The Weekend Warrior (Lite): March 25 – 27

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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.

Due to personal commitments, we’re only able to do a Lite version of the column this week but we’ll be back to the whole shebang next week.

If you aren’t doing so already, you can follow The Weekend Warrior on Twitter where he talks about box office, movies, music, comic books and all sorts of random things.

Updated Predictions and Comparisons

UPDATE: Well, it’s not looking good for Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch between a lower theater count and generally negative reviews, but it should still do decent business and probably enough to come out #1 but just barely. The “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” sequel should pick up the slack over the weekend and even things up by Sunday.

1. Sucker Punch (Warner Bros.) – $25.0 million N/A (Down 2.2 million)

2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (20th Century Fox) – $22.7 million N/A (up .1 million)

3. Limitless (Relativity Media) – $10.0 million -47% (same)

4. Rango (Paramount) – $9.5 million -37% (same)

5. The Lincoln Lawyer (Lionsgate) – $8.0 million -39% (same)

6. Paul (Universal) – $7.0 million -46% (same)

7. Battle: Los Angeles (Sony) – $6.8 million -53% (Same)

9. Red Riding Hood (Warner Bros.) – $3.8 million -47% (down .1 million)

9. Mars Needs Moms (Disney) – $3.3 million -35% (down .2 million)

10. The Adjustment Bureau (Universal) – $3.2 million -44% (same)

Weekend Overview

March winds up with just two new movies, but with a generally slow weekend last week, they both should be able to bring in some of their respective built-in audience.

Zack Snyder returns with his first movie based on an original idea, Sucker Punch (Warner Bros.), an action fantasy with a mostly-female cast including Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens and Carla Gugino. Although Snyder’s latest doesn’t necessarily have the built-in audience of a Watchmen or Dawn of the Dead, it does have enough really strong visuals that a good percentage of those who have dug his previous movies like 300 will give this one a chance even if they didn’t for his PG Legend of the Guardians back in September. The audience should be generally mixed from teen girls (taking advantage of the PG-13 rating) to older males (for generally sleazier reasons than the teen girls), although it has two major hurdles to clear, one being that action movies starring women rarely do big box office with Angelie Jolie movies like the first Tomb Raider and last year’s Salt being major exceptions. The other stumbling block is college basketball March Madness which continues this weekend, and that’s something that may seriously diminish the male audience after Friday. Reviews will probably be generally mixed (which is why Warner Bros. is waiting so long to screen it) but they’ve done a decent job marketing it as the cool movie to see this weekend even if it’s not quite as big an event movie as Snyder’s past offerings. (I do have to say that even though I’ve seen the movie and can’t offer my opinion as of yet, this is the movie I’ve been asked about most by friends, including many who rarely get to the movies, so awareness is certainly very high.)

My Sucker Punch Review

After having a hit with their first adaptation of cartoonist Jeff Kinney’s humorous fiction book, 20th Century Fox release the sequel Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (20th Century Fox) almost a year to the date. Although the first movie opened with $22 million its opening weekend, it took a hefty drop in its second weekend and ended up with roughly $64 million, not great legs for a family film. The sequel is opening in a season where there have already been more family films than usual, and it’s fighting against the tradition of family sequels often not doing as well as their predecessors–as seen by the likes of Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids 2–with this one opening during even tougher financial times and a weak box office. Still, the books have a lot of young fans and with many schools being on spring break, it should help the movie do better business on Friday and Sunday than it might otherwise, although we still don’t think it will open that much better than the original movie.

This weekend last year, the animated family adventure How to Train Your Dragon (DreamWorks Animation) opened relatively weakly with $43.7 million, although it would go onto gross over $200 million and be nominated for two Academy Awards. Offered as counter-programming, the raunchy R-rated retro comedy Hot Tub Time Machine (MGM), starring John Cusack, opened in third with $14 million in 2,754 theaters. The Top 10 grossed $113 million and unfortunately, this may be another week where the box office is down from the same weekend last year.


This Week’s Limited Releases

Oscar-nominated director Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) returns with Miral (The Weinstein Company), a political drama based on the autobiographical novel by Rula Jebreal starring Freida Pinto as the main character, a young Palestine woman living in Israel who becomes involved with a rebel that gets her into trouble with the Israeli secret police. It will open in New York and L.A on Friday.

Interview with Julian Schnabel

Fran├žois Ozon returns to campier fare with Potiche (Trophy Wife) (Music Box Films), a ’70s-based comedy based on the hit play starring Catherine Deneuve as Susanne Pujol, a submissive housewife who has to take over as the head of her husband’s umbrella factory when his workers go on strike and take him hostage, but things get complicated when the union leader and her ex-lover, played by Gerard Depardieu, claims his love for her. It opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday.

Interview with Fran├žois Ozon

Aidan Quinn and Andie McDowell star in Rick Bieber’s The 5th Quarter (Rocky Mountain Pictures) about a college football player whose younger 15-year-old brother Luke dies in a car crash which spurs him to dedicate the upcoming football season to him. The inspirational sports drama with a spiritual message opens in select cities.

Opening in 2D and 3D theaters is the animated family adventure-comedy The Lion of Judah involving a group of stable animals who leave their barn home to save their lamb friend Judah who has been trapped by townspeople as a sacrifice at their annual festival.

Robin Hessman’s documentary My Perestroika (IFC Films), which opens at the IFC Center on Wednesday, looks at the last generation of children raised behind the Iron Curtain of the Soviet Union. It followed five Moscow schoolmates who experienced the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. and what they’re doing today.

Semih Kaplanoglu’s Bal (Honey) (Olive Films), Turkey’s entry into this year’s Oscars, is the third part of his “Yusuf Trilogy” showing the formative years of the sensitive poet Yusuf, this one showing him as a schoolboy with his beekeeper father living in the woods of Northeast Turkey. It opens at the Village East Cinemas in New York on Friday.

An all-star cast including Michal C. Hall, Rainn Wilson, Judy Greer, Taraji P. Henson and Sara Silverman star in Barry Blaustein’s comedy Peep World (IFC Films) as the Meyerwitz family as they prepare for the 70th birthday of their father Henry, played by Ron Rifkin, who has shaped each one of his children, not all in good ways, but revelations from a book revealing family secrets causes a rift between siblings. It opens in select cities on Friday.

Tony Gatlif’s Korkoro (Lorber Films) is a French film set during WIII following a Gypsy tribe traveling the countryside looking for land who face new laws that forbid their existence until their taken under the wing of a schoolteacher and the mayor of a small town who offer them refuge.

John Gray’s White Irish Drinkers (Screen Media Films) is a coming-of-age story set in 1975 Brooklyn about two teenagers living with an abusive father (played by Stephen Lang from Avatar) who get caught up in a life of petty crime in hopes of escaping. It also opens in select cities.


Next week, the month of April kicks off with three very different movies, the Easter-themed family comedy Hop (Universal), the new ghost movie Insidious (Film District) from the creators of Saw and Duncan Jones’ sci-fi thriller Source Code (Summit) starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan.

Copyright 2011 Edward Douglas