Never mind the endless speculation over whether Springfield is in Kentucky, Missouri or Illinois: This weekend "The Simpsons" will call your town home, as Homer and his family couch-gag their way into 3,800 theaters across America with their very own, long-awaited movie debut.
Were "The Simpsons Movie" to fall at the low end of expectations, it would still find itself setting records. When it comes to successful film adaptations of animated television shows, there's "The Rugrats Movie," and then there's, well, not really anything else. Released in 1998, "Rugrats" remainsthe only animated-television-show-turned-flick to cross the magical $100 million mark domestically. Much more common are box-office stinkers like "Teacher's Pet," "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters" and "Hey Arnold! The Movie."
With that history in mind, could "The Simpsons Movie" be the Worst. Idea. Ever? Not likely. Much more probable is that come Monday, Fox executives will be looking for Amanda Huggenkiss after what's sure to be a dominant weekend.
Long the enemy of duplicitous foes like Sideshow Bob, Fat Tony and Mr. Burns (not to mention those snakes from Shelbyville), the Simpsons' biggest competition this weekend might come from another "Two-Faced" threat, with the release of "No Reservations," a romantic comedy starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Abigail Breslin and "Dark Knight" villain Aaron Eckhart. The story of a chef who suddenly gains custody of her niece, "No Reservations" hopes to cook up some positive word of mouth in 2,300 theaters.
Both, however, could get knocked off their high hippogriffs ("Expelliarmus," we hear Harry screaming) should Potter rebound from a somewhat tepid second frame and lead "The Order of the Phoenix" to a surprise win in its third week. Harry's minor dip was no doubt caused by hard-core fans rushing out to buy "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" and reading it all weekend. Will they still want to see "Order" now that they know how the story ends? It didn't hurt "Titanic."
Also being released this weekend is "Who's Your Caddy?," an urban reimagining of "Caddyshack" starring Outkast's Big Boi, and "I Know Who Killed Me," a thriller starring Lindsay Lohan as a traumatized stripper. Sigh. We have no joke for either of these movies. You are free to provide your own.
So what will it be? Can "No Reservations" or "Harry Potter" win the weekend, or will "The Simpsons Movie" whip the competition? Mmm ... whip.
We asked our experts.
The Predictions: Over the past year that we've been writing Projection Booth, we've had a lot of celebrities ask us what they win if their prediction comes the closest ("Unending adulation?" we usually say in response), but "Hot Fuzz" director Edgar Wright is the first one to make us laugh aloud when doing so. "I want a date with Kurt Loder [if I win]," he joked. So there you have it. What number could possibly make this magical evening come true? Find out below.
What's the #1 flick? How much will it rake in?
Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: "The Simpsons Movie" ($42 million)
"Never let it be said this weekend doesn't offer a wealth of options at the multiplex, from 'Hairspray' to 'Harry Potter,' 'Chuck and Larry' to 'The Simpsons.' We're talking a musical, a fantasy, a comedy and an animated spinoff from a TV series! Plus, there's more of an adult romantic offering in 'No Reservations.' What, no western? So who wins? I have to believe fans of Homer and Bart are going to be out in droves for the long-awaited 'Simpsons' flick. Let me be one of the first to tell you, it delivers. And so it will at the box office."
Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: "The Simpsons Movie" ($38 million)
"After 18 years and 400 episodes, is there anywhere left for Homer, Bart and the rest of the Simpsons to go? Well, they'll head to the big screen and most certainly win the weekend, thanks to loyal fans on sugar highs from all those pink doughnuts at their local 7-Eleven/Kwik-E-Marts. I predict that the flick will take in $38 million and prove to be the biggest thing in Springfield this side of Comic Book Guy's underpants. But the real question is whether, in week two, those same fans will want to take Apu's advice and come again."
Edgar Wright, "Hot Fuzz" director: "The Simpsons Movie" ($52 million)
"I can't f---ing wait to see it, and I'm sure there's so many people who are curious. It's a difficult one to tell because it's like one of the most famous brands ever so, everybody knows it. ... Let's be optimistic and say 'The Simpsons' is going to open at $52 million. I'm hoping it might even be higher. I'm guessing all 'Simpsons' fans, which is a lot of people, will turn out on Friday."
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