MATT BECOMES ZAC
Hold onto your hair-gel, the perfectly coiffed [note: haha, wut?] teen heart-throb Zac Efron is returning to Australia.
The star of the Disney juggernauts High School Musical and Hairspray will attend the Sydney and Melbourne premieres of his new film 17 Again next month. In the movie, a middle-aged loser, played by Friends star Matthew Perry, is transported back 20 years to his heydey as the star of the high school basketball team, played by Efron.
If the role sounds familiar, lets hope it is not prophetic for Efron, who is best known for playing Troy Bolton, the star of the high school basketball team in the High School Musical franchise.
Post-Friends, Perry has made headlines less for his acting and more for his rehab admissions for drug and alcohol problems. The all-singing, all-dancing Efron is also working on a remake of 1980s teen-hit Footloose, taking the role of Ren McCormack that was made famous by Kevin Bacon.
HELLO, Hairspray was NOT Disney! WTF? They clearly haven't seen it cause they'd know Disney would never allow such blatant sexual euphemism in their songs. Bad editing, boo.
More importantly, Zac will be in Australia sometime in March. The promo schedule is becoming clearer, but still is about as clear as mud. I definitely feel like they are going to run him ragged going to all corners of the earth to promote this thing. They'd be fools not to, they need to try to capitalize on some of the massive international business HSM3 did.
It will be interesting to see how much of that interest converts to Zac-only movies and how much was just a product of the HSM phenomenon. Certainly as a PG-13 movie, he will lose a lot of the little kid tickets. But the way I see it if he captures even just 30% of the HSM global business, at the very least they will have made their budget and promo back.
But can he get 30% of the HSM audience? Exit polls for HSM might not help that much: "Three-quarters of the audience was female, and just over half were under 18... About two-thirds were families." The real question is what percentage of the audience were females over thirteen. Which wasn't a statistic released.
A lot of comedies do about 75/25 split domestic/international. So if 30% of HSM's 90mil US box office becomes 75% off the take then only 10mil will happen internationally. I don't see that low of an international box office happening at all.
The comedies that have a more respectable split are ones with franchises behind them (Get Smart, Sex and the City), ones that are actually good (Tropic Thunder, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), and some that must do well on star power cause they aren't exceptional (What Happens in Vegas, Fool's Gold). Hopefully this film is some combination of those.
Two parallels that we might be able to look to are Mean Girls and 13 Going on 30. Both were released in April 2004, light in fare, and had recognizable, but not huge, comedy stars. 13 Going on 30 opened at $21 mil and Mean Girls opened the following weekend at $24 mil. 13 Going on 30 went on to $96 million international (60/40) and Mean Girls $130 million (66/33). Those are respectable numbers especially considering that they were competing against each other (among other romcoms).
17 Again doesn't have much competition on its weekend or even the following weekend. Hannah Montana will open the week previous, but that is for the younger set who won't watch this anyway. I mean, like HSM, there are some older fans, but I think far fewer since there is no Troy. Dragonball also opens, but I don't think that demo will overlap excessively.
The other two movies opening April 17 are State of Play (a weak remake of the BBC drama) and Crank 2: High Voltage an action flick that sounds like a rip off of Iron Man. Even if the other two movies are great, they are different demographics and the psychological needs of the world demand light escapism. The following weekend the only challenge is the opening of the depressing drama Soloist (which still seems unnaturally early for what sounds like an Oscar-seeker, idgi, does it suck?).
A big part of its success will be how the movie reviews, which we have little idea about currently. So far on ONTD people get it is a remake but astoundingly enough most of them are still interested. They aren't bitching about remakes like they usually do. I guess the body-swap genre is immune to remake fatigue. A couple of early screening reports said it was predictable but entertaining and not as much of a rip-off as it seems. So that is positive. It also has a funny and talented supporting cast which will help.
I mentioned in passing that currently, the moviegoer is seeking lighter fare. But also with jobs being lost and economies failing, people will identify strongly with this particular storyline, even if it is fantasy. Mike O'Donnell's character wants a do-over and pretty much everyone in the world wishes at this point that we could go back and do things a little bit differently.
Interestingly enough, I think Zac's relative anonymity among the older set might help him and the movie. A lot of people over 30 have no idea who he is or even what HSM is in anything more than a vague way. So they won't hold HSM against him. They might just go to it because it is a comedy and it has Matt Perry, Tom Lennon, and Leslie Mann in it. In other words, I don't think HSM will hurt him here. If it was a drama straight out of the gate, that would be different. But comedy is perceived as easier even if it isn't.
So in the end, I have no idea what will happen, lol, I hate statistics. It could go as low as $60 million and I'd still call it a success, or at least not a flop (which I'd reserve for not making its budget back), but obviously, bigger is better (ty Sharpay Evans). If I had to guess, I'd project a $20 million opening, on par with 13 Going on 30, and a total gross of $100-$120 million with a 60/40 split.