thing Uni did for this movie was to appeal its original R rating.

"pretty good reviews" ?
Dude, it's on 8% on Rottentomatoes.com

I hope this movie shrivels up and dies.
It really hurts me to see Jon stoop to this after Iron Man.

ok so me and the lady went to go see Chris Rocks "GOOD HAIR" but it only got limited releas, soooo I wanted to see Zombieland due to all the good reviews online and all my friends loving it.... the date wasn't keen on that and she wanted to see Michael Moores latest "Capitalism : A Love Story".....

the point is.... I didnt leave my house with the intention to see THIS MOVIE....


WE LOVED THIS MOVIE , I cannot believe that this movie has been getting the abysmally reviews it has because the sold out crowd in the theater we were in LOVED IT! everyone left smiling.

and if anyone is wondering Vince Vaughn was terrific

Ok so those "pretty good reviews" got dumped on by a lot of the later reviews after it opened. It went from a "maybe ok" 50% to a much crappier 33%. Glad I didn't end up seeing this movie. I'm surprised it had a "record breaking weekend", but I guess it's not that hard in October where box office receipts are always down compared to summer.


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