1 PM: Here are the very early Friday total numbers which my box office gurus are projecting for the major movies opening this weekend. Universal’s Baby Mama starring hot, hot, hot movie and TV comedienne Tina Fey and SNL‘s popular Amy Poehler should win with box office domestic gross around $14M-$15M and maybe as high as $17M from 2,543 theaters. “It should finish in the mid to high teens. There was nice movement towards the end of this week. Whatever they did with their TV spots worked for female audiences,” a rival marketing marven tells me. Universal is “very optimistic” what with the PG-13 pic’s tracking “really great” with women of all ages. “Unaided awareness, definite interest, and choice with women young and old is fantastic,” a studio source tells me. “The hard part is tracking it against comparable movies. It’s near impossible to think of a female-driven buddy comedy of the last few years.” I can think of three — The Sweetest Thing, and even Connie and Carla and High Heels and Low Lifes, all of which tanked. But those movies didn’t have Tina Fey.
R-rated Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay from New Line (which is on life support these days as it’s brought into Warner Bros) is a sequel to a pic that didn’t do even $19M in theaters during its entire release (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle). No way it merited a sequel — until it had a terrific after-life in ancillary markets. Now this new one is tracking swell with young men plus showing some strength with older men and younger women. It should come in 2nd with $12M-$13M from 2,510 venues, but one of my gurus wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up with $15+M. Also worth noting is that FM Radio shock jocks and Sirius star Howard Stern have been heavily pushing this movie to their stoner guy audiences.
Holdovers Forgetting Sarah Marshall from Universal and The Forbidden Kingdom from The Weinstein Co/Lionsgate should be Nos. 3 and 4 respectively.
Way down the Top 10 will be the other major newcomer. Only low to mid single figures are predicted for R-rated Deception – about $4M to $5M from 2,001 runs, distributed by Fox. “No one has any expectations of that movie doing any business,” a marketer told me. The Los Angeles Times did a needlessly exhaustive look at why Fox was bothering with the pic at all: to keep building on its relationship with Fox’s X-Men/Wolverine/Australia star Hugh Jackman who is the lead and producer of Deception (“which was was once in development at Fox until the studio declined to underwrite its under-$25 million price tag”).