You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Weekend warriors at the box office

'Bill,' 'Punisher' vie for piece of action

The nation’s multiplexes will see a bruising face-off this weekend between a pair of R-rated avenger-type entries aimed at action fans — Miramax’s “Kill Bill Vol. 2” and Lions Gate/Artisan’s “The Punisher.”

Both films are showing significant traction among young males, but Quentin Tarantino’s sequel, opening with 2,971 playdates, is given the better odds at broadening its appeal into other demos, as it’s tracking far better among females and older males. Universal’s also in 1,013 sites to open showbiz comedy “Connie and Carla,” starring Nia Vardalos and Toni Collette as cabaret singers on the lam.

Distribs from other camps remain perplexed over the placement of two pics going after essentially the same core audience. Execs believe that both “Kill Bill Vol. 2” and “The Punisher” would have grossed more individually if they weren’t facing each other.

“Bill” stars Uma Thurman as a wronged woman driven to vengeance against David Carradine, who plays title character; “Punisher,” with 2,649 engagements, stars Tom Jane as a federal drug agent who turns vigilante after his family is killed by a crime boss played by John Travolta.

On the plus side, though, rival execs note that young males are the most frequent moviegoers and are more likely to be willing to see both films.

DVD push

Emerging consensus has been that “Kill Bill Vol. 2” will prevail, due to the benefits of strong reviews and the respectable perf by “Kill Bill Vol. 1,” which had a domestic cume of $69.9 million. Consumers spent about $40 million buying the DVD of “Vol. 1” on the first day it was in stores on Tuesday, and that number is expected to nearly double over the course of the first week.

Rival distribs estimate “Kill Bill Vol. 2” will debut in the mid to high 20 millions, or slightly better than the $22.1 million opening last October for “Kill Bill Vol. 1.” Industry expectations place “The Punisher” as heading for an opening in the mid to high teens. “Connie and Carla” has been tracking mostly among older females.

“Kill Bill Vol. 2” was originally slotted for a Feb. 20 release, but decided six weeks before then to go for April 16, even though “The Punisher” had already staked out the date.

“Bill” started out as one long pic until Miramax and Tarantino decided to whack it in half and release the chopsocky yarn as a two-parter.

The eighth weekend of Newmarket’s “The Passion of the Christ” is also certain to be a significant player this weekend. Mel Gibson’s blockbuster, which easily led five new releases in the last frame (which included Easter weekend) with $15.2 million, topped $356 million on Wednesday and has consistently outperformed forecasts.

Dan Marks, VP of box office tracker Nielsen EDI, noted that the new entries may be helped by coming into a marketplace where none of last weekend’s newcomers reached the $10 million mark. “If pictures with significant consumer appeal open in what’s been a lackluster market, that can be a benefit to those new films,” he added.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

    Film Review: 'Jay and Silent Bob Reboot'

    In a film culture overrun by Marvel epics, wild-stunt action flicks, and other grandiose juvenilia, it is often said that the mid-budget, script-driven movie for adults is becoming a thing of the past. But don’t tell that to Kevin Smith, whose “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot,” a shaggy antic throwaway that premiered Tuesday in the [...]

  • So Long, My Son directed by

    Wang Xiaoshuai's 'So Long, My Son' Earns Six APSA Nominations

    Chinese drama, “So Long, My Son,” was nominated in six categories for this year’s Asia Pacific Screen Awards. The unprecedented haul makes it a clear favorite. The Wang Xiaoshuai-directed drama about separation, secrets, a lifetime of regret, and the consequences of China’s one child policy, had its premiere in February at the Berlin festival. There [...]

  • Alan Rickman

    Film News Roundup: 'Galaxy Quest' Documentary Set for Release

    In today’s film news roundup, rescue drama “Not Without Hope” is back in development, a “Galaxy Quest” documentary is set for release, “The Two Popes” wins another award, and Ella Joyce gets cast. PROJECT REVIVED U.K.-based financing-production outfit Goldfinch has bought feature film rights to Nick Schuyler’s “Not Without Hope” and signed “The Fog” director [...]

  • Ryan Reynolds John Krasinkski

    Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski in Talks for 'Imaginary Friends' Movie

    Ryan Reynolds and John Krasinski are in talks to board the fantasy comedy “Imaginary Friends” at Paramount Studios. Paramount recently won the bidding for the property over Lionsgate and Sony. Krasinski will write, direct,  produce and star while Reynolds will co-star if the deals go through. The story centers on a man who can see [...]

  • Willem Dafoe attends the "Motherless Brooklyn"

    Willem Dafoe Joins Guillermo Del Toro's 'Nightmare Alley'

    Willem Dafoe has closed a deal to join Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of “Nightmare Alley.” Collider had first reported that Dafoe was being considered for a role in the film, but sources now say the “Lighthouse” star has closed a deal to join the cast. The “At [...]

  • 'To the Ends of the Earth'

    Busan Film Review: 'To the Ends of the Earth'

    “To the Ends of the Earth,” the story of a young Japanese journalist’s experiences in Uzbekistan filming a report for a Japanese TV travel show, was originally commissioned to celebrate 25 years of cordial diplomatic relations between director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s hyper-developed island homeland and the less affluent, landlocked Central Asian nation. As such we might [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content