Box Office Briefs: It's Brand vs. Brand as Hop Looks to Beat Arthur

Box Office Briefs: It's Brand vs. Brand as Hop Looks to Beat Arthur

Apr 08, 2011

Ah, transcontinental stardom! One day you're tabloid fodder in the U.K., drinking and womanizing into various rehab clinics, while conducting tasteless controversial radio stunts that nearly end your career.

Next thing you know, you're America's top leading man at the box office, with not one, but two films battling for No. 1 this weekend.

Yep, it's good to be Russell Brand, voice star of last weekend's box office champ, Universal family film Hop, and live-action star of Dudley Moore-movie remake Arthur, which will be released into 3,276 theaters this weekend.

Also debuting this weekend: The James Franco/Natalie Portman raunchfest Your Highness, the surfer-girl-themed Soul Surfer, and the James Wright (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice) action film Hanna.

The Easter Bunny-themed Hop is expected to once again win the box office, taking advantage of spring school breaks for younger moviegoers, while grossing well over $20 million this weekend.

Arthur, however, should provide a clearer test as to whether Brand -- a former MTV host in Britain who broke out in the States with Forgetting Sarah Marshall -- is actually a solid leading comic actor who can open a movie big.

Brand's big test last year -- when he re-doubled his Aldous Snow rock-star character for Get Him to the Greek alongside Jonah Hill -- was kind of inconclusive, with the film basically breaking even.

Is Brand ready to take on a nuanced comedic role, rendered iconic 30 years ago by Moore?

Pre-release box office estimates are OK -- projections for the weekend are between $15 million - $17 million, which is decent for a $40 million film

Reviews, however, stink, with Rotten Tomatoes scoring the new Arthur at 21 percent fresh.

Scoring only slightly better with critics (28 percent fresh), Your Highness is expected to finish third with about $12 million. Co-starring Danny McBride -- Kenny Powers himself on HBO's hilarious Eastbound and Down -- Highness has the advantage of being the only R-rated comedy released in the box office since Hall Pass arrived over a month ago.

It'll be interesting to see how audiences react to Franco, with many considering his Oscar-hosting gig a bomb a month and a half back (I actually was OK with it myself).

Picked to finish fourth, meanwhile, Sony's Soul Surfer stars AnnaSophia Robb as real-life pro surfer Bethany Hamilton, who at the age of 13, lived to shred waves again after losing an arm in a shark attack.

Finally, Hanna represents the third collaboration between Wright and Focus Features -- a teaming that previously yielded the commercially and critically successful Pride and Prejudice and Atonement.

Wright's latest effort, Hanna, promises to be his edgiest yet, with 17-year-old Saoirse Ronan (who was the trouble-making little girl in Atonement and also starred in Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones) playing a young assassin.

Here's how we think the movies are going to do at the box office this weekend:

Hop We say: $23.0M
Arthur We say: $17.0M
Your Highness We say: $12.0M
Soul Surfer We say: $11.0
Hanna We say: $10.0M
Source Code We say: $9.0M
Insidious We say: $7.0M
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules We say: $6.0M
Limitless We say: $5.5M
The Lincoln Lawyer We say: $4.0M

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