The Reject ReportImagine a quiet, two-story house on a dark small-town street. Inside, a group of teens prepare to watch a movie, something scary, something hi-def. They have wealthy parents. As they drink their respective beverages and the FBI warning sits on the screen unobserved, the phone rings. One of the teens answers. On the other end, a high shriek emits, a shriek the other teens hear coming from outside. They go to the window to look, and flying through the air, headed straight for them, is a tropical bird. It has recently been launched from a giant slingshot jutting up out of the front yard. The bird’s target has been set. The teenagers are unsuspecting. Some of them might die this night.

They scream, and thus begins this week’s Reject Report, Rio vs. Scream 4.

BIG HITTERS

Those birds might be dangerous as they fly through the air at helpless and poorly constructed buildings, but they’re also so damned cute. That’s precisely what 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky are counting on with Rio. Will it be another Ice Age? Could be. That film opened to $46.3 million in March of 2002 and launched Fox into the computer animated race. I’m sure they’d even be satisfied with Rio being another Robots or Horton Hears a Who!. They opened to $36 and $45 million, respectively. Neither turned into a franchise, but they made the studio some pretty pennies. Rio will fall somewhere within those two films. It has already pulled in $54.9 million outside the US. Mostly in Russia. I guess there aren’t too many tropical birds hanging around Northern Asia, so the escapism factor fits well there. In the US, however, Rio will surely be #1 this weekend and it’ll be another in the long slate of big openings Blue Sky has given to Fox.

Something not so cute is Ghostface. A little more on the cute side is Hayden Panettiere. If for nothing else her and her new look – shorter hair and a tougher personality – will bring Scream 4 a healthy amount of box office take here. Oh sure, the fact that it’s the long awaited fourth installment of a successful franchise will help. I’m sure Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson will be able to scrounge up a few dollars for The Weinstein Company. The fact that Scream 2 opened to $32.9 million and Scream 3 opened to $34.7 million will help Scream 4 out in an ancillary sort of way. But this film’s true success will be Panettiere. Her presence alone will ensure Scream 4 comes in somewhere between $35-40 million. Nothing else. Nothing at all. Okay. I’m gonna show you the trailer now and stop acting creepy.

Here’s that trailer for Scream 4. It features Hayden Panettiere, who evidently has a restraining order against me:

Opening in relatively wide release is Robert Redford’s latest directorial effort, The Conspirator. It’s about Mary Surratt, one of the many put on trial for the assassination of President Lincoln. I’m assuming it’s a period piece and this isn’t an ongoing investigation. Justin Long is in there, so it might be a comedy. I’m a little confused about this, really. It’s opening on just a little over 700 screens across the nation, so your chances of seeing it are pretty good unless you live in the backwoods. In that case, why are you wasting your dial-up on the Reject Report. Go smarten yourself up at Wired.com or something. Digression aside, The Conspirator probably won’t end up anywhere on the top 10 list, but it has the potential of bringing in a million or two for Roadside Attractions.

FAMILIARITIES

There probably won’t be too many surprises in the 3-10 listing. Hop will come in the #3 spot with somewhere around $10 million. Hanna, which ended up being the top earner among new releases last weekend, will have a relatively shallow drop-off this second weekend. The same surely can’t be said for Your Highness. An R-rated comedy that has an abysmal fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. If it’s lucky, its 2nd weekend drop-off will be less than 60%. All else appears to be business as usual.

LITTLE OPENERS

Opening in limited release are Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 opening in select cities across the country; Armadillo opening at the IFC Center in New York City; The Double Hour opening in New York and L.A.; Fly Away opening in New York, L.A., and Washington DC; The Princess of Montpensier opening at the IFC Center in New York; A Screaming Man opening in select cities; and The Imperialists are Still Alive! opening in select cities.

Here’s how the weekend is shaping up:

  1. Rio – $40.6m NEW
  2. Scream 4 – $35.8m NEW
  3. Hop – $10m (-52.5%)
  4. Hanna – $6.9m (-43.8%)
  5. Soul Surfer – $6.4m (-38.8%)
  6. Insidious – $6.3m (-31.4%)
  7. Arthur – $6.1m (-50%)
  8. Source Code – $5.1m (-40%)
  9. Your Highness – $4.4m (-52.6%)
  10. Limitless – $3m (-44%)

With the two big openings for the new films, this weekend could potentially be bringing in $124.6 million, a definite upswing from what we’ve been seeing the past month and a half. The box office hasn’t been atrocious, but considering how well received much of the current slate of films has been, you’d have thought it would have been a golden era for box office receipts. Not so much the case, but with the help of an animated kids flick and an entry to a highly lucrative horror series, this weekend could mark the amping up to the Summer movie season the industry has been looking for.

We’ll be back on Sunday to go over the weekend numbers.

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