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Studios seek holiday green

'Hornet,' 'Dilemma' open as other films go wider

Sony hopes moviegoers will go green for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. “The Green Hornet” launches at 3,584 domestic locations, of which 2,704 are 3D-equipped, including 174 Imax sites.

Universal’s Vince Vaughn-Kevin James laffer “The Dilemma” also opens wide, at 2,941.

In anticipation of the Golden Globes fete on Sunday, best pic nominees “Black Swan” and “The King’s Speech” expand nationwide today, both having added considerable flair to the 2010 specialty box office. “Black Swan,” expanding to 2,228 engagements, has cumed almost $64 million, while “The King’s Speech,” at 1,523, up from 753 locations last weekend, has grossed $35 million domestically.

Other Globes hopefuls expanding this weekend are the Weinstein Co.’s “Blue Valentine,” from 40 to 230 locations, and Lionsgate’s “Rabbit Hole,” which adds 65.

Plenty of overseas moviegoers, mainly in Euro territories like France and Germany, could also see “The Green Hornet” this weekend as Sony launches the pic dayand date in 35 markets. U bows “Dilemma” in Australia and New Zealand.

Given the pic’s targeted fanboy demo, Sony planned to screen “The Green Hornet” at some 700 midnight showings today, looking to get a jumpstart on the holiday sesh. Bizzers expect the movie, budgeted at an estimated $110 million, to land about $40 million for the four days.

In past years, Martin Luther King Day weekend has become a prime B.O. slot as the year’s release sked expands beyond summer and Christmas periods. Sony announced in April that it would move “The Green Hornet” from Dec. 22 to this weekend, citing the need for more time for pic’s 3D conversion.

Leading up to the movie’s launch, Sony inked branding deals with regional fast-food chain Carl’s Jr.; TV spots feature stars Seth Rogen and Jay Chou cruising through a drive-through window. Pic’s ads were just one attempt to help put the focus on the film’s buddy conceit.

Rated PG-13, “Green Hornet” is directed by Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) and co-stars Cameron Diaz and Christoph Waltz.

Faced with a relatively lesser-known superhero property, Sony has tubthumped the film’s action sequences and 3D format to help boost interest among fanboys. Prior to Christmas, Sony reported that the pic had been tracking unusually well with overall audiences — good news for the studio considering that holiday titles generally occupy auds’ attention at that time. Since then the film has gained traction with young girls, according to Sony.

Meanwhile, U’s “Dilemma” could succeed as counterprogramming as the film is tracking best with moviegoers over 25. Universal expects the film to bow in the mid-teens over the long weekend, comparing “Dilemma” to titles such as Nancy Meyers’ “Something’s Gotta Give,” which launched on Dec. 12, 2003, with $16 million.

Directed by Ron Howard, “The Dilemma” tells the story of a man who discovers his best friend’s wife is having an affair. Winona Ryder and Jennifer Connelly co-star.

Paramount holdover “True Grit” should figure well in the holiday frame after having expanded beyond its core adult aud in the past weeks. Last weekend, “True Grit” rose to the No. 1 spot, beating U’s reigning champ “Little Fockers.” “Grit” cume is $114 million; “Little Fockers” has taken $126 million.

Indie titles looking to take advantage of the long weekend include Freestyle Releasing’s “The Heart Specialist,” toplining Wood Harris and Zoe Saldana, at 422 engagements; and Paul Giamatti starrer “Barney’s Version,” which Sony Pictures Classics is bowing at only four locations in New York and L.A.

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