‘Lucy’ to shut down ‘Hercules’

ScreenerBlog

It’s the battle of the action heroes, of the sexes, of the movie stars this weekend as Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy goes toe-to-toe with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s Hercules. As of now, and by that we mean “according to tracking reports from Fandango,” it looks as if Lucy will emerge the victor. Savvy Universal executives moved the film’s release date forward several weeks when they realized August was full of serious competition from the likes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Expendables 3. As Dawn of the Planet of the Apes enters its third week in theatres and its momentum slows a bit, now is a good time for a new (original!) film to claim the No. 1 spot at the box office. That Lucy boasts a female lead may also work in its favor, considering the current b.o. climate: both the femme-starring and targeted Maleficent and The Fault in Our Stars proved two of this summer’s hits, and even the poorly reviewed Tammy may total out to $90 million. Reviews of this latest from multihyphenate Luc Besson have been mixed, but the bonkers premise that so irked some critics may be just what the summer moviegoer, tired of sequels and fantasy, now seeks. Universal is projecting an opening weekend gross of $30+ million, though Fandango’s numbers suggest a higher, roughly $40 million, debut is likely.

Second place should then go to Hercules, which is also the second film this year to portray the popular Greek myth. The Rock is a bigger name than Kellan Lutz of The Legend of Hercules, but the former wrestler’s last few films, including Pain & Gain and Snitch, haven’t performed particularly well. (The former bowed to $20.2 million, while the latter debuted to $13.2 million.) Paramount believes the film will gross around $20 million.

And So It Goes boasts its own marquee draws in Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, but Rob Reiner’s new rom-com has by all accounts missed the comedic mark by a wide margin. The film has an abysmal 14 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a fact that may significantly curtail its box-office prospects, as the older crowd for which it’s gunning tends to pay more attention to reviews than the average blockbuster-minded summer viewer. Douglas and Keaton will likely draw a measure of fans, but And So It Goes shouldn’t move past $5 million this weekend.

Lastly, there’s Woody Allen’s latest, Magic in the Moonlight, which screens in 17 theatres beginning today. Critics have been kinder to the Colin Firth and Emma Stone comedy than poor Rob Reiner’s offering, although it’s no Midnight in Paris or Blue Jasmine. It should open soft and just behind Wish I Was Here, which expands to 600 theatres and is looking at a weekend gross of $2 million or so.