The Betting Table: Summer Edition - This Week: Live Free or Die Hard
by Barry Wurst
June 29, 2007
Welcome to The Betting Table, a look at the weekend's theatrical fare and a place where you can place your bets on what will swim and what will sink.
John McClane is back! Bruce Willis returns to his most famous character, in a lavish action/adventure directed by Len Wiseman (the Underworld series) and co-starring Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Maggie Q, fan-favorite Mary Elisabeth Winstead and some guy named Kevin Smith.
THE GOOD NEWS:
As we reported earlier, the response to the trailer has been overwhelmingly positive in theaters and audiences are happy to see this series go a 4th round. Anticipation is big, reviews have been positive, 20th Century Fox has been promoting aggresively, and, with the Silver Surfer sinking instead of rising in popularity, this will be the must-see action event in town (for the weekend… until Michael Bay returns). The PG-13 rating will bring in EVERYONE (now underage teens won't have to sneak in!) and, truthfully, there's enough bullets and blood in this to almost make you think you're watching an R-rated gut cruncher. The Arby's commercial tie-in is on TV 24/7, so visibility and awhereness are huge, with a mid-week opening that could be record-breaking.
THE BAD NEWS:
Really, PG-13? That may be a turn-off for the hardcore fans who want their action down and dirty. Will audiences go for Long as a sidekick or is he headed for an Austin O'Brien, failed-action-movie-star-second-banana-burnout? For that matter, will the cyber-heavy plot connect with anyone beyond the basement dwelling fanboys? Was Wiseman really the best choice to take on this franchise? Will the 130-minute running time be too long for auds (still angry about their sore butts after the nearly 3-hour Pirates of the Caribbean 3)? Are audiences completely turned off by sequels at this point?
The competition is strong but wide-spread. Conventional wisdom says guys (and their dates) will go for Die Hard, kids will flock to the acclaimed Ratatouille, (some) girls will give the critically-trashed Evening a shot and everyone else will turn out strong for Sicko. Really, McClane's biggest competition is Pixar's hot new attraction, which had a succesful sneak peak a few weeks back to ensure strong anticipation. Yet, the ace up McClane's sleeve: the wednesday opening, which will likely give Live Free or Die Hard enough bank to give it an edge for #1. Truth be told, Ratatouille (even if it opens at #2) will have stronger legs and Live Free will die hard at the box office next weekend, when the Transformers come to town. Still, with good reviews and audience response, this will be the top-grossing Die Hard yet and, even with a steep, second-week drop, this looks to go over big and Fox will likely be clamouring for Die Hard 5 very soon.
PLACE YOUR BETS:
A Nakatomi Tower-sized opening, at $57 million, with Ratatouille close behind at over $40 million (Sicko will premiere around $19 million, thanks to mondo publicity, while Evening could make $9 million, no-thanks to so-so reviews and a bad time for a you-go-girl, female bonding drama to open). The competition gets rough next weekend, but for now, McClane is box office king. Yippee Kay-Yay Mother@#$%&*!
Please don't actually place bets with money, just discuss what this weekend's box office may do!