Weekend Predictions: 05-29-09

So far this year, the biggest overall weekend at the box office was back on January 16 when Paul Blart: Mall Cop took the world by storm. The total spent on movies that weekend was $192,903,837. There’s a chance this weekend could top that.

Up is the widest release this weekend, in 3,766 theaters. It’s also the tenth feature put out by Pixar, and their name has basically become the gold standard in computer animation. And they’re really trying to make a point that their name is bigger than the subject of whatever movie they put forth. Cars was about a car that got arrested and had to repave a road, Ratatouille was about a rat that wanted to be a chef, and WALL-E was about a robot cleaning up the garbage left behind on an Earth abandoned by humans. Those aren’t your usual topics for big-budget animated movies aimed at kids. Up is no different, about an old man that ties thousands of balloons to his house so he can float away and find adventure. But it’s a Pixar movie and as usual, it’s getting great reviews. Up should be number one this weekend, the only competition coming from last week’s Night at the Museum II, which is competing for the same audience. I think it’ll still manage to pull in around $61,492,540.

The other new wide release this weekend is Drag Me to Hell, and it’s a pretty thin affair-  some chick pisses off an old women and gets cursed in the process. It’s the first step back into horror for director Sam Raimi since Army of Darkness. Raimi’s been growing fat and lazy on the Spider-Man teat this century, so it’s nice to see him finally doing something different. He’s got a rare talent to balance disgust and amusement, gasp and guffaw. Over the years he’s seemed to have lost some of that. If you watch The Evil Dead and Spider-Man 3 back-to-back, it’s almost painful to see how much more generic he’s become. In the former you can really feel the filmmaking process- in the latter, you feel the budget meetings. Ingenuity was replaced with scale and the movies are worse for it. Drag Me to Hell is being touted as Raimi’s return to his roots and, like Up, is getting rave reviews (which easily makes this the best reviewed weekend in a long time). I’d say this movie would do really well at the box office, but I’m not sure there’s enough money to go around this weekend. I’m going to say it’ll make around $23,381,808, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it got closer to $30 million.

Night at the Museum II should wind up in second place, with Terminator Salvation likely edging out Drag Me to Hell for third. Star Trek and Angels & Demons should both still be somewhere in eight-digit numbers. There’s a chance we could see close to $200 million spent this weekend.

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