Movie Projector: ‘G.I. Joe’ marches toward a $50-million launch, ‘Julie and Julia’ cooking up $20 million

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It’s looking as if summer’s event movie season will be ending with neither a bang nor a whimper.

Paramount Pictures’ “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” which opens tomorrow, is on track to earn around $50 million for the weekend in the U.S. and Canada, sources who have seen pre-release audience polling say. That’s a decent start for the last big-budget picture of the summer, but not fantastic given its sizable $175-million production budget, for which Paramount’s co-financier Spyglass Entertainment covered 25%.

By contrast, “Star Trek,” which like “G.I. Joe” was the cinematic relaunch of a well-known brand, earned $72.5 million on its first weekend domestically.


One difference: “G.I. Joe” is drawing interest almost exclusively from men. While the opening weekend audience for “Star Trek” tilted male -- it still drew 40% female -- it looks as if “G.I. Joe” will be skewed even more heavily toward men.

The Stephen Sommers-directed action movie, which updates the 1980s cartoon, comic books and toy line, is also launching in 31 foreign countries, representing most major markets with the notable exceptions of Germany and Italy, where it will debut later this month and in September, respectively.

It will probably sell around $40 million of tickets in foreign countries this weekend.

A worldwide opening weekend of $90 million to $100 million, while solid, isn’t huge for a movie the scale of “G.I. Joe.” In order to reach the heights of “Star Trek,” which has grossed over $380 million worldwide, it will need to generate good word of mouth and play strongly for several weeks.

Paramount is betting that audiences will respond well, but reviewers won’t. The studio has focused much of its marketing on blue-collar audiences and moviegoers with a military background and isn’t screening it for print and broadcast critics before release.

(How much will “G.I. Joe” make this weekend? Vote in our Company Town poll below)

JuliaStreep While its unlikely that women would be flocking to “G.I. Joe,” this weekend they have a solid alternative in Sony Pictures’ “Julie and Julia.” The foodie drama, which stars Meryl Street as Julia Child, is on track to earn around $20 million based almost exclusively on interest from adult women. That’s a healthy opening given the movie’s production budget of about $40 million.

Also this weekend, Universal is releasing “A Perfect Getaway” on behalf of Relativity Media-owned Rogue Pictures. The thriller is expected to open to only $5 million to $7 million, a decent start given its $14-million production budget.

Box-office watchers will also be keeping an eye on “Funny People” to see if the Judd Apatow-directed drama shows a strong hold after its mediocre opening last weekend.

-- Ben Fritz