Movie Projector: No ‘Bounty Hunter,’ ‘Repo Men’ or ‘Wimpy Kid’ can upstage ‘Alice’ (updated)

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“Alice in Wonderland” doesn’t have to worry this weekend about getting taken down by a “Bounty Hunter,” “Repo Men” or a “Wimpy Kid.”

Walt Disney Studios’ 3-D blockbuster “Alice” is sure to top the box-office charts for the third consecutive weekend, while a quartet of movies opening in wide release all jockey for position behind it.

After its huge, $116-million debut in the U.S. and Canada, director Tim Burton’s “Alice” declined a relatively modest 46% on its second weekend to $62 million. It should fall a bit less on its third weekend, which would put ticket sales at around $35 million and possibly as much as $40 million.

So far “Alice” has racked up more than $221 million domestically and about the same amount overseas.
Sony Pictures’ romantic comedy “Bounty Hunter,” which stars Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, has the best prospects among the new pictures. (Correction, 3:25 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that Jennifer Garner stars in ‘Bounty Hunter.’)


Despite its genre, the movie is generating nearly as much interest among men as women, according to people who have seen pre-release audience polling. Some of the movie’s ads have focused on its action and broad comedy elements in order to lure more males. The picture, which Sony and Relativity Media financed at a cost of $40 million to $50 million, should open to around $20 million.

Science-fiction action flick “Repo Men,” meanwhile, is on track to open closer to about $15 million. Relativity Media also co-financed this movie, which co-stars Jude Law and Forrest Whitaker, this time with distributor Universal Pictures. The movie cost $32 million and has been awaiting a release date for about two years — an unusually long time -- since production was completed.

In a bid to draw sci-fi fans and tie into the film’s man-on-the-run theme, Universal has promoted the movie through a game in which players get clues online and seek out four real people attempting to avoid detection for a month.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” based on the popular series of children’s books and comics, faces a big challenge in competing for the family audience with the continued popularity of “Alice.” The modestly budgeted picture cost 20th Century Fox’s movie label Fox 2000 only about $15 million to produce, so a predicted opening of about $10 million should be respectable.

Director Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer” starts expanding nationwide this weekend after generating a healthy $4.6 million over the last four weeks in limited release. The political drama, which co-stars Ewan MacGregor and Pierce Brosnan, is playing at 819 theaters and is likely to take in closer to $5 million.

Also debuting this weekend is “The Runaways,” based on the band of the same name led by Joan Jett and Cherie Currie. Independent distributor Apparition is launching the movie at 244 theaters in 10 cities, a larger-than-normal start for a film in limited release, before taking it nationwide next week.

“The Runaways” will undoubtedly draw some young female moviegoers thanks to the lead roles played by “Twilight” stars Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. Focus Features opens its Noah Baumbach-directed drama “Greenberg,” starring Ben Stiller, at one theater in Los Angeles and two in New York City this weekend.

-- Ben Fritz

Top photo: Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston in ‘The Bounty Hunter.’ Credit: Barry Wetcher / Columbia Pictures