April 11, 2008 / 2:33 AM / in 11 years

"Prom Night" eyes box office crown

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Either “Prom” or “King” could rule the domestic box office this weekend.

Fox Searchlight’s cop drama “Street Kings” and Sony’s horror film “Prom Night” have the most playdates among the three wide openers as well as the most identifiable target audiences.

Miramax’s comedy “Smart People” — unspooling in about half as many locations — will try to capture the date-night set but appears unlikely to climb out of the single-digit millions during the frame.

“Prom” and “Kings” will both shoot for the teen millions, but the R-rated “Kings” is more restricted in its potential audience reach than the PG-13 “Prom.”

A remake of the 1980 Jamie Lee Curtis starrer about a vengeful killer, “Prom” will play best with younger moviegoers and horror fans.

If things go smoothly, “Prom” should open north of “Kings,” but much depends on whether famously fickle youthful moviegoers decide that they are back in the mood for the recently slack horror genre. That’s difficult to gauge from tracking data, as teens tend to make last-minute movie choices.

“It’s been tough for some of the (recent horror) pictures that have preceded us,” Sony distribution president Rory Bruer said. “But we feel good about the picture. Prom night is a common sort of experience, and our marketing materials seem to be resonating with moviegoers.”

Sony has ruled the box office for the past two weekends with its young-skewing gambling drama “21.”

Teen girls tend to be the best draw for horror films. So it could prove a complementary market coupling with “Kings,” which is tracking best among younger males in prerelease data.

Keanu Reeves plays a Los Angeles cop faced with havoc in his life and career in “Kings,” whose ensemble cast includes Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie and Chris Evans. The film is based on an original screenplay by crime novelist James Ellroy, whose literary yarns have been spun into noir films including “L.A. Confidential” (1997) and “The Black Dahlia” (2006).

Starring Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church and Ellen Page, the R-rated “Smart People” is a genre hybrid — playing as part romantic comedy and part family drama. Perhaps because of that neither-fish-nor-fowl dilemma, prerelease tracking data has been inauspicious. It marks the feature debut of commercials director Noam Murro

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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