Box Office Tracking: Forbidden Kingdom Likely To Beat Sarah Marshall

Forbidden Kingdom (Lionsgate), featuring martial arts superstars Jet Li and Jackie Chan, will likely win the box office weekend of April 18-20. With generally positive reviews and a family-friendly PG-13 rating, Kingdom has 7% Un-Aided Awareness (buzz) and a Total Aware of 76%, according to my studio sources. It has the strongest Definite Interest among Under 25's among the 4 new releases (53% with Males Under 25 and 32% with Females Under 25). An excellent 25% of young males name this martial arts fantasy film as their first choice, and it could even get a decent family bounce on Saturday. I'm forecasting a $17M-$20M opening weekend and $37M-$42M domestic.

The tracking for Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Universal) indicates that we may all be suffering from Judd Apatow fatigue. The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad were revolutionary, but Walk Hard and Drillbit Taylor have followed with disastrous results. Still, critics are very positive and, by all accounts, Jason Segal is a charming lead. Overall Definite Interest of 30% is very low, but the film is the First Choice of Females Under 25 (15%) and the 2nd Choice with Females 25 Plus (14%). This looks like a $13M-$16M opening weekend, which would be a disappointment, but I suspect this movie will have "legs." $40M domestic is possible.

Al Pacino is slumming this weekend in 88 Minutes (Sony), and, although awful reviews are pouring in from coast-to-coast, the industry tracking is better-than respectable. More people have heard of 88 Minutes (67%) than Forgetting Sarah Marshall (63%), and the Pacino thriller has a 15% First Choice. Not bad for a pre-Iron Man throwaway. The Oscar winner and the R rating make this a 25 Plus genre pic, and those moviegoers don't generally show up on opening weekend. Plus bad reviews and bad word-of-mouth will limit the upside, but I see 88 Minutes reaching $9M-$12M and $23M-$26M domestic.

Nathan Frankowski's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is a documentary being released on 1,000+ screens by Christian-friendly Rocky Mountain Pictures. Those that have seen it categorize it as anti-Darwinism propaganda, featuring right wing commentator Ben Stein. I'm sure that there's an audience out there somewhere for this type of doc, but there has been very little "intelligent design" involved in marketing the movie. With a Total Aware of only 19% and a First Choice score of just 2%, Expelled will manage only $1M-$3M this weekend, and it will have a difficult time holding onto those screens. It's doomed to $5M domestic in its theatrical engagements (suyrvival of the fittest?), although a fair number of DVD copies may be sold in evangelical bookstores in the future.

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