Will Notorious manage to be as financially successful as other recent films about musicians?

Hoping for B.I.G. Box Office Returns

on January 14, 2009 by Phil Contrino
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Christopher "Notorious B.I.G." Wallace has now received the bigscreen treatment thanks to Notorious, a new film from Fox Searchlight that opens on Friday.

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Recently, music-themed biopics have performed pretty well at the box office. The likes of Ray and Walk the Line were able to catch on with mainstream audiences, and in the process they even went on to win some Oscar gold.

In 2004, Ray grossed an impressive $75.3 million domestically, which translates to about $86 million when adjusted for inflation. To the surprise of very few, Jamie Foxx went on to win the Best Actor for his performance in the title role. Notorious will obviously appeal to much of the same African-American audience that came out to support Ray.

One year later, Walk the Line brought in $119.5 million domestically, which equals close to $133 million when adjusted for inflation. Riding that momentum, Reese Witherspoon went on to win the Best Actress Oscar for her supporting turn as June Carter Cash. Many critics have already said that Notorious paints a less than favorable image of Wallace, which is something that Line proved can be done successfully. The film won critical praise for its unflinching portrayal of certain parts of Johnny Cash's life.

Even though Wallace's short life (he was gunned down at the age of 25) didn't allow him reach the same kind of legendary status that Ray Charles and Johnny Cash did, he is still very much revered among hip-hop fans. His songs are stilled played in clubs, and his CDs aren't exactly collecting dust on the shelves.

While there is no Oscar buzz surrounding Notorious, it is receiving some solid reviews . Plus, it will appeal to a much younger audience than both Ray and Line did. In a MovieTickets.com poll of 3,437 users, over 46% of Under-45 moviegoers who were aware of the film said that they intended to see it opening weekend. Meanwhile, Notorious represented 31% of this week's overall ticket sales on Fandango.com as of Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. PT.

Fox Searchlight had an excellent year in 2008 thanks to Slumdog Millionaire and The Wrestler and they're doing a lot to continue that streak. Overall, the marketing blitz for Notorious has been strong. FSL debuted a highly effective teaser trailer for the film months before its upcoming release, and the theatrical trailer not only emphasized Wallace's music, but also his underdog story.

With all that mind, Notorious could easily edge past Gran Torino to grab the #1 spot this weekend, and by the end of Martin Luther King Day it could already have as much as $25 million in the bank.

Check back tomorrow for official B OXOFFICE.com Weekend Predictions.

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