For all the flak Colin Farrell gets, he actually has been the star of several strong openers: "Minority Report," "SWAT" and "Miami Vice" all had better openings -- but the most recent was six years ago. Clearly, "Total Recall" is more genre remake than star-driven vehicle, but considering the thankless task of replacing Arnold in one of his top films. This performance is an improvement over last year's Arnold remake "Conan the Barbarian" (whose full opening weekend was only slightly better than the "Recall" Friday number). This "Total Recall" is lagging behind "Terminator: Salvation," but at least the three-day gross will come in at roughly the same proportion of its budget as that much more costly project ($200 million).
Director Len Wiseman is returning to Sony, where he made the first two "Underworld" films before going to Fox for "Live Free and Die Hard" five years ago. The Bruce Willis-starrer opened to $33 million in US/Canada on its way to a worldwide gross just under $400 million, certainly better than this will fare.
Neil Moritz, one of the two producers, is one of the most active at work today, most often in high-end action films (the "Fast and Furious" series, "Battlefield LA," "SWAT," "I Am Legend," to name a few, along with hit "21 Jump Street" earlier this year). This looks to be a mid-range grosser for him.
Prospects: The saving grace for "Total Recall" could be that unlike 1990, today action films like this are expected to double or more their domestic take overseas. It opens in a handful of overseas territories this weekend, then starts rolling out more aggressively in the next two weeks before blanketing the world by the end of September. All this means its ultimate success is an open question irrespective of a less than great domestic opening.
3. DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS (20th Century-Fox) - NEW (Metacritic score: 53)
$14,700,000 in 3,391 theaters; PSA: $4,335; Cumulative: $14,700,000
This third "Wimpy Kid" film in just over three years (a quick production schedule these days) is going to be the weakest by some distance. The earlier ones, both of which opened in March to take advantage of spring breaks, had non-summer weekends in the $22-24 million range, and ended up #2 and #1 respectively for their opening weekends.
This is director David Bowers' fourth film, including the 2nd "Wimpy Kid" entry. It should end up his second-biggest opening (after his previous "Wimpy"). Credit producer (and ex-Disney head of production) Nina Jacobson for tending to business while she also was overseeing "The Hunger Games," here working again with Bradford Simpson, who has found his studio niche after earlier indie work in various capacities on films like "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," "Far from Heaven" and "Boys Don't Cry" during his time at Christine Vachon's Killer Films. To the producers' credit, they kept the budget in line with the earlier sequel ($22 million, up $1 million).
This is Fox's third release in four weeks after "Ice Age: Continental Drift" and "The Watch") and the second to open against the Olympics. This qualifies as the counter-intuitive strategy of the year. And with Fox placing three films in the top five this weekend, it has showed some success.