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.
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1. Jackass 3D (Paramount) – $27.8 million N/A (same)
2. RED (Summit) – $20.2 million N/A (up 1.4 million) (Oops, sorry about that typo and thanks to myx for pointing it out.)
3. The Social Network (Sony) – $10.1 million -35%
4. Life As We Know It (Warner Bros.) – $8.7 million -41%
5. Secretariat (Walt Disney) – $8.0 million -37%
6. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (Warner Bros.) – $4.6 million -33% (down .1 million)
7. The Town (Warner Bros.) – $4.0 million -38%
8. Easy A (Sony/Screen Gems) – $2.6 million -38%
9. My Soul to Take (Rogue/Universal) – $2.4 million -65%
10. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (20th Century Fox) – $2.3 million -48% (down .1 million)
With October slowly motoring along and two more movies opening in wide release and trying to make a mark, this weekend probably won’t be as close with an underdog that some might not expect.
That underdog certainly won’t be Johnny Knoxville’s Jackass 3D (Paramount), continuing the ongoing MTV phenomenon of Knoxville and his gang pulling crazy stunts and pranks on themselves and others, this time enhanced by it all being filmed in 3D. Some might think that the audience for “Jackass” may have grown out of it by now, but they’d probably think wrong, and this kind of craziness is just as likely to bring in the teen audience who were too young to catch the previous installments.
On the other hand we have RED (Summit Entertainment), based on the comic book by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, which has an absolutely enormous all-star cast led by Bruce Willis with Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Karl Urban and many more legendary actors, which surely will try to bring in the older moviegoers, especially guys, looking for something along the lines of Sly Stallone’s The Expendables only with much better actors. It’s going to be a tough sell for the younger audiences who will not have much interest in an action movie starring oldsters, but the 30-something-plus crowd that might not be as interested in Jackass 3D will certainly be attracted to the prestigious cast and what they bring to the mix. This is destined for second place but should do enough business to end up in the high teens or low-$20 millions.
For some reason, Ray Griggs’ “Tea Party Movement” doc I Want Your Money (Freestyle Releasing) is being given a fairly wide release into roughly 500 or so theaters, which doesn’t mean that it’s going to do the kind of business seen by Ben Stein’s Expelled, which had a lot more buzz and controversy surrounding its release. It probably will end up well outside the Top 10 with roughly a million or less.
This weekend last year, Spike Jonze take on Maurice Sendak’s popular children’s book Where the Wild Things Are (Warner Bros.) opened big with $32.7 million, averaging roughly $8.7k in 3,735 theaters including IMAX theaters, which likely contributed a large chunk of that opening. The Gerard Butler-Jamie Foxx R-rated crime-thriller Law Abiding Citizen (Overture Pictures) also did decently with $21 million, making it one of Overture’s biggest hits to date. Meanwhile, the breakout horror hit Paranormal Activity (Paramount) expanded nationwide into 760 theaters, enough to take third place with $19.6 million, an astounding per-theater average of $25 thousand.
The previous two movies seriously cut into the business of the horror remake The Stepfather (Sony/Screen Gems), although that still scored fifth place with $11.6 million in 2,700 theaters. The Top 10 grossed nearly $125 million, which is huge for an October weekend but may be impossible to achieve even if both of the new movies do decently.
Jackass 3D (Paramount)
Starring Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Ryan Dunn, Steve-O, Jason “Wee Man” Acuña, Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy, Dave England, Ehren McGhehey
Directed by Jeff Tremaine (Jackass: The Movie, Jackass Number Two); Written by NO ONE.
Genre: Comedy, “Documentary”
Plot Summary: Johnny Knoxville and the Jackass gang are back doing all sorts of crazy stunts and pranks, only this time they’re in 3D, so you’ll feel as if you’re drenched in the bodily fluids flying off the screen.
When “Jackass” debuted on MTV back in 2000, there really was nothing else like it–for better or worse–as it immediately appealed to the young demographic who were thrilled to see others doing the type of stupid things that teens tend to do when they’re bored. The show was an instant hit but also created all sorts of controversy even with the obligatory disclaimers stating that the stunts were dangerous and shouldn’t be tried at home. The show lasted three seasons on MTV but the show’s ringleader Johnny Knoxville was getting annoyed with the amount of censorship they had to face from MTV and it seemed obvious that it was time to break out of television and for the gang to take advantage of what could be done in an R-rated movie.
They basically started making the stunts even bigger and crazier, making Jackass: The Movie for roughly $5 million and doing lots of the stuff they weren’t allowed to do on TV like swearing and getting into more outrageous body humor. The movie opened with nearly $23 million in late October 2002–this was before the “Saw” franchise took over the weekend–making it instantly profitable its opening weekend. It went onto gross roughly $64 million, and Knoxville went on to be a fairly big star in his own right, acting in movies like Men in Black II and The Dukes of Hazzard, while various members of his crew like Steve-O and Bam Margera got their own shows on MTV to continue their shenanigans. In 2006, the crew reunited for Jackass: Number Two, which opened even bigger and ended up with around $73 million, based on a budget of $11.5 million.
Jackass 3D continues the tradition of them doing a movie every four years and part of the appeal of Knoxville and the studio doing another movie (besides the obvious cash cow that “Jackass” has been since its debut) is that they could film those crazy stunts and pranks in 3D, which would allow for even more disgusting results. The 3D in this case is certainly being used as a gimmick but the film was shot using 3D cameras rather than converted, so one expects the movie will take full advantage of that third dimension.
If there’s any question of whether “Jackass” is the phenomenon it once was, all they have to do is go on Twitter and see all the buzz whenever there’s a new trailer or promo for the movie as well as when Knoxville and the gang appeared recently on the MTV Video Awards. Clearly, the audience who’d enjoy the crazy stuff they do on “Jackass” is the same internet enthusiasts who have helped the advent of YouTube and viral videos, which is essentially a very young audience mostly under 30. If you figure the audience for “Jackass” was between 15 and 22 when it debuted in 2000, they’d be 25 to 32 now, except that there are plenty of older people in the suburbs and rural areas who enjoy the sort of stupid fun the “Jackass” shows and movies exemplify as well.
Jackass 3D is the kind of movie where the fans rush out opening weekend and see it, rather than waiting, so expect big business opening weekend, especially in the 3D theaters, since that’s going to be seen as the best way to see the movie. While those higher ticket prices will likely bump up the opening, we think the phenomenon has slightly tailed off only because Knoxville hasn’t really been in the public eye as much in recent years. Jackass 3D isn’t getting nearly as many theaters as its predecessor (roughly 500 less) because it is focusing so much more on the 3D. With hotly anticipated R-rated horror movies opening over the next two weeks, it’s not likely to have much more legs than the previous installments, even if those who can’t get into sold out 3D screenings this weekend may wait until they can.
Why I Should See It: You got me. I haven’t seen any of the previous movies and I’m not a fan.
Why Not: Because you’re a sophisticated person with culture and taste.
Projections: $26 to 29 million opening weekend and roughly $70 million total.
RED (Summit Entertainment)
Starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, Mary-Louise Parker, Brian Cox, Julian McMahon, Richard Dreyfuss
Directed by Robert Schwentke (Flightplan, The Time Travellers’ Wife); Written by Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber (Whiteout)
Genre: Action, Comedy
Tagline: “Still Armed. Still Dangerous. Still Got It.”
Plot Summary: Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is a former CIA agent who finds himself as the target of his former agency, specifically their top agent William Cooper (Karl Urban), who has been assigned to take out Frank and other retired agents who might know too much. Along with Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), the agency’s payroll work, Frank goes across the country finding his fellow agents Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich), Victoria (Helen Mirren), and Ivan (Brian Cox) so that they can figure out what’s going on and fight back against the government’s attempted cover-up.
It’s been fairly commonplace these days for comic books to be used as the source material for movies that have only the loosest connections to the material, and Red producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura probably kicked-off that tradition when he brought the Vertigo Comics character Constantine to the big screen with Keanu Reeves in the role. There’s a similar M.O. in play in bringing Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner’s 3-issue Homage Comics mini-series to the screen, as a vehicle for one of the country’s biggest action stars, Bruce Willis.
Back in the ’80s and ’90s, Willis was one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood to the point where Robert Altman made it a gag in his movie The Player where everyone in Hollywood was trying to change their script to make it fit Willis. While times have certainly changed and Willis has proven himself not to be as bankable as he used to be, he’s still an A-list celebrity and someone pretty much known the world over among a wide range of demographics, which means that he gets movies made. A few years back, Willis returned to his most famous character, police officer John McClane in Live Free or Die Hard, which grossed $134 million and became his biggest non-animated movie (not including cameos) since The Sixth Sense in 1999. Most recently, Willis had a cameo appearance in Sylvester Stallone’s action hit The Expendables, an appearance used in the marketing to help that gross over $100 million domestically. That followed his teaming with Tracy Morgan and Kevin Smith for the spring action-comedy Cop Out, which grossed $44 million, Willis’ second-highest (non-animated) movie in the last five years. Willis is clearly having a good year and he should be able to latch onto his bump in popularity so Red does better than last year’s graphic novel-based action movie Surrogates, which only made a disappointing $38 million.
Fortunately, Willis has an amazing supporting cast including Oscar winners Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren, neither of whom normally do these kinds of roles, but whose own status will give the movie a lot more credibility among older movielovers. Freeman has been appearing in a number of big comic-based movies in recent years including both of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies and the breakout hit Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie, so this isn’t completely new ground to him. Mirren’s status exploded after headlining Stephen Frears’ The Queen, which grossed $50 million and earned Mirren her first Oscar, and she followed that with the studio sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets before settling down into more unconventional indie fare. The fact that she doesn’t normally do action–though she’s played a killer a number of times now–adds to the humor. Both actors are being prominently featured in commercials as well as doing the talk show rounds. Karl Urban, who first got attention in some of the “Lord of the Rings” movies, plays the main antagonist of the film, and he does indeed have quite a bit of action experience, particularly with Doom.
John Malkovich’s Marvin is a similarly eccentric character as we’ve seen from him before, most recently in last week’s Secretariat, and he’s a real scene-stealer in the movie, which is probably why he’s being featured so prominently in the commercials. Willis’ love interest and road trip partner Mary-Louise Parker has mostly made waves on television with appearances on “The West Wing,” and “Weeds,” as well as an Emmy-winning turn in the HBO miniseries “Angels in America,” but she’s never really done a role like this one. The cast is rounded out by the likes of Brian Cox and 93-year-old Ernest Borgnine, who hasn’t appeared in a high-profile movie in many years, although he’s being featured prominently in commercials and trailers to build on the nostalgia factor that comes with so many veteran actors appearing on screen together. Unfortunately, the fourth Oscar winner in the group, Richard Dreyfuss, is neither featured in the commercials or trailer much–actually, neither is Cox–so maybe they’re saving them for the second round?
Director Robert Schwentke is new to both action and comedy but clearly di Bonaventura is not, having made a reputation for putting together projects like this one, being his second action movie of the year following the Angelina Jolie conspiracy hit Salt. Di Bonaventura also produced fanboy faves like the “Transformers” movies and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra as well as the failed video game translation of Doom, so he’s clearly someone firmly in the world of genre and action.
The question (as always) is who is going to be seeing this movie? One has to assume that guys from 15 to 25 will more likely be going with the known commodity that is Jackass 3D and anyone younger than that certainly won’t have any interest in the over-40 cast. There are definitely guys over 30 who like action, as seen by The Expendables, and they’ll basically have to choose between the real-life action of “Jackass” and the movie action of RED, but generally, the starpower of the movie will bring in moviegoers who may not normally check out an action movie. Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren should play a large part in bringing in that audience, as well as bringing in more African-Americans and women.
Reviews will likely be rather mixed on this one just by the nature of its genre, although it’s marketing is strong enough that it can withstand any slings that the critics can throw its way, because it’s hard to deny the cumulative draw of so many stars being in one movie together.
While movies like this often stand or fall based on opening weekend, this one could be more of a sleeper because its only competition for older audiences in coming weeks might be Clint Eastwood’s new movie Hereafter and that’s about it. As moviegoers in their 30s and 40s see the movie and tell their friends about it, they’re likely to go see it in weekends to come, although there’s still a limit to how much it can make based on the fact it
Why I Should See It: It’s pretty cool to see such a great ensemble of actors doing action and comedy, some of them breaking away from their normal serious roles.
Why Not: For the most part, the commercials and trailers include the best parts of the movie.
Projections: $17 to 19 million opening weekend and roughly $54 million total.
THE CHOSEN ONE:
Carlos (IFC Films)
Starring Edgar Ramirez, Alexander Scheer, Nora von Waldstätten, Ahmad Kaabour, Christoph Bach, Rodney El-Haddad, Julia Hummer, Rami Farah, Zeid Hamdan
Directed by Olivier Assayas (Clean, Demonlover, Summer Hours, Boarding Gate); Written by Olivier Assayas and Dan Franck
Genre: Drama, History, Crime
Plot Summary: The career of terrorist and assassin Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as Carlos (Edgar Ramirez), is told a three chapter film that covers some of his crimes including the daring 1975 OPEC meeting raid in Vienna in which Carlos and his comrades kidnapped some of the world’s top oil ministers.
One may look at the five-and-a-half hour running time of Carlos, the latest film from French auteur Olivier Assayas, and immediately run away screaming, because it certainly sounds like a large investment of time for a “biopic.” As someone who has watched the entire thing (granted, not in one sitting), I can say that it’s more deserving of that seemingly excessive run time than Steven Soderbergh’s Che and even the recent double feature of Mesrine, starring Vincent Cassel, possibly because it’s a much more consistent film than both of them.
This is clearly Assayas’ most ambitious film to date, noticeably having a much larger scope and scale than anything he’s done since Demonlover. It’s a period piece that travels across the globe, including much of the Middle East, with dialogue delivered in a half dozen or more languages, which successfully disseminates the actions and mindset of a man who most would consider to be an unrepentant terrorist whose actions may not merit being glorified in cinema.
Much of why it works so well is due to Edgar Ramirez’s astounding performance as the title character, a ruthless and remorseless killer who does whatever it takes to back up his revolutionary convictions and ideals, killing anyone he thinks has betrayed him. Even so, the character is somewhat of a dichotomy. At one point he’s criticizing Che Guevara for the way he goes about his own revolution, and yet later on, Carlos is looking very similar with a beard and a beret. Maybe this was meant to be some sort of ironic fashion statement either on his part or that of Assayas? Adding to Carlos’ questionable morals are his romantic dalliances with various women that straddle the line between being a ladies’ man and an out-and-out womanizer. It really takes its toll on his private life, yet you can never feel sorry for him because the word “remorse” just isn’t in his vocabulary.
There are lots of talented actors surrounding Ramirez but the other performance that really stands out is that of Austria’s Nora von Waldstätten as Carlos’ wife Magdalena Kopp, a fellow revolutionary who gets involved in his operation but who seems like the only woman who can go toe-to-toe with Carlos not just in the field but also in the bedroom. The fact that she’s the girlfriend of one of his comrades when they first meet creates this odd “third wheel” scenario during the third chapter of the film. The scenes between Ramirez and von Waldstätten are the ones that leave the most lasting impression.
So will the famous 1975 raid on the OPEC meeting in Vienna where Carlos and his gang kidnapped all of the oil ministers, which is handled as masterfully in the second chapter as Steven Spielberg’s Munich, as it goes through the plotting of the invasion, kidnapping the ministers then flying out of Austria trying to find a safe berth to complete the mission.
There’s a rather prominent disclaimer before each chapter admitting that some events have been dramatized to fill in the gaps between facts found during the research phase of the film’s development, yet it’s all handled in such a real way. Assayas uses actual news archival footage to enhance those dramatizations, showing the world’s reactions to the events we see play out on screen. Otherwise, Assayas layers each scene in a slow and deliberate way to maintain that authenticity, yet the film never gets dull even during some of the longer stretched-out dialogue sequences, the editing and Assayas’ choice of post-punk songs for the score enhancing every scene.
The shorter theatrical cut does a perfectly valid job covering much of the same ground but it feels somewhat rushed by comparison to the three-part movie and its ability to allow the missions to be played out in full. The shorter version is cut almost like an action movie, essentially summarizing what happens in the full version, but it doesn’t allow Ramirez sufficient time to fully develop his characterization, so it’s not quite as effective.
In either form, this is absolutely brilliant work from Assayas, certainly the most impressive film of his career, and quite an astounding career turn for Ramirez as well, because the actor has never had the opportunity to play such a fascinating character previously. Whether or not you agree with Carlos’ ideologies or his actions, there’s no denying that it makes a fascinating cinematic experience.
Carlos opens on Friday at the IFC Center in a Special Roadshow Edition showing all three chapters in one 5.5 hour sitting (with breaks) and at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in an edited theatrical version roughly 2.5 hours with plans to roll out elsewhere in the weeks to come. We highly recommend you make the time to see the full version of the movie.
Conviction (Fox Searchlight)
Starring Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver, Melissa Leo, Clea DuVall, Juliette Lewis, Loren Dean
Directed by Tony Goldwyn (The Last Kiss, Someone Like You…, A Walk on the Moon); Written by Pamela Gray (A Walk on the Moon, Music of the Heart)
Genre: Drama, Crime
Tagline: “An extraordinary journey of how far we go to fight for our family.”
Plot Summary: When her older brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is arrested and convicted of murder, Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) decides she will do whatever it takes to get him free, getting her diploma, going to law school and getting actively involved in uncovering what she sees as a vendetta by a local cop (Melissa Leo) to plant evidence against her brother. Betty Anne ultimately turns to the growing use of DNA evidence to try to prove her brother’s innocence.
Conviction opens in select cities on Friday.
Hereafter (Warner Bros.)
Starring Matt Damon, Cecile de France, Frankie McLaren, George McLaren, Jay Mohr, Bryce Dallas Howard
Directed by Clint Eastwood (WAY too many movies to mention all of them); Written by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon and more)
Genre: Drama, Supernatural
Tagline: “I see dead people.” (No, that’s not the real tagline, but it might as well be.)
Plot Summary: Three people whose lives have been touched by death try to get through their lives afterwards. George Lonegan (Matt Damon) has made a living as a psychic reaching out to dead loved ones of his clients, but he’s put that behind him while trying to create a normal life. French news reporter Marie (Cecile de France) suffered a near-death experience when she got caught in the tsunami in Thailand and tries to find answers about what she saw. Marcus is a London schoolboy who loses his direction when his twin brother Jacob is killed in a hit and run accident, sending him out to find answers about death and the afterlife as well.
Clint Eastwood’s latest opens in New York, L.A. and Toronto on Friday and then nationwide on October 22. We’ll have a lot more about this movie in next week’s column.
Also in Limited Release:
Ray Griggs’ documentary I Want Your Money (Freestyle Releasing) takes a negative look at the way the Obama administration has been tackling the country’s economic problems by redistributing the wealth, taking money from the poor working class and giving it to the corporations and government. This propaganda by the conservative “Tea Party Movement” will open nationwide in roughly 500 theaters on Friday.
Mini-Review: As a fan of documentaries as a medium for entertainment and education, I was more than willing to give Ray Griggs’ movie a chance, especially since it seemed to cover similar territory as Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story,” but it doesn’t take long to figure out the filmmakers’ intentions. As soon as Ray Griggs walks on-camera and introduces himself as a “citizen and small business owner,” your alarms may start to be raised, but it soon becomes obvious this is Right Wing propaganda when he starts attacking the media and Hollywood Liberals. Putting himself in the movie is just one of the many egregious mistakes this first-time filmmaker makes, not just because has very little charm or charisma to speak of, but when he runs up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial ala “Rocky” or does the “man on the street” thing, you can’t help but be annoyed by his hubris. Worse than anything in his movie, Griggs himself takes the prize as the most annoying filmmaker to insert himself in his own movie in a long history of that practice… and that INCLUDES Leftist Michael Moore.
More than anything else, Griggs’ movie is a gushing love letter to the late Ronald Reagan, using him as almost a superhero-like character who condemns our current President, who is featured prominently in archival footage but most notably in a series of cutesy computer animated sketches that involves caricatures of most recent Presidents and other famous DC politicians cracking jokes. As impressive as the voice actors do to impersonate the various characters, the writing is so awful with sub-”Saturday Night Live” gags. The Arnold Schwarzenegger bits are the worst of it, but one generally can’t take it very seriously. In between, you have all sorts of “experts” speaking out against the government and all the bad it’s done, most of it sounding like mindless gibberish by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. You may wonder if there’s a Democrat among them. You see, Liberal filmmakers would at least make an effort to get both sides of the story, something that seems foreign to Griggs. He does his best to give a history lesson, but it’s one so heavily-biased against the Democrats his movie may as well have been financed by the Republican Party.
Griggs doesn’t ignore the fact that the economic crash and much of the debt happened during Bush’s watch, but he glosses over it quickly to return to pointing fingers at the Obama administration for not fixing the problem immediately. Really, the only thing I could possibly agree with in Griggs’ film is that we need tax cuts, but all the rest of the rhetoric quickly gets tiring.
It takes an hour and 20 minutes before the movie finally reveals itself as what it’s meant to be – a full-length advertisement for the “Tea Party Movement,” and it’s quite astonishing that such a deluded movie like this could get financed, let alone made, but that’s the nice thing about living in a democracy, that someone like Griggs can give himself a platform to share his anti-Obama propaganda. Ignore this crap and go see Charles Ferguson’s non-partisan economic doc “Inside Job” instead. Rating: 4/10
Real life father and son Bob and Robin Hill star in Ben Wheatley’s dark crime comedy Down Terrace (Magnolia) as a father and son released from jail whose crime family is plagued by infighting when the younger one moves in with his ex-girlfriend who is carrying his baby. It opens in select cities on Friday.
Jeff Reichert’s documentary Gerrymandering, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, takes a look at the tradition for politicians to rezone election districts in order to help their own standings in elections, essentially using it for political gains. Featuring an appearance by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who opposes the practice, the movie opens in select cities on Friday.
Favela Rising filmmakers Jeff and Michael Zimbalist’s new documentary The Two Escobars takes a look at the parallels between drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and the captain of Columbia’s World Cup soccer team Andres Escobar (no relation) and how their two worlds often collide leading up to the 1994 World Cup. Having premiered at the Tribeca Film and screened on ESPN as part of the “30 for 30″ program, it opens theatrically in New York at the Cinema Village on Friday and then in L.A. at the Laemmle on October 29.
Warwick Thornton’s Samson and Delilah (Indiepix) is about two young Aboriginal trying to survive in the Australian desert after a tragedy that forces them to leave their homes. It opens in New York and L.A. on Friday.
Next week, it’s the return of the low budget haunted house movie with the sequel Paranormal Activity 2 (Paramount). Not be outdone, Clint Eastwood makes his own ghost movie (kind of) as Hereafter (Warner Bros.), starring Matt Damon, expands nationwide.
Copyright 2010 Edward Douglas