The powerful team of director Tony Scott, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and star Denzel Washington will wade into the holiday film fray with their Disney-released sci-fi thriller “Deja Vu” in over 3,100 playdates this weekend, but they’ll be duking it out with two tough-looking holdovers, “Happy Feet” and “Casino Royale.”
As studios look to grab screens and cash over the potentially potent five-day weekend, Fox’s Christmas comedy “Deck the Halls” opens on 3,023 in a crowded frame. On Friday, “Deck” expands to 3,205, making it the frame’s widest opener.
Warner Bros. will roll out helmer Darren Aronofsky’s ambitious sci-fi fantasy “The Fountain” in just under 1,500 engagements, and New Line’s lowbrow rock laffer “Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny” has booked 1,919 gigs hoping the army of fans that has propelled Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat” to more than $92 million to date will be in the mood for their brand of humor.
Further clouding the picture will be an expansion from two to 1,667 engagements for the Weinstein Co./MGM’s political pic “Bobby.” And Warner Independent moves its awards-season comedy “For Your Consideration” from 23 to 623 playdates.
Fox Searchlight will roll out “The History Boys” on six screens as the limited-release derby also heats up.
Turkey Day frame is traditionally family-friendly, drawing the out-of-school set during plentiful matinees Friday and Saturday, which could give an edge to animated penguin pic “Happy Feet,” last weekend’s No. 1.
Of the frame’s new wide releases, tracking suggests the PG-13-rated “Deja Vu” has an edge as it’s luring crowds both over and under 25.
Pic is the third matching helmer Scott and thesp Washington: Duo previously teamed on submarine pic “Crimson Tide,” which took in $91.3 million back in 1995, and the edgier actioner “Man on Fire,” which blew up to just under $78 million two years ago.
Washington’s “Inside Man” opened earlier this year to nearly $29 million.
Meanwhile, “Deck the Halls,” starring Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick as warring neighbors, will have to hold the “Happy Feet” penguins at bay as it goes for families.
“Fountain,” which is opening at fewer than 1,500 engagements, will be shooting for an over-25 aud that may still be lining up to catch Daniel Craig, who has drawn good notices for his role as the new Bond.
By wooing very different demos, “Happy Feet” and “Casino Royale” finished last weekend just about $700,000 apart after receipts were tallied Monday, with “Feet” dancing to $41.5 million and “Casino” gunning $40.8 million.
With little competing family fare, “Happy Feet” could have the edge overall for Thanksgiving: Kidpics play particularly well during matinees, and the Thanksgiving weekend effectively gives “Feet” two Saturdays in a row to rack up receipts. Warners had projected “Feet” to bring in about $2 million on Monday, but pic played to more than $3 million, indicating its legs.
But the holiday has been lucky for Bond: In 2002 “Die Another Day” hit $70 million in its first week of release thanks to the holiday.
On the international front, “Casino Royale” should dominate as Sony doubles the number of playdates to 6,000-plus with expansion into France, Germany, Holland, Scandinavia and Spain.
After grossing $43.4 million in 27 markets over its launch frame, “Casino Royale” took in another $6 million from overseas territories on Monday.
Rivals are mostly avoiding “Casino Royale,” with the only new openings coming in targeted territories. Fox will expand “Borat,” which has shown solid traction in grossing $65 million overseas from 25 markets, into Australia and New Zealand to coincide with a promotional visit by Baron Cohen.
BVI’s launching “Deja Vu” day-and-date in just one foreign market, opening in Mexico this frame. The thriller will expand gradually into other major markets during December.
“Tenacious D” will open day-and-date in the U.K. via Entertainment.
Other openings include UIP’s “Barnyard” in Russia, Warner’s “The Departed” in South Korea, UIP’s “Flushed Away” in South Korea, Warner Bros.’ “Happy Feet” in Brazil, UIP’s “Jackass Number Two” in the U.K. and BVI’s “The Santa Clause 3” in the U.K.
(Dave McNary contributed to this report.)