forbiddenkingdomposter1.jpgIt appears that Jackie Chan and Jet Li have topped Judd Apatow in America’s multiplexes this weekend. Forbidden Kingdom (Lionsgate), the first-ever pairing of the 2 martial arts legends, has grabbed an estimated $6.7M on its opening day, and it will likely finish the weekend with $19.15M or so. That should be enough to edge Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Universal), produced by Hollywood’s current comedy king Apatow, with $6.1M Friday, and a likely $18.1M opening weekend.

For the first time in weeks, moviegoers have several quality options as Forbidden Kingdom has a generally positive 62% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes and Sarah Marshall is a critical darling with an even fresher 85%. Horton Hears a Who (Fox) is the only $100M performer released thus far in 2008, so Hollywood is hungry for some positive box office news in advance of the arrival of the first summer blockbuster Iron Man (Paramount) on May 2. Last year at this time, 4 films had reached the $100M plateau, including Ghost Rider, Wild Hogs, 300 and Blades of Glory.

It’s an excellent weekend for the Hong Kong born Chan and Li, who was born in Beijing. For Chan, Forbidden Kingdom is his all-time 5th-best opening.

ALL-TIME JACKIE CHAN OPENINGS
1. Rush Hour 2 – $67.4M opening
2. Rush Hour 3 – $49.1M opening
3. Rush Hour – $33M opening
4. Shanghai Knights – $19.6M opening
5. The Forbidden Kingdom – $19.15M (estimate)
6. Shanghai Noon – $15.6M opening
7. The Tuxedo – $15M opening
8. Rumble in the Bronx – $9.8M
9. The Medallion – $8.1M
10. Around the World in 80 Days – $7.5M

Meanwhile, Jet Li, who has succeeded in less mainstream films, has scored his all-time #2 opening.

ALL-TIME JET LI OPENINGS
1. Lethal Weapon 4 – $34M
2. The Forbidden Kingdom – $19.15M (estimate)
3. The One – $19.1M opening
4. Romeo Must Die – $18M opening
5. Hero – $18M opening
6. Cradle to the Grave – $16.5M opening
7. Kiss of the Dragon – $13.3M opening
8. Unleashed – $10.9M opening
9. Jet Li’s Fearless – $10.5M opening
10. WAR – $9.8M opening

In fact by Monday morning, this PG-13-rated Chinese fable will have posted the all-time 9th-best opening for a martial arts film in US box office history.

ALL-TIME BEST OPENINGS FOR MARTIAL ARTS FILMS
1. Rush Hour 2 – $67.4M opening
2. Rush Hour 3 – $49.1M opening
3. Rush Hour – $33M opening
4. Kill Bill Volume 2 – $25.1M opening
5. The Last Samurai – $24.2M opening
6. Mortal Kombat – $23.2M opening
7. Kill Bill Volume 1 – $22M opening
8. Shanghai Knights – $19.6M opening
9. The Forbidden Kingdom – $19.15M (estimate)
10. The One – $19.1M opening

2 studios are breathing easier now that early returns show that Forgetting Sarah Marshall has opened respectably. Judd Apatow’s last 2 films, Drillbit Taylor and Walk Hard, have bombed, and tracking for Sarah Marshall was soft entering the weekend. Universal will be pleased with $18M+, and Sony will be feeling a bit relieved.

Apatow has a writing credit on Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, due June 6. He’s also the producer of Step Brothers, set for July 25, and the producer/writer of Pineapple Express, to hit theatres August 8. All 3 of these films are property of Sony. Still, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is nowhere near the opening weekend grosses of Apatow films like Superbad and Knocked Up.

ALL-TIME TOP JUDD APATOW FILMS
1. Talladega Nights – producer – $47M opening
2. Superbad – producer -  $33M opening
3. Knocked Up – producer/writer/director -  $30.6M opening
4. Anchorman – producer -  $28.4M opening
5. The 40-Year-Old Virgin – producer/writer/director -  $21.4M opening
6. Kicking and Screaming – producer -  $20.1M opening
7. The Cable Guy – producer -  $19.8M opening
8. Forgetting Sarah Marshall – producer – $18.1M opening (estimate)
9. Fun with Dick and Jane – writer – $14.3M opening
10. Drillbit Taylor – producer – $10.3M opening
11. Heavyweights – writer – $6M opening
12. Walk Hard – producer/writer – $4.1M opening
13. Celtic Pride – writer – $3.8M opening

In the final analysis, the line “From the producers of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up” plus great reviews should deliver a better opening weekend. There is clearly some “Apatow fatigue,” and Sony will be hoping that moviegoers aren’t “Apa-thetic” during the dog days of summer.

Sony has control of the #3 , #4 and #5 spots this weekend. Prom Night grabbed $3.49M on its 2nd Friday. The holdover slasher remake will scare up another $10.05M this weekend for a new cume of $33.5M. The 4th-place picture is the critically-reviled 88 Minutes, starring Al Pacino. The Jon Avnet-directed thriller has managed a $2.41M opening day and that should translate to a meager $7.12M 3-day. For Pacino, 88 Minutes is only his all-time 13th-best opening.

ALL-TIME TOP AL PACINO OPENINGS
1. Ocean’s Thirteen – $36.1M opening
2. Dick Tracy – $22.5M opening
3. Insomnia – $20.9M opening
4. The Godfather Part III – $19.5M opening
5. The Recruit – $16.3M opening
6. Any Given Sunday – $13.5M opening
7. The Devil’s Advocate – $12.1M opening
8. Donnie Brasco – $11.6M opening
9. Sea of Love – $10M opening
10. Carlito’s Way – $9.1M opening
11. Two for the Money – $8.7M opening
12. Heat – $8.4M opening
13. 88 Minutes – $7.12M (estimate)
14. City Hall – $6.9M opening
15. The Insider – $6.7M opening

The card-counting hit 21 will spend another week in the top 5. The Kevin Spacey-produced picture added another $1.8M Friday, and it’ll generate about $6M, pushing its cume above $70M.

One surprise success this weekend is Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a new doc from Nathan Frankowski featuring conservative commentator Ben Stein. Clearly Rocky Mountain Pictures has engineered a successful faith-based marketing campaign for this anti-evolution treatise. On 1,052 screens, the film finished #8 on Friday with $1.12M, and it’ll wrap the weekend with at least $3.1M. Expelled has dramatically out-performed a documentary from the other end of the political spectrum.

The tongue-in-cheek Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden (Weinstein) from Morgan Spurlock, the Oscar nominated filmmaker behind the hit doc Super Size Me. The poorly-reviewed pseudo-doc generated a dismal $363 Per Theatre Average on Friday in its 102 engagements, and it will likely deliver only $140,000 over the 3-day. Expelled will deliver a weekend Per Theatre Average of $3,000 or so compared to Spurlock’s $1,300 despite the fact that Where in the World is in very limited release.

In the Per Theatre Average race, 2 films are in a dead heat. The Visitor (Overture Films), starring veteran character actor Richard Jenkins, has expanded well on 18 screens. Directed by Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent), this little movie is on target for a surprisingly strong $7,500 PTA. Also performing well is Ben X (Equinoxe), a Dutch film about cyber-bullying, which seems headed for a $7,500 PTA at its 2 locations.

EXCLUSIVE FANTASY MOGULS EARLY 3-DAY PTA ESTIMATES
1. The Visitor (Overture Films) – 18 locations – $7,500 PTA
1. Ben X (Equinoxe) – 2 locations – $7,500 PTA
3. The Singing Revolution (Abramorama) – 1 location – $6,638 PTA
4. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Universal) – 2,798 locations – $6,469 PTA
5. The Forbidden Kingdom (Lionsgate) – 3,151 locations – $6,077 PTA
6. Constantine’s Sword (First Run) – 2 locations – $5,643 PTA
7. The Counterfeiters (Sony Classics) – $4,077 PTA
8. The First Saturday in May – 20 locations – $3,750 PTA
9. Prom Night (Sony) – 2,700 locations – $3,722 PTA
10. Young @ Heart (Fox Searchlight) – 33 locations – $3,485

EXCLUSIVE FANTASY MOGULS EARLY FRIDAY ESTIMATES
1. NEW – The Forbidden Kingdom (Lionsgate) – $6.7M – $2,126 PTA – $6.7M cume
2. NEW – Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Universal) – $6.1M- $2,180 PTA – $6.1M cume
3. Prom Night (Sony) – $3.49M – $1,293 PTA – $25.8M cume
4. NEW – 88 Minutes (Sony) – $2.41M – $1,112 PTA – $2.41M cume
5. 21 (Sony) – $1.8M – $620 PTA – $65.8M cume
6. Nim’s Island (Fox) – $1.37M – $421 PTA – $28.3M cume
7. Street Kings (Fox) – $1.18M – $479 PTA – $17M cume
8. NEW – Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Rocky Mountain Pictures) – $1.12M – $1,065 PTA – $1.12M cume
9. Horton Hears a Who (Fox) – $900,000 – $337 PTA – $141.7M cume
10. Leatherheads (Universal) – $890,000 – $318 PTA – $24M cume
11. Superhero Movie (Weinstein/MGM) – $460,000 – $245 PTA – $22.4M cume
12. Smart People (Miramax) – $455,000 – $407 PTA – $5.5M cume
13. The Ruins (Dreamworks/Paramount) – $340,000 – $183 PTA – $14.9M cume
14. Drillbit Taylor (Paramount) – $295,000 – $216 PTA – $29M cume
15. Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns (Lionsgate) – $200,000 – $296 PTA – $40.5M cume
*Shine a Light (Paramount) – $120,000 – $545 PTA – $3.2M cume
*The Counterfeiters (Sony Classics) – $64,000 – $985 PTA – $3.3M cume
*NEW – Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden (Weinstein) – $39,000 – $363 PTA – $39,000 cume
*The Visitor (Overture Films) – $33,000 – $1,833 PTA – $145,000 cume
*Young @ Heart (Fox Searchlight) – $28,000 – $848 PTA – $108,000 cume
*Priceless (IDP Films) – $25,000 – $893 PTA – $548,000 cume
*Blueberry Nights (Weinstein) – $24,000 – $407 PTA – $185,000 cume
*NEW – The First Saturday in May (Truly Indie) – $20,000 – $983 PTA – $20,000 cume
*NEW – Pathology – $12,000 – $254 PTA – $12,000 cume
*The Flight of the Red Balloon (IFC Films) – $9,000 – $818 PTA – $86,000 cume
*Body of War (Film Sales Group) – $5,500 – $1,100 PTA – $37,000 cume
*NEW – Zombie Strippers (Sony Repertory) – $4,800 – $300 PTA – $4,800 cume
*NEW – The Life Before Her Eyes (Magnolia) – $4,500 – $547 PTA – $4,500 cume
*Ben X (Equinoxe) – $4,152 – $2,076 PTA – $45,000 cume
*NEW – Constantine’s Sword (First Run) – $3,420 – $1,710 PTA – $3,420 cume
*The Singing Revolution (Abramorama) – $1,770 – $1,770 PTA – $64,000 cume
*NEW – Kiss the Bride (Regent) – $1,765 – $353 – $1,765 cume
*NEW – Anamorph (IFC Films) – $834 – $834 PTA – $834 cume
*NEW – Emotional Arithmetic (Seville) – $826 – $413 PTA – $826 cume
*NEW – Four Minutes (Independent) – $505 – $505 PTA – $505 cume
*NEW – Jada (Independent) – $260 – $52 PTA – $260 cume

EXCLUSIVE FANTASY MOGULS EARLY 3-DAY ESTIMATES
1. NEW – The Forbidden Kingdom (Lionsgate) – $19.15M – $6,077 PTA – $19.15M cume
2. NEW – Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Universal) – $18.1M – $6,469 PTA – $18.1M cume
3. Prom Night (Sony) – $10.05M – $3,722 PTA – $33.5M cume
4. NEW – 88 Minutes (Sony) – $7.12M – $3,284 PTA – $7.12M cume
5. 21 (Sony) – $5.95M – $2,050 PTA – $70.4M cume
6. Nim’s Island (Fox) – $5.31M – $1,621 PTA – $32.5M cume
7. Street Kings (Fox) – $3.54M – $1,437 PTA – $19.4M cume
8. Horton Hears a Who (Fox) – $3.46M – $1,298 PTA – $144.3M cume
9. NEW – Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Rocky Mountain Pictures) – $3.1M – $2,947 PTA – $3.1M cume
10. Leatherheads (Universal) – $2.93M – $1,050 PTA – $26.4M cume
11. Superhero Movie (Weinstein/MGM) – $1.56M – $832 PTA – $23.5M cume
12. Smart People (Miramax) – $1.47M – $1,321 PTA – $6.6M cume
13. The Ruins (Dreamworks/Paramount) – $1.12M – $604 PTA – $15.7M cume
14. Drillbit Taylor (Paramount) – $950,000 – $695 PTA – $29.8M cume
15. Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns (Lionsgate) – $710,000 – $1,052 PTA – $41.1M cume
*Shine a Light (Paramount) – $520,000 – $2,364 PTA – $3.7M cume
*The Counterfeiters (Sony Classics) – $265,000 – $4,077 PTA – $3.5M cume
*The Visitor (Overture Films) – $135,000 – $7,500 PTA – $252,000 cume
*NEW – Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden (Weinstein) – $140,000 – $1,373 PTA – $140,000 cume
*Young @ Heart (Fox Searchlight) – $115,000 – $3,485 PTA – $198,000 cume
*Priceless (IDP Films) – $97,000 – $3,464 PTA – $620,000 cume
*Blueberry Nights (Weinstein) – $90,000 – $1,525 PTA – $255,000 cume
*NEW – The First Saturday in May (Truly Indie) – $75,000 – $3,750 PTA – $75,000 cume
*NEW – Pathology – $42,000 – $913 PTA – $42,000 cume
*The Flight of the Red Balloon (IFC Films) – $34,000 – $3,091 PTA – $120,000 cume
*NEW – The Life Before Her Eyes (Magnolia) – $17,000 – $2,125 PTA – $17,000 cume
*Body of War (Film Sales Group) – $16,000 – $3,200 PTA – $48,000 cume
*Ben X (Equinoxe) – $15,000 – $7,500 PTA – $56,000 cume
*NEW – Zombie Strippers (Sony Repertory) – $13,000 – $813 PTA – $13,000 cume
*NEW – Constantine’s Sword (First Run) – $11,286 – $5,643 PTA – $11,286 cume
*The Singing Revolution (Abramorama) – $6,638 – $6,638 PTA – $69,000 cume
*NEW – Kiss the Bride (Regent) – $5,648 – $1,130 – $5,648 cume
*NEW – Anamorph (IFC Films) – $2,919 – $2,919 PTA – $2,919 cume
*NEW – Emotional Arithmetic (Seville) – $2,808 – $1,404 PTA – $2,808 cume
*NEW – Four Minutes (Independent) – $1,515 – $1,515 PTA – $1,515 cume
*NEW – Jada (Independent) – $702 – $140 PTA – $702 cume

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