New Info Throughout: It’s always an event when she comes out with a film, since she’s one of the few Hollywood actresses still consistently able to open a pic these days. But can Jodie Foster do it again with The Brave One which received only mixed reviews? Problem is, this is a dark R-rated morality tale / revenge pic and not the wider appeal PG-13 thriller Flightplan was. I say The Brave One‘s box office prospects are more on the order of Foster’s similarly feminist themed The Accused from 1988. Worse is the way The Brave One has been promoted: producer Joel Silver has taken to calling it a “muscular chick flick” which I think is a huge mistake. Not only are chick flicks failing at the box office, unless they’re of the lite variety like The Devil Wears Prada, Warner Bros still can’t market anything except big bloated blockbusters. All of the above is why my box office gurus expect The Brave One to finish the weekend No. 1, but, while some see a $20 mil domestic gross from 2,755 theaters, others expect only high teens ($17 mil). That’s still enough to put Foster head and shoulders above that other Oscarwinner Nicole Kidman box office-wise. The analysts say Lionsgate’s 3:10 To Yuma in 2,667 dates should keep a good -40% hold on its audience for #2. In the third spot should sit yet another new bomb from New Line, the PG-13 horribly reviewed Mr. Woodcock with Billy Bob Thornton, lucky to reach $10 mil from 2,231 venues though one of my analysts thinks it won’t get past $6 mil. “This is a huge disaster since I udnerstand that the film had major reshoots and ended up costing around $45 million,” he told me. “Given the genre and cast it won’t do anything in foreign so it’s a big writedown for New Line.” (And, I have to ask, why in the world is Oscarwinner Susan Sarandon in this piece of crap?) Sony’s Superbad should take 4th place starting its 5th week in release in fewer dates, only 2,910. But it could have competition from Dragon Wars optimistically projected to make $4.5 mil in 2,269 venues.
Promising newcomers whose performance is worth watching are Focus Features’ well-received Eastern Promises starring Naomi Watts and Viggo Mortensen under the direction of David Cronenberg playing in only 14 theaters, and Paul Haggis’ Oscar touted In The Valley Of Elah, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron, which Warner Independent is platforming in 9 runs. Meanwhile, there’s the expected mixed reception to Julie Taymor’s Across The Universe romantic musical told through Beatles songs (since Sony controls that catalogue) which opens in 23 theaters this weekend. Much was made of the pre-release brawling between Taymor, producer Joe Roth of Revolution Studios, and distributor Sony over the length and content of the pic. (See my own story about it, Across An Alternate Universe.) As one insider told me, “She only cut four minutes. So everybody lost.” Finally, The Hunting Party starring Richard Gere is only widening to 40 theatres this weekend. I’m told it was supposed to go to 600 “but given last week’s opening it appears that The Weinstein Co is dumping the film,” an analyst tells me.