The summer’s first batch of comedies opens at the domestic box office this weekend, led by Warner Bros.’ “The Hangover” and Universal’s Will Ferrell topper “Land of the Lost.”
“Land of the Lost” unspools in 3,521 runs, “Hangover” in 3,269.
Fox Searchlight, via big Fox, also debuts romantic comedy “My Life in Ruins” in 1,100. Focus Features launches Sam Mendes’ dramedy “Away We Go” in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles.
But it’s Disney-Pixar holdover “Up” that has a clear shot at No. 1. The 3-D toon, opening last weekend to $68.1 million, has been seeing boffo weekday grosses and heads into the weekend with a domestic cume of over $92 million.
“Hangover,” from director Todd Phillips, has been gaining strength in tracking and could overtake “Land of the Lost” for the No. 2 spot despite its more restrictive R rating.
The raucous comedy follows the travails of four buddies who pay the price for a wild night out in Las Vegas.
Director Brad Silberling’s “Land of the Lost” is a major — and risky –departure from the classic TV kids series created in 1974 by Sid and Marty Krofft. The TV show featured a family that finds itself in a parallel world with dinosaurs; U’s film features a scientist, a research assistant and a survivalist.
Film’s raunchy humor earned it a PG-13 rating, making it less of a choice for families with younger kids. Pic cost at least $100 million to produce, plus a major marketing spend.
“Land of the Lost,” which won’t be helped by dismal reviews, is tracking best among teenage boys who follow Ferrell, according to Universal. Film also stars Danny McBride and Anna Friel.
Rival studios say the film is also drawing interest from boys ages 8 and older, but note that U has to be careful how it targets this demo because of the PG-13 rating. Those old enough to remember the TV show may be wary about taking their younger kids to see the film.
U expects the film to open along the lines of Ferrell’s “Blades of Glory” or “Step Brothers,” each of which debuted to roughly $30 million.
Like “Land of the Lost,” “Hangover” is tracking best among the male demo but is picking up interest among women as well. Film, co-produced and co-financed by Legendary Pictures, stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Bartha.
Many box office observers say the well-reviewed comedy could become a sleeper hit even if it does not sport a huge opening.
So far, the 2009 summer box office has been dominated by fanboy pics and family fare, leaving plenty of room for broad comedies to prosper.
Warner Bros. and New Line have seen strong returns for May romantic comedy “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.” Searchlight and Fox hope for the same with “My Life in Ruins,” although the latter is much smaller in scope. Film, directed by Donald Petrie, stars Richard Dreyfuss, Nia Vardalos and Rachel Dratch.
Like “Land of the Lost,” “My Life in Ruins” could be hampered by poor reviews.
Focus is strategically opening “Away We Go” as an adult alternative to popcorn fare. Film stars Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski as a couple expecting a baby who embark on trip to determine where to raise their family. Pic also stars Jeff Daniels and Toni Collette.
Several other specialty films are bowing, including the award-winning French biopic “Seraphine,” about the artist Seraphine de Senlis. Music Box Films opens the movie in six theaters in New York and L.A.
Vivendi opens Mariah Carey starrer “Tennessee” in 15 theaters, while Strand opens dark thriller “Downloading Nancy” in five runs in L.A. and Gotham.
Also bowing in a limited run is Nati Baratz’s docu “Unmistaken Child,” about a Tibetan monk’s search for his former teacher. Oscilloscope is releasing.
On the foreign front, it’s the make-or-break weekend for “Terminator Salvation.” Sony’s handling the fourth “Terminator” in most major markets and has waited for “Angels and Demons” to play out over the past three frames with well over $250 million.
“T4” will be going into nearly all key territories — the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, Brazil and Russia — and will add about 7,900 screens to the 800 it opened last weekend in eight mid-tier Asian markets. Through Wednesday night overseas, the actioner’s cumed $34.2 million — about half of that from the non-Sony markets of South Korea and the Middle East.
Prospects are decent for “T4” given the strong support for action pics in foreign markets and the franchise’s track record. “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” generated $283 million outside the U.S., or 65% of its worldwide gross, in 2003.
The frame’s also seeing a few targeted launches, such as “Up” in Mexico and Ukraine. Disney’s opted for a staggered release pattern on the toon, with many major markets not seeing “Up” until the fall.
“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” expands to South Korea after racking up more than $100 million offshore in its first two frames. Other openings include “I Love You, Man” in Australia; “Star Trek” in Hong Kong, India and Mexico; and “State of Play” in Israel, Mexico and Singapore.
(Dave McNary contributed to this report.)