The Weekend Warrior (Lite): September 16 – 18


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.

As one might expect, we’ve been pretty busy at the Toronto International Film Festival even if you can’t really tell from the lack of blog posts about it, though that should change and we got to see a few movies that we’ll probably be discussing a lot over the rest of the year.

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This Week’s Updated Predictions

(Sorry, no time even to do Comparisons this week.)

UPDATE: We have a bit of a shuffle this week, partially due to inaccurate theater count estimates, and with 400 more theaters than originally estimated, that gives fledgling distributor FilmDistrict a shot at their first #1 movie. Then again, there’s also been a lot of buzz over the past few days that Disney’s The Lion King 3D is going to be a big hit, possibly even being #1, although we’re still dubious going by the showing of the Toy Story 3D Double Feature which was released when 3D hadn’t started to tail off. We probably went a bit high on Straw Dogs and I Don’t Know How She Does It as well.

1. Drive (FilmDistrict) – $12.6 million N/A (up 1.1 million and one place)

2. Contagion (Warner Bros.) – $12.2 million –46% (up .1 but down one placement)

3. The Lion King 3D (Walt Disney) – $11.8 million N/A (up 3 million and one place)

4. Straw Dogs (Screen Gems) – $8.8 million N/A (down .5 million and one place)

5. I Don’t Know How She Does It (The Weinstein Company) – $7.6 million N/A (Down .9 million)

6. The Help (DreamWorks) – $6.2 million -30% (up .2 million)

7. Warrior (Lionsgate) – $3.2million -39% (same)

8. The Debt (Focus Features) – $2.7 million -43% (up .1 million)

9. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox) – $2.2 million -45% (up .1 million)

10. Colombiana (Sony/Tristar) – $2.0 million -49% (down .1 million)

Weekend Overview

As September rolls on, we get a face-off between two rather distinctive, violent R-rated thrillers as Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive (FilmDistrict) takes on Rod Lurie’s Straw Dogs (Screen Gems). The fact they’re both vying for the same male audience–Drive a bit younger, Straw Dogs a bit older–is certainly going to split audiences. The edgy but critically-acclaimed Drive stars Ryan Gosling, who is clearly a bonafide star at this point, helped by his part in the summer’s breakout rom-com hit Crazy, Stupid, Love, although few of the women and date crowd who enjoyed that one will have much interest in this. That said, Screen Gems’ remake of Straw Dogs doesn’t have quite the star power in James Marsden and Kate Bosworth, but stands a good chance at bringing in some women with the way the movie is being marketed as well as the presence of “True Blood” star Alexander Skarsgard. (That is, as long as they aren’t away of the movie’s prominent rape scene.)

Then again, there may be just as many women who may want to see “Sex and the City” star Sarah Jessica Parker in the adaptation of Allison Pearson’s popular book I Don’t Know How She Does It (The Weinstein Company), which is being released in the most theaters of the new movies this weekend. Even with such a wide release, comedy continues to be an area where the Weinstein Company just hasn’t quite gotten up to speed as seen by last month’s Our Idiot Brother and this one looks significantly worse and probably will be thrashed by critics.

Either way, from the choices above, we think that Drive will win out over the other two, though probably not fare well enough to beat last week’s #1 movie, Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, which will still have a much wider appeal than either of the two new offerings and will once again win the weekend.

One of the new wide releases that should make things even more interesting is the re-release of The Lion King 3D (Disney), which is trying something quite daring in that it’s the first movie being re-released in 3D in a growing list of movies that have been discussed as being converted. This film’s predecessor, a 3D version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast barely received a theatrical release, and this one is getting released in a fairly wide theatrical release at a time when audiences are generally frustrated or bored by 3D. That said, there really aren’t many movies for the kiddies right now and parents who love the movie might want to get their kids to experience it in theaters. That means this could do very well or very poorly and not having much in terms of precursors other than maybe Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas, which has done decently in 3D re-releases, we think this probably will end up somewhere in the middle of the new movies.

This weekend last year saw the release of Ben Affleck’s second movie as director, the critically acclaimed crime thriller The Town (Warner Bros.), which topped the weekend with an impressive $23.8 million, followed by Emma Stone’s comedy Easy A (Screen Gems) with $17.7 million and the M. Night Shyamalan-produced high concept thriller Devil (Rogue Pictures) with $12.3 million. Opening in fifth place was the 3D animated family film Alpha and Omega (Lionsgate) with $9.1 million and the Top 10 grossed $84 million, though we don’t think any of this week’s offerings are strong enough to top that.

Next week, we’re back from Toronto to write about four new movies in wide release, the baseball drama Moneyball (Sony), starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman, taking on two action-thrillers, Taylor Lautner in Abduction (Lionsgate) and Jason Statham and Clive Owen in Killer Elite (Open Road), as well as the family film Dolphin Tale 3D (Warner Bros.).

Copyright 2011 Edward Douglas