WEEKEND BOXOFFICE ADVANCE: Bombs Away! It's 'Pearl Harbor' All Over Again25 May, 2001 By: Ed Ochs
It's Memorial Day weekend, the perfect picture frame for producer Jerry Bruckheimer's three-hour version of Pearl Harbor. Pre-release market research is loudly pointing to one of the biggest debuts in box office history, grossing somewhere between $70 million and $100 million -- even if it's a critical bomb. That's right. Even if the World War II-igniting action-love story hits a critical iceberg with the media, like James Cameron's Titanic, it will still fly high into the global boxoffice record books.
Buena Vista's $135 million PG-13 action-romance, starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alec Baldwin and Jon Voight, has been pre-sold to the public by the Disney marketing machine to such a degree that moviegoers have little choice but to visit Pearl Harbor this weekend -- or trek to Shrek for an encore. No medium has been spared the Pearl Harbor blanket bombing -- TV, print, radio, Internet, outdoor advertising. War movies, like war itself, are big business. The only question remaining: How big is big?
DreamWorks' monster family animator Shrek and Universal's monster action grabber The Mummy Returns will provide 'friendly' competition for Pearl Harbor, since each has spent its best opening shot while Pearl Harbor is fresh out of the oven from Hollywood's dream factory, where new is now.
However, on this Memorial Day weekend, one the biggest weekends of the year for ticket sales -- and the official launch of the summer season -- all three blockbusters should flourish over the long holiday as moviegoers seek the cool shadows of the nation's theaters for relief.