Constantine On Fire, Below Hitch

Warner Bros.’ latest big-budget, vfx-laden Keanu Reeves genre vehicle opened big over the holiday weekend but fell just short of possessing the top spot. Constantine raked in an estimated $34.6 million during the four-day stretch, while Sony’s romantic comedy, Hitch, remained the most popular pic for a second weekend with around $36.5 million.

Based on the DC/Vertigo Hellblazer comic book series by Kevin Brodbin, Mark Bomback and Frank Capello, Constantine stars Reeves as a mystic detective who has literally been to Hell and back and knows of a secret world of demons and angels that exists beneath the city of Los Angeles. This feature film debut from music video director Francis Lawrence features visual effects by the likes of Tippet Studio, CIS Hollywood, Hatch, ESC Ent., Furious FX, Hydraulx, The Farm, Pacific Title and Fantasy II Film Effects.

Son of the Mask didn’t fare so well for New Line Cinema. This sequel to the 1994 Jim Carey hit was widely panned by critics and largely passed over by moviegoers, earning an estimated $10 million to debut at No. 4 behind Fox’s live-action kid flick, Because of Winn-Dixie ($13 million).

Directed by Lawrence Guterman (Cats & Dogs) Son of the Mask stars Jamie Kennedy (Malibu’s Most Wanted, TV’s The Jamie Kennedy Experiment) as an aspiring animator whose life becomes a cartoon when he stumbles upon the magical mask of Loki and passes its strange powers on to his infant son. The flick features a lot of digital animation intended to pay homage to legendary Warner Bros. animators Tex Avery and Chuck Jones. Vfx contributors include Tippett Studio, Industrial Light & Magic, TeamWorks Digital, Digital Dimension, Illusion Arts, Toybox, Kleiser-Walczak and Giant Killer Robots. Read all about the making of the film in the March issue of Animation Magazine, now available by subscription and at Barns & Noble booksellers.

Sony is on a roll with urban-flavored comedies. As Will Smith continues to draw crowds with Hitch, Ice Cube and the rest of the cast of Are We There Yet? should be asking, "Are we still here?" Five weeks after its debut, the Yuletide family film continues to jingle all the way to the bank, rounding out the top five with an estimated $8 million for the Presidents’ Day frame and a cume of around $71 million. Despite its longevity, however, the pic has already been eclipsed by Hitch, which should cross the $100 million mark by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, Pooh’s Heffalump Movie may not be making Incredibles money, but it is holding strong in its second week. The latest 2D theatrical release from DisneyToon Studios slipped only 6.7% in week two, earning another $5.4 million to bring its cume to around $12.6 million. Positive buzz should keep the moderately budgeted toon on screens for a while before it goes on to turn a healthy profit on home video.