**Blogger’s Note (03/23): I am revising down my box office estimate to $8.4 million names on putrid reviews and lowered expectations.
A film that has challenged my ability to properly use capital and lower case letters in its title, CHiPs opens in theaters next weekend. The buddy cop comedy is a more humorous take on the 1970s-80s TV series that starred Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada. Taking over their roles as California highway patrolmen are Dax Shepard (who also directs) and Michael Pena. Costars include Vincent D’Onofrio, Adam Brody, and Shepard’s real-life spouse Kristen Bell.
Warner Bros. originally had this pegged as a late summer release before bumping it to March. I don’t foresee this approaching, say, Starsky and Hutch numbers from 2004. That was also based on a buddy cop series from the same era, but its headliners Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson had considerably more drawing power at the time than Shepard and Pena.
The good news for the studio: CHiPs comes with a reported budget of just $25 million. I believe this vehicle could achieve over half of that in its opening weekend. That would put it behind other newbies Power Rangers and Life, but it’s not too shabby.
CHiPs opening weekend prediction: $8.4 million (prediction changed from $13.2M)
For the past six and a half years, it’s been rare to see Robert Downey Jr. in any movie that’s not part of a franchise – whether Iron Man, The Avengers, or Sherlock Holmes. This Friday, audiences will have that opportunity with David Dobkin’s The Judge.
The courtroom drama finds Downey playing a hotshot attorney defending his dad/title character played by Robert Duvall. The supporting cast includes Billy Bob Thornton, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Dax Shepard. For a short period of time, The Judge was thought of as a potential awards contender until it screened at the Toronto Film Festival last month. Critical reaction was mixed as it currently stands at a middling 52% on Rotten Tomatoes. The lack of positive buzz from that community could hinder the pic’s opening weekend potential and competition for adult audiences is strong with Gone Girl entering its second weekend and The Equalizer in its third.
The Judge‘s box office success pretty much rests squarely on the shoulders of Downey and his ability to open a non-franchise related title. If this manages to get past $20 million in its premiere, Warner Bros. should consider that a victory. I have my doubts and believe the audience will give it a verdict in the mid to high teens.
The Judge opening weekend prediction: $16.4 million
For my prediction on Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, click here:
It’s got all-star cast and a director who’s had his share of successful comedies, but I have my doubts as to whether This Is Where I Leave You will have much of an impact with audiences. Shawn Levy, the man behind the Pink Panther reboot, the Night at the Museum franchise and Date Night, is behind the camera. The family comedy’s cast includes Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Dax Shepard, Connie Britton, Kathryn Hahn, Timothy Olyphant, and Abigail Spencer.
Yet my take is that the TV spots and trailers haven’t made this look like a must-see and reviews are mixed. This is the exact type of flick that audiences might wait to watch at home in a few months. The high-profile cast could theoretically push it to a bigger opening that I’m imagining, but my gut says it won’t even reach the mid teens and be a box office disappointment like Levy’s last outing, The Internship.
This Is Where I Leave You opening weekend prediction: $12.3 million