We now know for sure that the h2g2 movie will be released the 28th April in the UK and the 29th in the US. These are undoubtedly the main markets for Hitchhikers, and the ones which will allow us to say if Hitchhikers is a success or a failure.
So did Disney choose the good release dates? Well some says that in recent years the first weekend of May has been the first biggest pre-summer weekend ( "Mummy returns" opened the 4th May 2001 with $68 millions). It was the release date that Disney first announced before deciding to release one week sooner. But the 6th May 2005 there is already a big movie which will be released in the US and UK. It's Ridley Scott's "Kingdom of heaven". This history/war/drama stars Orlando Bloom (Legolas in the "Lord of the rings") and is about a man who fights for his people during the 12th century crusades.
So what about the 28th-29th May? The Hitchhiker's movie will struggle in UK and US against "XXX : State of the Union". This is the sequel of 2002 spy movie XXX who made $141 millions in the US.
But Vin Diesel (main actor) and Rob Cohen (director) will not be in that sequel. The movie stars instead Ice Cub and Samuel L Jackson (who was already in the first movie) and is directed by Lee Tamahori ("Die another day"). It is a potential good commercial success, even if I don't think it will make more money than the first. This kind of big budget action movie (Vin Diesel was paid $20 millions for the first movie) could achieve $200 million dollars in the US but the first XXX didn't make it so.... Besides the absence of Vin Diesel annoys a lot the fans of the first movie. And Ice Cube is still much more popular as a singer than an actor and is regarded as a poor substitute (a point of view shared by Samuel L Jackson). - Let's notice however that "Fast and Furious" also with Vin Diesel and Rob Cohen made $144 millions in the US and that "2 Fast 2 Furious" the sequel without them made nevertheless $127 millions.
The Hitchhiker's movie has no big name but it's obviously more original than XXX, and the critics will for sure be better for Hitchhikers. Hitchhikers will attract a broader audience (for the US market, Hitchhikers is PG and XXX is PG 13) but teenagers and young adults are the main audience for both movies. SF comedy against Action Movie. Well that's a tough struggle.
Anyway, Hitchhikers has got his chance against XXX. But we have to see also what kind of movies comes before and after the 28-29th May.
In the US, the week before (22th April), several movies will be released. "The Interpreter" (a drama thriller directed by Sidney Pollack, with Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn) is a big release even if Sidney Pollack didn't direct a big success movie since "The firm" (1995) with Tom Cruise. There are also several other movies like "A lot like love" a british kind of comedy directed by Nigel Cole (Calendar girls, Saving Grace), "The Sandlot 2", a family comedy and childhood movie directed by David M Evans. It is the sequel to the 1993 movie already directed by Mr Evans (Beethoven 3 & 4). At last maybe we can forget "King's ransom", a big fat Crime comedy directed by Jeff Byrd with Anthony Anderson?
After The Hitchhiker's release date, the biggest movie to come on the movie screens is Ridley Scott's "Kingdom of heaven" which will open the 6th May. Let's remember that the next big SF movie "Star Wars III" will only open the 19th May, three weeks after the release of the Hitchhikers, which is quite a good thing. "War of the worlds", the other big summer SF movie will open the 29th June.
So I think that these release dates in US and UK are a good choice for the Hitchhiker's movie which is rather a risky bet for Disney.
Now, how many million dollars the Hitchhiker's movie must earn? Well I think a succes in the US market would mean at least $80-100 millions. But I think we can expect a better result, depending on the first week-end results (at least $20 M please !!) and the word of mouth. Such a good movie should become at least a $150 M hit, but the best movies don't get always the biggest success.
Of course, the movie could miss the US and UK markets and be a big success in other countries. A movie like "King Arthur" made a lot of more money overseas than in the US. Let's remember than in several other countries the movie will be released several months later during the summer.