Will 'Troy' trounce competish?
Warner Bros. will bring “Troy” ashore this weekend in 3,411 locations.The beefcake battle epic is the latest in a line of expensive R-rated pics from the studio. The frame’s only other wide opener is Jamie Foxx laffer “Breakin’ All the Rules,” which Screen Gems and Sony will unspool in 1,318 theaters. “Van Helsing,” which Universal opened last weekend with $51.7 million, will be closely watched in its second week. Tracking on “Troy” has been strong in advance of its release, with healthy first-choice numbers among both men and women. Femme appeal can be chalked up to stars Brad Pitt, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom, marketing that has emphasized the love story and promo ploys such as a “Troy” special on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to pull in female auds. Factors that may hurt the pic, though, include its R rating, which will limit the aud, and its 163-minute runtime, which will limit the number of evening shows theaters can book. Warners says film’s production cost $150 million; with marketing, the total outlay for WB is likely well past $200 million. Typically, such spending is incurred for PG-13 pics that can play more broadly, but several R-rated pics released by Warners last year carried similar pricetags, including the “Matrix” sequels and “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.” Studio, though, has expectations for “Troy” to play more like “Gladiator,” the Roman epic DreamWorks released in 2000. That pic opened with $34.8 million and reinvigorated the swords-and-sandals genre. Similar to “Troy,” the film opened in May and carried a R rating as well as a lengthy runtime (155 minutes). “In all reality, the largest three-day, R-rated, non-sequel opening in May is ‘Gladiator,’ ” said Warners distrib prexy Dan Fellman. “Troy” is expected to open bigger than “Gladiator,” and the Russell Crowe starrer played extremely well in future weeks, amassing a cume of $187.7 million. “It’s a real four-quadrant film,” Fellman said. “As they say in the movies, now it’s in the hand of the gods.” As studios put more emphasis on opening weekend box office, and with a crammed blockbuster-per-week release sked, steep second-week drop-offs of 50% have become standard in the summer. “Van Helsing” will not likely be an exception to this trend. “The Mummy,” also helmed by Stephen Sommers, dropped 40% in its second week, while sequel “The Mummy Returns” declined 50% in its soph sesh. In midweek shows, “Van Helsing” has been lagging the perf of both of those pics, both in terms of percentage and in some instances in raw dollars, suggesting that its second week decline could be steeper. Opening on a more modest scale, “Breakin’ All the Rules” is a niche play by Screen Gems. Sony vice chair Jeff Blake said he expected the relationship comedy to perform similarly to “Two Can Play That Game,” starring Vivica Fox and Morris Chestnutt, which opened on Sept. 7, 2001, with $7.7 million from 1,297 engagements and went on to gross $22.2 million. “Screen Gems has had a pretty good knack at handling African-American comedies with this kind of angle to it,” Blake said. In limited releases, Altavista Films will release “A Day Without a Mexican” in 48 locations in Southern California; Sony Pictures Classics bows “Carandiru” on six screens in Gotham and L.A.; United Artists releases Jim Jarmusch’s “Coffee and Cigarettes” in five Gotham and L.A. engagements; and Lions Gate will give “A Slipping Down Life” a debut on five screens in Gotham and L.A.
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