Weekend Outlook (10/6 - 10/8)
The Departed poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published October 5, 2006
Mass audiences haven?t rushed out to a Scorcese release in fifteen years, and {The Departed} is in a familiar genre that could reach beyond the norm.
This weekend, Martin Scorcese could top the box office for the first time since Cape Fear with the crime thriller, The Departed, while Texas Chainsaw might have to settle for second. The Departed stars Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Wahlberg, and has the hottest ensemble cast of any Scorcese film to date, which should allow it to break out.

Throughout the years, Scorcese has hovered right around $9/10 million for opening weekends, but in his earlier years the theater counts were drastically less, which made some of the figures more impressive. In 2002, Scorcese?s epic, Gangs of New York, with DiCaprio, opened to a mere $9.5 million as a period piece (at 160 minutes) but eventually hit $77.7 million with help from Oscar season, while The Aviator debuted to $11.3 million in 2004 (at 165 minutes). Mass audiences haven?t rushed out to a Scorcese release in fifteen years (since Cape Fear in 1991), and this is in a familiar genre that could reach beyond the norm. Scorcese should be able to edge out John Singleton?s Four Brothers ($21.2 million), and could reach the heights of the mature adult thrillers, The Interpreter ($22.8 million) and Collateral ($24.7 million).

The Departed has been receiving some of the best reviews of the year, but ironically well-reviewed movies don't always open as strongly as expected (this is one of those films that will probably play like gangbusters in big cities, and solidly elsewhere). The film could still come short of $20 million for the weekend (Scorcese's all-time record is $10.3 million), and it could come in right at $20, which would be on par with Entrapment. With a stellar cast that will likely skew both younger and older audiences alike, though, Departed could have an edge and gross nearly $25 million.

New Line Cinema and producer Michael Bay have put a lot behind the marketing for the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel, The Beginning, but the pic faces competition with next week?s Grudge sequel, as well as Saw III later this month. The remake of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre opened in October of 2003 to a strong $28.1 million, but it also had no competition (in its genre) for the entire month, which helped deliver $80.4 million domestically.

It seems that the studio has been trying to reach the same people that flocked to this year?s Omen remake (on its opening day), as the trailers to both are moody in a very distinctive way, and here they?ve upped the ante within the editing. However, this one lacks that film?s ideal release date, which was most of the film?s buzz. Texas Chainsaw does have upside potential given its strong marketing and slasher material, but many teenage girls might instead opt to see Sarah Michelle Gellar next week. A debut between $18 - 23 million is likely for the weekend, but the film could also reach the heights of the original.

Lions Gate is trying to find a niche for their romantic comedy, Employee of the Month, which stars Dane Cook, Dax Shepard, Andy Dick, and Harland Williams as warehouse employees going after the same co-worker ? Jessica Simpson. The studio has put most of their weight on Dane Cook, an up-and-coming standup comedian who?s been making waves through his HBO special. His standup routine mirrors Chris Rock?s foul-but-true forte, but the movie is PG-13 and is targeting young girls rather than his cult audience of 20-somethings.

Even if the movie had been R-rated though, Cook may have too much of an underground reputation right now to pull considerable numbers. The movie will probably find a small audience of young teens, and it may not be able to hit $8 million like the Ashton Kutcher romance, A Lot Like Love; rather, something along the lines of Stealing Harvard?s $6.0 million is possible. This will also be Jessica Simpson?s true test of star-power after the success of Dukes of Hazzard, but the response to that movie was bad enough that most young moviegoers might stay away.
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'The Departed' Articles
  • Lee's The Departed review B
    October 7, 2006    Too often the film is a case of style over substance filmmaking, and you can see the actors working hard to breathe life out of the mundane material. -- Lee Tistaert
  • Craig's The Departed review B+
    October 5, 2006    The Departed is the Irish equivalent {of} Goodfellas, {and} one of the best flicks I?ve seen this year. -- Craig Younkin