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‘Anger Management’ Targets Box Office Records
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – “Anger Management” appears to already have the competition crying uncle.
Rival studio executives have essentially conceded the weekend in advance to the new PG-13 comedy from Columbia Pictures and Revolution Studios. “Anger” is the only wide release entering the fray this week, and industry expectations are that it is likely to shatter April box office records.
Opening in 3,551 theaters, the movie will be saturating multiplexes from coast to coast. Boasting a head-to-head confrontation between explosive generational icons Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler, the comedy — directed by Peter Segal and produced by Sandler’s Happy Madison production company — is as close to a sure thing as the business ever offers up.
The premise centers on Sandler playing a wrongly accused criminal who must take part in an anger management program run by Nicholson’s character, who harbors his own anger issues.
With the two stars set to bring in a considerably wide demographic, coupled with the recent success of comedies and the lack of competition in the theaters, most expect the film to break the April record set last year by Universal Pictures’ “The Scorpion King,” which brought in $36 million in its opening weekend.
“The question at this point is not an issue of competition but how much a movie can do in the month of April,” one distribution executive said.
With a script credited to David Dorfman, the movie is expected to jolt the box office out of its doldrums. “Anger” also is likely to take a chunk out of last weekend’s openers. Distribution execs predict that 20th Century Fox’s “Phone Booth” could lose close to 50% in its second frame, while Warner Bros. Pictures’ “What a Girl Wants” may drop by more than 30%. New Line Cinema’s “A Man Apart” also is likely to fall considerably in its follow-up weekend.
But with the spring holidays also arriving next week, “Anger” could face new competition as early as Wednesday. Rather than launch April 18, which happens to be Good Friday, both MGM and Fox will unveil new pictures Wednesday. MGM has the action-comedy “Bulletproof Monk,” starring Chow Yun-Fat, while Fox hopes to lure Latino moviegoers to the romantic comedy “Chasing Papi,” starring Eduardo Verastegui.
But first, this weekend must play out. While Sony’s “Anger” takes the extra-wide release route, Buena Vista is taking a chance on an experimental documentary by “Titanic” director James Cameron as he explores the actual sunken superliner, an underwater grave where 1,500 passengers of Titanic’s doomed cruise rest. The unscripted, 3-D “Ghosts of the Abyss,” produced in conjunction with Walden Media and narrated by Bill Paxton, uses state-of-the-art technology developed expressly for this expedition and will bow in 97 theaters, in both 35 mm and large-screen format.
Meanwhile, a fearless Lions Gate is releasing Rob Zombie’s horror film “House of 1000 Corpses,” which had been shelved by Universal Pictures until Zombie bought the film back and found distribution elsewhere. The film marks the feature directorial debut for the rock singer. Lions Gate will release the R-rated film in 595 sites.
On the indie front, two films with considerable buzz bow this weekend in very limited release. Paramount Classics is releasing director Jason Lin’s “Better Luck Tomorrow” under the MTV Films label. The movie, which follows a group of Asian-American friends who dabble in crime, was acquired at 2002’s Sundance festival for less than $1 million.
Also acquired after debuting at last year’s Sundance fest is IFC Films’ limited release “XX/XY.” Starring indie fave Mark Ruffalo and Kathleen Robertson, the R-rated film centers on three friends who begin a three-way relationship that spirals out of control. The film, set to open in New York and Los Angeles, is written and directed by newcomer Austin Chick.