Where have all the blockbusters gone?
Not since the release of "Night at the Museum" all the way back in 2006 has a movie dominated the box office. Sure, there have been modest hits like "Stomp the Yard" ($51.2 million and counting), but what about an honest-to-goodness water-cooler flick? With only two major new entries at the multiplex this weekend — neither looking particularly ginormous — you might have to wait at least another week for such a juggernaut. But fear not: Nic Cage — as a comic book hero — and Hannibal are on their way.
In the meantime, we have a new contender for the box-office crown come Friday: "The Messengers." On the plus side, it's got some creepy commercials. On the other hand, its lead actress was the girl in "Zathura" (see "Kristen Stewart Kicks Freaky Kids' Butts In 'Messengers' "). Sony is banking on a novel new twist on the genre courtesy of acclaimed Hong Kong filmmakers Oxide and Danny Pang. Certainly after the disastrous opening of recent genre fare like "The Hitcher" and "Blood and Chocolate," this one can only pleasantly surprise. And consider that a year ago the similarly starless "When a Stranger Calls" opened to a solid $21 million (see "Paul Walker And A Pack Of Dogs Outrun 'Date Movie'").
Meanwhile, football may be on the brain of most this weekend (have you made your Super Bowl plans?), but Universal is hoping for a little counter-programming blitz with the release of "Because I Said So" (see "Mandy Moore Looks For Love Alongside Genre's Giant, Diane Keaton"). Victimized by perhaps the most mock-worthy chick-flick title since "Something's Gotta Give," this multigenerational family flick tries to mine the Mandy Moore and Diane Keaton audiences for comedic effect.
As for returning flicks, films like "Epic Movie" (last week's #1) were not built for long runs; only disastrous debuts from the two newcomers could cause its return to the top spot. Look for Oscar contenders "The Queen," "Pan's Labyrinth," and "Dreamgirls" to continue to dominate the adult crowd further down the top 10.
The Predictions: Just because he recently had a #1 film in theaters ("Stomp the Yard") doesn't make Chris Brown a champ at box-office prognostication. Or does it? This week, the singer-turned-thespian is trying to prove himself to be a triple threat by adding a Projection Booth crown to his mantle. Can he topple the two pillars of box-office wisdom that are yours truly and Larry Carroll? Check back on Monday to find out.
What's the #1 flick? How much will it rake in?
Larry Carroll, MTV Movies writer: "Epic Movie" ($16 million)
"It's going to be a real close weekend. That much is certain. I'm going to give the edge to 'Epic Movie' as a repeating champ, because 'The Hitcher' didn't do too well, and I think fans are too burned out on horror to go see 'The Messengers.' Plus, there's bound to be a few people who avoid it thinking it's a sequel to the Milla Jovovich Joan of Arc movie from a few years back. 'Epic Movie' will grab another $16 million and just barely beat Mandy and 'The Messengers.' "
Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: "The Messengers" ($22 million)
"Something in my bones tells me that people are itching for a good scare this weekend. OK, maybe it's just that two co-workers separately mentioned the commercials for the film this morning, but still, that stuff counts for something. I think 'The Messengers' is going to go where 'The Hitcher' and 'Blood and Chocolate' only dreamed about — all the way to the top spot."
Chris Brown, "Stomp the Yard" star: "The Messengers" ($19.9 million)
"That movie looks incredible, because even in the previews when they throw the sheets up and you can see the feet under the sheets? I was like, 'Yeah, I'm gonna go watch that!' I'm gonna be biased and say that no movie can surpass 'Stomp the Yard' ... so I'll say $19.9 million, right before the $20 million [that 'Yard' opened with]."
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