As the film-loving public turns its attention toward Sunday's MTV Movie Awards, theatergoers are expected to put either baseball biopic "42" or horror spoof "Scary Movie 5" in the #1 spot at the box office this weekend.
On the art house front, MTV Movie Awards Best Male Performance nominee Ben Affleck, fresh off the Oscar victories for "Argo," will be back in theaters this weekend in "To the Wonder," the latest film from "The Tree of Life" director Terrence Malick.
"Scary Movie 5" sees Ashley Tisdale stepping in for Anna Faris and includes appearances from headline-makers Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen. The Wayans brothers were initially involved in the "Scary Movie" series, but have since departed. Marlon Wayans' "A Haunted House" opened with $19 million earlier this year. But the "Scary Movie" franchise name should prove to be much stronger.
"The original 'Scary Movie' spoofed the 'Scream' franchise, which attempted a revival two years ago, with 'Scream 4' launching 11 years after the threequel. That didn't quite work out as the series went out with a whimper," Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock told MTV News. "Don't expect the same turn of events. Spoof movies are notoriously underestimated."
The franchise has made more than $800 million around the world. Bock predicted "Scary Movie 5" could pull in as much as $22 million, while IMDb.com's Keith Simanton was even more optimistic at $29 million. Ray Subers, of Box Office Mojo, pointed out that it's been six years since "Scary Movie 4" did $40 million, so he estimated a return of less than $20 million.
"42," starring newcomer Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson, was recently screened for a group of students by Michelle Obama at the White House.
Simanton predicted $17 million while Bock projected $18 million, which are both higher than the conservative $15 million Warner Bros. projected. The Los Angeles Times, however, put "42" ahead of "Scary Movie 5" at $20 million vs. $17 million.
"The wild card here is urban audiences," said Bock. "Will they turn out for one of the great heroes of African American sports culture or will they settle for the umpteenth spoof of horror films? Although faith in America is strong, my experience as a box office analyst tells me 'Scary Movie 5' takes the weekend."
As for Malick's latest? "'The Tree of Life' went on to gross over $50 million worldwide and was nominated for Best Picture— quite a feat for an art flick," Bock said. "But even with Ben Affleck's sudden career revival, don't expect a wide release for Malick's dramatic mind-bender as it hasn't been receiving reviews that are as glowing as they were for 'Tree of Life.' Plus, Magnolia Pictures doesn't quite have the reach, or marketing allure that Fox Searchlight does."
Last weekend's #1 film, the "Evil Dead" remake, should suffer the second-weekend decline typical of horror flicks, but should muster enough to remain in the top five. "The Croods" is on course to become the next "How to Train Your Dragon," which had an impressive run unabated by kid-friendly competition. "There is no direct competition until 'Epic' is released over Memorial Day. While 'The Croods' probably won't reach $217 million like 'Dragon' did, $185 million is not out of the question."