Ashton Kutcher Who?
Ashton Kutcher who is in the midst of registering the biggest opening in his remarkable and still advancing career.
True, the opening of Guess Who won’t break any records. It won’t even break the Top Ten for March launches. It won’t break the Top Four of this March’s openers. It won’t even be the top March opening for a movie starring a white and a black star of higher and lower box office value. (That would be Bringing Down The House, aka The Reason Columbia Thought It Might Work To Open This Film At This Time Of Year.)
But $22-$26 million is pretty impressive for an Ashton Kutcher comedy that is getting no benefit from the cache of the original film and with Bernie Mac coming off of Mr. 3000 and with a gimmick that probably isn’t all that interesting anymore. (Note: Start on sexually-flipped remake of Norman… Is That You? in which Norman’s parents are gay and black and catch Norman with a white girl. How much to get Denzel & Wesley to play a couple?)
Then there is Ms. Bullock. She’s made fifteen films in which she starred, starting with Speed in 1994. Eleven of the fifteen films opened to between $10 million and $16.2 million. These are movie star numbers, but it is striking that she has never had even one $20 million opener… not even by fluke (See: Most of the cast of Ocean’s Eleven & Twelve). The final number for this weekend will smell of disappointment, but only because people aren’t looking too closely. The first Miss Congeniality opened to just $10 million on its way to $108 million domestic, one of only three $100 million grosser in Bullock’s career. (I’m not counting The Prince of Egypt in any of these numbers.)
The disappointment that is The Ring Two is being confirmed at the box office, this Friday off by more than 60% from last weekend’s not-so-impressive start. It may have opened stronger than The Pacifier, but it will gross less than the Disney comedy here at home.
On the other hand, Disney is suffering from trying to get Ice Princess gliding a little too close to Fox’s modest success, Robots… and even to its own The Pacifier. Overall, March is not a great month to be on the Disney schedule. Splash, Pretty Woman, Bringing Down The House and The Pacifier are the only March releases from the company that really have worked. And with the exception of The Pacifier, gentle sex and movie star names have been key to each of those successes. I love Joan Cusack, but she is not Julie Andrews and March is not a summer month on this side of the equator.
Million Dollar Baby continues to slug its way to $100 million… and Hitch remains the box office king for the year so far by double the gross of #2 to date, The Pacifier. Robots will close that 2-to-1 margin… but it won’t come within $50 million of the Will Smith vehicle. And I would guess that Hitch will remain the year’s leader by at least a $20 million margin (probably much more) until Star Wars: Episode Three passes Hitch’s domestic total on or about May 30th.