--Morgan Creek, a self-funded company that has been dead in the water for over a year, could start making some good movies.
(Photo of Rick and Paula by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
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Shockwaves at the Box Office
With “The Dark Knight” looming on the horizon, this is the moment of summer when all the box office gurus check in with their frantic forecasts.
So far the prognosticators have had a rough time.
Many were bearish about the summer, given the absence of any Spidermen or Harry Potters and the fact that the pirates finally had fled the bloody Caribbean.
Well, they were wrong. Summer ’08 thus far has run parallel to the record $4.2 billion summer of ’07, though that may wobble because July will be Potterless (Dark Knight is the best hope to compensate).
Many of the other forecasts also have turned out to be skewed.
(Variety’s own critic wrongly predicted mid-range results) but Eddie bombed -- maybe he was right in stiffing his own premier last week.
(“Hellboy II” had a $35.9M weekend while “Hancock” held well at $33M.
Dave registered $5.3M)Going back a few weeks, forecasters saw big results for "Speed Racer" and were dubious about Robert Downey Jr. as an action star.
"Iron Man" has now reached $313.4 million and "Speed Racer" can’t budge past $45 million in the U.S.
It fizzled: "Get Smart" is holding well at $111.5 million while "Love Guru" has just oozed past $30 million.
The big face-off arrives next weekend when the summer’s darkest movie, appropriately called "The Dark Knight", opens against the summer’s most dopily cheerful, "Mamma Mia".
If you believe the Warner Bros. publicity machine, every theater in the U.S. already is sold out for the Batman epic through the end of summer.
The fanboys are double-dosing their Ritalin in fervid anticipation, and the critics are assuring us that this isn’t just a superhero story, it’s a morality tale.
"Mamma Mia" has no such aspirations, but its box office prospects are hard to predict.
On the downside, says Pam McClintock, Variety’s box office guru, it should do "Hairspray" business -- a $27 million opening in the U.S. and perhaps $118 million ultimatelyBut "Mamma Mia" also has a few special things going for it.
It’s the ultimate chick flick. Further the stage show has had mythic success around the world, and the movie is already doing brisk business in a few foreign openings.
The big city critics will be orgasmic over the sight of Meryl Streep camping it up.
It’s hard to remember a moment when two such contrasting movies opened against one another.
I can visualize the two separate audiences pouring out of their respective plexes -- giddy chicks chatting it up in one stream, somber teens in the other, already text messaging their buddies about the meaning of life.
There are still several important openings later in the summer, so the surprises will doubtless continue.
That’s what keeps the box office gamesmanship so intriguing.
And, lets face it:
In this economy when all the charts keep going down, it’s a relief that at least the movie theaters are resisting foreclosure.