Weekend Preview: 'The Bounty Hunter,' 'Repo Men,' 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid'
by Ray Subers
Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler in The Bounty Hunter
March 18, 2010
While three movies make their nationwide debut this weekend, it is unlikely that any of them will end Alice in Wonderland's reign. Alice held relatively well last weekend, down 46 percent to $62.7 million, good for fifth among the all time highest-grossing second weekends. Its midweek numbers have been strong (this Wednesday was off only 30 percent from last Wednesday), indicating that its drop this weekend will be even lighter than last. This should put Alice in line for one of the biggest third weekend grosses on record.
Among the new movies, The Bounty Hunter is likely to pack the biggest punch, playing on approximately 3,800 screens at 3,074 sites. The romantic/action comedy brings together appealing leads Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, who have separately had solid runs recently in comparable titles like The Ugly Truth ($88.9 million), He's Just Not That Into You ($93.9 million) and The Break-Up ($118.7 million). The Bounty Hunter's advertising has focused on the movie's romantic comedy and "battle of the exes" themes, largely targeting women, but Butler and the picture's action elements are there to draw some men as well.
Repo Men and Diary of a Wimpy Kid are going to have a tougher time finding an audience. Between the myriad commercials, posters and viral marketing, the marketing for Repo Men, which hits around 2,700 screens at 2,522 sites, has aggressively courted potential viewers. Unfortunately, high concept, futuristic movies often struggle, such as Paycheck ($53.8 million), The Island ($35.8 million), Children of Men ($35.5 million) and Push ($31.8 million). One must go back to 2002, when Minority Report banked $132.1 million, to find a popular comparable title. Minority Report, though, had a clear thriller plot, star power and other factors that Repo Men appears to lack.
With an oddly low-key marketing campaign, Diary of a Wimpy Kid seems predestined for failure, despite its estimated 3,400 screen count at 3,077 sites. The trailer and ads highlight typical middle school antics, with no clear, unique concept established, while the poster features a stick figure, an image that won't attract those unfamiliar with the movie's source material. Similar non-fantasy children's book adaptations like Hoot ($8.1 million) and How to Eat Fried Worms ($13 million) have failed at the box office. Additionally, Alice in Wonderland will continue to draw families.