This time of year is typically a strange period for films and September 2011 has been no different. After the typical high-octane summer full of blockbusters and high-budget action films the beginning of fall has been relatively quiet for new release movies.
Kids are back in school, weekends are full of soccer matches and homework, and studios are standing pat until the holiday season, content to trickle out all of the film’s that they either aren’t confident in or don’t have money to promote. Though the holiday slate seems to contain quite a few marquee new release movies (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, “Twilight: Breaking Dawn” and “The Muppets”, to name a few) this week sees the release of a fairly small slate of films.
Out of the five or six movies premiering this weekend only two really have even an outside shot at unseating “The Lion King” from the top box-office position. First off, we get “50/50”, a comedy film from Summit Entertainment starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogan. While both actors have starred in #1 box-office films, both the subject matter—Adam (Gordon-Levitt) is diagnosed with cancer and his friend, Kyle (Rogan), tries to help him deal with this life-altering experience—and the timing of the film’s release make it unlikely that there will be enough buzz surrounding the film to unseat a child-friendly Disney film with broad appeal like the Lion King.
Though it is currently rating an 88% on Rottentomatoes.com’s TomatoMeter, high-ratings don’t always equal box-office mojo. Combine this with the fact that a) neither actor is your typical leading-man material and b) Seth Rogan still may be suffering a little backlash from his misstep with “The Green Hornet” earlier this year, and “50/50” seems like less and less of a sure thing.
The only other film with a decent shot at taking over the #1 position, in my opinion, is the romantic comedy “What’s Your Number?” starring Anna Faris. Currently it is getting fairly poor reviews across the board which hurt its chances of performing well, but it does have two things going for it: 1) it is opening in over 3,000 movie theaters, and 2) romantic comedies typically do very well their first week out of the gate. Combine this with The Lion King’s relatively low total last week of $21.9 million and “What’s Your Number” just may be able to take the #1 slot for a week or two.
The one thing standing between “Number” and big box-office numbers is the simple fact that Anna Faris has yet to prove that she can single-handedly carry a movie. The only other film where she played the lead role, “The House Bunny”, opened at #2 at the end of the summer in 2008 and spent only three weeks in the top five before falling off the map completely. Considering the history behind the numbers of both these films, neither of them is a sure thing to even crack the top five.
Be that as it may, I would have to put my money on “What’s Your Number?”; more often than not, women and families drive box-office numbers and this film is a straight-ahead paint-by-numbers romantic comedy. While recent box-office numbers and buzz may be on the side of Rogan and Gordon-Levitt I think this week might be carried by a simple rom-com rather than a moody buddy-comedy.