Forecast: Box Office Wide Open

by Brandon Gray
July 16, 1999

Baby did a bad, bad thing… Baby did a bad, bad thing. Who else finds themselves singing these lines from the raspy Chris Isaak song? It's certainly catchy… Speaking of which, anyone see that Eyes Wide Shut clip with Tom Cruise surrounded by the secret sex society? The grand pubaa decked out in that freaky red cloak and mask utters this line to Cruise from his throne: "Remove your clothes." I find myself repeating that line quite often. It's hilarious the way that guy says it. It has catch phrase of the summer potential.

Anyway, the picture opens at 2,411 theaters and has a running time of 159 minutes, so it won't have as many showtimes as some other movies out there. However, the similarly long and R-rated Saving Private Ryan set a precedent when it opened with $30.6 million from 2,463 theaters at about the same time last year. Now, I don't see an artsy, erotic picture as having the same appeal as a good old war drama, but Tom Cruise's pictures of the 1990's have opened to around $24 million on average. I think the mystery, the hype, and his return from a long absence should be good enough to give him an above average opening.

Meanwhile, Lake Placid should benefit from being the first campy creature feature in a while. Surprisingly, this one is at the top of my must see list for the weekend. I know many would consider that blasphemy given the presence of the Kubrick picture, but I'm in the mood to have fun. Besides this picture was written by David Kelley, the man behind my favorite television shows, The Practice, Ally McBeal, and Chicago Hope. I also think others feel the same way, and that this picture will have relatively strong business over the weekend. By the way, I wonder if anyone has used this as a headline for a bad review: Lake Flaccid. It seems to me that the title is just begging for it.

The Wood is the first urban appeal picture in a while. It looks kind of like a cross between Friday and Soul Food, so it should have an opening somewhere between those two. It should also end up with the second highest per theater average of the weekend.

Though Muppets from Space only has direct competition from Tarzan, its lackluster ad campaign has made it a non-event. I see it having a worse opening than the last Muppet movie, Muppet Treasure Island, which opened with $7.9 million en route to a $34.3 million total.

Editor's Note: Articles published before 2001 were assigned and reported as box office briefings, not a full evaluation or analysis.

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