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Weekend Preview: 'Date Night,' 'Letters to God'

by Ray Subers
Tina Fey and Steve Carell in Date Night

April 8, 2010

After conquering the Easter opening weekend record with $61.3 million, Clash of the Titans aims to repeat as box office king this weekend. It will face stiff competition, though, from comedy Date Night, starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey. Also opening in nationwide release is Letters to God, which hopes to replicate the minor success of comparable Christian movies. Overall business will likely be way down from last weekend, when Clash, Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too? and The Last Song debuted.

Clash of the Titans adds 25 theaters this weekend for a total of 3,802, though this will do little to prevent a big second weekend decline. Recent similar movies 300 and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor fell 54 and 59 percent from their openings, respectively. With mixed word of mouth (Box Office Mojo readers gave the movie a decent "B" grade, but the tacked-on 3D effects have been greeted with a barrage of negative reactions), Clash seems positioned to also lose over 50 percent of its audience.

Opening on approximately 4,700 screens at 3,374 locations, Date Night's marketing has put its two appealing leads, Carell and Fey, front and center, despite the presence of other noteworthy actors like Mark Wahlberg and James Franco. Besides his lead role on NBC's The Office, Carell has starred in a number of widely-seen big screen movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin ($109.5 million) and Get Smart ($130.3 million). Fey, on the other hand, has only one major big screen lead role on her resume (Baby Mama, which grossed $60.5 million in 2008), but she has continued to raise her profile with the NBC comedy 30 Rock and her Sarah Palin impersonation on Saturday Night Live (which she will revive this Saturday when she hosts the show).

Date Night is also tracking well in Box Office Mojo's reader polls with a 19.5 percent "see it opening weekend" score, ahead of recent comparable movies The Bounty Hunter (12 percent) and Couples Retreat (14 percent). Date Night's also the sole new high-profile nationwide release of the weekend (The Losers was scheduled to open April 9, but eventually opted for April 23 instead) and seems poised for strong returns, even if it falls short of dethroning Clash.

Likely noticing the dearth of new releases, distributor Vivendi Entertainment made the decision to open Letters to God in 897 theaters this weekend. Letters to God is based on a true story about a cancer-stricken boy whose letters to God inspire those around him. The trailer for the movie aims to draw Christian audiences by pointing out that it's from "a producer of Fireproof and Facing the Giants," and its following a similar release pattern to Christian-themed movies like Fireproof, One Night with the King and End of the Spear. While these movies had varying levels of success (Fireproof banked a strong $33.5 million in 2008, while End of the Spear made a more modest $11.97 million in 2006), none truly broke out. The same will likely hold true for Letters to God, but a Top Ten debut is well within its reach.

Last Weekend
Kraken Gets Crackin' Over Easter

This Timeframe in Past Years:
2009 - 'Hannah Montana' Rules Easter Roost

2008 - 'Prom Night' Tears Into Top Spot
2007 - 'Disturbia' Lives at Top Spot
2006 - 'Scary Movie 4' Cracks Easter Record
2005 - 'Sahara' an Oasis in Box Office Desert

Similar Movies to:

'Date Night'
'Letters to God'

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