With a little help from a made-in-Hollywood controversy, the new Dane Cook-Kate Hudson romantic comedy "My Best Friend's Girl" from Lionsgate figures to be one of this weekend's main box-office draws.
The R-rated film, produced for an estimated $20 million after tax rebates, could fight for No. 1 with Sony Pictures' new PG-13 thriller "Lakeview Terrace," starring Samuel L. Jackson as a tightly wound L.A. cop trying to scare away the interracial couple living next door, and the Coen brothers' holdover spy comedy "Burn After Reading," from Focus Features. Each should haul in $12 million or more.
Comedian-actor Cook made headlines in mid-August when he posted a lengthy diatribe on his MySpace page excoriating his movie's poster. "Whoever photoshopped our poster must have done so at taser point with three minutes to fulfill their hostage takers' deranged obligations," Cook groused, calling it an injustice to a film in which he and costars Hudson, Alec Baldwin and Jason Biggs "really kicked the funny around."
The budding art critic quipped that he looked to be "wearing Maybelline Water Shine Diamonds Liquid Lipstick," that his high collar was "going for the vampire lurking in the castle basement vibe," and that he appeared "able to turn my head comfortably 360 degrees, because I was raised in an abandoned barn by a family of owls."
Projector, who was born at night, not last night, thinks the savvy but shameless self-promoter doth protest too much -- except that it has paid off with publicity and link love.
Websites including EW.com, Huffington Post and People.com picked up on Cook's rant. The blog Hollywood Elsewhere said he deserved "points for fearlessly ripping into" the poster, "and for being funny in the bargain." Most of the 1,200-plus comments on Cook's MySpace page were like this one: "you soo funnny but i just seen the poster. the photoshop looks bad :( but i cant wait to see the movie!"
Lionsgate executives declined to comment on the stunt -- er, impromptu kerfuffle -- and Cook, perhaps busy lurking in his basement, could not be reached.
Other new releases include the animated, PG-rated "Igor" from Exodus Film Group and MGM, which might take advantage of the recent lull in the family movie market with a respectable opening, and DreamWorks Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment's PG-13 comedy "Ghost Town," starring Ricky Gervais, Tea Leoni and Greg Kinnear.
"Lakeview Terrace," produced for about $20 million by Sony's genre arm Screen Gems and Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment, is tracking slightly ahead of the competition in consumer surveys.
The movie, costarring Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington, is being sold with trailers and TV spots showing Jackson in a coolly menacing performance. Posters and ads ask sarcastically, "What could be safer than living next to a cop?"
"The marketing makes it relatable," said Rory Bruer, Sony's president of domestic distribution. "People wonder, 'What would I do in that situation?' "
"Igor," the debut movie from Venice-based Exodus, is a spoof of 1930s horror tales. The voice cast features John Cusack as a hunchback lab assistant and wannabe mad scientist and Molly Shannon as his creation.
Exodus, which outsourced the computer animation work to a Parisian company, would say only that it was produced at "a fraction" of the cost of a typical Hollywood studio animated feature (presumably closer to one-quarter than, say, fifteen-sixteenths). Tracking points to a $9-million launch.
"Ghost Town," produced for an estimated $20 million, stars Gervais as a dentist who dies and is quickly revived, only to find that he has the annoying ability to see ghosts. It is tracking for a mid-single-digit launch but has earned the best reviews of all the major openers, so word of mouth could give it box-office life.
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The new releases "Lakeview Terrace" and "My Best Friend's Girl" will compete with the holdover "Burn After Reading" for No. 1 at the box office this weekend. These figures are The Times' predictions. Studios will issue weekend estimates Sunday and actual results Monday.
*--* Movie 3-day Through the Weeks prediction (studio) (millions) weekend
1 Lakeview Terrace (Sony) $16.0 $16.0 1
2 My Best Friend's Girl 13.8 13.8 1 (Lionsgate)
3 Burn After Reading (Focus) 12.4 37.5 2
4 Igor (MGM) 9.0 9.0 1
5 Righteous Kill (Overture) 8.4 29.5 2
6 The Family That Preys 8.2 29.0 2 (Lionsgate)
7 Ghost Town 6.2 6.2 1 (DreamWorks/Paramount)
8 The Women (Picturehouse) 6.2 19.8 2
9 The House Bunny (Sony) 3.0 45.9 5
10 The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.) 3.0 521.9 10 *--*
Source: Times research
Los Angeles Times