Six new pix in release mix
This weekend’s box office begs many questions.Do kids still dig those “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”? Will Adam Sandler fans buy the funnyman as a widower coping in the aftermath of 9/11? Can Mark Wahlberg capitalize on his “The Departed” success? And can “300” and “Wild Hogs” hold up? The weekend will prove a free-for-all as no fewer than six wide releases roll out, while standing in their way are a few of the year’s biggest hits to date. A pack of films aimed at families will hit the B.O. over a crowded frame, led by a wildcard, the animated “Turtles” pic. Franchise has reeled in $256 million at the domestic B.O. from three pics, but the last installment in that hit series came 14 years ago. Warner Bros. and the Weinstein Co. are hoping that this outing will bring in new young auds as well as nostalgic fans. Aiming for the same aud will be New Line’s “The Last Mimzy,” a kidlit adaptation helmed by studio co-head Bob Shaye. According to tracking, pic has been catching up with “TMNT,” which should have the edge. “TMNT” comes out of its shell into 3,110 theaters; “Mimzy” counters in 3,017. Lionsgate, meanwhile, will plunge into 1,518 theaters with its PG-rated, urban-skewing sports drama “Pride.” Aiming for older auds with R-rated pics, Sony sends out the Sandler drama “Reign Over Me,” while Paramount will roll out the Wahlberg actioner “Shooter” and Fox Atomic opens “The Hills Have Eyes 2.” Sandler’s last pic, “Click,” clocked in at $137.3 million, but “Reign,” opening at 1,671, puts the comic in a straight dramatic role for helmer Mike Binder. Sandler’s last dramatic film, “Spanglish,” brought in $42.7 million in 2004. Fox’s first “Hills Have Eyes” horror remake chopped up $41.7 million for the studio a year ago. Any new pics gunning for auds over 18 will have to tussle with Warner Bros.’ R-rated battle epic “300,” which attempts to retain its No. 1 title for the third straight frame. On the foreign front, “300” should dominate as it expands into a dozen new markets including France, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Spain and the U.K. Actioner banked nearly $32 million as of Wednesday, including more than $8 million from two weeks in Greece and another $8 million from its first week in South Korea — previously its only top territory. Pic opened solidly in France on Wednesday with $1.1 million at 485. It’s also launching in Belgium, Norway and Eastern European markets. Given the impressive performance so far, “300” is likely to post the top box office number of the year so far by eclipsing the $29.8 million take for “Night at the Museum” the first weekend of the year. War epic should remain on top for several more weeks at a time when the international appetite for action fare has been underlined via Sony’s success over the past month with “Ghost Rider,” which has cumed $90 million overseas. “Rider” opens in Colombia, Greece, New Zealand and Thailand. The frame will also see day-and-date launches in Australia for “Reign Over Me” and “TMNT,” which will also open in the U.K. and Singapore; “Shooter” will debut in Brazil; and “The Hills Have Eyes 2″ will go into Mexico and Singapore. Several long-running entries will open in their final markets — BVI’s “Deja Vu” in China, Universal’s “The Holiday” in France and Fox’s “Borat” in Taiwan and Venezuela. All three have performed solidly outside the U.S. with well over $100 million each. Other openings include “Norbit” in Belgium and Italy, “The Pursuit of Happyness” in Hong Kong and Russia, “The Number 23″ in Germany and Scandinavia, “Wild Hogs” in South Africa and Finland, “The Last King of Scotland” in Russia, “Epic Movie” in Portugal and “The Namesake” in the UAE. (Dave McNary contributed to this report.)
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