When you create a worldwide hit that generates $528 million global box office, while convincing cheapskate entertainment writers like me to actually plunk down $30 for the Blu-ray (first time I ever paid for one), life isn't as easy as you might think.
In the case of Universal and its new 3D animation division, Illumination, yeah, Despicable Me was pretty friggin' great, but you've got pressure to come up with an encore.
And try they will starting this weekend, when they release Hop into 3,577 theaters.
A mixture of live-action and CG, the film promises to play more like Alvin and the Chipmunks than Despicable Me, with Russell Brand (UK comedian, incendiary career) voicing the star of the show, a CG rabbit, and James Marsden playing the put-upon live-action equivalent of Jason Lee.
Hop is expected to easily win the box office, grossing as much as $30 million, according to pre-release estimates -- a nice opening for a $63 million film that should play well through the spring-break season, but not comparable to the $56.4 million grossed by Despicable Me last July on its first weekend.
Reviews for Hop are also not at Despicable levels, with the rabbit movie scoring only a 19 on Rotten Tomatoes.
Conversely, Source Code -- the new Jake Gyllenhaal thriller from Summit Entertainment -- has impressed critics, who have in aggregate given it a solid 88 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
The film, which stars Gyllenhaal as an Army soldier who has a Groundhog Day-like experience with a certain train crash, is expected to gross in the high teens.
We're thinking it opens OK, but plays well in the coming weeks based on word-of-mouth. Source Code is opening in 2,961 theaters and co-stars Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright.
While I'm no anti-Jake guy, I've never really bought Gyllenhaal in the action stuff (wasn't a fan of Prince of Persia, for example). But without risking spoilers, the concept -- and the reviews -- have me pretty geeked up about this movie. And at only $32 million to make, Summit may have well found a hit besides the Twilight franchise.
The weekend's other wide release is horror movie Insidious, which is produced by Mr. Paranormal Activity himself, Oren Peli.
Starring Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey and Patrick Wilson, the film has received decent reviews (69 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and is expected to bring in around $11 million this weekend.
Here are our predictions for the upcoming weekend box office:
|Hop || We say: $28.0M|
|Source Code ||We say: $17.0M|
| Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules ||We say: $11.5M|
|Insidious || We say: $11.0|
|Limitless ||We say: $10.0M|
|The Lincoln Lawyer || We say: $8.0M|
|Sucker Punch || We say: $7.5M|
| Rango ||We say: $6.0M|
| Paul ||We say: $5.0M|
|Battle: Los Angeles || We say: $4.0M|