‘The House Bunny’ to Open at $20 Million

The House BunnyAnna Faris Playboy bunny comedy set to win over aging ‘Rocker’ and violent ‘Death Race’.

By Robin Rowe

HOLLYWOOD, CA (RUSHPRNEWS) 8/22/08 – “It was fun to feel like I’m wearing the clothes that I used to dress my dolls up in when I was little,” says ‘The House Bunny’ star Anna Faris. ‘Legally Blonde’ screenwriters Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah Lutz wanted to work with Faris after seeing ‘Just Friends’.

‘The House Bunny’ was created specifically for Faris, and the writers took the actress with them to see producers. “It was the best way to pitch,” says McCullah Lutz. “When you have the actual movie star in the room with you, the studio sees the movie coming alive.”

‘The House Bunny’ is Happy Madison’s first female-driven comedy, yet follows the Adam Sandler comedy formula. “It’s funny and it has heart,” says Happy Madison producer Heather Parry. What will ‘The House Bunny’ do at the box office this weekend?

Anna Faris is very funny, is on the cover of Playboy, and is coming from “Scary Movie 4′ that opened at $40 million. The writers come from ‘Legally Blonde 2′ that opened at $22 million. Producer Adam Sandler comes from ‘Zohan’ that opened at $39 million. ‘The House Bunny’ is primed to open at $20 million, bigger than Estrogen-charged ‘Baby Mama’ at $17 million.

The House Bunny’s mission is to make a sorority glamorous so they get more pledges. it’s a make-over film like ‘Miss Congeniality’, which are always fun, with the geeky sisters being upgraded to look like Playboy playmates. As a story about saving a failing college sorority, ‘The House Bunny’ is the female version of the hit ‘Animal House’. A significant reservation about ‘The House Bunny’ is Sony has kept the film away from reviewers. If the script is badly flawed (‘Legally Blonde 2′ was), that could cut the box office in half.

Weekend Theater Count Estimates Aug 22
The Rocker – Fox 2,700 PG-13
The House Bunny – Sony 2,600+ PG-13
Death Race – Universal 2,400+ R
The Longshots – MGM/Weinstein Wide PG
Elegy – Samuel Goldwyn 100
Hamlet 2 – Focus Features 90
I.O.U.S.A. – Roadside Attractions 25
Data Source: Box Office Mojo

Reviewers describe ‘Death Race’ as “a guy movie for guys whose only turn-on is death.” At 64% rotten on Rotten Tomatoes scale, expect ‘Death Race’ to open at $10 million. That’s assuming product placement consultant Adam Stone doesn’t prevail in his lawsuit to get an injunction against Universal for plagiarism. Hollywood is a strange town indeed, where an unknown writer seeks the credit for a bad remake. Stone contends the plot of ‘Death Race’ is not based on the film ‘Death Race 2000′, but is instead based on his unproduced script ‘Joust’. That, in turn, is based on the video game about riding a flying ostrich around lava pools attacking opposing knights.

Reviewers are equally unenthusiastic for ‘The Rocker’, at 64% rotten, describing it as a shameless rip-off ‘School of Rock’. Movies with shirtless aging rockers on the poster haven’t done well lately. ‘Walk Hard’ opened at $4 million. Fox has high hopes for ‘The Rocker’, with 2,700 theaters, but the tracking has been weak. Expect ‘The Rocker’ to open at $8 million.

Critics are not excited by the Ice Cube comedy ‘The Longshots’, a formulaic sports film based on the true story of a little girl being a football quarterback. Feel-good family films always outperform what the critics think, simply because they have the broadest possible market. Expect MGM to quietly open the 71% rotten ‘The Longshots’ at $6 million.

‘Tropic Thunder’ is shooting for $17 million its second week-end, after a $26 million opening, buoyed by good reviews and word of mouth. ‘The Dark Knight’ juggernaut is looking at $12 million in its fifth week, after doing $16 million last weekend. That will bring it to $487 million, nudging ever closer to the $500 million mark.

NEWS SOURCE: Hollywood Today