Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will test his box office muscle this weekend with the PG-rated Buena Vista comedy The Game Plan. This guy is a charismatic screen presence, but he’s apparently been “Disney-fied” according to critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives The Game Plan a Fresh score of just 36%, although MetaCritic gives it a marginally better 43% positive.
The Rock starred in 2006’s Gridiron Gang, which opened to $14.4M and went on to $38.4M domestic, but industry tracking for The Game Plan is lagging some pre-opening numbers for that football drama. Gridiron opened with 16% Un-Aided Awareness compared to just 4% for Game Plan. Last fall’s movie also holds an advantage in Awareness (72%-64%), but The Game Plan has more Definite Interest (40%-38%). Gridiron grabbed a better First Choice score 16%-12%, but because Game Plan is a family comedy, there are a significant number of un-surveyed kids.
Despite the football theme, Universal’s Evan Almighty starring Steve Carell is probably a better comparable to get a feel for how The Game Plan will open.
Evan Almighty – 10%
The Game Plan – 4%
Evan Almighty – 94%
The Game Plan – 64%
Evan Almighty – 40%
The Game Plan – 40%
Evan Almighty – 20%
The Game Plan – 12%
Despite its bloated budget and becoming the biggest financial loser of 2007, Evan Almighty opened decently with $31.1M. The Game Plan won’t likely be that strong, but it’s fair to expect $19M-$22M, which would make it either the 2nd or 3rd best opening of Dwayne’s career.
ALL-TIME TOP 5 DWAYNE “THE ROCK” JOHNSON OPENINGS
1. The Scorpion King - $36M
2. Be Cool - $23.4M
3. The Rundown - $18.5M
4. Walking Tall - $15.5M
5. Doom - $15.4M
Unlike The Game Plan, The Kingdom (Universal) is a very serious film. This action pic has a political bent, and it would benefit greatly from positive reviews. Unfortunately for director Peter Berg and the talented cast, the notices are running from mixed-to-negative. On Rotten Tomatoes, The Kingdom is getting only a 50% Fresh score from America’s critics, and the very best critics (Rotten Tomatoes calls them “The Cream of the Crop”), the Middle East-based pic is receiving only a 33% rating.
Lisa Schwartzbaum from Entertainment Weekly offers a pretty good summary of the less-than-glowing critical reaction:
“So shameless is THE KINGDOM, ignoring consequence and treating its audience like cash-dispensing machines with buttons to be pushed rather than thinking individuals willing to consider the reality of America's entanglement with the Middle East.”
-- Lisa Schwarzbaum, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
This is the 4th film from Peter Berg, a sometimes actor (Smokin’ Aces), and his last 2 movies have been particularly successful. His first big hit The Rundown, ironically starring Game Plan star The Rock, opened with $18.5M and ultimately hit $47.7M domestic. Then the very well received Friday Night Lights grabbed $20.2M in its first 3 days, ending its run at $61.2M.
Despite his very high profile from his double Oscar nomination year of 2004, only the one that that earned him his Supporting Actor nod, Collateral, and Dreamgirls, in which he played a decidedly supporting role, have hit $100M domestic.
ALL-TIME TOP 5 JAMIE FOXX MOVIES
1. Dreamgirls - $103.3M cume ($378,000 opening)
2. Collateral - $101M cume ($24.7M opening)
3. Any Given Sunday - $75.5M cume ($13.5M opening)
4. Ray - $75.3M cume ($20M opening)
5. Miami Vice - $63.4M cume ($25.7M opening)
Industry tracking suggests that The Kingdom will fall well short of Foxx’s best opening weekends. When it comes to R-rated action pics, Shooter starring Mark Wahlberg is the most recent and most accurate comp.
The Kingdom looks to be headed for an opening weekend just tick better than Shooter’s $14.5M. There was much better Un-Aided Awareness for Shooter (12%-4%), but Total Awareness is a wash with both movies at about 70%. The Berg-directed action movie has more Definite Interest (42%-35%), and The Kingdom has a slightly stronger First Choice number (15%-11%). Here’s a demographic breakdown of the First Choice numbers for these 2 pictures.
FIRST CHOICE - MALES UNDER 25
The Kingdom – 10%
Shooter – 10%
FIRST CHOICE – MALES 25 PLUS
The Kingdom – 31%
Shooter – 21%
FIRST CHOICE – FEMALES UNDER 25
The Kingdom – 6%
Shooter – 6%
FIRST CHOICE – FEMALES 25 PLUS
The Kingdom – 11%
Shooter – 8%
All of these numbers should add up to an opening of $14M-$17M for The Kingdom, which would have to be categorized as a disappointment for Universal.
The other wide release (1,200) screens is Feast of Love from MGM. This is an ensemble movie from the Oscar winning director Robert Benton (Kramer vs. Kramer, Places in the Heart). Reviews are decent with 52% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes and 58% Positive on MetaCritic, but the meager marketing campaign doesn’t seem to be doing the trick.
Despite a cast that includes Oscar winner Morgan Freeman and Oscar nominee Greg Kinnear, Feast of Love has only a 39% Total Aware, Definite Interest of 30% and a First Choice of 3%, it appears that this Feast will be lightly attended. Don’t look for more than $2M-$3M.
Here are my Final Predictions for 9/28-30:
1. The Game Plan (Buena Vista) - $21.3M
2. The Kingdom (Universal) - $16.5M
3. Resident Evil: Extinction (Sony) - $10.6M
4. Good Luck Chuck (Lionsgate) - $5.9M
5. 3:10 to Yuma (Lionsgate) - $4.9M
6. The Brave One (Warner Bros) - $4.5M
7. Eastern Promises (Focus) - $3.9M
8. Sydney White (Universal) - $2.8M
9. In the Valley of Elah (Warner Independent) - $2.6M
10. Feast of Love (MGM) - $2.5M