Movie projector: Hollywood looking for huge weekend as 'Megamind,' 'Due Date' and 'Colored Girls' open [updated]
There should be something for everyone this weekend at the multiplex as a new family animated film, a male-targeted comedy and a female-targeted drama from director Tyler Perry all have big expectations. If the movie industry gets its wish, it could be the biggest opening weekend in the month of November ever.
"Megamind," "Due Date," and "For Colored Girls" are all generating strong pre-release interest among their distinct audiences, giving some executives in Hollywood hope that total receipts could beat the previous record for the first weekend in November of $154 million, set in 2003 when "The Matrix Revolutions" and "Elf" debuted.
"Megamind," the latest 3-D animated film from DreamWorks Animation, is almost certain to top the box office with expected ticket sales of about $50 million. That's in the midrange for recent non-sequels from the Glendale-based animation studio. March's "How to Train Your Dragon" opened to $43.7 million, while 2009's "Monsters vs Aliens" took in $59.3 million on its first weekend.
With its super-villain-turned-hero storyline, "Megamind" is expected to appeal most to boys. DreamWorks and its distribution partner Paramount Pictures are hoping that the audience will extend beyond young boys to tweens and possibly even teenage boys too.
However, as with all of DreamWorks' movies, the opening weekend in the U.S. won't ultimately be as important as how the movie holds in coming weeks and how it performs overseas. The well-received "Dragon," for instance, ultimately grossed $217.6 million, almost five times its opening weekend take. For "Megamind" to get to $200 million, however, it will have to survive the expected blockbuster debut of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" in two weeks, after which it might enjoy a good Thanksgiving weekend among families.
Overseas, "Megamind" got off to a solid start in Russia last weekend, where it took in $7.3 million. The best performing DreamWorks Animation films often gross significantly more internationally than domestically.
Warner Bros. is hoping for a little bit of magic from last year's hit "The Hangover" to rub off on "Due Date," which like that film is directed by Todd Phillips and co-stars Zach Galifianakis, along with Robert Downey Jr. Though a "Hangover"-size opening of $45 million is unlikely, surveys indicate it could enjoy a strong start of about $35 million.
The movie is relatively expensive for a comedy, with a budget of about $65 million split between Legendary Pictures with Warner. That means it needs not only a good opening but strong word-of-mouth to keep performing well after this weekend.
"For Colored Girls," which is based on the popular and frequently reprised 1975 play by Ntozake Shange, is generating enormous interest among director Tyler Perry's core audience of African American women, with some interest from Latino women as well. This is the first of Perry's movies not based on his own script and also his highest-profile cast including Whoopi Goldberg and Janet Jackson.
Surveys indicate it should be a strong opening for a Perry film not featuring his signature character Madea, with weekend ticket sales of about $25 million.
That should make it another successful Perry film for independent studio Lionsgate, which spent $21 million on production.
[Update, 4 p.m.: In limited release, Summit Entertainment releases the dramatic thriller “Fair Game,” about former CIA spy Valerie Plame, at 45 theaters in 22 cities.
“127 Hours,” based on the true story of a hiker who had to amputate his arm after it was caught under a boulder, debuts at two theaters in Los Angeles and two in New York. The film is very intense and has caused some viewers at preview screenings and festivals to pass out, making it critical for distributor Fox Searchlight to drum up strong word-of-mouth before the film expands to more theaters in coming weeks.]
Photos, from top: A scene from "Megamind" (credit: DreamWorks Animation); Kerry Washington, left, Phylicia Rashad and Anika Noni Rose in "For Colored Girls" (credit: Lionsgate).