Can ‘Dumb And Dumber To’ Outwit Holdovers?: Box Office Preview

Dumb And Dumber was one of those creatures that can exist only in a Hollywood ecosystem. It made a pretty healthy splash 20 years ago, opening at No. 1 with $16.4M on its way to a $127.2M domestic take. But getting stars Jim Carrey (then just coming off The Mask) and Jeff Daniels (who had wrapped Speed) reunited proved a logistical hurdle that couldn’t be leapt, and the stars went on their separate ascensions, seemingly leaving a franchise stillborn. But a DVD cult behemoth was spawned in their absence, and, two decades later, the long-awaited (by Farrelly fanatics, at least) reunion Dumb And Dumber To could bring the men to a place they haven’t seen in years: atop the box office.

DDT will graduate on 3,152 screens this weekend and, given the success of raunchy comedy lately, seems likely to capture box office with a haul of $30 million-$32 million. The $40M movie, which is enjoying strong unaided awareness in tracking, is resonating with fans of the first’s pull-my-finger humor, which included a surprising number of critics: the 1994 film scored a 65% on Rotten Tomatoes. And a Fandango poll says that 95% of moviegoers who plan to see the sequel watched the original (though only 47% saw it in theaters).

This weekend may witness a reversal of fortune. The movie, distributed by Universal and backed by Red Granite Pictures, doesn’t have critics in stitches: it has a 31% rotten stain on Rotten Tomatoes. But both stars could have the last box-office laugh, a sound they haven’t heard in awhile. Carrey hasn’t opened a live-action movie north of $30M stateside since 2004’s Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, which ended its domestic B.O. at $118.6M. Granted, that was a family PG-rated film. One has to go back to the 2003 Memorial Day frame opener Bruce Almighty in terms of the last time a Carrey PG-13 film cracked past the $30M mark with a three-day haul of $68M.  Over his career, his wide-release pics have opened to an average of $24.6M, though that average has taken a beating of late.  His last PG-13 film The Incredible Burt Wonderstone went up in a puff of smoke with a $10.2M bow and a domestic cume of $22.5M.  Daniels’ has balanced his resume of late between supporting feature roles, i.e. 2012’s Looper, and leading parts such as his Emmy-winning turn in HBO’s The Newsroom. Nonetheless, for an actor who has built his career on quality roles vs. blockbuster films, a Fandango survey found  that 82% of all moviegoers are planning to see DDT as they consider themselves Daniels fans.

DSC_2495.NEFThe combined wattage will be plenty to eclipse the weekend’s only other major newcomer, Relativity Media’s Beyond The Lights, which will illuminate about 1,750 screens. The first film to come from Relativity’s multicultural division, the $7M pic, whose producers include New York Knicks star Amar’e Stoudemire, should gross between $8M-$9M. Gina Prince-Blythewood (Love And Basketball) directs this story about a cop who falls in love with a superstar.

But, as they have all fall, holdovers could determine the derby. And the genre showdown between Disney’s animated smorgasbord Big Hero 6 and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar continues to wage like a rebel uprising. After a $56.2M, No. 1 debut, Hero has been winning the daily skirmishes with the sci-fi opera thanks to repeat kid viewers, who have pushed the film’s cume to $71.8M. But last night saw Interstellar take the daily race, bringing its cume to $65.2M and underscoring the movie’s strong word-of-mouth. This could be a demographic battle as interesting in its second week as it was in its first, and a weekend drop of less than 40% makes either a threat to take the crown (though BH6 may have the best chance in the cinematic dearth of family options).

And this is the season of indies, so brace yourself. Open Road will put Jon Stewart’s debut, the true hostage tale Rosewater, in 351 theaters, while Sony Pictures Classics will bring the true-crime drama Foxcatcher to six theaters in Los Angeles and New York. Roadside Attractions’ Tommy Lee Jones Western The Homesman arrives on four screens.

Birdman, meanwhile,  has seen superhero holds since its release October 17. The Michael Keaton one-take wonder will nearly double theaters this weekend to 862 theaters, lifting its $8.3M cume and looking to continue the torrid pace of fall revenues, which were up 19.3% over 2013.

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