The Farrelly Brothers

What ever happened to The Farrelly Brothers?

Bobby and Peter exploded onto the scene back in 1994 with the landmark rude comedy Dumb & Dumber. This gem delivered $127M domestic with lines like, According to the map, we’ve only gone 4 inches,” and “Wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?,” and “Check out the funbags on that hosehound.” You won’t get that sort of smart dialogue from scribes like William Monahan, Akiva Goldsman or Paul Haggis. In fact, neither The Polish Brothers, The Wachowski Brothers or even The Coen Brothers can match-up with The Farrellys, crude quip for crude quip, obscene sight gag for obscene sight gag.

They followed Dumb & Dumber with the every-bit-as-funny Kingpin (although it managed just $25M domestic despite a remarkable performance by Bill Murray’s comb-over swirl in the climactic bowling scene). Then came the infamous Cameron Diaz hair gel scene in There’s Something About Mary ($176.5M domestic). After the somewhat-less-funny, but still ticket-selling Me, Myself & Irene ($90.5M domestic), there came a series of a lot-less-funny and fewer-ticket-selling disappointments.

2001 – Osmosis Jones – $5.2M opening ($13.6M cume)
2001 – Shallow Hal – $22.5M opening ($70.8M cume)
2003 – Stuck On You – $9.4M opening ($33.8M cume)
2005 – Fever Pitch – $12.4M opening ($42M cume)
More…
When did the Farrelly “funny train” come off the tracks? It was the moment they started worry about redeeming messages. By all accounts, Bobby and Peter successfully turn away from any sort of moral in Heartbreak Kid (Paramount), a remake of Elaine May’s funny 1972 relationship romp. The word is that this is a funny, outrageously raunchy movie.

It would be tough for the Farrellys to miss here with a lead whose last 5 movies have combined to rake in $855M domestic. In fact, Ben Stiller’s last 12 wide release movies (since Meet the Parents in 2000) have averaged a $24M opening. He’s money in the bank.

ALL-TIME TOP 10 BEN STILLER OPENINGS
1. Madagascar – $47.2M opening
2. Meet the Fockers – $46.1M opening
3. Night at the Museum – $30.4M opening
4. Dodgeball – $30M opening
5. Meet the Parents – $28.6M opening
6. Starsky & Hutch – $28.1M opening
7. Along Came Polly – $27.7M opening
8. Zoolander – $15.5M opening
9. There’s Something About Mary – $13.7M opening
10. Mystery Men – $10M

This is a Ben, Bobby and Peter reunion, having already teamed on the mega-hit There’s Something About Mary.

Surprisingly, the tracking for The Heartbreak Kid looks soft when compared to the tracking for the R-rated relationship/comedy blockbuster Knocked Up, and even soft by Good Luck Chuck standards, but I’ve learned not to bet
against a Paramount release generated by Dreamworks.

2007 RELEASES FROM PARAMOUNT PICTURES
– DreamWorks projects are underlined –
1/5/07 – Freedom Writers – $36.6M cume ($9.4M opening)
2/9/07 – Norbit – $95.3M cume ($34.1M opening)
3/2/07 – Zodiac – $33M cume ($13.3M opening)
3/23/07 – Shooter – $47M cume ($14.5M opening)
3/30/07 – Blades of Glory – $118.2M cume ($33M opening)
4/13/07– Disturbia – $80.1M cume ($22.2M opening)
4/27/07 – Next – $18M cume ($7.1M opening)
5/18/07 – Shrek the Third – $321M cume ($121.6M opening)
7/3/07 – Transformers – $315.4M cume ($70.5M opening)
8/3/07 – Hot Rod – $13.9M cume ($5.3M opening)
8/10/07 – Stardust – $37.8M cume ($9.1M opening)

The bottom line is that, if it weren’t for Steven Spielberg, David Geffenand Jeffrey Katzenberg, 2007 would be a dismal year for Paramount and the Melrose Avenue gang.

As of Sunday (9/30), Heartbreak Kid had only 2% Un-Aided Awareness compared to 18% for Knocked Up prior to its release and 7% for Good Luck Chuck on the Sunday prior to its opening. The Stiller film trails both of the comparables in Total Awareness with 70% (Knocked Up was at 81% and Chuck was at 78%) and Definite Interest at 31% (Good Luck Chuck was at 40% and Knocked Up went off at 37%).

Here’s how the pre-opening First Choice numbers stack up as of Sunday.

OVERALL FIRST CHOICE
Knocked Up – 16%
Good Luck Chuck – 15%
Heartbreak Kid – 8%

FIRST CHOICE – MALES UNDER 25
Knocked Up – 18%
Good Luck Chuck – 14%
Heartbreak Kid – 5%

FIRST CHOICE – MALES 25 PLUS
Knocked Up – 11%
Good Luck Chuck – 10%
Heartbreak Kid – 5%

FIRST CHOICE – FEMALES UNDER 25
Good Luck Chuck – 25%
Knocked Up – 22%
Heartbreak Kid – 8%

FIRST CHOICE – FEMALES 25 PLUS
Heartbreak Kid – 16%
Knocked Up – 13%
Good Luck Chuck – 9%

This would normally spell disaster, but Dreamworks/Paramount is spending its money late, and I’m told that as of today (Thursday), Heartbreak Kid’s Total Aware is above 85% and Overall First Choice is at 18%. Still, The Farrelly Brothers plus Ben Stiller plus Dreamworks does not necessarily add up to a “slam dunk.”

My gut is telling me that this movie has been marketed in the wrong way. We just finished the summer of Knocked Up and Superbad. Raunchy, obscene, over-the-top dirty is what is selling. That’s not how Heartbreak Kid is being sold. TV ads and trailers and print ads make it look like a sweet, cute, silly, “slapsticky” date movie. This sales pitch is working with Females 25 Plus with a First Choice number of 16% in that demo. Males just aren’t very into the movie. If you’ve got the next great “raunchfest” starring Ben Stiller and directed by the Dumb & Dumber guys, why sell the movie like Music & Lyrics or License to Wed.

Knocked Up enjoyed a $30.7M opening weekend, so it looks impossible for Heartbreak Kid to match that. Good Luck Chuck managed $13.6M on its opening weekend, the quickly improving Heartbreak Kid tracking numbers along with the serious Dreamworks/Paramount marketing muscle, should lift this one considerably higher than that figure. I’m predicting a somewhat disappointing $21M-$24M for The Heartbreak Kid in its opening 3 days.

36-year old director David Cunningham, whose last major project was the well-received ABC-TV movie The Path to 9/11, was at the helm for The Seeker: The Dark is Rising (Fox), which will bow at just over 3,100 locations Friday. It’s the first film based on Susan Cooper’s series of books called The Dark is Rising Sequence. The lead role is played by kid actor Alexander Ludwig, and the cast also includes Ian McShane (Deadwood) and Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under).

With its PG-rating, youthful leads and supernatural theme, the best comparable for The Seeker is this spring’s The Invisible. Prior to its opening, The Invisible had 10% Un-Aided Awareness, 65% Total Aware, 25% Definite Interest and a 3% First Choice. That’s markedly better than The Seeker, which has 1% Un-Aided Awareness, 36% Total Aware, 25% Definite Interest and 3% First Choice.

There’s just no traction in the marketplace for this one. The Invisible opened with $7.7M, and that is probably the high end of the correct range for The Seeker: The Dark is Rising. I’m calling for $5M-$8M.

The third wide release this weekend is Sony’s Feel the Noise. This urban drama, about a young rapper in the Bronx trying to make a name for himself, stars Omarion Grandberry, a former member of the band B2K, which was featured in 2005’s You Got Served. This is a niche movie, but the movie will definitely play at the appropriate theatres in the appropriate neighborhoods.

Sony scored big early this year with the urban-themed Stomp the Yard ($21.8M opening – $61.3M cume), but that won’t be duplicated here. Stomp had buzz with 13% Un-Aided Awareness and moviegoers knew it was coming with a 65% Total Aware. Feel the Noise has just 2% Un-Aided and 28% Total Awareness. With a 4% First Choice, Feel the Noise is likely headed for just $3M-$6M.

Here are my Final Predictions for October 5-7.

1. The Heartbreak Kid – $22.75M
2. The Game Plan – $12.6M
3. The Kingdom – $9M
4. The Seeker: The Dark is Rising – $7.5M
5. Feel the Noise – $4.8M
6. Resident Evil: Extinction – $4M
7. Good Luck Chuck – $3.1M
8. 3:10 to Yuma – $2.8M
9. The Jane Austen Book Club – $2.1M
10. The Brave One – $1.9M

Read the whole story at Fantasy Moguls.

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