Sandler starrer signals oncoming summer surge

This week has one major debut, but the real kick comes after “Click”: In the next two weeks, audiences will get the summer’s highest-profile tentpoles: “Superman Returns” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.”

Most expect “Superman” to have a strong bow; few doubt the core male aud will show up. But while exhibitors are easily anticipating the film, they’re salivating over Disney’s “Pirates” sequel. The film’s tracking already is passing “Superman,” despite being a week further out. Most industryites expect a boffo, potentially record-breaking opening.

And “Pirates” shows strength with all audience groups. In comparison, families and women are still perceived to be up for grabs with Warner Bros.’ “Superman.” That fact could bode well for Fox’s “The Devil Wears Prada,” which is counter-programming with its June 30 launch.

But “Superman’s” timing should work to everyone’s advantage. WB’s super-hero sequel opens Wednesday and July 4 isn’t until the following Tuesday — making essentially a seven-day weekend.

That will give plenty of time for moviegoers to catch multiple pics. In a summer when nothing except “RV” has shown particularly strong legs, that’s an important opportunity for films hoping to break out of the pack such as “Nacho Libre,” “Cars” and today’s opener, Sony’s “Click.”

“Click” looks on track to near (or exceed) the best Adam Sandler bows, such as “The Longest Yard’s” $47.6 million and $42.2 million for “Anger Management.” Comedy’s best hope to break out will be drawing families along with typical young Adam Sandler fans.

Weekend’s other opener is Rogue’s “Waist Deep,” aimed primarily at black and Latino auds.

Battle for second place this weekend is likely to be between Disney’s “Cars” and Par’s “Nacho Libre.” Jack Black starrer opened a few million behind the second frame of the Pixar toon last weekend.

Perhaps the biggest question mark is how “Superman Returns,” which no matter how well it opens needs a long run to justify its cost, will hold up against the “Pirates” broadside. (“Pirates” opens nine days after the “Superman” bow.)

Both pics are expected to be big overseas, though again there are questions about whether “Pirates” may overshadow “Superman.”

The World Cup forced both studios to ditch the idea of day-and-date worldwide openings. WB and BVI have opted for staggered rollouts with most key foreign territories launching after the soccer tourney’s over.

“Superman Returns” opens day-and-date in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand, then launches in mid-July in Brazil, France, Mexico and the U.K. Warners will wait until mid-August to open in Germany and Japan.

“Pirates” goes day-and-date on July 6 in Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and the U.K., and opens the following weekend in Holland, Malaysia, the Philippines, Russia, Scandinavia and Singapore. On the July 21 weekend, it goes into Brazil, Mexico and Japan; launches in Germany on July 28 and in France and in Spain on the next two weekends.

“Click” will bow at 3,749 playdates domestically, very wide for a comedy, and will almost certainly come out No. 1, with a likely gross in the 40s.

“It certainly feels like a big, broad comedy that should appeal to all demographics including families and older folks,” noted Sony distribution prexy Rory Bruer.

Sony’s launching “Click” day-and-date in Australia and New Zealand, sometimes dubbed the 51st and 52nd states due to their tendency to mirror U.S. performance. Sandler’s films have generally shown only moderate traction overseas with the top foreign performance coming from “50 First Dates” with $76 million.

“Click” opened Thursday in Australia with $725,000 at 285 playdates, $100,000 better than the first day of “Anger Management,” Sandler’s previous best in that market.

Studio is taking a go-slow approach to the rest of the world, with no other openings for “Click” until late July in Greece and early August for South Korea and Southeast Asia. “Click” will then launch in major European markets in September.

The lag time on releasing “Click” internationally isn’t unusual this summer. A number of pics are waiting until late summer or fall — first to avoid the World Cup and then to stay away from the launch of “Pirates of Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” which will open in many markets in July.

Focus’ Rogue label is opening actioner “Waist Deep” at 1,004 theaters, primarily in urban markets. A gross in the mid- to high-single digits is likely.

“Cars” is launching this weekend in Chile, Colombia, Holland and Portugal. The toon’s foreign cume as of Wednesday is $17.5 million from 11 markets; worldwide total has hit $146.7 million.

In limited release, Roadside Attractions opens controversial documentary “The Road to Guantanamo” at 15 theaters. Lionsgate bows “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man” at one in New York.

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