'Dead,' 'Strange' also open this weekend
Some Super Bowl fans will end up missing parts of the game on Sunday to drive their daughters to see Disney’s “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour” in digital 3-D, as the pic plays in theaters for just one week.If “Hannah” beats out Lionsgate’s Jessica Alba horror thriller “The Eye” — a real possibility — the Mouse House could make box office history, both in terms of nabbing the highest gross to date for a pure 3-D release and in turning a theatrical release into a one-time event. Should the concert pic win the frame, the victory will be all the more impressive given that “Hannah” is playing in just 683 digital 3-D theaters; “Eye” bows in 2,436. The weekend frame’s two other wide releases are Gold Circle’s “Over Her Dead Body,” which New Line opens in 1,977, and Paramount Classics nature TV show spoof “Strange Wilderness,” which plays in 1,208. Both could have a tough time overcoming holdovers “Rambo,” “Meet the Spartans” and “27 Dresses.” “Hannah,” however, has set off a frenzy among young girls who are fans of Miley Cyrus, the star of the popular Disney TV series “Hannah Montana” who has become a recording star as well. Cyrus’ recent concert tour was sold out across the country, and tickets were scalped for as much as $1,000. Coincidentally, there’s another 3-D concert pic in theaters — National Geographic’s “U2 3D,” which debuted last month in 61 theaters. Pic, which expands substantially in two weeks, has a cume of $1.2 million. “Hannah’s” potential is far greater, with box office pundits forecasting a weekend gross north of $20 million. Film, produced for under $7 million, was directed, produced and conceived inhouse at Disney. The Mouse House has been at the forefront of the 3-D movement, seeing strong grosses with the annual re-release of Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas.” Advance ticket sales for “Hannah” have been more than brisk, but it does face a disadvantage in that it’s playing a limited number of theaters since there just aren’t that many digital 3-D venues. (The film won’t be playing in Imax theaters, since Imax hasn’t yet transitioned to digital 3-D.) “Every young girl is ready to go once, twice or even three times,” said one distribution exec at a rival studio. Even if every show in every theater is sold out, the movie’s weekend gross probably wouldn’t be more than $30 million given the limited number of locations. Super Bowl weekend has always been a time to open female-skewing titles and horror films. “The Eye,” the English-language remake of the popular Asian title, should do strong business. Lionsgate and Paramount Vantage were partners on the film, with Lionsgate handling domestic distribution and Vantage international. Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner optioned the English-language remake rights to the film, but the project stayed at Par when the duo left the Melrose lot. Lionsgate then partnered with Vantage. “Over Her Dead Body” toplines Eva Longoria Parker as a ghost who tries to resurrect her relationship with her fiance through a medium. Paul Rudd also stars. “Strange Wilderness” features Steve Zahn and Allen Covert. “Rambo,” a Lionsgate-Weinstein Co. co-production, heads into its second frame with a cume of $21.8 million. Coming in second last weekend, pic posted strong enough grosses Monday through Wednesday to put it at No. 1 for the week. Sword-and-sandals spoof “Spartans” heads into its second weekend with a cume of $20.6 million. On the specialty front, awards contenders “Atonement,” “Juno,” “Michael Clayton,” “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood” will continue seeking pre-Oscar biz. New specialty releases include Roadside Attractions’ “Caramel,” which opens in 11 theaters, and Strand Releasing’s “The Witnesses,” which bows in three theaters in Gotham and L.A. On the foreign front, “Sweeney Todd” is aiming to repeat last weekend’s win via holdover biz in major markets plus expansions into a few territories such as Denmark and Hong Kong. The Johnny Depp vehicle’s likely to see competition from Paramount’s “Cloverfield,” which launches its major foreign expansion with moves into Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain and the U.K. The horror thriller’s already cumed $17 million overseas, mostly in Australia, Russia and South Korea. French comedy “Asterix at the Olympic Games” will likely be a major draw in Europe with launches in Gaul, Benelux, Germany and Russia. On Wednesday, “Asterix” bowed with $4.1 million on a record-breaking 1,078 screens in France. The second pic in the hugely popular comicbook franchise, 2002′s “Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra,” was a major hit in France with $74 million. It also grossed $7 million in Germany and $6 million in Spain. Oscar contenders will also expand today with “American Gangster” going into Japan and Mexico; “Charlie Wilson’s War” to Holland, Norway and Sweden; “Juno” to New Zealand and Spain”; and “No Country for Old Men” to Brazil and Japan. “I Am Legend,” which won five straight weekends before ceding first place to “Sweeney Todd” last frame, will also be a factor and should top the $300 million mark.