You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

High noon for Mel’s ‘Passion’

Do distribs have too many eggs in B.O. basket?

This article was updated at 6:45 p.m.

A surge of Easter-weekend business for “The Passion of the Christ” will pump life into a busy box office frame catering to every demographic segment.

Weekend will have five wide openers, including Disney’s much bruited historical drama “The Alamo” and “Ella Enchanted,” a venture into the family business from Miramax. But given the crowded session, some distribs may end up with more egg on their faces than in their holiday baskets.

Bolstering the frame: 80% of the nation’s schoolkids are off for Good Friday. Also, the market has been buoyant of late, with year-to-date grosses up 7% due to the “Passion” phenom.

“The business is on a roll compared to last year as we head into the Easter holiday period,” said Dan Marks, exec veep at B.O. tracker Nielsen EDI. “So even though there are five new pictures, the marketplace could expand over the weekend to accommodate the high number of wide releases.”

New pics include “The Alamo,” a historical drama that Disney’s set for 2,609 engagements; “The Girl Next Door,” a New Regency-produced teen laffer 20th Century Fox is distribbing to 2,148 theaters; “Johnson Family Reunion,” a Fox Searchlight urban laffer unspooling in 1,318 locations; “The Whole Ten Yards,” a sequel laffer from Warner Bros. with 2,654 playdates; and “Ella Enchanted,” a family fantasy Miramax is releasing in 1,931 venues. Also, Revolution Studio’s comic-spawned actioner “Hellboy” will be hoping to repeat its chart-topping perf of last weekend.

In its sixth session in release, “The Passion of the Christ” is expected to post a significant uptick from the $10.6 million it grossed last weekend. Pic, distribbed by Newmarket, will have more than 3,400 runs this weekend. Estimates range from the low teens to as high as $20 million on the frame.

Church groups — who bolstered early “Passion” grosses by buying blocs of advance tickets — are expected to be back in force over the Easter weekend. Distrib execs also cite evidence of repeat patronage for the controversial religious drama.

“We probably will see some organized trips again this weekend,” Newmarket prexy Bob Berney said. “But what’s more important is that the Easter theme will drive a lot of individuals to the film.”

“Passion,” which delivered last weekend’s fifth-best B.O. perf, was the second top grosser Tuesday after “Hellboy” in pushing its 42-day cume to a fervent $334 million.

“Hellboy,” which bowed with $23.2 million, would gross $14 million this weekend if it slides a relatively modest 40% over its soph session. Though rated PG-13, “Hellboy” has been a modestly difficult sell in some small markets, in part due to fundamental Christians’ queasiness with pic’s name. But reviews have been good, so positive buzz should sustain opening momentum.

“We should have a strong second weekend,” Sony distribution prexy Rory Bruer. “I don’t know if we’ll be No. 1, but we’ll certainly be in the game.”

Meanwhile, “Alamo” may need good reviews and positive word of mouth to sustain a successful run, as pre-release tracking indicates pic’s opening may be limited to somewhere in the teen millions.

Prospects for other new pics appear less auspicious.

Fox hopes enough patrons come calling for “The Girl New Door” — helmed by Luke Greenfield (“The Animal”). Industry projections are of a bow in the single-digit millions. Searchlight’s “Johnson Family Reunion” will have to cross over into mainstream success to gross much more than $10 million.

“The Whole Ten Yards” has drawn skeptical early reviews, so its weekend perf will also bear watching. Industryites suggest Bruce Willis-Matthew Perry vehicle will chug into the low to mid-teen millions at best.

“Ella Enchanted” enters a marketplace already accommodating a pair of family films — “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed” and “Home on the Range.” Pic figures to gross in the single-digital millions.

Miramax also unspools Italian drama “I’m Not Scared” in four locations. Frame’s other limited releases include Eros’ Bollywood pic “Masti,” set for 27 theaters.

More Film

  • Franco Zeffirelli Remembered

    Franco Zeffirelli: An Artist and a Paradox

    When popular artists pass on, it can often be a surprise to learn just how old they were. But the news of Franco Zeffirelli’s death, at 96, inspired a major double take. The extravagant Italian maestro of theater, opera and film lived to a vibrant old age. Yet for many of us, the name Zeffirelli [...]

  • Evan Tanner, Professional mixed martial arts

    UFC Fighter Evan Tanner Biopic ‘The Power of 1’ in the Works (EXCLUSIVE)

    Producers Christopher Scheimann and Olcun Tan have partnered with top sports director Bobby Razak on “The Power of 1,” a feature biopic of UFC fighter Evan Tanner. Co-written by Scheimann and Razak, the movie is slated to go into pre-production toward the end of this year, with principal photography planned for early next year. Tanner, [...]

  • The Grove Introduces Drive-In Rooftop Movie

    The Grove Introduces Drive-In Rooftop Movie Theater Level 8

    The Grove is ringing in summer with a new rooftop movie theater. The popular Los Angeles shopping mall, located between Fairfax and La Brea, announced today the launch of their new cinema experience titled Level 8 Drive-in, which will kick off with a screening of “Grease” on June 26 and will run through September. Inspired [...]

  • China, Shanghai Exhibition Centre, Soviet-style Facade

    Shanghai: China Market 'Has Always Been a Turbulent One,' Says Infotainment Chief (EXCLUSIVE)

    Movie sales and distribution company Infotainment China comes to the Shanghai International Film Festival optimistic about Chinese audience trends, but gloomy about current business conditions. “The market is bad and industry players are very pessimistic. I just hope it doesn’t get worse,” said Infotainment CEO Cindy Lin, though she noted that such periods of trouble [...]

  • Billy Eichner Power of Pride Variety

    Billy Eichner on the Homophobia He Still Sees in Comedy and Hollywood

    On “Billy on the Street,” Billy Eichner has made a name for himself running up and down Manhattan’s sidewalks, ambushing clueless New Yorkers and interrogating them about pop culture. A brash physical comedian, Eichner has no qualms about asking perfect strangers embarrassing questions, hectoring pedestrians about their willingness to have a threesome with Jon Hamm [...]

  • State of Pride Full

    How Hollywood Is (and Isn't) Getting Better at LGBTQ Inclusion

    Brandon Flynn, one of the breakout actors from Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why,” has spent the last two years fielding questions about his personal life. In 2017, he wrote a passionate post on Instagram, advocating for an Australian vote that allowed for same-sex marriage. Soon enough, news sites such as HuffPost and E! News were reporting [...]

  • Prince Mohammed bin Salman Abdulaziz al

    Saudi Crown Prince Should Be Investigated Over Khashoggi Killing, U.N. Report Says

    Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, should be investigated in connection with the killing of Jamal Khashoggi because of “credible evidence” that the prince is among those liable for the dissident journalist’s death, a United Nations report said Wednesday. While no “smoking gun” has yet been found that directly incriminates the prince [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content