The movie business has suffered a down streak at the box office for nine straight weeks but the unlikeliest of super heroes will attempt to save the day this holiday weekend as Seth Rogen stars in the big-screen version of "The Green Hornet." Industry buzz has the Sony/Screen Gems 3-D thriller opening on top in the high $30 million range.
The ironic casting of a goofy comedy star in the title role will draw audiences looking for a decidedly tongue-in-cheek action experience. Combine that with the addition of numerous IMAX screens, a Martin Luther King weekend release that also takes advantage of the less-competitive January marketplace and "The Green Hornet" should become the first official box-office hit of 2011.
Notably, the film is directed by indie auteur Michel Gondry, who helmed "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and other offbeat films, and features co-stars Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz and Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou as the sidekick Kato.
Of course, one dynamic duo deserves another and Vince Vaughn and Kevin James will give audiences a comedy choice with Ron Howard's "The Dilemma," in which the discovery of a wife's infidelity leaves one of the buddies in the predicament of how to tell his best friend. With a strong cast that includes Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Channing Tatum and Queen Latifah, the Universal film should grab the date crowd and a second-place finish in the high teens.
The third and fourth spots will be filled by two films that have bridged the gap between critical and commercial success: the Coen Brothers' "True Grit," which is fast becoming one of the highest-grossing Westerns of all time, and "Black Swan," which takes the ballet film to new commercial heights. Look for "Grit" to collect a reward of around $10 million and "Swan" to twirl its way to a weekend performance of just under $10 million.
Finally, everyone's favorite Fockers will make their mark in fifth position as "Little Fockers" continues to perform solidly in the post-Holiday period. A weekend gross in the $5 million range will take the film to over $130 million in its fourth weekend of release.