This weekend, the Rock and Mark Wahlberg are staged to outmuscle Tom Cruise.
"Pain & Gain" puts director Michael Bay back in his "Bad Boys" buddy action-comedy zone. Wahlberg and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson star as bodybuilders-turned-criminals, based on real events in the late '90s. The movie is expected to collect over $20 million this weekend, which should be enough to beat last weekend's #1 film, "Oblivion."
Wahlberg, Bay, Rob Corddry, Ken Jeong and Bar Paly all stopped by MTV's "Sneak Peek Week" leading into the 2013 MTV Movie Awards, where Wahlberg told MTV News' Josh Horowitz he channeled his own criminal past while making the movie.
"Pain & Gain" should steal the box-office crown from "Oblivion" with a $23 million opening, according to The Los Angeles Times. Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock predicted a similar number, but IMDB.com's Keith Simanton warned that negative reviews — the film had a 46 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes going into the weekend — would result in $19 million or $20 million. Bock pointed out that Bay's $2.6 billion in worldwide ticket sales for "The Transformers" franchise (which will next feature Wahlberg) was a smart move on the heels of his only true financial disappointment, "The Island."
"With 'Pain & Gain,' Bay isn't straying too far from his original 'Bad Boys' formula that put him on the map: a low budget R-rated action/comedy featuring a bad-ass tag-team," he said. "But instead of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence — who are far from boys behaving badly lately — he recruited Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson. Both actors had moderate misfires earlier this year with Johnson's 'Snitch' and Wahlberg's 'Broken City,' however the hilarity of the Miami muscle-head scene combined with Macklemore's 'Thrift Store' jam should be enough to hype audiences into punching their tickets."
Add to that the massive success of relatively recent hits like "Ted" and "Fast Five" and "Pain & Gain" will do just fine.
Despite a large ensemble cast that includes Robert DeNiro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Robin Williams and Susan Sarandon, "The Big Wedding" (the weekend's only other wide release) is expected to debut in the $10 million range. "When you're selling tickets two for one on your official movie website, you know you've got major issues," said Bock of the poorly-reviewed flick, a remake of a 2006 French film. "Sadly, when you resort to this kind of tomfoolery you've already admitted no one has a clue that your film is coming out this weekend."
Speaking of awareness, will recent headlines have any effect on Reese Witherspoon's "Mud" as it opens in 363 theaters? "Yes," offered Simanton. "It gives editors better punchlines on the headlines of their 'Mud' articles."
Ray Subers at BoxOfficeMojo.com predicted $20 million for "Pain & Gain." Overall, this weekend will likely be a quiet one as audiences brace for the higher profile fare coming up," he wrote on the site. "Iron Man 3" should open with $160 million come May 3.
Check out everything we've got on "Pain & Gain."