Aaron Paul is racing to break the video-game-movie curse this weekend. Unless Angelina Jolie or Milla Jovovich is starring, most video game adaptations tend to bomb. But the makers of "Need for Speed" are hoping fans who like their action movies to be, ahem, fast and furious to put their film in pole position.
With the exception of Sundance Film Festival attendees who got an early look at "Hellion," due later this year, "Need for Speed" will mark the first time Paul has been on the big screen following the "Breaking Bad" finale, which smashed records with 10.3 million viewers (and countless more illegal downloads). If the negative reviews are any indication, "Need for Speed" isn't likely to make Paul a movie star, but it does have a strong shot at #1 this weekend.
"Need for Speed" pairs Paul with experienced stuntman-turned-director Scott Waugh, who helmed the unexpected hit "Act of Valor" in 2012. ComingSoon.net projected a $27 million opening-weekend haul for "Need for Speed," and Entertainment Weekly wasn't far behind with their $26 million prediction. The Los Angeles Times suggested the number could be anywhere between $25 and $30 million, while Box Office Mojo predicted a more conservative $22 million. Whatever the final dollar amount, all industry projections seemed to be in agreement that "Need for Speed" will beat the latest from Tyler Perry.
Yes, the multifaceted filmmaker has another movie in theaters this weekend. "The Single Moms Club," a non-Madea picture, should open somewhere in the mid- to high teens. The dramedy stars Nia Long, Amy Smart (seen most recently on this season of TV's "Justified") and Cocoa Brown. Perry's brand name was attached to three films last year, including "A Madea Christmas." Last spring's "Tyler Perry Presents Peeples" (which he produced but did not write or direct) was the lowest-grossing film with his name in the title ever, making 10 percent of the $90 million haul of his biggest move ever, 2009's "Madea Goes to Jail."
The biggest competition racing against "Need for Speed" will be "300: Rise of an Empire" and the kid-friendly "Mr. Peabody and Sherman." Last weekend's #1 and #2 debuts should each drop down just one notch, leaving the #4 spot open for "Single Moms Club." Liam Neeson's "Non-Stop" should round out the Top 5.
The long-awaited "Veronica Mars" movie opens in 300 locations this weekend, while Jason Bateman's "Bad Words opens in just six, roughly two weeks ahead of its nationwide release. By comparison, "The Single Moms Club" will be in nearly 2,000 theaters, while "Need for Speed" will be in even more than that.
Later this month, U.K. audiences will get to see Paul starring in "A Long Way Down," the latest Nick Hornby adaptation. Previous Hornby-driven big-screen affairs include "About a Boy" and "High Fidelity." Paul will play Joshua to Christian Bale's Moses in "Exodus," director Ridley Scott's star-packed epic due in December.
"Need for Speed" better enjoy its victory lap, because next weekend is bound to belong to "Divergent."