The Weekend Warrior

The Weekend Warrior: April 30 - May 2

Source: Edward Douglas
April 28, 2010

Greetings and welcome back to the Weekend Warrior, your weekly guide to the weekend's new movies. Tune in every Tuesday for the latest look at the upcoming weekend, and then check back on Thursday night for final projections based on actual theatre counts.
If you're not doing so already, you can follow The Weekend Warrior on Twitter where he talks about box office, movies and all sorts of random things.

UpdatedPredictions and Comparisons -

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (New Line/WB) - $39.3 million N/A (up 1.9 million)

2. How to Train Your Dragon (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount) - $12.0 million -22% (same)

3. Furry Vengeance (Summit) - $7.6 million N/A (up .4 million)

4. Date Night (20th Century Fox) - $6.8 million -35% (same)

5. The Back-Up Plan (CBS Films) - $6.6 million -46% (same)

6. Clash of the Titans (Warner Bros.) - $5.0 million -45% (up.1 million)

7. Kick-Ass (Lionsgate) - $4.8 million -49% (same)

8. The Losers (Warner Bros.) - $4.7 million -51% (same)

9. Death at a Funeral (Sony/Screen Gems) - $4.5 million -44% (same)

10. Oceans (Disney) - $4.0 million -35% (same)

Weekend Overview

After one of the worst weekends of the year so far, the box office is likely to bounce back slightly with the release of Platinum Dunes' remake of Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (New Line/WB) starring Jackie Earle Haley as the classic movie villain Freddy Krueger. The namebrand value of the original movie and the curiosity about Haley in the role should bring out horror fans and teen moviegoers looking for scares similar to what made the original so successful 26 years ago.

Hoping to bring in family audiences that may have already seen How to Train Your Dragon two or three times, there's the animal comedy Furry Vengeance (Summit) starring Brendan Fraser, which has the type of silly premise that tends to do well among family audiences but also looks so stupid that parents will do their best to avoid sitting through it with their younger kids. It will probably do well enough for third place but still be overshadowed by DreamWorks Animation's runaway hit.

The bottom half of the Top 10 will probably be a bit of a mess with a lot of movies ending up in the $4.5 to 5 million range, but really, none of that will matter once summer kicks off next week with Iron Man 2.

This week's rather unconventional "Chosen One" is Tom Six's horror movie The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (IFC Films) which you can read more about below - and we apologize in advance.

Because the first week of summer happened one week earlier last year, we're going to skip the year-to-year comparison this week and hopefully catch up sometime around Memorial Day.

Unfortunately, the Tribeca Film Festival has kept us from doing a "Battle Cry" once again, but instead, we have an...



IRON MAN 2 IMAX CONTEST!

Next week, one of our most anticipated movies of the year, Jon Favreau's Iron Man 2 will be opening, and we're especially excited to see the movie in IMAX, and knowing this, the IMAX Corporation was nice enough to supply us with a bunch of prize packs for us to hold a special contest.

And what are those prizes? Well, the Grand Prize, which will go to the best or funniest essay is:

AC/DC: Iron Man 2 Collectors Edition Soundtrack (includes CD, DVD, exclusive comic book reprint, AC/DC stickers and poster - ARV $39.99) (as shown at left)
Marvel Select Iron Man 2 Action Figure (ARV $19.99)
Iron Man 2 IMAX - Exclusive poster (ARV $10) (which you can see here)

And then we'll have 5 runners-up, who will each receive:

The regular AC/DC Iron Man 2 Soundtrack (includes CD and 50 min. bonus DVD of videos - ARV $17.99)
Iron Man 2 IMAX - Exclusive poster (ARV $10)

I tell ya, that poster we debuted last week was pretty darn cool, and the Weekend Warrior has been a fan of AC/DC since high school (a long, long time ago), so it's cool to see the band doing a special collection just for Iron Man 2. (If you haven't seen it, the band's new "Shoot to Thrill" video is here.)

Since our previous contests were a little too easy, we're going to make this a SHORT ESSAY CONTEST, where you should in 100 words or less tell us either why you want to see Iron Man 2 in IMAX or why you think others should see Iron Man 2 in IMAX. (The key thing that some entries seem to be missing is that we want you to talk about why to see it in IMAX specifically!) You can be serious, you can be funny... we just want to see some originality, and frankly, if I can write 5,000 words every week, I'm sure our readers can come up with less than 100.

So put on your thinking caps and then submit those essays along with your mailing address to "warrior at comingsoon dot net" before Wednesday, May 5, at noon.

We'll announce the winner and share their entries on SuperHeroHype later that week, and while we'll need your real name for prize redemption, we'll be publishing all the answers, so please let us know if you want us to use a pseudonym/pen name for your work of prose. (Sorry, but like previous contests, this one is for U.S. and Canada only.)



A Nightmare on Elm Street (New Line/WB)
Starring Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, Katie Cassidy, Connie Britton
Directed by Samuel Bayer; Written by Wesley Strick (Cape Fear, Wolf, The Glass House), Eric Heisserer (upcoming The Thing prequel)
Genre: Horror
Rated R
Tagline: "Never Sleep Again."
Plot Summary: The teens of Elm Street have been sharing a nightmare of a man with a disfigured face in a striped sweater and clawed glove who terrorizes them until they wake up, except that some of them have started to die for real. In order to stop the deaths, they need to uncover the mystery of Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley), a man killed for unthinkable crimes.

MIni-Review I still remember the first time seeing Kurt Cobain wearing a striped sweater in Samuel Bayer's award-winning music video for Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and thinking how it must have been influenced by Wes Craven's "A Nightmare on Elm Street." Now it's 18 years later and Bayer has come full circle with his first feature film, which is in fact a remake of Craven's movie, but even having finally got a project that's up his alley, it's doubtful the first-timer might be able to escape the pitfalls that come with remakes.

For his first feature film, Bayer shows the same knack for creating a moody tone as in his music videos, so at first, it seems promising that this will be better than last year's "Friday the 13th," because he's a better director who truly knows how to scare audiences.

Sadly, he's working from an absolutely abysmal script with a cast who couldn't act their way out of a paper bag... a really, really THIN paper bag with an X-Acto knife to give them an advantage. This is obvious from the opening scene where Kellan Lutz from the "Twilight" movies--immediately a bad sign--tells his girlfriend how he's been plagued by bad dreams. As bad as horror movies of the '70s and '80s were at using teen stereotypes, in this one, all of the guys are moody and depressed emo clones, to the point where none of them offer their own personality; they're all fairly interchangeable. The atrocious acting, even for a horror movie, just gets worse and worse to the point where every scene in between the fairly regular dream sequences and kills is as boring as a soap opera. After a number of the characters are quickly disposed of in their dreams without much effort, it essentially leaves Rooney Mara to utter all her lines through gritted teeth and Kyle Gallner to mope around, both of them trying to stay awake while putting us to sleep.

On the other hand, Jackie Earle Haley isn't bad as the new Freddy, but with his face covered in burnt flesh make-up and his voice heavily modified, there's little of the great actor we've come to know since his return to the movies. His Freddy is played far more seriously, and yet he still throws in a number of one-liners. The "bit twist" on the character's backstory is to essentially make him a sexual predator who takes the local kids into his "secret room," an idea so misguided in its intentions it makes you feel disgusted anyone involved with this movie thought it was a good idea to go there. The only amusing thing is that when we flashback to Freddy's past, they apparently have used computers to deage Haley to look similar to what he did in the "Bad News Bears" movies.

Otherwise, if you've seen the original movie, you'll be able to figure out every beat and kill before it happens. The fact that I could guess an Asian kid in a class picture would be played by Aaron Yoo (in an uncredited cameo) gives you some idea how predictable Platinum Dunes has become in terms of their remakes. Either way, Bayer's stylish visual direction does little to detract from the fact this is essentially the same movie with far too many visual nods and little to differentiate it or set it apart from the original. Essentially, this is another pointless remake that adds nothing to the genre or the franchise. Rating: 4.5/10

Analysis:

This April has been a month of remakes, and one of the companies who has been at the forefront of bringing some of the horror movies of the '70s and '80s back to modern young audiences is Michael Bay's production company Platinum Dunes. Their biggest success to date is last year's Friday the 13th relaunch, but the current trend of horror remakes can be traced back to their remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre nearly seven years ago, which opened with $28 million and grossed $80 million total. Following a number of failures and successes, they decided to tackle Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street, a movie the horror director made in 1984 following a number of successful cult films. It would introduce the world to Robert Englund and his role as dreamslayer Freddy Krueger, leading to a series of sequels with varying degrees of quality and success, but with little involvement from Craven.

The key to the remake being of any interest to anyone is the recasting of Freddy Krueger in the form of Oscar-nominated former child actor Jackie Earl Haley, who made a triumphant return in Todd Field's Little Children before being cast by Zack Snyder in the plum role as Rorschach in his adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's graphic novel Watchmen. It's more likely the latter that most of Haley's fans will come from, there being a good crossover between comic and horror fans. The next recognizable actor in the movie is Kellan Lutz of "The Twilight Saga" fame and then there are a bunch of lesser-known young actors hoping to get a career bump from this movie.

In many ways, A Nightmare on Elm Street mirrors the release of Platinum Dunes' Friday the 13th, as it's trying to reinvent and reintroduce an iconic horror villain. In general, Freddy's movies have been more successful though, having grossed $308 million over 8 movies, while the "Jason" movies made a little bit more but spread over 12 movies. The parallels between the two franchises culminated in the 2003 hit Freddy vs. Jason. Until the "Friday the 13th" remake, that was the biggest movie in either franchise, opening with $36.4 million, showing that there was still interest in both characters.

The original movie is considered a classic so the remake can certainly sell itself on the namebrand value, but the premise of someone who kills you while you dream is still strong enough that it can appeal to younger audiences who might not be as familiar with the earlier movies. Unlike the two "Hills Have Eyes" movies and The Last House on the Left, this remake doesn't have Craven's involvement, although Platinum Dunes has generally had better success with their remakes than the ones Craven has produced of his own movies.

Unfortunately, moviegoers may be getting somewhat burnt out on remakes after the releases of Clash of the Titans and Death at a Funeral, which might keep some from seeing this, and diehard horror fans may already be feeling somewhat annoyed by the fact that what many of them consider a horror classic is being remade rather than left alone. Then again, there's also the curiosity factor from those who enjoyed the original and dig Haley's turn in Watchmen, who'll give it a look for better or worse, and that might include older women who remember seeing the originals.

Last year, the Friday the 13th remake got a huge bump by actually opening on Friday the 13th with $19.3 million, but then even with Monday being Presidents Day holiday, it still dropped dramatically on Sunday. Despite the greater popularity of Freddy Krueger, which extended more to women than any of Jason's movies, it may be hard for it to do as well Friday without that added incentive. Due to the late April release and anticipation for the summer movie season, it's likely to open weaker, but either way, it's not likely to have much traction after this weekend with Iron Man 2 opening next weekend and it's likely this will be forgotten before the end of summer or until it's released on DVD sometime after that.

Why I Should See It: The thought of a strong actor like Jackie Earle Haley creating a new Freddy Krueger certainly is intriguing...
Why Not: Even I'm burnt on remakes and I generally tend to be more open about them than many of my peers.
Projections: $36 to 39 million opening weekend and roughly $80 million total.

COMPARISONS



Furry Vengeance (Summit)
Starring Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields, Dick Van Dyke, Ken Jeong, Samantha Bee
Directed by Roger Kumble (The Sweetest Thing, College Road Trip, Just Friends); Written by Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert (Mr. Woodcock),
Genre: Comedy, Family
Rated PG
Tagline: "He came. He saw. They conquered."
Plot Summary: Ambitious real estate developer Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser) must face off against a group of angry animals led by a raccoon, who don't want to see their wilderness home destroyed by Sanders' latest housing development.

Analysis:

Just in time to miss Earth Day by a week, here's another family movie with a subtle environmental message, which is likely to get lost in the shuffle of all the on-screen stupidity. In a movie that probably should have been called "When Animals Attack Brendan Fraser," the erratic actor returns to the family comedies that have been generally successful for him, most notably with him playing George of the Jungle and starring in the 3D Journey to the Center of the Earth a few years back. Even so, he's also had a number of enormous bombs like Dudley Do-Right, Monkeybone and Looney Tunes Back in Action. At the same time, Fraser would bounce between Universal's blockbuster "The Mummy" franchise and smaller dramas that would garner awards attention such as Crash and The Quiet American. There's no question that Fraser is an actor who tries his best to do everything, but far too often, that desire to change things up has been worse for his career than for the similarly-minded Nicolas Cage.

So that brings us back to this movie in which Fraser is clearly in silly family comedy mode with lots of the physical and bathroom humor that makes kids laugh and adults cringe. Not that the previous movies by the creators of his new movie are any indicator of the movie's quality or chances of success. The writers' previous work was Mr. Woodcock, a Sean William Scott vehicle which was delayed for years, while director Roger Krumble has been responsible for a number of dogs including Cameron Diaz's The Sweetest Thing.

Pairing comic actors with animals has been quite successful with kids in the past, whether it's Eddie Murphy in the two Dr. Dolittle movies or Steve Carell in Universal's Evan Almighty, except that this is Brendan Fraser and he's set quite a low bar for the quality of his movies with some of the movies mentioned above.

Summit has yet to have success with movies geared towards younger audiences with both last year's Bandslam (grossed $5.2 million) and the animated Astro Boy ($19.5 million) bombing pretty badly, and those actually looked pretty good. This doesn't. Still, they're trying their best with the marketing, even changing the ads a bit in the past week to show that there is a story and not just lots of CG animal silliness. Even so, the movie looks so awful that few parents will have any interest in taking their kids to see it, and this will only be an option for those parents who are just really desperate to get their kids out of the house for a couple hours. Otherwise, this is another classic example of a late-April dumper, just trying to get it out of the way before focusing on the summer movie season ahead.

Why I Should See It: People confident that Brendan Fraser has hit the lowest point of his career may need this movie to convince them otherwise.
Why Not: I guess they couldn't get Cuba Gooding Jr. to play the main role?
Projections: $7 to 9 million opening weekend and roughly $23 million total.

COMPARISONS



THE CHOSEN ONE:

This was a tough week to pick one because we essentially have three decent films, but I'm going for the more unconventional choice this weekend and that is...

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (IFC Films)
Starring Dieter Laser, Akihiro Kitamura, Andreas Leupold, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie
Written and directed by Tom Six (Honeyz)
Genre: Horror
Unrated
Tagline: "100% Medically Accurate"
Plot Summary: Two American tourists (Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie) traveling in Germany end up at a remote house in the woods where they're drugged and trapped by a surgeon (Dieter Laser) with diabolical plans to graft them together with another person in the worst possible way that you could be attached to another person.

We'll start out by saying that this is a movie that's not going to appeal to everyone. In fact, if you know what the central premise is--and it's pretty gross on many levels--then you're not likely to have a great desire to rush out to see the movie either. Rest assured that this is a solid horror movie, one that crosses the body horror of David Cronenberg with the oddness of David Lynch and some of the most disturbing images (both real and perceived) since Takashi Miike's Audition. Needless to say, Dutch filmmaker Tom Six is a sick individual, but he's also a solid filmmaker who knows how to create a stylish film and build tension in ways few young horror directors have been able to do.

The film opens just like every other movie where young men or women end up in the middle of nowhere when their car breaks down. That's the case with best friends Jenny and Lindsay who wind up at the house of Dr. Heiter, a former surgeon who used to specialize in Siamese twin separation, but who's been devising the most heinous surgical experiment imaginable. By the time they arrive at the doctor's house, we've already seen him kidnap his first victim and once he's drugged them and they learn what he has planned for them, it's all about escaping that fate. After one failed escape attempt, the doctor succeeds with his operation leaving you with the realization that there's still half hour of the movie to go. This is where the true horror comes in for the two young women as the mad scientist revels in his experiment, treating them like his pets.

Dieter Laser gives such an eccentric performance as Dr. Heiter, creating the type of passive-aggressive menace that entertains you with everything he says or does, being a cross between Hannibal Lecter and Christoph Waltz's Nazi in Inglourious Basterds. Those two comparisons alone should make it obvious that this is not a movie to be taken too seriously, especially when he suitably freaks the girls out with deadpan lines like "I don't like human beings." Although the two actresses seem like typical central casting slasher fodder at first, at least Ashlynn Yennie is quite convincing in conveying the fear and horror of her situation - and quite a bit of daring in taking a role that requires what this one does.

You might realize by now that I haven't exactly gone into great detail about what this twisted experiment of Heiter's might be, but just imagine the absolutely worst possible way that one human could be attached to another one... and then double that. It's the kind of premise that you might not want to know about before going in, though even if you already know the premise, rest assured that the worst thing you can possibly imagine in your head is far worse than anything that actually happens on screen (more or less). Instead, the movie is more of a bizarre oddity that's meant to shock more than it's meant to offend. Then again, if you're not into graphic surgery scenes, you might also want to give this a pass, because those scenes are quite a bit more graphic than anything your imagination might come up with as well.

Even though the gore is plentiful, Six does an incredible job creating tension whenever Heiter is around, especially during their attempts to escape. Even when his shadow appears at the doorway of his basement laboratory, it gives you a chill because you never know what to expect from him.

In a genre that's become so devoid of originality, Tom Six's movie is the type of disturbing and disgusting gamechanger, much like the breakouts by Hooper, Cronenberg, Miike and other horror greats. (Mind you, I also dug the French horror film Inside, a gory film involving a pregnant woman being terrorized by a psycho killer; something to bear in mind.)

The Human Centipede opens in New York on Friday and then in other cities on May 7.

Honorable Mention(s):

Unfortunately, lack of time during the Tribeca Film Festival has also made it hard to get too in-depth about two other decent movies opening this week, both with strong performances from veteran actors. Hopefully, I'll be able to write more about each later this week.

The Good Heart (Magnolia)
Starring Brian Cox, Paul Dano, Isild Le Besco
Written and directed by Dagur Kári (Dark Horse, Noi the Albino)
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Rated R
Tagline: "Everyone needs a refuge from the world."
Plot Summary: After suffering a heart attack, a crusty bar owner (Brian Cox) who runs his place with an iron fist takes on a young homeless man (Paul Dano) to help him at the bar, but their relationship becomes fractured when a pretty woman (Isild Le Besco) shows up at the bar and comes between them.

Interview with Dagur Kári and Paul Dano

The Good Heart opens in select cities on Friday.

Harry Brown (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Starring Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Iain Glen, Jack O'Connell, Liam Cunningham, Amy Steel
Directed by Daniel Barber (Debut); Written by Gary Young
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rated R
Tagline: "Every Man has a Breaking Point."
Plot Summary: In a district of England where teen gangs and drugdealers terrorize the citizens, Harry Brown (Michael Caine) decides to do something about them when his best friend Leonard is killed standing up to the young thugs, leading him on a violent journey of revenge and reprisals.

Also in Limited Release:

Please Give (Sony Pictures Classics) - Nicole (Lovely & Amazing, Friends with Money) Holofcener's fourth movie stars Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt as New York antiques dealers who buy furniture from the families of the deceased to resell. When they move into a Manhattan apartment with plans to take over the adjacent apartment once its elderly occupant there dies, their lives become entwine with those of their neighbor's very different granddaughters (Rebecca Hall, Amanda Peet). It opens in New York and L.A. on Friday.

Review

Mercy (IFC Films) - Actor Scott Caan writes and stars in this romantic drama directed by Patrick Hoelck, playing romance novelist Johnny Ryan, a man who doesn't believe in love until he meets a mysterious woman named Mercy (Wendy Glenn) at a book launch party. Also starring Scott's father James Caan, Dylan McDermott and Erika Christensen, the movie opens in New York on Friday.
Mini-Review

Phish 3D - The popular Vermont jam band who have been touring since the late '80s, selling out venues all over the country, will try to bring their full concert experience for those who have been unavailable to get tickets to their shows with a 3D concert movie that will open in select cities on Friday.



Next week, the summer kicks-off with the return of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark and his superhero alter-ego Iron Man 2 (Marvel Studios/Paramount), but even Shellhead doesn't have quite the "Awwwww cute" factor of the documentary Babies (Focus Features).

Copyright 2010 Edward Douglas




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