Semi-Pro

The new 1970’s-style basketball comedy Semi-Pro (New Line) appears to be the equivalent of a slam-dunk at America’s box offices this weekend. The past few years have featured other Will Ferrell vehicles set in variety of sports, including Kicking & Screaming ($20.1M opening) about soccer, Talladega Nights ($47M opening) set in the high-stakes world of NASCAR and Blades of Glory ($33M opening) with a focus on figure skating. Now, the former SNL star has turned his attentions to professional basketball.

A look at industry tracking points to an opening of $40M+ for Semi-Pro with a performance that far exceeds last year’s Blades.

UN-AIDED AWARENESS
Semi-Pro – 8%
Blades of Glory – 5%

TOTAL AWARE
Blades of Glory – 75%
Semi-Pro – 73%

DEFINITE INTEREST
Semi-Pro – 40%
Blades of Glory – 38%

FIRST CHOICE
Semi-Pro – 23%
Blades of Glory – 13%

This review-proof hoops spoof is especially strong with males. 35% of Males Under 25 name Semi-Pro as their First Choice this weekend as opposed to the 16% score grabbed by Blades last March. Ferrell’s latest is also the First Choice of 33% of Males 25 Plus compared to just 5% for the estrogen-laced comedy on ice. “The Greatest Fro on Earth” should wrap up the weekend with something in the $42M-$45M range, just shy of the $47M delivered by Talladega Nights.

The other 2 wide releases are both female-skewing titles on 1,200 or so screens. Sony’s The Other Boleyn Girl seems to have the advantage. It’s based on the best seller of the same name by Philippa Gregory, which has a considerable following among women. Additionally, it has an A-list cast that includes Oscar nominee Natalie Portman, Golden Globe nominee Scarlett Johansson and Munich’s Eric Bana.

Boleyn Girl will definitely exceed the disappointing $6.1M captured by Elizabeth: The Golden Age in October. The Cate Blanchett sequel had slightly better Total Awareness (60%-56%), but women have far more interest in the soapy “bodice-ripper.”

DEFINITE INTEREST WITH FEMALES UNDER 25
The Other Boleyn Girl – 42%
Elizabeth: The Golden Age – 28%

DEFINITE INTEREST WITH FEMALES 25 PLUS
The Other Boleyn Girl – 46%
Elizabeth: The Golden Age – 36%

FIRST CHOICE WITH FEMALES UNDER 25
The Other Boleyn Girl – 17%
Elizabeth: The Golden Age – 10%

FIRST CHOICE WITH FEMALES 25 PLUS
The Other Boleyn Girl – 23%
Elizabeth: The Golden Age – 18%

Elizabeth opened on about 800 more screens, and Penelope (Summit Entertainment) will lure in some younger females, so I’m projecting a modest $7M-$10M for The Other Boleyn Girl.

The aforementioned Penelope has kicked around the release schedule a bit, but it will finally hit the market this week, distributed by fledgling Summit Entertainment. The only other picture that they have released is last fall’s horror genre offering P2 ($3.95M domestic). With a cast that includes Golden Globe nominees Christina Ricci and James McAvoy and Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon, this isn’t a complete “throw-away.” In fact, its tracking performance, especially among females, is comparable to last summer’s Paramount fairy tale Stardust.

UN-AIDED AWARENESS
Penelope – 3%
Stardust – 2%

TOTAL AWARE
Stardust – 61%
Penelope – 60%

DEFINITE INTEREST
Penelope – 28% (Females Under 25 – 42%, Females 25 Plus – 33%)
Stardust – 27% (Females Under 25 – 33%, Females 25 Plus – 30%)

FIRST CHOICE
Penelope – 9% (Females Under 25 – 16%, Females 25 Plus – 13%)
Stardust – 5% (Females Under 25 – 8%, Females 25 Plus – 6%)

Stardust opened on over twice as many screens, and generated a dismal $9.1M in August. Despite its respectable tracking performance, Penelope will be handicapped by its novice distributor and limited market penetration. I’m calling for something in the $4-$6M range.

Final predictions for February 29-March 2:
1. Semi-Pro (New Line) – $43.75M
2. Vantage Point (Sony) – $13M
3. The Spiderwick Chronicles (Paramount) – $9.3M
4. The Other Boleyn Girl (Sony) – $8M
5. Jumper (Fox) – $7.25M
6. Step Up 2 the Streets (Disney) – $5.25M
7. Penelope (Summit) – $5M
8. Fool’s Gold (Warner Bros) – $3.6M
9. No Country For Old Men (Miramax) – $3.5M
10. Juno (Fox Searchlight) – $2.9M

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