'Silent' Movie Aims to Make Noise at Box Office
Friday, April 21, 2006
HOLLYWOOD - With the big guns of May about to train their sights on moviegoers, Hollywood is using the next two weekends to launch a mixed assortment of genres in hopes of finding a couple of movies that can establish traction before the onslaught of hoped-for summer blockbusters.
A week after comedy spoof Scary Movie 4 claimed the No. 1 spot with a commanding $40.2 million, Silent Hill--which hopes to establish itself as a genuinely scary movie--will be vying for top honors. That's a possibility if Scary drops by 50%--not unusual for a genre-based film coming off a big opening. If nothing else, Sony Pictures' newcomer should provide fodder for the inevitable Scary Movie 5.
The R-rated Silent Hill, based on the Konami video game, is set in a mysterious town where a mother (Melinda and Melinda's Radha Mitchell) seeks a cure for her ill daughter only to lose her among the weird goings-on in the spooky burg.
Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf) directed from a screenplay by Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction).
On paper, the elements line up as a mixture of a video game-derived movie like Resident Evil (which bowed to $17.7 million in 2002) and a supernatural horror show like The Exorcism of Emily Rose (which debuted to $30.1 million last year.) Bowing in 2,926 theaters--making it the largest of this weekend's three wide openings--Silent, could take the top spot if it approaches the $20 million range.
Providing competition for audiences looking for a thriller set in the real world is 20th Century Fox's PG-13 The Sentinel, which marks Michael Douglas' first full-on thriller since 2001's Don't Say a Word.
He stars as a White House Secret Service agent being framed in an assassination plot and pursued by 24's Jack Bauer--no, wait a minute, make that 24 star Kiefer Sutherland, who plays Douglas' one-time protg, fellow Secret Service Agent David Breckinridge. Directed by Clark Johnson, who helmed 2003's S.W.A.T. Don't Say a Word launched with a $17.1 million opening weekend, and Sentinel could inhabit the same neighborhood.
Meanwhile, Universal Pictures will battle George S. Kaufman's old saw that "satire closes on Saturday night" as it rolls out the PG-rated American Dreamz in more than 1,500 theaters. Directed by Paul Weitz--whose credits range from American Pie to About a Boy and In Good Company--Dreamz throws together a Simon Cowell-like pop show host played by Hugh Grant with a President Bush-like president played by Dennis Quaid along with an aspiring pop star (Mandy Moore) and a hapless terrorist (Sam Golzari). Predictably, for a movie that attempts to skewer so many shibboleths, early reviews have been decidedly mixed, and the film is likely to fall somewhere between Boy's opening of $8.6 million and Company's first wide weekend of $14.3 million.
Sony Pictures Classics will expand Nicole Holofcener's comedy of a manners Friends With Money into more than 400 theaters in its third weekend. The R-rated movie, which stars Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Keener, Joan Cusack and Frances McDormand, ranked 15th last weekend, earning $740,000 from just 42 theaters. Its total stands at $1.5 million.
Lionsgate will be seeking to generate buzz for its triumph-of-the-human-spirit tale, Akeelah and the Bee. Doug Atchison's story about a young girl from South Central Los Angeles who aspires to win the National Spelling Bee stars Keke Palmer and is supported by such veteran actors as Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett. Receiving a boost from marketing partner Starbucks, which has a financial interest in the film, the movie will be offered as a sneak preview Saturday in more than 800 theaters.