For the exception of maybe last year, when Alice in Wonderland made a pile of money, the most celebratory of weekends for the motion picture business, aka Oscar weekend, has never been a terribly lucrative period at the domestic box office.
And the trend isn't likely to reverse itself this weekend, when two R-rated movies make their way to multiplexes, Farrelly Bros. comedy Hall Pass and Nicolas Cage dark-fantasy 3D thriller Drive Angry.
No film is expected to surpass $20 million this weekend.
Starring Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis as middle-aged dudes who get a sanctioned one-week break from marriage from their wives, Hall Pass represents Warner Brothers' attempt to fill an entire 12-hour bachelor party with R-rated comedies (throw in recent Todd Phillips films The Hangover and Due Date, as well as the upcoming Hangover Part 2).
The problem for Warner is, the Farrelly Bros. aren't on a Todd Phillips-like roll at the box office, with their last three films -- Heartbreak Kid, Fever Pitch and Stuck on You -- each opening to less than $14 million domestically.
Summit Entertainment's Drive Angry isn't expected to light the world on fire, either, with the film starring Cage as an eternally damned revenge-seeker behind the wheel of a fast car.
There was some initial buzz for this $75 million film coming out of Comic-Con last summer, but that seems long gone, with studio officials praying the movie makes even $10 million at the domestic box office this weekend. (Summit's rear end is covered, having only paid a relative small sum for domestic rights.)
While Hall Pass is expected to lead the market, the No. 2 spot could once again belong to Disney's CG-animated Gnomeo & Juliet, which has quietly taken advantage of the fact that nobody's released a kiddie movie since Yogi Bear in mid-December. In fact, while the multiplexes have filled up with R-rated movies for the grown-ups, Disney has made bank by simply having the only G-rated choice in the marketplace (although the 8-year-old who sleeps in my house and eats my food says it's OK).
Here's how we think the box office will shape up:
|Hall Pass || We say: $16.0M|
|Gnomeo & Juliet ||We say: $14.0M|
|Unknown || We say: $13.5M|
|Drive Angry ||We say: $10.0M|
|Just Go With it || We say: $9.5M|
|I Am Number Four || We say: $9.0M|
| The King's Speech ||We say: $7.5M|
| Big Momma's: Like Father, Like Son ||We say: $6.0M|
|Justin Bieber: Never Say Never || We say: $5.5M|
| True Grit ||We say: $3.0M|