'Good Night, and Good Luck' expands to 225 screens

Vidgame classic “Doom” reaches the bigscreen this weekend as Universal unspools its adaptation starring Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson at 3,042 theaters.

Pic is expected to lead another crowded field of fresh films. Also opening over the frame are Warner Bros.’ Charlize Theron starrer “North Country,” bowing at 2,555; DreamWorks’ Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning family pic “Dreamer,” at 1,800; and New Regency and 20th Century Fox’s thriller “Stay,” starring Ewan McGregor, which debuts with 1,684.

In the specialty realm this weekend, George Clooney’s “Good Night, and Good Luck” will be tested by its first major expansion as Warner Independent Pictures moves it to 225 screens.

Also opening is teen comedy “Kids in America,” which indie distrib Slow Hand plans to unspool on 701 screens. “The Simple Life’s” Nicole Richie stars.

While industry expectations are for “Doom” to post a loftier opening than has been seen in recent weeks, the upcoming frame will have a tough time topping last year’s totals, when the $39.1 million bow of “The Grudge” contributed to $106 million in overall box office.

U distrib prexy Nikki Rocco said, “Tracking looks fine this morning. There’s a lot of people who are very interested in seeing ‘Doom.’ “

Tracking has for the most part been dominated by males, though both younger and older men are interested in the R-rated adaptation.

While movies made from vidgames have the benefit of wide aud awareness, openings in the category have been something of a mixed bag. The biggest debut on the all-time list was the $47.7 million bow for “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.” But it’s a big drop to No. 2 on the list, “Mortal Kombat” with $23.3 million.

With “Doom” playing mostly to guys, two of the other pics over the weekend, “North Country” and “Dreamer,” are attracting most interest from the females-over-25 quadrant.

“North Country,” helmer Niki Caro’s follow-up to indie hit “Whale Rider,” is based on a true story of a landmark sexual harassment case that emerged from the iron mines of Minnesota.

“Our previews have been great, very well attended, and the early reviews have been very promising and I’m hoping for a long run at the box office,” Warners distrib topper Dan Fellman said.

Also based on a true story but pitched more to family auds, “Dreamer” follows a father and daughter who nurse an injured racehorse back to health.

Both pics are expected to bow somewhere in the mid-single figures, somewhat higher than the opening expected for Fox’s “Stay,” which despite its pedigree helmer (“Finding Neverland’s” Marc Forster) and scribe (“Troy’s” David Benioff), has struggled so far to find aud traction.

In the limited arena, new pics this weekend include Warner Bros.’ “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,” which will debut on eight screens. Disney’s Steve Martin-Claire Danes romancer “Shopgirl” is starting on eight as well.

Other new titles include Televisa’s “El Vacilon: The Movie,” bowing on 30 screens in Gotham and Orlando, Fla.

On Wednesday, Picturehouse started Israeli pic “Ushpizin” on six screens in Gotham and L.A.

Over the frame, ThinkFilm is launching both “Protocols of Zion” on four screens on the two coasts as well as bowing “Three of Hearts” with a solo Gotham date.

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