Reboots of two top 1980s franchises battle it out for box office supremacy this week. 'The A-Team' brings the popular NBC action-comedy series to the big screen for the first time, while 'The Karate Kid' revives the fondly remembered 1984 family/martial arts drama that spawned three sequels. Of the two, it's 'The A-Team' that has the greater firepower, but both will be strong enough to beat three-time box office champ 'Shrek Forever After.' The summer box office has been in a slump because audiences are tired of Hollywood's retreads, so what do we get this week? More retreads.
Reboots of two top 1980s franchises battle it out for box office supremacy this week. 'The A-Team' brings the popular NBC action-comedy series to the big screen for the first time, while 'The Karate Kid' revives the fondly remembered 1984 family/martial arts drama that spawned three sequels. Of the two, it's 'The A-Team' that has the greater firepower, but both will be strong enough to beat three-time box office champ 'Shrek Forever After.'
'The A-Team' reportedly features more graphic violence than the cartoonish, gore-free TV show ever did. (Mr. T has raised his objections, which is why he's the only surviving member of the cast without a cameo.) Mixed martial arts star Quinton "Rampage" Jackson takes on Mr. T's role here; the rest of the quartet consists of actors who starred in surprise hit movies last year: Liam Neeson ('Taken'), Bradley Cooper ('The Hangover'), and Sharlto Copley ('District 9'). Those stars, plus the more violent take on the familiar material (courtesy of acclaimed pulp director Joe Carnahan, of 'Narc' and 'Smokin' Aces' fame) should make 'The A-Team' appeal both to men old enough to remember the original and younger guys looking for an action movie with more bullets and fireballs than anything we've seen so far this summer. Opening on 3,534 screens, 'The A-Team' is widely expected to grab $32 to $37 million its first weekend.
'Karate Kid' has a bigger screen count (3,663) and bigger star power (Jackie Chan, in the mentor role), but this reboot also seems to take even bigger liberties with its source. The kid is now a pre-adolescent (Jaden Smith) instead of a high-schooler, and the movie is set in China instead of southern California. So its audience would seem to skew younger, aimed more at kids too young to have seen the original than those old enough to remember it, who'll probably be going to see 'The A-Team' instead. Smith proved himself a fine young actor opposite papa Will in 'The Pursuit of Happyness' (and we're willing to overlook 'The Day the Earth Stood Still'), but his box office drawing power remains untested. Chan, in a serious dramatic role, is playing somewhat against type. Plus, the movie is 140 minutes long, which will test kids' patience and limit the number of showings per day. Predictions for the film's opening have run as high as $34 million, but most think it will open between $27 and $30 million.
There's no dispute over what will be No. 3 this week. After spending its first three weeks on top, the fourth 'Shrek' will finally fall to third place, losing about 40 percent of last week's business to finish with about $15 million for the weekend, enough to push it past the $200 million mark. Family audiences who don't want to pay the 3-D surcharge will be seeing 'Karate Kid' instead.
Last week's No. 2 and No. 3 movies will see similar dropoffs. 'Get Him to the Greek' will fall from second to fourth place. A 40 percent slide would see the comedy rake in another $10 or $11 million. Action-comedy 'Killers' will dip from No. 3 to No. 5, but poor word of mouth (and competition from 'The A-Team') should lead to a 50 percent drop and a weekend take of $8 or $9 million.
Top 5 predictions:
1. 'The A-Team,' $35.6 million
2. 'The Karate Kid,' $29.7 million
3. 'Shrek Forever After,' $14.9 million
4. 'Get Him to the Greek,' $10.6 million
5. 'Killers,' $8.3 million
•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.