Hey Dan, what’s new in theatres this weekend?

New Releases Promise Low Impact at Box Office
ORLANDO, Fla. (Variety) – Like so many bugs splattered on a windshield, this weekend’s five wide openers and half-dozen limited releases will make themselves noticed, but pose no real threat of major impact.
In fact, the No. 1 and 2 spots at the box office are expected to go once again to last weekend’s top two pictures: Universal’s “Red Dragon” and Disney’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” But the looming swarm of openers has made for some amused conversations among distributors and exhibitors at the ShowEast trade show in Orlando this week.
“It’s almost comical,” observed one studio executive trying to orchestrate his studio’s release amid the crush of competition. “It’s just crazy.”
For movie theater owners, the situation represents at least a mixed blessing — if viewed through rose-colored glasses.
They long have lobbied for distributors to fill in the long gaps between summer and holiday box office seasons with big releases in other parts of the year, and this weekend is the latest evidence that studio executives are listening. But so many titles entering the marketplace at once puts pressure on circuits to accommodate the new pictures — and important studio relationships — while maintaining enough auditoriums for successful movies already in release.
Also, the unspooling of so many pictures in a fairly nondescript October weekend — other than its dovetailing with Columbus Day on Monday — raises the question of whether any of the pictures are being dumped by distributors just to get them out of the can and into the marketplace.
Top trackers among this frame’s new titles include New Line’s “Knockaround Guys” — a low-budget mob actioner starring Vin Diesel — and 20th Century Fox’s “The Transporter.” Both target male moviegoers not preoccupied with Hannibal Lecter or Reese Witherspoon.
“Guys” skews older and thus is in more of a head-on collision with R-rated “Dragon,” while the PG-13 “Transporter” will have to count on younger studs resisting galpals’ date-night instincts toward femme magnet “Alabama.” “Transporter” had been slotted for a September bow until Fox bumped the picture to goose picture awareness with a heightened TV campaign.
Also unspooling are the young-skewing haunted-sub suspenser “Below” from Miramax/Dimension; the urban drama “Brown Sugar” from Fox Searchlight; and the Disney family fantasy “Tuck Everlasting.”
Among the frame’s notable limited releases are Sony/Revolution’s “Punch-Drunk Love,” an Adam Sandler starrer helmed by Paul Thomas Anderson (“Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia”), and Warner Bros.’ three-hanky femme drama “White Oleander,” whose ensemble cast includes Michelle Pfeiffer and Renee Zellweger. “Punch-Drunk” broadens to wide release Oct. 18.
The weekend mayhem could have been even messier if Premiere hadn’t postponed the release of intended wide release “Who’s Your Daddy?” The comedy has been shelved until at least November by serious financial problems at the fledgling distributor.
Box office watchers say it’s tough to say which of the weekend openers — if any — might enjoy especially strong Sunday grosses given the prospect of a day off from work or school Monday for some moviegoers. Columbus Day is a fairly notable holiday in a few markets like Gotham, but it’s all but ignored in some parts of the country.
Meanwhile, “Dragon” grossed an October record $36.5 million in its inaugural frame last weekend, but could see plummet this weekend. “Alabama,” which managed a relatively modest 40% drop last weekend to $21.3 million, will try to show shapely gams for a long fall run.
DreamWorks’ Jackie Chan starrer “The Tuxedo” also enters its third frame in release after a skimpy 33% drop to $10 million in third last weekend. And then, of course, there’s still IFC’s “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” the Energizer Bunny of platformed releases.
The ethnic laffer finished fourth last weekend with a scant 13% fall to $8.2 million. “Wedding” became the top-grossing indie picture of all time last weekend with a domestic total of $147.7 million through its 25th session.
Whatever you choose, enjoy the popcorn and I’ll see you at the movies!