September 23, 2005

Mysterious Ride vs. Bony ‘Bride’ at Box Office

LOS ANGELES -- The Jodie Foster thriller "Flightplan" and the animated "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" will battle for honors at the weekend box office, with each projected to earn in the $22 million-$24 million range for the three days beginning Friday, according to the latest industry tracking.

Disney's "Flightplan" is more likely to attract female audiences, who turned out in droves for last weekend's $16 million champion "Just Like Heaven," while Warner Bros. is sure to lure men with "Corpse Bride," though both studios will be looking for expansion beyond their respective demographics.

"Flightplan" is similar in scope to Foster's most recent studio film, 2002's "Panic Room," which grossed $30 million during its opening frame and went on to reap $95 million, thanks in part to the draw of director David Fincher ("Se7en").

Foster again plays a panicked mother, but this time her daughter vanishes in midflight while the two are heading home to New York from Berlin. German filmmaker Robert Schwentke ("Heaven") is in the cockpit for this PG-13 film. Peter Sarsgaard and Sean Bean co-star.

Warners tested the waters last weekend on "Corpse Bride" to overwhelming results. The stop-motion-animated film, featuring the voices of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, opened in five theaters to $385,078 for a per-screen average of $77,016. This weekend, the rest of the country will have a chance to respond as Warners widens its release to 3,204 theaters (vs. 3,424 for "Flightplan").

"Corpse Bride" centers on Victor (Depp), who, while reciting his marriage vows on a walk to his bride-to-be's village, winds up sliding a ring onto the finger of a living corpse (Carter) who demands her rights as his wife.

"Corpse Bride's" predecessor, "The Nightmare Before Christmas," released in 1993 by Disney, has achieved a lifetime gross of about $50 million thanks to the mini-rereleases that occur during the holidays.

Fox Searchlight opens "Undercover Brother" director Malcolm D. Lee's "Roll Bounce" Friday. The feel-good PG-13 film stars rapper Bow Wow, whose character sees his skating rink close down and must head into uptown Chicago and a whole new world. Set to bow in 1,625 theaters, "Bounce" is on track to earn in the $8 million-$10 million range.

The limited-release market already is getting crowded. In addition to the expansion of Miramax's "Proof" and Warner Independent Pictures' "Everything Is Illuminated," eight films will bow in small engagements.

New Line Cinema will open the well-reviewed "A History of Violence" in 14 theaters. The R-rated film from director David Cronenberg stars Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, William Hurt and Ed Harris. "Violence" centers on an average family that is thrust into the spotlight after the father (Mortensen) kills two men at his diner seemingly in self-defense.

Also launching: Imax's "Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D," Danish director Thomas Vinterberg's "Dear Wendy" (Wellspring Media), and Roman Polanski's "Oliver Twist" (Sony Pictures' TriStar).

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter