Will Vegas Take Racer?

As noted three days ago, tracking is indicating that uncertain box-office prospects are facing the Wachowski brothers’ Speed Racer (Warner Bros., 5.9) due to interest levels for the kid-friendly film being strongest among the over-25 set. Out of this has come a notion that What Happens in Vegas, the Ashton Kutcher-Cameron Diaz comedy that opens the same day, could elbow Speed Racer aside and become the weekend’s #1 film.


Diaz, Kutcher in What Happens in Vegas

The reasoning partly comes from reports — one of them first-hand and reliable — that the Kutcher-Diaz is quite funny and entertaining, and partly because Vegas-backdrop movies seem to be working with younger audiences these days, judging by the success fo Robert Luketic‘s 21. And because I’ve been told that two high-profile critics are down on Speed Racer, one calling it “terrible” and another using the term “godawful.” Perhaps we shouldn’t draw any conclusions, this being a young person’s movie and these two guys being on the far side of 50.
If — I say “if” — What Happens in Vegas beats Speed Racer over the May 9th weekend, it’ll be a major humiliation for Warner Bros. marketing. But who knows? Let’s wait and see what happens. You can’t tell about younger kids from tracking surveys. It’s quite possible that Speed Racer interest levels among teenagers, tweeners and toddlers will uptick significantly a week to ten days before it opens. (People tend to be flatliners on upcoming movies until opening week.)
“What you’ve written is more or less correct,” a seasoned numbers-watcher wrote after this piece went up. “The only chance for Speed Racer is if it catches on with the family audience, and as of now, there’s nothing to indicate that that’s going to take place.”
Fox had a couple of junket screenings this weekend for What Happens in Vegas, but I haven’t heard anything from any press colleagues who attended.

Nobody can trust IMDB posters, but if you want to believe that non-vested people wrote the Vegas responses that are currently up, the film sounds more than half decent. An older exhibitor-related friend did tells me he’s heard it’s pretty good.
“The theater was almost full and the laughs were almost as much as on Superbad,” one IMDB poster said. “The room went nuts several times. The scene were Cameron and Ashton meet for the first time is brilliant comedy. Only about 15% of it take place in Las Vegas…it doesn’t show Vegas in a very good light.”
Another wrote several hours ago that he “just finished watching it tonight at the Century City shopping mall [and] in my opinion [it's] one of the funniest movies this year with one of Ashton Kutcher’s’s better performances. He and Cameron Diaz were perfect together in this movie, [which is] funny from start to finish.” You can tell from the syntax and phraseology that the writers aren’t that judgmental or terribly deep thinkers, suggesting the posts could be plants, but if they’re not…
The other thing, mentioned by as friend, is that What Happens in Vegas will be the fourth romantic comedy in a row aimed at 20- and 30-something couples and older women, following Made of Honor, Baby Mama and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Will there be that much of an appetite for this kiind of thing, he’s asking, by the time Vegas rolls along?

  • MilkMan

    Ashton Kutcher has guts made out of cotton.
    If it wasn’t so goddamned hot outside I would be doing something productive with my life, like eating an egg salad sandwich, fries, root beer, and slice of boysenberry pie at the Apple Pan.
    I have decided that Speed Racer looks awesome. I am currently trying to channel my inner 8 year old, which is why I am trying to curl up on the couch with Steve Martin’s Cruel Shoes. I liked Steve Martin when I was a little boy. Then I didn’t when I tricked myself into believing I was a man. But I am not a man. I am a little boy who has to shave twice a day.
    God bless the heat when it forces the girls of Santa Monica to don tube tops and short shorts.

  • Undercover Brother

    Why does this seem strangely depressing? I guess I don’t want to see the ambition of the Wachowski Brothers get smacked down by something as tedius, banal and run of the mill as an Aston Kutcher romcom. Despite Jeff’s optimistic impressions I don’t think I could deal with this. Hell, I thought Kutcher had been cast out of the movie business for good by now.
    I’m hoping that Racer will be a snappy visual experience for the books. A once in a while kind of movie where someone says ‘fuck routine’ and really goes for broke. Of course, ambition like that is often ignored. And other movies in this kind of vein have often been terrible. Remember Sky Captain? Wild visuals aside, that flick was nearly unwatchable. But I’m hoping nonetheless.

  • Adviltablet

    Simple reason why Vegas will outgross Speed. Running time. Speed Racer is clocking in at 135 minutes. Sounds like a lot of racing.

  • Mr. Gittes

    What happened to Cameron Diaz?

  • Aris P

    Apple Pan is definitely not the place to be today. This heat is retarded. Whats also retarded is how 2 talentless people who cant act get to open a movie.

  • bmcintire

    Weirdly, that eye-stabbing shot of Diaz and Kutcher (two of the most unwashed-looking actors in Hollywood) against the Vegas canopy looks like it was super-imposed from a background production still from SPEED RACER.

  • D.Z.

    Well, I was wrong that Baby Mama had less teen appeal than Harold and Kumar 2, so I could be wrong here, too.
    But at least Baby Mama had more advertising than “What Happens in Vegas”. And Diaz hasn’t been a box office draw since the last Charlie’s Angels film. So my feeling is we’ll get something similar to the Forbidden Kingdom/Forgetting Sarah Marshall showdown, where it gets really close. To me, that ninja movie the W. bros are doing next is the one which screams flop.
    Anyway, the only real humiliation for WB is if Dark Knight doesn’t deliver, because then it’ll be the opposite problem of Superman Returns. (I.E. it’ll have the action the other one was missng, but still have the pacing issues.)

  • Arran

    a) Why is a movie ostensibly for kids appealing to over-25s a bad thing?
    b) Does tracking ever really predict the returns of kid-friendly movies to any degree of accuracy anyway? I kind of doubt they’re surveying 5-year-olds here.

  • LADODGERS23

    \I saw Speed Racer and I just saw What Happens In Vegas and to be honest I can see maybe why What Happens In Vegas might beat it.
    First off while Speed Racer is probably one of the most stunning movies visually it’s boring and no storyline.
    What Happens In Vegas is a mindless movie was some laughs and it’s only 1 hour 40 min or so. But then again I saw What Happens In Vegas after I saw Made Of Honor and after sitting through that piece of trash movie maybe that’s why What Happens In Vegas seemed better. But lets face it Ashton Kutcher vs Emile Hirsch? We are talking a about a popularity contest here not about the quality of work. Most people who are just about just going to movies and having a good time will pick What Happens In Vegas.

  • Mr. Gittes

    D.Z. : Per Collider.com, ” Finally, one last thing. I√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ve now spoken with two people that have seen √¢‚Ǩ≈ìThe Dark Knight√¢‚Ǩ¬ù and both of them LOVED the movie. And I don√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t mean they said it was good. Both of them said it was amazing, with one telling me it was one of the best films they’d seen in a very long time. I cannot wait.”
    http://www.collider.com/entertainment/news/article.asp/aid/7709/tcid/1

  • D.Z.

    Dodger: If boring stories were a threat to the box office of kiddie films, then Pixar would have been out of business a long time ago.
    Gittes: I felt that way about Silent Hill, too, and look what happened to it.

  • jse33

    I don’t think either film will earn more than Iron Man’s 2nd weekend total, which I think will be around $35 million. That’ll be about a 50% drop from an opening in the $70 million range.

  • LADODGERS23

    NO D.Z. it’s called WORD OF MOUTH which will kill Speed Racer after the first weekend!
    GET A BRAIN

  • Dan Revill

    Pixar makes boring films? DZ do you live in a Bizzaro-like universe? Cos you’re probably the only person I can think of that makes that argument and thinks someone else will agree. While not all Pixar is created equal, I wouldn’t ever label any of them boring.

  • corey3rd

    The Vegas movie is so wrong. Why is anyone talking about the $3 million he wins at the casino? The casino immediately does the withholdings of taxes – so the judge would be ruling over $1.6 million or so worth of cash in the bank.

  • http://www.poisonskin.com PoisonSkin

    no way in hell would I sit and watch that speed racer crap in the theater.
    especially since its so fuckin long. there can’t be that much to race about.

  • bmcintire

    I am also enjoying the second publicity still with Ashton striking a junior high pose (knuckles under the biceps) trying desperately to make his arms look bigger than Cameron’s. Why do these people exist outside of TMZ? It’s as if Johnson & Johnson created a Deep Woods Humor Repellant and doused them in it – which still probably couldn’t cover up their natural stench.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    I always go to see movies based on commercial taglines.
    One of my favorite movies of all time is Always After Me Lucky Charms.

  • scooterzz

    i’ve seen both movies and i think ladodger pretty much nailed it….. ‘speed racer’ is pretty amazing to look at but it’s just too long for little kids… word of mouth could knock any legs out from under it….
    corey– re: ‘…vegas’….the tax issue is fully addressed in the movie….
    and, while i didn’t hate ‘…vegas’, i think that may be because i saw it following ‘made of honor’ (which i reeeeeeeeally did hate)….

  • D.Z.

    Dodger: I imagine if it drops, it’ll be because it’s competing against Caspian the next weekend. What matters is its legs.
    Aladdin: When they get to the point that they’re remaking Doc Holiday and Short Circuit, you know they’re just milking the “talking inanimate object/animal goes on a journey” gimmick beyond its expiration date.

  • christian

    Ah, tracking. The art of predicting without knowing.

  • Rothchild

    Raise your hand if you think D.Z. has mental problems.

  • LADODGERS23

    D.Z. have you seen the movie yet? NO.. Take it from us who have seen Speed Racer and be quiet.
    Trust me A big Friday Night Box Office for Speed Racer and if they are lucky it will barely win the Saturday. No matter what anyone says word of mouth is still the #1 thing that will make or kill a movie.
    christian: I am raising my hand…

  • Aladdin Sane

    Pixar makes boring films? DZ do you live in a Bizzaro-like universe? Cos you’re probably the only person I can think of that makes that argument and thinks someone else will agree. While not all Pixar is created equal, I wouldn’t ever label any of them boring.

  • D.Z.

    Dodger: It doesn’t matter if it sucks. You’re not the film’s target audience. After all, look at Transformers.

  • Mgmax

    I always go to see movies based on commercial taglines.

    One of my favorite movies of all time is Always After Me Lucky Charms.

  • The Winchester

    I’m only raising my hand about the DZ thing because of his Silent Hill declaration. Really, man? It was a two hour long Tool video that would have been great if they just outright made a Tool video, but instead you get a 20 minute long exposition scene of madness.
    I loathe the posters for What Happens in Vegas, where it just says “Cameron Vs Ashton” in that horrible red font that signifies crappy Fox Comedy. (See also: Meet Dave, Epic Movie, Meet The Spartans).
    However, set Cameron vs. Predator: Requiem, and I’m first in line.

  • D.Z.

    Winchester: “It was a two hour long Tool video that would have been great if they just outright made a Tool video, but instead you get a 20 minute long exposition scene of madness.”
    You have to play the game to best appreciate it, but it was the atmospheric horror flick I was expecting from Blair Witch. And it’s better than a music video, because it has more subtlety and resonance.

  • scooterzz

    ok, that’s it…..my hand is raised……dz, you really are insufferable……maybe movies aren’t what you should be concentrating on……

  • http://journals.aol.com/terrymcca/poetry-arts-confidential/ Terry McCarty

    Re The Winchester on MEET DAVE:
    Actually for a recent Eddie Murphy comedy, it looks creative in its borrowing-from-other-movies judging from the trailer. There’s a little bit of the last segment of Woody Allen’s EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX, a little bit of FANTASTIC VOYAGE/INNERSPACE etc. etc.
    And no Rick Baker fatsuits.

  • Bob Violence

    Pixar makes boring films? DZ do you live in a Bizzaro-like universe?

    There is a very real possibility that DZ has never actually seen a Pixar film. Not too long ago he claimed Cars had “musical numbers.”

  • D.Z.
  • Bob Violence

    No, it had a soundtrack. If you don’t know the difference you should have your typing fingers bound together with tape so you won’t spew your crap all over this site. You may as well claim Goodfellas had “musical numbers.”

  • Rothchild

    He’s clearly never seen the film. He’s never once mention the flashback scene with the talking chariots in Rome. What did you think of that part D.Z.?

  • EDouglas

    Um.. no. Iron Man will be #1 in its second weekend followed by Speed Racer. I love how many old men on the internet–which I consider anyone over 30 including myself–constantly underestimate what kids and younger people might be interested in seeing. I’m not expecting much more than $30 million for it but it’s not going to make less than $20 million which is about the ceiling for What Happens in Vegas. Kutcher is kind of over and DIaz has been over for a while.

  • Bob Violence

    Re The Winchester on MEET DAVE:
    Actually for a recent Eddie Murphy comedy, it looks creative in its borrowing-from-other-movies judging from the trailer. There’s a little bit of the last segment of Woody Allen’s EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX, a little bit of FANTASTIC VOYAGE/INNERSPACE etc. etc.

    And no Rick Baker fatsuits.

    I’m probably killing my film geek credibility here, but who cares: I’ve told a few friends about Meet Dave (“it’s about tiny aliens who come to Earth in a spaceship that looks like Eddie Murphy and then the spaceship falls in love”) and their reactions are always something like “that sounds amazing.” They’re being semi-sarcastic, but I sense enough genuine interest to think that the premise alone — one of those “so stupid it’s brilliant” ideas that you’d kill to see the pitch for — might drag people to the theaters. And the credited writers have decent CVs, although I realize that means nothing in Hollywood.

    And I do like Murphy, but Christ does he pick some horrible projects.

  • D.Z.

    Bob: Cars and Goodfellas are two totally different movies, guy.
    Roth: Nope, I didn’t see it. But I imagine it pretty much uses the same themes of “trying to fit in” and “going on wacky adventures” common in most Pixar productions.
    Edouglas: Why would kids be interested in seeing an ex-junky blow up people with machine guns, when they can get the R-rated version with GTA IV? Iron Man is strictly an 18-25+ affair, with emphasis on the 25. Speed Racer is the ADD-lovers film, so that flick will be number one that weekend. I thought V for Vendetta was gonna flop, too, because it was “political” and pseudo-British; but it made it to number one, and Speed Racer will, too. The Wachowskis know how to cut trailers.

  • D.Z.

    Meet Dave=a remake of Herman’s Head.

  • D.Z.

    Sorry, ADD-lovers=ADD-embracing.

  • Bob Violence

    Cars and Goodfellas are two totally different movies, guy.

    And yet they have one conspicuous thing in common: neither of them has musical numbers.

    A new philosophical problem: Is it possible for a point to be so blindingly obvious that even DZ can get it?

  • Rothchild

    I tricked him into admitting he didn’t see Cars. I rule.

  • christian

    I’d argue that GOODFELLAS probably is a musical.

  • D.Z.

    Bob: I didn’t know montages no longer count as numbers.
    Roth: You’re not impressing anyone, bud, since most people didn’t see that one.

  • Rothchild

    You lied and said you saw it. You also commented on all the musical numbers in the movie. You haven’t seen many movies at all and yet you keep coming in here and spouting off your crazy person opinions. I went for a walk last night and passed a homeless lady on a bench that was screaming at all the cars coming by. That person probably has more to contribute to any discussion on this site than you ever do.

  • D.Z.

    Roth: I never said I saw it. I just assumed it had musical numbers.

  • D.Z.

    Actually, to be honest, I just based my comments on the comments at http://www.toastyfrog.com/verbalspew/archives/entry_135.php
    which probably makes me no different than most users…

  • Bob Violence

    Bob: I didn’t know montages no longer count as numbers.

    Indeed, but that’s because you’re dumb.

    Roth: I never said I saw it.

    “Actually, Speed Racer looks better than Cars…Cars was long because of its stupid musical numbers.”

    This is a funny way of not saying you’ve seen a movie.

  • D.Z.

    Bob: The trailer felt as long as the actual film.

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