Handicapping 'Sex and the City'

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Craig Blankenhorn / New Line Cinema

Believe: 27 Dresses will eat our trains.

It was four years ago that the last episode of Sex and the City aired on HBO, an event mourned by fans across the country who wanted all the romance, fashion and gossip from their four favorite Manhattan mavens to live on. On May 30, the devout finally get their wish when Sex and the City: The Movie makes its big-screen debut at theaters across the country courtesy of Warner Bros. (both TIME and Warner Bros. are owned by Time Warner).

There's been much speculation about how the SATC movie will do in the theaters. Can a deceased pay-cable franchise get new life at the multiplex? Can a summer movie primarily targeting women lure enough ticket-buyers to become a rare female-oriented summer blockbuster?

The recent history of female-focused summer films shows it could go either way. The Devil Wears Prada debuted in June of 2006 with $27 million opening weekend — on its way to a considerable $124 million grand total domestically. But just a few weeks ago, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler took center stage in Baby Mama, a widely hyped comedy that opened with a respectable-but-less-than-stellar $17 million opening weekend.

Getting a major studio to develop a summer hit for a female audience can be a hard sell when blockbusters usually come in Iron Man-sized portions and are aimed at guys. But with the stunning popularity of SATC both on HBO and DVD (and, more recently, on TBS), this movie could be the one that bucks the trend. TIME.com turned to a crack panel of experts to gauge how this movie will fare among mainstream audiences — and whether it will reach a key benchmark of success, $25 million on its opening weekend. All five said yes, and here are their reasons why:

• Paul Dergarabedian
Industry analyst, Media By Numbers
I don't know a single woman between the ages of 25 and 40 who doesn't want to see this movie. If they all come out to see it — it's going to be a date movie as well — this thing is going to be huge. Just look back to Titanic, when packs of teenage girls came out to see it. Here, you could have groups of women and young adults coming to see SATC as the fun girls' night out. I wouldn't underestimate this one.

• Stephen Whitty
Film Critic, the Star-Ledger; Former Chairman, New York Film Critics Circle
I would be surprised if the movie didn't make $25 million handily in that first weekend. Just last weekend, What Happens With Vegas made $20 million, and that was just a little movie that came out of the blue, with Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz — a movie that had nowhere near the fame and anticipation of SATC. I can't see how it's not going to do better than Vegas.

• Rival Studio Executive (given anonymity so he/she could speak freely)
It's not going to do Iron Man kind of numbers, or Prince Caspian numbers, but it should do every bit as well as Baby Mama, which opened with $17 million, or Knocked Up, which opened with around $30 million. I think it's the kind of movie that if it ends up getting well reviewed, it will probably beat the $25 million mark. This is the kind of audience that does read reviews, and if it ends up getting panned by critics who say that it doesn't deliver, I could see some women staying home.

•Belinda Luscombe
Arts Editor, TIME Magazine

They are marketing this in the same way that you would market a fan-boy movie, and they have really built up the anticipation to the point where women are going to go with other women to check it out. On the coasts, it may seem like the fad is over, but in places like Kentucky, for viewers who didn't have HBO but are discovering the show on TBS, it's still immensely popular... And you'll have the franchise fans as well. I was a naysayer at one time, saying that it's too old and we're over it, but then I watched the gathering media story and I have been converted. I have drunk the Sex and the City Kool-Aid.

• Chad Hartigan
Box Office Analyst, Exhibitor Relations

It's clearly going to be facing a challenge as a movie, since the television show appeals so much to one demographic, and so little to men, but I think it should land somewhere between $30 and $40 million in that first weekend. I don't think anybody who liked the show when it was in its prime on TV is going to stay away.