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Box Office Brasserie:
Movie News For Movie Lovers

Will Smith was once like Marshawn Lynch; people called him Mr. 4th of July because like Beastmode, he was an unstoppable force. Nowadays, he’s more like Kobe Bryant—sitting on the sidelines and talking about his glory days rather than living them.

Smith’s last two films, “Men in Black 3” (uninspired and going through the motions) and M. Night Shyamalan’s “After Earth” (for which he’s publicly apologized) underwhelmed creatively and didn’t do much of anything to reignite his fading star.

That said, they made $624M and $243M respectively—the bulk of those grosses coming from overseas. No denying those are solid numbers for most actors, but neither film will yield direct sequels, which is something Hollywood desperately craves these days in order to justify the massive amounts of P/A spending.

So, now we have Warner Bros. “Focus,” the $100M crime caper that is supposed to bring back box office Beastmode. The one thing the R-rated film has on its side is the release date; with “Fifty Shades” dropping faster than a 60-year-old without his Viagra prescription, Will Smith’s flick is a shoe-in for $20M+ and a #1 debut…but is that enough?

I for one like the edgier side of Smith showing up again. He hasn’t really tested his chops for some time and let’s be honest, he has lightning in a body, er, bottle with co-star Margot Robbie (“The Wolf of Wall Street”). She’s one of the hottest rising stars in Hollywood right now and her presence alone might just elevate this.

When the two went into this film, Robbie was definitely looking to level-up, but as her stock has been on the rise since “Wall Street,” Smith is lucky to catch her on the upswing and she may be a bigger draw than him at this point, at least domestically speaking.

Although the genre is often hit or miss, Smith and Robbie both have that certain something that only true movie stars can emulate and that could get butts in seats this weekend.

Also looking to scare up some bucks is Lionsgate’s “The Lazarus Effect.” While the PG-13 chill pill may not resurrect the horror genre, this is yet another Blumhouse production, so you know the budget was miniscule (probably around $5M) and it will likely make up to two or three times that in its debut.

Ch-ching. If “The Lazarus Effect” hits $10M or so, it’s already a slight success.

Lionsgate will also go after the Latino crowd this weekend as their comedy “A La Mala” hits 350+ theaters.

The company has had some pretty solid success of late with that demographic, but nothing approaching the level of 2013’s “Instruction Not Included” which grossed a surprising $44M and made an instant star out of the Mexican actor/writer/director Eugenio Derbez, who has yet to make his next move.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

  1. Focus – $23M
  2. Kingsman – $12M
  3. The Lazarus Effect – $11M
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey – $9.5M
  5. SpongeBob 2 – $9M

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SXSW 2015 PREMIERE: RAIDERS!: THE STORY OF THE GREATEST FAN FILM EVER MADE

This is the greatest story in the history of fanboy fandom! Not to be missed, both the documentary and the actual fan film.

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK – Roadside Attractions’ “Love & Mercy” (June 5, 2015)

Brain Wilson is a mad musical genius and finally his story gets the big screen treatment. You couldn’t ask for two better actors to portray him in Paul Dano and John Cusack…even if Cusack doesn’t have the resemblance that Dano does.

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CLASSIC CUSACK CUT OF THE WEEK – “The Sure Thing” (1985)

Before Cusack became Lloyd Dobler in “Say Anything,” he was Walter Gibson in Rob Reiner’s “The Sure Thing.” Funny thing is, he seems a lot like Lloyd Dobler here. Part of his endearing, boyish charms. If you haven’t seen this, what’s your deal, dude? It’s the 30-year anniversary. It’s the least you could do.

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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“Focus” Poster Courtesy of Warner Bros.; Poster Design by Concept Arts