The Weekend Warrior

Box Office: Jumping Back into the '80s

Source: Edward Douglas
March 14, 2012

Hallelujah and praise to whomever decided there should only be one new movie in wide release this weekend, which is exactly what producer Neal Moritz and the filmmakers of the new action-comedy 21 Jump Street (Sony) should be saying right now because it's so rare to get a weekend all to your lonesome.

The reinvention of the popular ‘80s show that gave Johnny Depp his start pairs burgeoning superstars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum for an R-rated take on the classic police buddy action-comedy which will hope to bring in the 16 and older crowd, mostly guys, with a similar type of humor as movies like Pineapple Express ($87.3 million gross), Observe and Report ($24 million) and Hill's recent The Sitter ($30 million). The movie also stars Ice Cube who has his own fanbase and rising comic Rob Riggle. While Hill has appeared in a good number of hits and has grown a fanbase from early movies like Superbad and the more recent Moneyball, for which he got an Oscar nomination, the movie's real secret weapon is Tatum who will potentially bring in women who wouldn't normally care about an action-comedy.

Sony know they have a strong movie here, which is why they've been screening it for months, which will help build word-of-mouth, although it could also dilute how many people are left to see the movie opening weekend. Some may also worry too many of the jokes have been given away with the abundance of commercials, clips and trailers. Hill and Tatum have been doing the rounds promoting the movie including a stint hosting "Saturday Night Live" this past weekend for Hill, and this really has had one of the strongest marketing campaigns of the year.

Even facing the potential for a three-peat by Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, 21 Jump Street shouldn't have a problem topping the box office this weekend with between $27 and 30 million on its way to roughly $85 million or so, which was essentially how we felt when it was the subject of an earlier Long Distance Box Office.

Incidentally, Channing Tatum was an early focus of The Career Analyst, and after many months off, we've brought it back with a look at the career of Tatum's partner in crimefighting, Jonah Hill, which you can read here.

Review

Video Interview with Directors

Video Interviews with the Cast

This weekend last year saw three new releases and the surprise victor was the Bradley Cooper sci-fi thriller Limitless (Relativity), which topped the box office with roughly $19 million, making it one of the first big hits for the relatively new Relativity Media. Matthew McConaughey starred in the crime-drama The Lincoln Lawyer (Lionsgate), which was aided by an unprecedented Groupon deal to bring in $13.2 million though it had to settle for fourth place behind Rango and Battle: Los Angeles. It still came out ahead of the Simon Pegg and Nick Frost alien invasion comedy Paul (Universal), which took fifth place with $13 million. The Top 10 grossed $99 million, but with just one movie opening this weekend, it's going to have to do very well indeed if this weekend is going to exceed that amount.

This Week's UPDATED Predictions -

UPDATE: Not a lot to add this week although we do want to note that Jennifer Westfeldt's Friends with Kids is expanding into 640 theaters which should help it break into the Top 10 this week, even if it's at the bottom, and Will Ferrell's Spanish language comedy Casa de mi Padre is opening in 382 theaters, which should allow it to bring in between $1.5 and 2 million. The Duplass Brothers' Jeff, Who LIves at Home (Paramount Vantage) is opening in 254 theaters and is looking at an opening weekend in the $1 million range while Nicolas Cage's Seeking Justice (Anchor Bay Films) will probably end up just below that.

1. 21 Jump Street (Sony) - $29.6 million N/A (up .2 million)

2. Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (Universal) - $23.6 million -39%

3. John Carter (Disney) - $17.5 million -42%

4. Project X (Warner Bros.) - $6.0 million -47%

5. Act of Valor (Relativity Media) - $3.7 million -45%

6. One Thousand Words (Paramount) - $3.6 -45%

7. Safe House (Universal) - $3.2 million -35%

8. Silent House (Open Road) - $2.5 million -63%

9. The Vow (Screen Gems/Sony) - $2.5 million -35%

10. Friends with Kids (Roadside Attractions) - $2.3 million +6%

11. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (New Line/WB) - $2.1 million -35%

-- Casa de mi Padre (Pantelion Films) - $1.7 million N/A


This week, we have our first "CHOSEN ONE" in a couple weeks and it's Tony Kaye's Detachment (Tribeca Film), one of the best films I saw at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. It's not exactly the easiest filmgoing experience to sit through and it certainly won't be for everyone, but it's one that really leaves an impact.

Adrien Brody plays Henry Barthes, a substitute teacher who takes a month-long gig at a public school filled with some of the city's worst students but forces outside of work are making his new gig even more difficult. While riding the bus home, he encounters Erica (Sami Gayle), a young teenager prostituting herself out to survive and he takes it upon himself to save her even though he himself is lost.

Opening with an Albert Camus quote and animated titles using chalk on a blackboard interspersed with testimonials from real teachers, "Detachment" establishes itself quite early on as something truly special as it evolves into an intense in-your-face exploration at the public school system that shows how teachers' lives at home and school influence each other as they face seemingly impossible situations as they try to teach. This isn't a happy fun-filled movie meant to entertain as much as one that's meant to provoke discussion and evoke emotion, both which it does quite effectively.

Even though Henry is an angry man with lots of latent issues, Brody plays the character in such an empathetic way, that you immediately like the character, as he delivers his strongest performance in years, balancing his normal low-key delivery with some truly emotional moments. He's as convincing as a teacher as Ryan Gosling in "Half Nelson" and he's the perfect lynchpin for what's a rather complex subject matter.

For the most part, the teachers around Henry are in over their heads, as they have to contend with tough students who verbally and physically threaten them, driving many of them close to their breaking points. As much as this is an ensemble cast, Kaye keeps it intimate and personal with most of the scenes not involving Barthes, revolving around the school principal, played by Marcia Gay Harden and teachers played by Tim Blake Nelson, Christina Hendricks, Blythe Danner and James Caan. The latter is an entertaining scene-stealer who copes with his situation through humor while also offering his support to Lucy Liu as the guidance counselor. All the performances are generally solid though Liu goes a bit overboard during her most dramatic scene.

Even more impressive are the new faces like Sami Gayle and Betty Kaye, both whom have to deal with a lot of difficult situations and really hold their own against the far more experienced cast. Kaye plays Meredith, a student who has the most impact on Henry's journey, while Gayle's Erica is a wounded bird who rejects Henry's caring attention, much like his students, until he gives up on her, too. The scenes between Brody and these two young actresses are some of the best in the movie, as are those with Brody and his dementia-stricken grandfather (Louis Zorich).

Working from a screenplay by Carl Lund, Tony Kaye brings an artistry to telling the story in such an unconventional way using many different elements and filmmaking styles to tell the story whether it's fly-on-the-wall footage, flashbacks to Henry's childhood or animation, narrated by Mr. Barthes' testimonial and bits of poetry with the Newton Brothers using the most subtle of scoring to pull every bit of emotion as we feel for the characters and their stories, which are often quite heartbreaking.

All of this adds to the experience in creating a deeply layered film that gains a lot from multiple viewings. While it regularly delves into dark territory it's also a film that leaves one with hope that change is possible. The results won't be everyone--this is not a mainstream movie by any means--but we strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a film so powerful in its emotions and thought process that it will leave you quite shaken up.

Detachment opens in New York City at the AMC Empire 25 and Village East Cinemas on Friday, March 16--Kaye and Brody will on-hand for Q n As after select screenings--and then in Los Angeles on March 23.

Video Interview with Adrien Brody

Nicolas Cage stars in Roger Donaldson's action-thriller Seeking Justice (Anchor Bay Films) as an English teacher whose wife (January Jones) is brutally attacked one night, and when he's approached by a mysterious man named Simon (Guy Pearce) who offers to get revenge, he accepts, not realizing the later consequences. It opens in select cities.

Review (Coming Soon!)

The Duplass Brothers (Cyrus) return with their comedy Jeff, Who Lives at Home (Paramount Vantage) starring Jason Segel as a slacker who lives in his mother's basement who goes out to get some glue to fix a door frame and sees his brother (Ed Helms) possibly cheating on his wife. Also starring Susan Sarandon and Judy Greer, it opens in select cities.

Our Review from Toronto

They're not to be confused with Belgium's the Dardenne Brothers (L'enfant) who are also back with The Kid with a Bike (Sundance Selects), a film about a young boy whose bicycle has been stolen and who ends up getting the aid of a hairdresser (Cecile de France) in trying to retrieve it.

Opening in New York on Wednesday at Lincoln Center's Elinor Bunim Munroe Theater and the Landmark Sunshine is the French romantic comedy Delicacy (Cohen Media), directed by brothers David and Stéphane Foenkinos, based on the bestselling novel by the former and starring Audrey Tautou as a woman whose new husband dies suddenly so she throws herself into her work until she has an encounter with an average-looking underling at work (French comic Francois Damiens) and an unexpected romance blossoms.

Interview with Audrey Tautou

Will Ferrell makes his Spanish language debut with Casa de mi Padre (Lionsgate/Pantelion Films), teaming with SNL writer Matt Piedmont as he plays Armando Alvarez, the son of a Mexican rancher who is having money problems exacerbated by his younger brother Raul (Diego Luna) showing up with his fiancée (Genesis Rodriguez) who are both involved with a violent druglord named La Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal). It opens in select cities.

Video Interview with Gael Garcia Bernal (Later this week)

Lastly, we have three indie comedies, including Robbie Pickering's Natural Selection (Cinema Guild) stars Rachael Harris as a Christian housewife from Texas who learns her dying husband has an illegitimate son living in Florida so she sets out to bring him back to see his father one last time. Jason and Brandon Trost's comedy The FP (Drafthouse Films) involves gang warfare via dance video games in a neighborhood called the FP, while Yoav Factor's comedy Reuniting the Rubins (Monterrey Media) stars Timothy Spall as a lawyer whose sick mother blackmails him into bringing his four very different grown-up kids (James Callis, Rhona Mitra) back together for the holidays. The first and third open in New York at the Angelika and Quad Cinemas, while The FP opens in select cities, listed here and they're using Tugg.com if you want to bring it to your own city.

Next week, another single movie week (hurray!) but this one is a doozy as we finally get to see Gary Ross' adaptation of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games (Lionsgate)!

You can read stuff like this and regular box office, awards and festival coverage on the new Weekend Warrior Blog and to keep up with the latest articles and posts, you can follow us on Twitter.

Copyright 2012 Edward Douglas




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