Forecast: 'Oz' to Easily Repeat Against 'Wonderstone,' 'The Call'

by Ray Subers
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

March 14, 2013

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and The Call arrive in theaters this weekend, though neither will come close to taking first place away from reigning champion Oz The Great and Powerful.

Nearly a decade after they starred together in Bruce Almighty—one of the highest-grossing comedies ever at $242.8 million—Jim Carrey and Steve Carell are once again on screen together in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, which is opening in 3,160 locations this weekend. This time around, though, Carell is the title character, while Carrey is relegated to the scene-stealing supporting role.

This switch makes sense, given the actors current career trajectories. While Carrey has contributed to 12 $100 million movies, his only nationwide live-action release of the past four years was the slightly disappointing Mr. Popper's Penguins ($68.2 million). Carell, on the other hand, has been fairly consistent since breaking out in 2005's The 40-Year-Old Virgin, though even he has the occasional slip-up (last Summer's Seeking a Friend for the End of the World being the primary example).

Previews for The Incredible Burt Wonderstone emphasize the conflict between Carell and Carrey's rival magicians with a focus on stunt set-pieces like Carrey sleeping on hot coals or Carell being suspended over Las Vegas in a glass box. While these gags are decent enough, they've been overplayed a bit, and don't give a clear sense for the kind of fast-paced humor audiences have come to expect from comedies.

When it was initially scheduled for March, it's likely Warner Bros. was targeting grosses similar to 2007's Blades of Glory, which also featured two male comedians with funny wigs skewering a popular but easily-mocked form of performance entertainment. Blades opened to $33 million on its way to $118.6 million; with a marketing campaign that's not as amusing or original, don't be surprised if Burt Wonderstone earns about half as much.

Opening at 2,507 locations, The Call was a very late addition to the March 2013 schedule: in fact, Sony didn't even announce a release date until just over two months ago. Since then, though, the marketing for this Halle Berry abduction thriller has been hard to miss. Initial previews focused mainly on Berry's 911 operator interacting with a kidnapped girl (played by Abigail Breslin) via telephone, though recent commercials have added some thrills by taking Berry out of the call center and in to the action. While it's still a modest release, it should do decent business with older women who may not be interested in Oz, and a debut north of $10 million seems like a lock.

Forecast (March 15-17)

1. Oz The Great and Powerful - $44.1 million (-44%)
2. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone - $18 million
3. The Call - $12.7 million
4. Jack the Giant Slayer - $4.8 million (-51%)

Bar for Success

With Carell, Carrey, over 3,100 theaters and the marketing campaign that goes along with that, Burt Wonderstone ought to be opening over $20 million. The Call, on the other hand, is in fine shape if it debuts higher than 2007 Halle Berry/Bruce Willis disappointment Perfect Stranger ($11.2 million).

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