Forget what you’ve heard about John McClane struggling to fight bad guys as an analog cop in a digital world — the biggest old-school versus new-school battle this weekend won’t be fought in “Live Free or Die Hard” but by it, as the franchise attempts to blow up the box office after a 12-year hiatus.
Which got us to thinking about young and old: If “Live Free or Die Hard” co-star Justin Long was joking around on the set one day, parroting his famous ads and declaring that he’s “a Mac,” would Willis respond somewhat self-deprecatingly that he’s “a PG”? The latest installment of the famously R-rated series is PG-13, leading many fans of the original to cry in unison, “Yippie-ki-yay, motherf—er” except, you know, without the “yippie-ki-yay” part.
But it’s still “Die Hard,” right? The long layoff makes predictions based on previous success particularly difficult. For all the relevance grosses for the first three movies have, I might as well quote you the opening weekend numbers of “Steamboat Willie,” so different is the modern cinematic landscape.
But quoting “Steamboat Willie” may be oddly appropriate, after all. It’s taken 80 years, but the folks at Disney seem to have finally come full circle — from a mouse to a rat, that is — with “Ratatouille.”
The story of a Parisian rat, Remy, who dreams of becoming a world-class chef, the movie is the latest insta-classic from Brad Bird and the geniuses at Pixar. The studio’s last flick, “Cars,” was widely considered a disappointment because it didn’t match the opening haul for “Finding Nemo,” but the NASCAR-themed movie still went on to gross nearly $250 million. With little competition for the kiddie dollar this weekend, look for “Ratatouille” to post an equally healthy opening.
Which is good news for Remy, considering that there’s no way for even the most talented rat to get health insurance (something about the fat content of cheese, we suppose). Not to fear, though, Michael Moore is on the case. The populist provocateur is back with “Sicko,” a scathing look at American health care, a system in which 50 million Americans don’t have insurance and many of the 250 million who do aren’t as protected as they would like to believe.
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11″ is the highest-grossing documentary of all time (by far) and the only documentary to ever win a weekend. “Sicko” almost certainly won’t match that success, but don’t count out an impressive top-five finish. Doctor’s orders.
Will “Live Free or Die Hard” destroy the competition Nakatomi Plaza-style? Or will “Ratatouille” march its way through the Arc de Triomphe? We asked our experts.
The Predictions: He’s famously done battle with Common and Cypress Hill, but nothing compares to Ice Cube’s fight with our box-office experts. We hate to so obviously handicap, but look, the man knows Fridays. Is it really that much of a stretch to think he knows weekends as well? MTV recently caught up with Cube on the set of his new movie, “First Sunday,” the story of “two guys stupid enough to rob a church,” Cube said. So who did the Frozen One say was going to be “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted”? Find out below.
What’s the #1 flick? How much will it rake in?
Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: “Ratatouille” ($64 million)
“It’s a weekend of extremes. Do you go with the yippie-ki-yay antics of Bruce Willis or family-friendly comedy by way of Pixar? Much as I was impressed by ‘Live Free or Die Hard’ (who knew there was something left in this franchise?!?), I’d be a fool to bet against ‘Incredibles’ director Brad Bird’s follow-up. So it’s ‘Ratatouille’ by a nose.”
Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: “Ratatouille” ($59 million)
“There’s no bigger John McClane fan out there than yours truly, and there’s nothing I’d love more than to watch Bruce Willis drop a cute cartoon rodent off the roof of Nakatomi Plaza à la Hans Gruber. Still, I’m not naive enough to think that Pixar won’t be dying a little bit harder this weekend. So I’m going to predict that ‘Ratatouille’ comes in with $59 million, keeping the ‘toon studio’s streak alive.”
Ice Cube, “First Sunday” star: “Live Free or Die Hard” ($57 million)
“Oh man, ‘Live Free or Die Hard’ [is going to win], especially with what’s coming out this weekend. I want to see it. Oh yeah, I want to see it!”
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