Two blades make for close shave at box office

Two blades make for close shave at box office

Staff and agencies
27 October, 2005

By Nicole Sperling 8 minutes ago

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - With Halloween just around the corner, the gorefest "Saw II" is likely to scare up the most business at the weekend box office, eclipsing fellow newcomer "The Legend of Zorro" in the process.

The story of a psychopath named Jigsaw is expected to cross the $20 million mark, which would mean only good things for an industry that has been down much of October.

With the star power of Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones Catherine Zeta-Jones, "Zorro" also has the potential to reach the $20 million mark this frame, although reviews have not been favorable.

After reaping $55 million at the box office last year with the low-budget "Saw," Lions Gate Films fast-tracked a sequel with production company Twisted Pictures. Continuing with the theme of a psychopathic killer who makes his victims play horrific games in a desperate attempt to survive, the R-rated "Saw II" was directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, who co-wrote the script with Leigh Whannell, the writer and co-star of the original.

This time around, Tobin Bell revisits his role as Jigsaw, and Shawnee Smith is back as Amanda, but the rest of the cast are newcomers to the franchise. The film will bow in 2,949 theaters, 600 more than the original, which began its run with $18 million.

Sony won‘t give up the top spot easily with its sequel to the 1998 international hit "The Mask of Zorro," though it is questionable whether the new film can reach the $22 million bow of its predecessor.

Sporting a family-friendly PG rating, the new "Zorro" turns Banderas‘ swashbuckler into a family man having issues with his wife (Zeta-Jones) and son (Adrian Alonso).

Since the debut of the original from director Martin Campbell -- who also directs the sequel -- Zeta-Jones has become an international star and an Academy Award winner, and Banderas has been in a big Broadway hit ("Nine") and also has starred in the successful "Spy Kids" franchise. The poor reviews might not matter to the family audience looking for a couple hours of diversion.

The two other wide releases opening Friday are targeting the more elusive adult moviegoer. Universal Pictures will bow "Prime," which stars Meryl Streep , Uma Thurman and relative newcomer Bryan Greenberg. The film follows Thurman‘s character, who falls in love with a much younger man (Greenberg), who happens to be the son of her therapist (Streep). The film, like a number of entries this fall, is looking to lure women. Unfortunately, women have been unwilling to show up at the movies lately, especially on opening weekends, and grosses have been soft as a result. Industry insiders put the film‘s debut in the $6 million range.

Paramount Pictures will open "The Weather Man," which stars Nicolas Cage as a popular Chicago weatherman who must weigh the costs of personal and professional success as his wife and children become more and more estranged from him.

After pushing the film from a spring release to the beginning of the crowded holiday season, Paramount might have been hoping for awards recognition but instead has received mostly critical early reviews. The R-rated film is looking to draw adult couples but could churn up as little as $5 million.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter