Opening on a lean 1,271 screens, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience is expected to come away as the winner this weekend. The premiums on 3D tickets, which generally cost 25% more than a standard feature, and its 75-minute running time, which will allow theatre owners to pack in more screenings, make the movie perfectly positioned to reap up the unusually robust recession box office. But will the Jonas Brothers deliver?
Last year Hannah Montana's concert movie pre-sold significantly more tickets, but also was billed as a "one week only" run. According to Google Trends, the Jonas Brothers peaked in popularity (at least in search volume) early last year. Because it happened right around the time MTV VMA Host Russell Brand famously dissed the brothers' purity rings, and also coincided with the release of Hannah Montana's movie, I imagine many people were googling "Jonas Brothers" just to figure out who they were. Given the unflagging support of Jonas Brothers fans, the question is really just how many they are, and whether Mom and Dad will drive them to the movies this weekend.
The other semi-wide release of the week (1,136 screens) is Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. It didn't screen for the critics, but will certainly appeal to martial arts fans and young males, although the film's low awareness means few people know about the movie.
In the wake of its Best Picture win, Slumdog Millionaire will expand to 2,943 screens, the widest ever for specialty studio Fox Searchlight. The picture crossed the $100 million mark this week, so I imagine that Searchlight expects repeat viewers or infrequent moviegoers to turn out for the accoladed film.
On the specialty circuit, Crossing Over, a Crash/Traffic story of immigration and social justice told through interlocking, Los Angeles-based stories, releases on 9 screens. Despite its stable of stars (Harrison Ford, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd), our reviewer Shirley Sealy finds it "sometimes borders on ridiculous." Philosophical documentary Examined Life, which enlists various philosophers to explain their views in unlikely locations, opens in New York. If none of these options appeal to you, there's always An American Affair, about a boy-next-door with a crush on an alluring divorce, who just happens to be having an affair with John F. Kennedy. That boy-next-door is no Jonas Brother.