'Apocalypto' a box office wild card

Controversial Gibson film will roll out on 2,465 screens

By Ian Mohr
Variety
December 8, 2006

Are people ready for Mel?

The biggest wild card at this weekend's box office is Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto."

Subtitled pic -- set in a Mayan kingdom -- skews to the all-male demo with extreme violence. Pic will roll on 2,465 screens

But the big question is whether the helmer's off-set antics will turn off his base.

Notices so far have been solid, with talk of an awards season run, and Disney has mounted a concerted PR push to turn attention back to the work and not Gibson's persona.

Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" took in more than $370 million domestically in 2004.

In other releases, women will want in on Col's Nancy Meyers romantic comedy "The Holiday" -- bowing at 2,610 playdates. Pic stars Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jack Black and Jude Law.

And Warner Bros. is hoping to gain ground with political action pic "Blood Diamond," from director Ed Zwick and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Pic bows at 1,900 theaters.

Warners is also bowing "Unaccompanied Minors" -- a "Home Alone"-themed family pic set at an airport.

The rookies are duking it out over a frame that's still crowded with long -legged holdovers "Happy Feet" and "Casino Royale."

With so many prime pics elbowing for attention, the frame will likely be won with a relatively low B.O. tally.

Whichever pic wins the weekend, look for overall B.O. to plummet significantly from a year ago when Disney rolled out the first pic in its "Narnia" franchise, taking in $65.5 million upon its bow.
http://www.variety.com/article/VR111...goryid=13&cs=1