The Great Gatsby 2013 movie adaptation directed by Baz Luhrmann, and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan will not top the North American box office this weekend. That's the not-so-good news. But then again, no one was expecting The Great Gatsby to soar past Robert Downey Jr's special-effects-laden Iron Man 3. True, both movies are in 3D, but ... maybe if Jay Gatsby's hair gel were capable of blowing up all of New England or something, then it'd have had a chance. (Updated The Great Gatsby weekend box office estimate.)
Now, the (really) good news: The Great Gatsby, with the assistance of 3D surcharges and a large percentage of female ticket-buyers, may open north of $50m at 3,525 North American locations, according to early, rough estimates found at Deadline.com. As per Deadline's "sources," The Great Gatsby may reach $18m-$22 million (admittedly, a wide range) on Friday, including $3.25 million from late Thursday night showings. That could translate anywhere between $50-55 million by Sunday evening.
If those early estimates are on target, The Great Gatsby will beat not only distributor Warner Bros.' forecasts, but those of most pundits as well, who had been expecting at most $40m -- and that was already a marked "overperformance."
This latest adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic 1920s novel will also beat Baz Luhrmann's previous North American opening-weekend record holder, the Hugh Jackman / Nicole Kidman romantic drama Australia, which debuted with $14.8 million in 2008 -- that is, if you choose to ignore inflation. Taking that into account, Luhrmann's biggest U.S. and Canada opening weekend belongs to Romeo + Juliet, perhaps not coincidentally a grooved-up version of another old English-language literary work, also starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a passionate lover (here Claire Danes plays DiCaprio's romantic interest) . Romeo + Juliet took in $11.13 million on its debut weekend in 1996, or approximately $20m today.
The Great Gatsby 2013 budget
Warner Bros., which co-financed The Great Gatsby with the Australian media company Village Roadshow, claims the film's actual budget was $160m, later reduced to $105 million thanks to subsidies. Other sources have it as high as $200m, later sliced to $105 million after rebates. Either way, that's a hefty price tag for a period love story, the likes of which (well, not quite the likes of which), most filmmakers must get done -- if they're lucky -- with about 1/10th of that figure.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan topline The Great Gatsby 2013 cast
Besides three-time Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio (What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond) and Carey Mulligan (2009 Best Actress Oscar nominee for An Education), The Great Gatsby 2013 cast includes former Spider-Man Tobey Maguire, Animal Kingdom's Joel Edgerton, and Zero Dark Thirty's Jason Clarke.
Also: Isla Fisher, Bollywood veteran Amitabh Bachchan, Elizabeth Debicki, Max Cullen, Callan McAuliffe, Barry Otto, Gemma Ward, and veteran Australian actor Jack Thompson (The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Breaker Morant). Baz Luhrmann and frequent collaborator Craig Pearce (another Romeo + Juliet link) co-wrote the 2013 The Great Gatsby.
Previous big-screen versions of The Great Gatsby are the following: Herbert Brenon's 1926 adaptation, starring Warner Baxter and Lois Wilson; Elliott Nugent's 1949 version, with Alan Ladd and Betty Field; and Jack Clayton's poorly received 1974 remake, with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.
The Great Gatsby 2013 opens the Cannes Film Festival on May 15.
Leonardo DiCaprio The Great Gatsby 2013 movie photo: Warner Bros.