What do Sarah Jessica Parker, a high-flying Jake Gyllenhaal, and the honor of the men and women who fought and died for their country all have in common?  On any, other weekend, the answer to that questions would be “absolutely nothing.”  Luckily, in 2010, we have a valid answer to this age-old question.  Age-old as in I just came up with it about two minutes ago.  The answer, of course, is they’re all relevant to the weekend, as, this Memorial Day weekend unveils two, new, Summer blockbusters, Sex and the City 2 and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

Who will come out victorious?  We all know the soldiers who fought the wars would surely trample over the fallen visages of Carrie, the girls, and even Gyllenhaal, even with his parkour skills at their fullest.  But that kind of victory isn’t what we’re, ultimately, concerned with here.  We want to know what is going to come out on top of the weekend’s box office.  Although, that former battle, if filmed, might make a nice bit of coin itself.

BIG HITTERS

Let’s start with the girls.  The two-year wait to see the next installment of the Sex and the City series has been very near unbearable.  For other people, I mean.  I mean, I could care less what misadventures Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte with her cute, scrunched up nose get themselves into.  Regardless, the first Sex and the City made an impact in May of 2008, pulling in $57 million in its opening weekend and going on to pull in $152 million domestically.

As for the sequel, there are a few elements that could keep it from having the same type of opening.  First of all, in 2008, Sex and the City only had to contend with The Strangers in terms of new films that weekend.  It was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull‘s second weekend, but poor word of mouth had already gotten out about that film.  Not to say Crystal Skull could have pulled much away from the Sex and the City crowd, and the same can be said for Prince of Persia.  However, Sex and the City 2 does open on Thursday, May 27th, instead of Friday this time around.  As we are only looking at the Friday to Monday numbers for this Memorial Day weekend, the numbers the Thursday opening pulls away from the weekend could keep Sex and the City 2 out of the top spot.  Monday’s numbers for Prince of Persia could also give it the ultimate edge over the R-rated Sex and the City 2, as kids will be out of school and parents, home from work for the day, will likely take them to the local theater.

If you, like me, just can’t wait to see more of the Sex and the City girls, kick back, sip a Cosmo, and check out the trailer right here:

What could come out on top, and what I think will garner the biggest numbers from Friday morning to Monday night will be the latest collaboration between Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney.  With Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the Summer has its first, really big adventure movie, and the people who thought Iron Man 2 didn’t deliver enough Iron Man action or Robin Hood was as dull as a spoon (“It’s dull, you twit.  It’ll hurt more!”) will surely be clamoring for the excitement and adventure Bruckheimer and Mike Newell have to offer.

To sort out just how much Prince of Persia might make this weekend, you can’t really look at Newell’s history.  He’s had one blockbuster, and, though that blockbuster had a $102-million opening weekend, that came from the fact that it was a Harry Potter film, not a Mike Newell one.  The best indicator of how well Prince of Persia will do this weekend is by looking at Bruckheimer’s history with this type of Disney-based adventure.  Pirate of the Caribbean is a good starting point, and, while Prince of Persia is likely to do better than the first POTC‘s $46.6-million opening, don’t expect this first in a proposed franchise to make as much as the other films in the POTC franchise.  Ultimately, Prince of Persia will do better than Curse of the Black Pearl, it will do better than both Natural Treasure films, but it won’t be the body slam Bruckheimer pulled in with Dead Man’s Chest or At World’s End.  Even with the Monday take.  Look for numbers closer to Pearl Harbor this time around.

If you’re looking for some Gyllenhaal-leaping-between-buildings-adventure before heading out to the theater, check out the film’s trailer right here:

FAMILIARITIES

Everything that is already in theaters looks to have a pretty standard drop from last weekend.  Shrek Forever After won’t have quite the staying power of Shrek or Shrek 2, but its second weekend take won’t have as big a drop as Shrek the Third had.  That film was considered DOA by critics as soon as it hit theaters, and this fourth installment is actually getting some decent praise.  It won’t have the longevity to pull it into the $200-million range.  In fact, DreamWorks Animation, I’m sure, is probably sweating about whether its domestic take will even cover its cost of $165 million.

Iron Man 2 will continue its steady decline.  The belief that it wouldn’t be able to make it to $300 million is still teetering on the fence.  It surely will if Paramount and Marvel Studios decide to give it a late-summer re-release.  As it is, though, it’s anybody’s guess.  It’s still quickly becoming a massive, worldwide success, already pulling in $524 million worldwide, enough to pay for two, more Iron Man movies over.

An interesting note this week is that Alice in Wonderland has crossed the $1-billion mark worldwide, making it only the sixth film to do so and the second for Johnny Depp and Disney.  Hey, those two entities should collaborate more.  How about a fourth Pirates movie?

LITTLE OPENERS

There are some interesting, limited films hitting theaters this week.  One is the latest from a beloved, French auteur.  Another is the latest zombie-driven flick from the man who used to be the master of said sub-genre.  Micmacs, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film about a man who is caught in a drive-by shooting and seeks revenge on those who put him in the hospital.  You can check out our very own Landon Palmer’s review from SXSW, then, if you’re in the New York area, you can check it out.

Check out the trailer for Micmacs right here:

Also in limited release this weekend is George Romero’s latest, zombie epic, Survival of the Dead.  Check out Brian Salisbury’s review.  It opens this weekend in 19 theaters across the country.  Check out the film’s official site to see if it’s anywhere in your neck of the woods.

Get your zombie on (I don’t know what that means) right here:

Also opening in New York and LA this weekend is Rialto Picture’s re-release of Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless.

Here’s how the top 10 is shaping up this weekend:

  1. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – $59.3m NEW
  2. Sex and the City 2 – $54.9m NEW
  3. Shrek Forever After – $39.2m (-45.5%)
  4. Iron Man 2 – $14m (-46.4%)
  5. Robin Hood – $11.6m (-37.6%)
  6. Letters to Juliet – $6.2m (-30.2%)
  7. MacGruber – $2.5m (-37.5%)
  8. Just Wright – $2.3m (-44%)
  9. Date Night – $1.9m (-31.5%)
  10. A Nightmare on Elm Street – $1m (-52.2%)

OVERALL GLANCE

This puts this weekend’s top 10 films at a cumulative $192.9 million, up 36.5% from last weekend’s $141.4-million take.  This isn’t all that surprising when you consider the two, new films last weekend (Shrek Forever After and MacGruber) didn’t live up to task.  Even without Memorial Day’s numbers included, this weekend is sure to beat last weekends.  Of course, if either of the two, new movies this weekend fall short of their projected numbers, the story could be completely different.

The doubling up of new, big movies this weekend will also help it pass up the Memorial Day weekend take.  Last year, the release of Up and its subsequent cash flow of $68.1 million helped make that weekend $159.9.  If all goes according to plan, this weekend will have a 20.6% increase from last year’s Memorial Day weekend, a grand success going up against the best PIXAR had to offer.  And why shouldn’t things go according to plan? Who are any of us to fight the forces of fashion?

We’ll be back on Monday night to go over the weekend’s final numbers.


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