The Reject ReportImagine Brad Pitt standing on a desolate road holding a gun on director J.J. Abrams. Sitting in front of Abrams is the mystery box, that figurative enclosure in which Abrams stores the secrets of his latest project. Brad Pitt screams a phrase we haven’t heard him scream since 1995, and as Abrams reaches into the box to reveal what’s inside (hint: it’s not Gwyneth Paltrow’s head), a shot rings out. Abrams drops dead, but it isn’t Pitt’s gun that fired. It’s Judy Moody who is standing behind Pitt and who, as of now, is NOT having a bummer summer.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a lame story with a stupid ending. You try writing these intros out every week. Let’s get to the number, okay?

BIG HITTERS

Super 8 is a bit of an anomaly. It’s opening here in the middle of June on over 3300 screens. It’s debuting on IMAX – not 3D – and it’s more than likely to come in at the top of the charts. However, it’s not based on any established property. It has no stars involved unless all you Friday Night Lights fanatics out there can’t wait to see more Coach Taylor. So what’s driving this film onwards and upwards? It’s that mystery box I spoke of above. What’s that? You skipped ahead when you noticed how awful it was?

J.J. Abrams has a knack for building mystery around his projects. Nobody knew what Super 8 was going to be about, but everyone was hyperactive for any piece of information they could get their hands on about it. That and the ‘produced by Steven Spielberg’ credit is what’s going to make Super 8 most of its money this weekend. The lack of branding and no star power is why it won’t open any higher than the $50m it cost to make. Even that amount is a stretch. Super 8, Abrams, and his mystery box are looking at something closer to $45m for the weekend take, still not a bad offering for an original film. It’ll be a good tiding over for Abrams until Star Trek 2 gives him his biggest opening yet.

You’ve seen the build-up to Super 8’s mystery already. The trailer doesn’t tell you what you want to know, so get a taste of your nostalgia early with this trailer for Spielberg’s E.T.:

Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer comes out this weekend, too. Judy might not be having a bummer Summer, but the $6m this movie is likely to make this weekend is sure to put Relativity in a foul mood.

FAMILIARITIES

Coming off reviews saying it’s the best X-Men movie yet, X-Men: First Class could have another worthwhile take here in its second weekend. In fact, there’s a very minimal chance Super 8 could underperform, First Class could have a staggeringly low drop, and it could wind up in the top seat. That’s not likely, but the potential isn’t exactly 0%. Regardless where it ends up, the positive word of mouth should give First Class a low 40% drop, giving it an addition $30m and putting it past the $100m mark. At this point, it will be lucky to match its $160m price tag in domestic box office. Worldwide, it isn’t doing so grand, either. $74.5m so far in foreign ticket sales. The chances of us getting a First Class 2 is slimming with each passing day.

Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris continues to surprise the industry, and this weekend it expands to 944 screens. That should be good enough to get it at least another $5m on top of the $7.7 it’s already made. Obviously time will tell, but Midnight in Paris could be Allen’s biggest movie to date. The number it has to beat is $40m, what 1986’s Hanna and Her Sisters pulled in.

LITTLE OPENERS

The title Troll Hunter isn’t some kind of figurative title, and it’s not about a group of movie bloggers going after people who flame them in the comments section. It’s literally about a group of people who go into the Norwegian woods and mountains hunting giant trolls. Does it deliver? Well, you can check out Cole’s review from Fantastic Fest right here but I’m guessing you pretty much decided whether or not you were going to see this movie as soon as I said it was called Troll Hunter. If big, scary, CG monsters are your thing, check it out. If not, hey, Midnight in Paris expands to 944 screens. Troll Hunter opens in New York City.

Also in limited release are The Trip opening in New York and LA; Viva Riva! opening in New York, LA, and Portland; One Lucky Elephant opening in New York City; The Chameleon opening in select cities; and Bride Flight (featuring Rutger “By God” Hauer) opening in New York and LA.

Here’s how the weekend is shaping up:

  1. Super 8 – $46.6m NEW
  2. X-Men: First Class – $31.8m (-42.2%)
  3. The Hangover Part II – $12.6m (-59.5%)
  4. Kung Fu Panda 2 – $12.6m (-47%)
  5. Bridesmaids – $8.2m (-31%)
  6. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – $8m (-55.2%)
  7. Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer – $6.3m NEW
  8. Midnight in Paris – $5.4m EXPANDING TO 944 SCREENS
  9. Thor – $2m (-51.8%)
  10. Fast Five – $1.5m (-48.8%)

That amounts to $135 million for the top 10, down from the past couple of weekends but certainly nowhere near a “box office slump”. We are well into the Summer months, and all the films have been doing a steady job pulling in respectable amounts. No one’s been this year’s MacGruber or Jonah Hex, but I’m sure we’ll get a bomb here somewhere. It’s not that I’m wanting one. It’s just expected. There’s still plenty of Summer to go, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins is just on the horizon. Again, not wanting a dud. I’m just stating facts.

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

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