The Reject Report

Welcome to another no-brainer Reject Report, the column that each week correctly predicts the box-office champion for the weekend. I say that not to brag. I say it because it’s a fact, especially these days. It’s really easy to pick a weekend box-office winner when these studios roll out only one new blockbuster week after week against absolutely no competition. This weekend, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian rolls out and should easily take the box office title, but everyone knows that, anyway. But how much will it rake in? That is the question we will tackle this week.

Of course, in a few days will be Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. So next weekend is going to be really easy to prognosticate, too. What can I say? It doesn’t take any kind of rocket science to predict weekly winners at the box office, folks. Which means I look doubly stupid on those rare occasions when I completely blow a first-place prediction (as I did with 21, The Forbidden Kingdom and a few other movies).

Speed RacerBefore we dissect Caspian, the only major wide release this weekend, I thought I would take one final opportunity to rehash the train wreck — excuse me, the flaming car wreck – that is Speed Racer.

What a disaster for the Wachowski brothers, not to mention Warner Brothers! Turns out that the “second-place, $20 million dollar gross” figure that was released on the weekend was one final attempt at spin by the WB studios, as Speed Racer actually ended up third at $18.6 million dollars!! That’s right, it didn’t even make it to $20 million for the weekend after all! The reports are coming in all over the place about the worldwide failure at the box office for this flick, too. I read it came in a dismal fourth place in the United Kingdom.

I mention this movie again for a couple of reasons. One is that I no longer trust any of the spin that comes out of any of these studios — not even when it comes to releasing final numbers for total, freaking flops!! The other is that with Speed Racer left for dead the weekend is wide-open for Prince Caspian to do much better than expected, with no competition to speak of. There had been fears that Speed Racer might take away some of Prince Caspian’s business, but I think those fears are all put to rest now. Anyway, that is my final word on Speed Racer. May he rest in peace. R.I.P.

Prince CaspianNow on to Prince Caspian, which is the sequel to the wildly successful Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe movie that came out in 2005. That movie opened at $65 million and made $744,783,957 worldwide. This movie is based on the second of C.S. Lewis’ famous childrens books and is released by Walt Disney and Walden Media. It features these four kids who travel back in time 1300 years to meet the heir to the Narnia throne, Prince Caspian. He is in hiding as his uncle, the evil King Miraz, plans to kill him. Anyway, the four kids and Prince Caspian seek to rid Narnia of this king and his iron grip, with the help of a few friends. The cast includes Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar KeynesIt and others, it’s directed by Andrew Adamson and rated PG.

The studio has predicted $60-70 million for the weekend, and after what went down with Iron Man I am loathe to take those pronouncements at face value. The Paramount folks said they expected $60-$70 million for Iron Man, too! I’m sure they floated that figure out just to lower everyone’s expectations, too. Anyway, I don’t believe any of the lies these studios are likely to spew to the press about what they predict the gross will be. What will undoubtedly happen is the movie will outperform all the official studio predictions, and then the folks at Disney and Walden Media will be able to crow about how the movie outperformed all expectations — even though it met all the expectations to begin with.

So to make a long story short I predict not $60-70 million but $92 million for Prince Caspian — because the first movie was such a massive hit, because there’s no new competition from anyone and Iron Man is finally losing steam, and because it’s aimed at a young audience that is ready to make a big hit out of something. It’s in 3,929 theaters, so this movie has a decent shot. Besides, I picked this movie to finish second for the entire summer. The only way Prince Caspian will still have a shot at making me look good with my own summer predictions is to hit $92 million. I must say, though, Iron Man is really rolling right now and threatens to contend for that #2 spot for the whole summer, especially after making $100 million its first week out.

Here is how I see the weekend unfolding, since that’s it for the new wide releases:

1. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian $92 million
2. Iron Man $27 million
3. What Happens in Vegas $11 million
4. Speed Racer $9 million
5. Made of Honor $4.8 million
6. Baby Mama $3.9 million
7. Forgetting Sarah Marshall $2.9 million
8. Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay $2.2 million
9. The Forbidden Kingdom $1.5 million
10. Nim’s Island $800,000

Eight hundred thousand will get you into the top ten?! Well, that’s what may well happen – a lot of people are predicting this to be the weekend when a movie finishes in the top ten with less than a million gross. It truly is feast or famine at the box office right now.

So that’s it for the Reject Report for this week! Time for you to go back to combing the Internet for news about the Cannes Film Festival! (I hear Kung Fu Panda is taking the place by storm.) See you at the end of the weekend when we find out if Prince Caspian is a hit — or another flop. We’ll see.


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