LOS ANGELES – The sports biopic “42” will rough up its box-office rivals as it steps up to the plate this weekend.
The drama about famed baseball player Jackie Robinson is poised to claim No. 1, opening with a solid $20 million, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys. (Warner Bros. is predicting a softer launch of around $15 million.) The weekend’s other debut, the spoof “Scary Movie 5,” is likely to take in a respectable $17 million or so.
Hollywood has been eager for years to make a movie about Robinson, the first black to play Major League Baseball. The film centers on Robinson’s 1947 season and explores how the player helped to break the color barrier, paving the way for integration.
Rachel Robinson, the athlete’s 90-year-old widow, waited years before finally selling her late husband’s rights to producer Thomas Tull and his Legendary Pictures. Tull’s company ponied up $40 million to fund the production, being released by Warner Bros. this weekend.
In “42” Robinson is played by 36-year-old newcomer Chadwick Boseman. Harrison Ford costars as Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey. Earlier this month the two actors and writer-director Brian Helgeland traveled to the White House, where first lady Michelle Obama screened the picture for high school and college students.
The film has received mixed reviews: On Thursday morning it had notched a 69 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Heading into the weekend, the movie is generating interest among most moviegoers except young females, who coincidentally are the ones most eager to see “Scary Movie 5.”
The original “Scary Movie” poked fun at horror films like “Scream” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and became a huge hit, grossing $278 million worldwide. Although the franchise was conceptualized by Shawn, Marlon and Keenan Ivory Wayans, the brothers were involved in only the first two installments in the series.
Although none of the subsequent “Scary Movie” entries has been able to outgross the original, all have been solid box-office performers. But because it has been 7 years since the release of “Scary Movie 4,” interest in the franchise has decreased.
The new movie will start with less than half of the opening-weekend sum of its 2006 predecessor.
“Scary Movie 5,” which stars Ashley Tisdale and features cameos from Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen, was produced by the Weinstein Co.’s Dimension Films for around $20 million. The film has not been screened for critics, indicating that the studio probably believes that it won’t receive positive reviews.