Forecast: Cruise, Sandler Indulge in 80s Nostalgia This Weekend
by Ray Subers
Rock of Ages
June 14, 2012
The box office gets a heavy dose of 80s nostalgia this weekend thanks to musical Rock of Ages, which utilizes 80s rock tunes for all of its songs, and R-rated comedy That's My Boy, which finds Adam Sandler sporting an 80s mullet. This isn't the first time that a June weekend has harkened back to that decade: in 2010, The Karate Kid remake and The A-Team adaptation opened to a combined $81 million. There's virtually no chance that Rock of Ages and That's My Boy deliver a similar result, and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted will likely hold on to first place. Rock of Ages and That's My Boy feature two of the most bankable stars in recent movie history, though Tom Cruise's portrayal of fictional rock legend Stacey Jaxx isn't likely to have a huge impact on the initial box office haul for Rock of Ages. Cruise was one of, if not the, biggest box office draw in the world up until a few years ago, when some poor movie choices and bizarre behavior seemed to weaken his brand a bit. He's coming off a monster success in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, though, which set a new record for Cruise with over $693 million worldwide.
The Stacey Jaxx character is outside of Cruise's action star wheelhouse, though, and Rock of Ages advertising has almost completely ignored his presence in the movie (he makes an appearance in all of the material, but Cruise's name is rarely referenced and the character's signature long hair and sun glasses makes the actor hard to recognize). Instead, the focus of the Rock of Ages campaign has been the retro setting and the catchy music, and advertisements attempt to assure audiences that the movie is "Nothin' But a Good Time." This has been effective enough, and fans of the Broadway production and jukebox-style TV shows like American Idol should be able to drive the movie to an opening level similar to recent Summer musicals Hairspray and Mamma Mia! (both over $27 million).
With advertisements putting Adam Sandler front-and-center, star power will be much more relevant for That's My Boy, which opens at 3,030 locations this weekend. Beginning with The Waterboy in 1998, Sandler has had 12 movies reach $100 million at the domestic box office, which is the most for any lead actor during that period in time. However, he's coming off one of his worst box office performers ever in Jack and Jill, which debuted last November and ultimately earned $74.2 million. That's not enough to declare that Sandler's lost his mojo, but it's definitely possible that his shtick is growing a bit tired.
In That's My Boy, Sandler echoes some of his star-making roles (Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison) by playing a crude, belligerent man-child. This movie goes a step further with most of its antics, though, and as a result was tagged with an R rating. That could be a plus, since there's clearly demand for R-rated comedy (The Dictator didn't do the trick), and since fans of Sandler's early work are probably old enough to make it to That's My Boy. At the same time, Sandler has been working almost exclusively in PG-13 territory through his entire career, and as of late he's been a big draw for family audiences who won't be attending his newest movie in any significant way. Even with the clever Father's Day tie-in, it's unlikely That's My Boy gets close to the $30-million-plus that most of his movies open to (Sony is modestly projecting something in the high-teen-millions). Weekend Forecast (June 15-17) 1. Madagascar 3 - $33.8 million (-44%) 2. Rock of Ages - $28.6 million 3. That's My Boy - $24.5 million 4. Prometheus - $23.5 million (-54%) Bar for Success As long as it gets close to Hairspray and Mamma Mia! ($27+ million), Rock of Ages will be off to a good start. Giving That's My Boy some leeway due to its R-rating, it's in solid shape at around $25 million.