The Farrelly brothers will look to break Judd Apatow’s recent hold on R-rated comedy with Ben Stiller laffer “The Heartbreak Kid,” which DreamWorks-Paramount opens this weekend in 3,229 theaters.
“Heartbreak” has a clear shot at winning the frame. Whether it can match the $22.5 million opening for the Farrellys’ Jack Black-Gwyneth Paltrow starrer “Shallow Hal” or the $24.2 million bow for their Jim Carrey laffer “Me, Myself & Irene” is the question.
New on the family front is Fox Walden’s fantasy-adventure “The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising,” which 20th Century Fox unspools in 3,141 locations. Movie is the first released under the Fox Walden banner, a marketing partnership between Fox and Philip Anschutz’s Walden Media.
“Seeker” could have a tough time taking out Disney holdover “The Game Plan,” which opened to a surprisingly strong $22.9 million last weekend.
The race for No. 2 could well be between “Game Plan,” starring Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, and Universal holdover “The Kingdom.”
The weekend’s other new wide opener is “Feel the Noise,” a reggaeton music-dance drama produced by Jennifer Lopez’s Nuyorican Prods. Sony bows the pic in 1,015 locations.
On the specialty side, new entries include George Clooney starrer “Michael Clayton,” a drama-thriller written by Tony Gilroy, who is making his directorial debut. Warner Bros. opens the film, also starring Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton and Sydney Pollack, in 15 theaters in New York and Los Angeles before going wide on Oct. 12.
With “Heartbreak Kid,” DreamWorks and Paramount are looking to ride the wave of success enjoyed recently by R-rated comedies, including “Knocked Up,” directed by Apatow, and “Superbad,” produced by Apatow. U’s “Knocked Up” opened to $33 million in June, Sony’s “Superbad” to $30.7 million in August.
Marketing campaign for “Heartbreak,” a reimagining of the Neil Simon-penned 1972 pic, has relied heavily on Stiller, who plays a newlywed who discovers he may have found the perfect woman — and she’s not his wife.
Stiller last worked with Bobby and Peter Farrelly on 1998 box office hit “There’s Something About Mary,” which opened at $13.7 million on its way to a domestic cume of $176.5 million.
While pic is generating interest among young males, DreamWorks and Par will rely on word of mouth to some degree, since they can’t advertise the movie’s most crude moments.
Stiller was last in theaters with family comedy-adventure “Night at the Museum,” which opened to $30.4 million. Thesp has enjoyed big opening numbers for other broad comedies, including sequel “Meet the Fockers,” which grossed $46.1 million in its first weekend.
But with its restrictive rating, “Heartbreak” is more limited in scope.
The Farrellys’ last two pics came in below expectations. “Fever Pitch” opened at $12.4 million in 2005 on its way to a domestic cume of $42 million, while “Stuck on You” opened at $9.4 million on its way to $33.8 million.
With its Walden Media pact, Fox is looking to expand its reach in the family market while sharing the risk. Fox will co-finance some of the films released under the Fox Walden banner, as it did with “Seeker.”
“Seeker,” based on the tome by Susan Cooper, concerns a boy who discovers he’s the last in a line of immortal warriors. Expectations for box office are modest.
A handful of specialty films expand this weekend, including Wes Anderson’s “The Darjeeling Limited,” which Fox Searchlight takes from two to 19 runs in the film’s second frame. Focus Features expands Ang Lee’s NC-17 rated “Lust, Caution” from one to 17 theaters in its second frame.
In their third frames, Sony Classics’ “The Jane Austen Book Club” platforms from 41 to 1,232 theaters; Paramount Vantage’s “Into the Wild” expands from 33 to 135 runs; while Warners takes Brad Pitt-Casey Affleck oater “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” to 61 from five runs.
Among other new specialty entries, Sony Classics bows docu “My Kid Could Paint That” in eight locations in L.A. and Gotham, while Yari Film Group releases Jake Paltrow’s directorial debut “The Good Night,” starring sister Gwyneth Paltrow, Penelope Cruz and Martin Freeman, in two locations.
Warners opens Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner: The Final Cut” in two runs in L.A. and New York as part of a campaign for the DVD releases. Also opening in two locations in Los Angeles is A.J. Schnack’s docu “Kurt Cobain About a Son,” which Balcony is releasing.
On the foreign front, moviegoing’s likely to pick up from the quiet pace of recent sessions as several high-profile titles enter key markets.
Paramount’s going day-and-date with Ben Stiller comedy “The Heartbreak Kid” in Russia and the U.K.
Universal’s launching terrorism actioner “The Kingdom,” starring Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner, into Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. Foxx’s last actioner, “Miami Vice,” turned in a respectable offshore performance with $100 million.
Disney’s starting the final round of foreign launches for “Ratatouille” with openings in Austria, Denmark and Germany. The Pixar toon’s already cumed $230 million internationally while holding back on about 40% of the markets until this month and November.
“Rush Hour 3” goes into Holland, Italy and South Korea; three-quel has hit $81 million overseas. The U.K. has been the top market with $21 million followed by Germany with $11 million.
Sony’s expanding “Superbad” into Germany and Mexico. The raunchy comedy has generated moderate traction in its early runs overseas.
Other launches include “Eastern Promises” in Spain, “Resident Evil: Extinction” in Brazil and Sweden and “Surf’s Up” in Italy.