I was in London for a little over a week, I came back and felt sick. I thought it might be allergies, but a friend pointed out it might be getting used to the smog again.



SKY ROCKETS IN FLIGHT, SACRIFICIAL DELIGHT

When people are sucessful, they have to have a failure or two. Perhaps it’s a cultural sense of honoring humility, perhaps it makes the famous relateable, whatever, it doesn’t matter. If you’re a box office darling, you have to fall on your face a couple of times. But also, you can’t keep falling on your face.

Jim Carrey’s big screen breakout happened in 1994 with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Adam Sandler’s Billy Madison hit in 1995 to modestly profitable results. The business model for Sandler now looks to be the more successful one. It seems strange to compare the two, as Carrey had been kicking around Hollywood longer, but the principle is the same: they were both breakout stars in sketch comedy, and safely transitioned to the big screen like their Saturday Night Live idols did.

Carrey delivered blockbuster comedies in the 90’s (at least, for a while), Sandler delivered modestly profitable vehichles that grew to the point of a yearly empire, with a general estimation of around $120. Carrey was a superstar with Liar, Liar, and showed some chops with The Truman Show, but Carrey was all too ready to turn his back on his fanbase to make actorly films. Sandler got better, modulated his star, and kept making the same movie (man-child accepts adulthood) from Billy Madison through I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.

Carrey woud go back to the comedy well when his serious films (Man on the Moon, The Majestic) proved unloved. “You didn’t like those? I can talk out my asshole in Bruce Almighty, then.” More serious efforts, n greater success “Then let’s have Fun with Dick and Jane.” The problem was/is that he was a superstar, and he alienated the fanbase.

Sandler has taken his licks, but mostly he had one huge public failure with Little Nicky, and has since stayed the course with his romantic comedies, which have proved to hit a certain number regardless of quality. He’s also dabbled in dramatic work, but he’s made sure to let his audience know that those aren’t “his” pictures. Sandler’s been ingenious about his branding, and it’s paid off with a loyal audience that keeps turning out and making these films profitable. No matter that his directors are usually weak (perhaps the better for it), and his mode of comedy is becoming outdated, even if he was an early supporter of Judd Apatow, the man who’s usurping him.

2008’s You Don’t Mess with the Zohan may be another miss. Though it will open, it doesn’t feel as strong as his other pictures, and on 6/20 gets deluged with competition. But it may be time for another public failure. At this point Sandler has nothing left to prove as a comedian, having done this successfully on the big screen for over ten years. He may be ready for what Carrey chomps at the bit for: Respectability.

AND PREDICITIONS, PREDICTIONS WILL TEAR US APART… AGAIN

So Kung Fu Panda? Came late out of the gate, but right now it looks well positioned. Most of the summer entertainments were geared towards a slightly older crowd, with Iron Man and Indy veering towards adults, whilst Speed Racer didn’t click with the youth set. So an animated movie about an ass kicking Panda will likely draw the families in until Wall E opens. Unless that pesky recession keeps them away.

It should have more than enough gas to hold off Sandler. For a while Sandler has been comfortably opened from around 30-40 plus million. Sandler should be hitting somewhere in the low 30’s but that’ll be good enough to take second place. And hitting #1 isn’t really important. If the filmmakers were smart they made the film for under $50, and so it should see a healthy profit.

The slightly more interesting question is: Will Sex and the City hold off Indy? It’ll be a toss up, that’s for sure. Indy should take somewhere around a 50% tumble (somewhere between 45% and 55%) from last week’s $45 Million. So at best that’s around $25 Million for the three day, while Sex got to $57, but dropping 50% is an afterthought for a Friday picture. Then again, it’s had strong weekdays, which isn’t that surprising. It’ll be close. So let’s do this:

1. Kung Fu Panda – $51 Million
2. You Don’t Mess with the Zohan - $33.5 Million
3. Sex and the City - $24 Million
4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - $23.7 Million
5. The Strangers - $8.7 Million

And then Sunday, I’ll sing praises.