Summer preview June

Wide releases skedded as of March 10

LAST YEAR: June 4
Top titles (weeks in release) B.O.
1. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (1) $94 million
2. “Shrek 2” (3) $38 million
3. “The Day After Tomorrow” (2) $28 million
Total weekend: $188 million

JUNE 3

Cinderella Man (Universal/-Miramax): The team behind “A Beautiful Mind” (Ron Howard, Russell Crowe and Brian Grazer) enter the ring for the story of boxer Jim Braddock, a working-class hero during the Depression. Renee Zellweger co-stars.

The Lords of Dogtown (Sony): A fictionalized version about the birth of skateboarding culture in Southern California in the late 1970s based on Stacy Peralta’s 2001 doc “Dogtown and Z-Boys.” Starring Heath Ledger and helmed by Catherine Hardwicke (“Thirteen”).

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Warner Bros.): From a novel of the same title, a group of 16-year-old girls makes it through a coming-of-age summer with a pair of jeans they share.

Te first week of June has been a major box office frame the last two years, with the latest “Harry Potter” opening to $94 million in 2004. In 2003, “2 Fast 2 Furious” revved to a $50 million opening while “Finding Nemo” did $47 million in its sophomore session. But while a single new pic dominated the market in previous years, this summer, “Cinderella Man” and “Lords of Dogtown” seem to be set to split the marketplace between old and young.

No matter who wins the weekend, Universal is hoping “Cinderella” plays like “Seabiscuit,” another Depression-era rags-to-riches sporting tale that raked in more than $120 million after opening to $20.9 million in late July 2003; pic made a run for the roses during awards season at the end of the year.

LAST YEAR: June 11
Top titles (weeks in release) B.O.
1. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2) $35 million
2. “The Chronicles of Riddick” (1) $24 million
3. “Shrek 2” (4) $23 million
Total weekend: $159 million

JUNE 10

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (Fox): Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie topline this action pic, helmed by “The Bourne Identity’s” Doug Liman, about married assassins who’ve been hired to kill each other.

The Bad News Bears (Paramount): In a remake of the 1976 film, Billy Bob Thornton stars as a washed-up baseball pro who returns to the diamond to coach Little League’s worst team. Helmed by Richard Link-later.

The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl (Miramax/Sony): Helmer Robert Rodriguez delivers this kidpic (in 3-D!) about an outcast 10-year-old who goes on an adventure with his imaginary friends.

After more than a month of a tentpole-per-week pace, three pics that were more evenly matched entered the market last year in the second week of June: “The Chronicles of Riddick,” “Garfield” and “The Stepford Wives,” much as in 2002, when the weekend’s three new entrants were “Scooby-Doo,” “The Bourne Identity” and “Windtalkers.” With a lineup this year that includes an action pic, a kidpic and a remake, it may be difficult for any of the films to deliver a huge opening session, but the experience of last year’s “Garfield” shows that winning isn’t always everything. After opening in fourth place with a modest $21.7 million, the fat-cat film went on to swallow more than $75 million at the domestic B.O., the highest cume for the three pics opening that weekend.

LAST YEAR: June 18
Top titles (weeks in release) B.O.
1. “Dodgeball” (1) $30 million
2. “The Terminal” (1) $19 million
3. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2) $18 million
Total weekend: $137 million

JUNE 17

Batman Begins (Warner Bros.): Christian Bale dons the cape and mask and Christopher Nolan (“Memento,” “Insomnia”) climbs into the director’s chair to try to resuscitate the comicbook franchise.

For nearly a decade, starting with the 1989 release of “Batman,” the character was one of the most important franchises for Warner Bros. The four films in the series together grossed more than $700 million in the U.S. and more than $1.2 billion worldwide. But with three actors suiting up (Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney) the potency was clearly fading with the last in the series, 1997’s “Batman & Robin,” which just got past $100 million (the first pic earned $251 million). Bale was tapped to lead the effort and the story is going back to its roots, focusing on a younger Bruce Wayne looking to avenge the murder of his parents, the event that sparks his crime-fighting career. With other studios giving the caped crusader his own weekend, “Batman Begins” has about as good an opportunity as Warners could want to refresh the franchise. The third weekend in June has been a good one in recent years for tentpoles. In 2003, Universal opened “The Hulk” to $62 million (the problems for that pic started in its second week) and both “Minority Report” and “Lilo & Stitch” bowed with more than $35 million that weekend in 2002.

LAST YEAR: June 25
Top titles (weeks in release) B.O.
1. “Fahrenheit 9/11” (1) $24 million
2. “White Chicks” (1) $20 million
3. “Dodgeball” (2) $19 million
Total weekend: $149 million

JUNE 24

The Dukes of Hazzard (Warner Bros.): Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott play brothers famed for fighting Boss Hogg and jumping cars over rickety wooden bridges. Also appearing in this adaptation of the classic 1980s TV show are Burt Reynolds (Hogg), Willie Nelson (Uncle Jessie) and Jessica Simpson (Daisy Duke).

Herbie: Fully Loaded (Disney): Lindsay Lohan and the Volkswagen Bug star in the story of a lovable car, based on the original “The Love Bug” that started it all in 1969.

Bewitched (Sony): Remake summer continues with an adaptation of the 1960s sitcom that followed a witch struggling to blend in suburban America. Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell star.

How much nostalgia can one frame handle? Warners freshens up the “Dukes of Hazzard” TV series, Sony dusts off the “Bewitched” ’60s sitcom and Disney returns to its vaults for the fifth incarnation of the “Herbie.” If “Batman” begins fast, it will have stiff competition in its second week from all three pics, one of which is from the same studio, no less. But the fact that all three pics are set to unspool on the last week of June is a good indicator of the gauntlet distribs now run when scheduling their summer titles.

Distribs have typically avoided the final June frame because a week later, with Independence Day gaining a reputation as a box office bonanza, there is always a huge picture waiting to dominate the market. That’s true this year, with “War of the Worlds” set to debut just five days after the June 24 frame.

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