Western remake set against 'Shoot 'Em Up'

James Mangold’s Western remake “3:10 to Yuma” rides off to the box office this weekend, where it will vie with “Shoot ‘Em Up” for some male love.

“Yuma,” toplining Russell Crowe, Christian Bale and Ben Foster, also marks the first fall awards release. Lionsgate and Relativity Media open the violent, R-rated oater in 2,652 locations.

New Line’s bloody actioner “Shoot ‘Em Up” also sports star power in Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti.

Beyond those two pics, the weekend’s widest opening is Screen Gems/Sony laffer “The Brothers Solomon” at 700 theaters. Pic stars Will Arnett, Will Forte and Kristin Wiig, who all appeared on “Saturday Night Live.”

It will be an R-rated weekend all the way around, with “Shoot ‘Em Up” and “Solomon” also sporting the restrictive rating.

Historically, the weekend following Labor Day is relatively subdued at the box office. Male-centric pics like “Yuma” and “Shoot ‘Em Up” face an additional challenge in that this weekend is the start of the NFL season.

“Yuma” marks Mangold’s first film since 2005 Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line.” In terms of box office potential, tracking shows the pic is appealing heavily to older males. Original “Yuma,” released in 1957, starred Glenn Ford and Van Heflin. It is based on a story by Elmore Leonard.

Westerns can be a tricky sell, since they no longer enjoy the broad appeal they once did.

Among R-rated Westerns in more recent years, “Unforgiven” holds the record for best opening weekend, grossing $15 million in 1992 on its way to a domestic cume of $102 million. In 2003, Kevin Costner-Robert Duvall Western “Open Range” opened at $14 million domestically on its way to $58 million. After that, “The Missing” opened at around $10.9 million.

“Yuma,” which has received strong notices, isn’t the only Western on the fall release sked. On Sept. 21, Warner Bros. bows Brad Pitt starrer “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” directed by Aussie filmmaker Andrew Dominik.

Lionsgate moved up the release of “Yuma” to this weekend in order to provide more breathing room before the “Jesse James” bow. The release date change meant that Lionsgate and Relativity had to forgo a play at the Toronto Film Fest, where “Jesse James” is making its North American preem. Lionsgate said it felt it was important to be first out of the corral.

“Shoot ‘Em Up” is looking to captivate younger males with its nonstop, cartoonish carnage. Pic was written and directed by Michael Davis.

On the specialty side, ThinkFilm bows Sundance docu “In the Shadow of the Moon,” about the Apollo astronauts, in four theaters in New York and Gotham.

Also bowing in four locations in Gotham and L.A. are MGM’s “The Hunting Party,” toplining Richard Gere as a onetime TV journo who returns to Bosnia five years after covering the war there. Drama, directed by Richard Shepard, also stars Terrence Howard.

Autonomous opens Griffin Dunne’s “Fierce People,” starring Diane Lane, Anton Yelchin and Donald Sutherland, in two theaters in Gotham. Dirk Wittenborn penned the screenplay based on his book of the same name.

John Turturro opens his indie musical comedy “Romance & Cigarettes” in an exclusive engagement at Film Forum in New York. Cast includes James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet and Steve Buscemi. Turturro wrote and directed.

Anchor Bay opens horror title “Hatchet” in 82 theaters in key markets.

On the foreign front, the first fall frame should see respectable biz following the record-setting summer.

The most notable offshore action will come via expansion of summer pics “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “Live Free or Die Hard” and “Ratatouille” plus holdover biz for “Shrek the Third,” which won last weekend.

“Bourne,” which won two August frames internationally, probably can cop the top slot thanks to launches in Germany and Mexico plus ongoing biz in markets such as the U.K. and Australia. Foreign cume as of Wednesday had topped $81 million from 29 markets, with the Brits accounting for nearly half.

“Live Free or Die Hard” opens in Spain, one of its final markets near the end of a foreign run that’s brought in nearly $225 million.

“Ratatouille” continues its gradual expansion with launches in Australia and New Zealand. The Pixar toon’s due to cross the $200 million mark this weekend; it should become the highest grossing 2007 pic in France this weekend, topping the $55 million take by “Spider-Man 3.”

Universal’s expanding its summer comedies “Knocked Up” into Malaysia and Taiwan and “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” into Brazil, Italy, Russia and South Korea. Paramount’s taking “Stardust” into Mexico.

And in one of the first award-season forays, Par’s also launching romancer “Atonement” in the U.K. in the wake of stellar notices from its showing at Venice. Pic won’t launch Stateside until December.

A correction was made to this article on Sept. 7, 2007.

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