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Hannibal Back for Another Helping at Box Office
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) – Universal’s “Red Dragon” should have a serious box office feast this weekend.
The Hannibal Lecter chiller is poised to demolish the $28.6 million record for an October opening, set two years ago by the studio’s “Meet the Parents.”
“I’d say the chances of breaking that figure are excellent,” opined Dan Marks, executive VP at box office tracker Nielsen EDI.
Moviegoer interest may push the weekend take to summer-type levels, Marks added. “Just because we haven’t had big openings in October before, that doesn’t mean they’re not possible.”
The sunny outlook stems partly from stellar performances by the previous Lecter features — 1991’s “The Silence of the Lambs,” which won five Oscars ( news – web sites) and grossed $130.7 million domestically for Orion; and 2001’s “Hannibal,” which opened with $58 million on its way to $165 million for MGM.
Universal has slotted “Dragon” into 3,357 engagements after a massive marketing campaign that mostly turns on a masked Anthony Hopkins. The Brett Ratner-directed film co-stars Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton and Emily Watson.
“Dragon” packed enough heat to preclude other studios from scheduling major openers during the frame. The most significant competition undoubtedly will come from Disney’s sophomore session of romantic comedy “Sweet Home Alabama,” which pleasantly surprised trackers with a $35.7 million debut and tacked on an additional $6.3 million Monday-Wednesday.
Marks believes that “Dragon” and “Alabama” can thrive at the same time since they are aimed at distinctly different demos. “They both should have a pretty clear field this weekend,” he added.
Besides “Meet the Parents,” only one other picture has managed to top the $20 million mark during an October weekend. Warner Bros.’ “Training Day” turned the trick on the same weekend last year with a $22.6 million opening.
Disney will be seeking to take advantage of its impressive launch last weekend of “Moonlight Mile” by expanding to 434 engagements.
Artisan will try to draw on the notoriously unpredictable kiddie demo by opening animated biblical saga “Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie” at 940 sites.