Box Office: Everyone and Their Girlfriend is Excited About Wolverine


Welcome to a special first-weekend-in-May edition of the Reject Report where we once again predict the box office for the latest movies. This weekend the blockbuster season begins with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and the predictions are coming in from everywhere about how this will do and whether any records will end up being broken. As well, I’ll also talk about Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and the animated Battle for Terra, but since it’s obvious that nobody cares about box office totals, anyway, I won’t waste too much time on either of them.

One thing I should say at the start is that the more information I gather about the summer movies, the more I change my mind about what is going to happen. One thing that could throw everyone’s summer predictions for a loop is this dreaded swine flu business that is sweeping Mexico right now. Already it is wreaking havoc down there with theaters being shut down and so on. The Mexican premiere of Wolverine has been pushed back, and so has the premiere of Star Trek set for next week. So this is going to have an impact on the international box office haul, though obviously not a large one at the moment. Still, if this swine flu gets out of control, we could see movie theater closures and premieres pushed back in the USA, or even where I am in frozen Canada. So yeah, you need to watch this sort of thing closely.

As promised I am going to make short work of the two movies being served up as counter-programming to Wolverine in domestic release. Battle for Terra is a CGI flick being released into 1,150 theaters, and it’s in 3-D. It’s a sci-fi movie about refugees from Earth who escape to and colonize the planet Terra, and as a result they cause a lot of problems to that planet. The movie was shown on the festival circuit beginning in 2007, initially in 2-D, and has won some awards. Still, I don’t detect too much excitement about it from the masses. I am predicting only a $4.8 million haul and I feel I’m being generous here.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past stars Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner and is getting a much wider release, to around 3,000 theaters. This is the familiar story of a guy at his younger brother’s wedding who is always surrounded by women, and he is visited by three ghosts who take him back in time to try and determine when he turned from being a nice guy into this womanizing creep. Jennifer Garner is in this flick.

This definitely sounds like a chick flick to me. The question I have is why the heck is this being released NOW? I would have thought that this sort of material would be released in February or March. Oh, no matter. I am predicting $20 million for Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, mainly because girls love Matthew McConaughey. Plus, they need something to amuse themselves this weekend at the movies while their boyfriends are in the other cinema watching Wolverine.

Now, onto my thoughts about X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the long awaited latest X-Men movie starring the famed former host of the Oscars, Hugh Jackman. It also stars Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Dominic Monaghan and Ryan Reynolds and is directed by Gavin Hood.

Now, before we go into too many details I should talk a little about the controversy that surrounded this movie a few weeks back, when Roger Friedman of Fox News famously reviewed a pirated copy of the movie. Everyone immediately accused him of promoting piracy, and he was out the door at Fox News so fast that it wasn’t even funny. Now, there are obviously going to be people who are going to wonder whether the pirated copies floating out there on the Internet will have an impact on the box office. The knee jerk reaction is to say “of course not, you idiot,” but there will always be a cheapskate segment of the movie-watching audience who will go the pirate route no matter what. These folks would rather watch some movie on some computer screen somewhere, instead of pay good money to experience the same movie in widescreen with all the sound and special effects in the theater. The result is the final totals will never be as high as they could be.

Personally, I think this Wolverine controversy has ended up being great free publicity. I don’t expect the impact of piracy will be too great. There’s so much piracy out there for every movie out there right now, yet despite all this you still have movies setting box office records. I also heard they changed some scenes around because of the piracy flap, too, so that ought to defeat the pirates.

I’m just going to go ahead and predict an opening of $101 million for Wolverine. Say what? That high? Yes. Heck, Iron Man opened to $98 million last year at this same time. Besides, Fast and Furious opened to $70.9 million. If a movie like Fast and Furious can open to $70.9 million just a few weeks ago, it makes all the sense to me that a highly-anticipated flick like Wolverine will open even higher. I know I’m being bullish, and a lot of people are predicting only as far as the low 90s, but Wolverine has a very wide release (over 4100 theaters) and lots of midnight-movie screenings to pad its total.

May I add that the predictions of big things for Wolverine reflect some enormous expectations for the movie right now. It’s because the first weekend of May has taken on a life of its own as the kickoff to the summer movie season. Everyone automatically gets excited that it’s May, so they flock to the theater as if it’s the start of football season or something like that. So the pressure is definitely on for Wolverine to get at least as far as the mid-80 million range, at the very least. You can bet that this Wolverine flick only comes in at $60 or $70 million, it’s going to be seen as a big disappointment and people like Nikki Finke will start throwing the “F” word around (flop) — especially since the cost of making this film was through the roof, over a hundred mil at least.

It’s all part of the expectations game people play at this time of year; everyone’s idea of what constitutes a hit movie gets totally bent right out of shape. The thing that worries me is that the percentages of online sales were running in the low-60s range earlier in the week, which you would think would be excellent. But I remember when Jonas Brothers came out this spring and the same sorts of online numbers were being thrown about. And it ended up being a flop. Of course there were also reports of big online sales for Watchmen and look what happened — it came in at only $55 million. Heck, I don’t know what is going to happen. We aren’t going to know what goes down with Wolverine for sure until the loot gets counted, for real, beginning Friday.

So that’s my prediction on Wolverine, and here is what I think will go down at the domestic box office this weekend:

  1. Wolverine $101 million
  2. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past $20 million
  3. Obsessed $13 million
  4. 17 Again $6 million
  5. Earth $5.3 million
  6. Fighting $5.2 million
  7. The Soloist $5.1 million
  8. Monsters vs. Aliens $5 million
  9. Battle for Terra $4.8 million
  10. State of Play $3.5 million

That is all I gotta say for now. Back at weekend’s end, when we find out what the final total is for Wolverine here at the Reject Report.

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