“Troy”!?!? I still haven’t seen “Van Helsing”!!

‘Troy’ Poised to Hit a Homer at Box Office
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – The forces of ancient Greece move to the forefront of the box office battles this weekend as Warner Bros. launches its epic “Troy” in a lot more than 1,000 theaters. As the gods would have it, “Troy” appears fated to claim the top slot in the weekend standings once all the dust clears.
Universal Pictures’ “Van Helsing,” from director Stephen Sommers, which kicked off the summer last weekend with a $51.7 million debut, is probably facing a 50% falloff typical of horror fare. Currently, the movie is performing somewhat more robustly than Sommers’ 1999 creature feature, “The Mummy” but not up to the level of 2001’s “The Mummy Returns.”
That suggests that the vampire-slaying flick will achieve a second-weekend haul somewhere around the $25 million mark and open up plenty of room for Warners’ Trojan horse.
“Troy,” directed by Wolfgang Petersen, last represented by 2000’s “A Perfect Storm,” does have a few obstacles to overcome. Its R rating could put a cap on its weekend earnings, and its 163-minute running time will place a limit on the number of screenings that can be squeezed into the weekend, even though it is bowing in 3,411 theaters.
But the megamillion-dollar retelling of Homer’s “The Iliad,” penned by David Benioff (“25th Hour”), also has plenty of arrows in its quiver. Its lineup of buff leading men — Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom and Eric Bana — has generated definite interest among under-25 females, while the massive battle sequences are a lure for under-25 men. In addition, Warners is betting that the classics-based saga also will generate interest among the two over-25 quadrants of the market.
In figuring out its potential box office clout, “Troy’s” most immediate precedent is 2000’s Oscar-winning “Gladiator,” whose success gave rise to the current cycle of sword-and-sandals movies. Leading off the summer season four years ago, “Gladiator” enjoyed a first weekend of $34.8 million in 2,938 theaters. But the real key to predicting “Troy’s” potential muscle might be found in such other recent nonsequel R-rated films as “8 Mile,” which debuted to $51.2 million in November 2002, and “Scary Movie,” which arrived to $42.3 million in July 2000. Those precursors suggest that “Troy” could hit the beach with a first-weekend tally just north of the $40 million mark.
The only other studio opener daring to confront the combined power of “Troy” and “Van Helsing” is “Breakin’ All the Rules,” from Sony Pictures’ Screen Gems genre unit. The PG-13 comedy directed by Daniel Taplitz (“Commandments”) stars Jamie Foxx, who becomes a best-selling author by advising men on how to break up with their women. With a cast that includes Morris Chestnut, Gabrielle Union and Jennifer Esposito, the movie should pull in a core black audience. But the fact that it is venturing out on just 1,318 screens should hold its initial gross below the $10 million mark.
Meanwhile, continuing to position itself as a femme-skewing alternative to the big guns like “Troy” and “Van Helsing,” Paramount Pictures’ “Mean Girls,” starring Lindsay Lohan, should hang in there. The movie took the top spot two weekends ago and ranked second last weekend with a $13.7 million purse. Having taken in more than $44 million to date, it should manage to hold onto the third spot this frame.
On the specialized film front, Sony Pictures Classics will debut Hector Babenco’s “Oz”-like prison drama “Carandiru” in New York and Los Angeles, MGM’s United Artists unit will present Jim Jarmusch’s music-filled “Coffee and Cigarettes,” and Lions Gate will raise the curtain on “A Slipping Down Life.”