http://chud.com/nextraimages/alanalda.jpgSo, in most ways, this is the last major week of summer. Though I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Simpsons Movie and Rush Hour 3 should all do over $100 and then some (and possibly Super Bad as well), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the final tub-thumping juggernaut of the summer that should get to above $250 if not $300.

What’s crazy is how interesting September’s gotten. Once the dumping grounds of the majors, now that December is considered bad juju for Oscar contenders, September has become the new December and December has become the new May( blame New Line). October seems the same (they launch a lot of weak sisters that might get some academy love), and November is the family pack of Oscar hopefuls, Family favorite-types, and bizarros. If this September launches the best picture winner, the paradigm will shift right quick.

THE MOST INTERESTING FILM OF THE WEEK

What may be answered by Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince‘s release is the question of Harry Potter V‘s release. And that is if the films have benefited from the books more than vice versa. The kids will likely love HPV, they’ll go back again and again, and the parents will get HPV, at least on DVD, if only to finish their collection (though they probably know, as we all do, that the megabox is coming).

We are now at the tail end of the Potter phenom. The final book is mere days away from release, and there’s only two more films left to make, all of which should be wrapped up come 2010 (and that’s not an order for Peter Hyams’ movie to bust a nut, mind you). Where was I? Oh yeah, I have a sneaking suspicion that by the time of the seventh movie – no matter how epic or awkward or everything in between J.K. Rowling’s denouement is – Potter fever will hit a low simmer. The series will have been going on for over ten years then, and the target demo will be old enough to drink and smoke legally. Will they embrace or care about HPV and its ilk when they’re in college? Should they? Again, we shall see. But the prospects for the worldwide embracing of HPV look bright and cheery and it will likely net Warner Brothers nearly a billion dollars. Though the reviews run from raves to pans (Ebert was not kind) the built-in factor makes this a done deal.

It’s also worth pointing out that many titles this year have chosen Wednesdays for not particularly great reasons. It appears that maybe people thought Spider-Man 3 had the three day number on lockdown (and it took it handily), so they weren’t even going to compete. Perhaps next year we’ll get a Monday release, which is sort of what we had with Transformers.

THE MOST INTERESTING INDEPENDENT OF THE WEEK

Are you kidding me? Alec Baldwin’s long delayed, closet-kept remake of The Devil and Daniel Webster, now entitled Shortcut to Happiness is hitting seven markets (none of them LA or NY) after sitting around in a can for at least six years. With its release, The Onion Movie is now looking to be the 21st century’s champion of "will that shit ever come out?"

The reason why this subject is interesting (to me at least) is because of the greatest film never released ever. And that film is The Day the Clown Cried. If you know nothing about this film do some research, for it bears such golden fruit.

ANDRE, ANDRE, ANDRE, CAN’T YOU SEE, SOMETIMES YOUR PREDICITONS JUST HYPNOTIZE ME

And I just love your flashy ways….

Transformers, if compared to the $70 Million three day, should hold relatively well. Though the film is kinda horrible, it works damn it, and has a great third act. It’s what may sucker more people back in the door than the May films, which tended to have one great act or set piece, but didn’t close particularly well.

But HPV‘s up in this bitch, and it’s gonna take the number one slot. With a distended running time and stomach, it shouldn’t break any records, but it will clear the weekend having already broken the $100 million dollar mark. $150 is way too generous, so let’s say $130 for the five day and invite your folks over for dinner.* (Late Edit: $150 is not way to generous with that opening day number. So I’m going to change from $130 and $70 to $150 and $80)

Though this week offers some kid competition, Ratatouille should still be knocking them dead, and/or giving them what they want, so expect a Knocked Up-style hold around the $20 mark. While Loose Change or Small Bills will take a 50% plunge, but just crack the hundred spot.

Captivity opens, which, as Jeremy has opined, should have never happened. I’ll miss you Cuthbert and graffiti’d cocks, perhaps the DVD campaign will inspire the next generation. But if it gets to ten, then saints be praised.

I guess that’s why they’re broke and you’re so paid:
1. HPV – $80 Million
2. Transformers - $40 Million
3. Ratatouille - $20 Million
4. Die Hard 4: Citizens on Patrol - $9.3 Million
5. Cuthbert and Cocks and Cocks and Cocks and Cocks- $7.8 Million

And then on Sunday I sacrifice a squirrel to Cthulhu. And then tell you about the box office results.