The Weekend Warrior: September 17 – 19

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 the Warrior being in Toronto for the annual Toronto International Film Festival, it is going to be a severely streamlined column this week.

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This Week’s UPDATED Predictions

UPDATE: The crazy thing this weekend is that all four new movies are opening in roughly the same amount of theaters with three of them in just over 2,800 theaters, which means that it may be a tougher battle for business with the movie that has the screens to meet the demand likely to come out on top. We’re sticking with Easy A to lead the weekend with The Town in second. Even if neither movie has a title as strong as Devil, they do have the stronger cast and good reviews while Devil hasn’t been screened at all in advance which will limit awareness to those that already know about it.

1. Easy A (Sony/Screen Gems) – $18.5 million N/A (up .7 million)

2. The Town (Warner Bros.) – $15.2 million N/A (down .4 million)

3. Devil (Rogue Pictures) – $13.7 million N/A (up .3 million)

4. Resident Evil: Afterlife (Sony/Screen Gems) – $11.8 million -55% (down .3 million)

5. Alpha and Omega (Lionsgate) – $7.5 million N/A (down .2 million)

6. Takers (Sony/Screen Gems) – $3.2 million -44% (up .1 million)

7. The American (Focus Features) – $3.0 million -47% (same)

8. Going the Distance (New Line/WB) – $1.9 million -50% (down .3 million)

9. The Other Guys (Sony) – $1.9 million -42% (down .3 million)

10. Machete (20th Century Fox) – $1.8 million -58% (down .2 million)

Weekend Overview

September motors along with four new movies in wide release, although we won’t really have time to do any sort of lengthy analysis for any of them due to our commitments covering the Toronto International Film Festival. Sorry.

Guys will generally be more interested in Ben Affleck’s sophomore directing effort The Town (Warner Bros.), a solid crime thriller co-starring Rebecca Hall and Oscar nominees Jeremy Renner, Chris Cooper and Pete Postlethwaite that should benefit greatly from positive reviews and action-filled commercials, and it will be a good chance to see if Affleck can still be a draw at the box office despite a string of disappointing openings, his biggest recent movie being the ensemble rom-com He’s Just Not That Into You. Although this is following in the heels of the much hipper looking Takers, it should do huge business in the Boston area this weekend, and it will be the first choice for guys over 25 this weekend.

My Review

The elevator thriller Devil (Rogue Pictures) will open on Friday, probably without any earlier critics screenings, as Universal does their best to hide the involvement of M. Night Shyamalan after the negative reaction to his name appearing on early trailers. Even so, the movie has a strong marketing campaign that plays up its high concept premise and there should be room at the box office for something like this to bring in younger moviegoers even if it may be losing audiences to the previous two movies. With M. Night out of the equation, that leaves no names to sell the movie on, the biggest name being Chris Messina, Amy Adams’ husband in Julie & Julia, but that hasn’t stopped successful horror movies like Paranormal Activity and The Last Exorcism from doing big business. Either way, the early negative buzz may be too pervasive to avoid, which may keep this the below-$15 million range.

Lastly, the computer-animated Alpha and Omega (Lionsgate) film will try to bring in family audiences without a lot of marketing or promotion or really anything to attract finicky kids and parents into theaters and with the much stronger Legend of the Guardians coming out next week, this one is likely to tank despite the lack of family fare currently in theaters. It should still be Top 5 just because so many returning movies have already dropped below the $5 million mark.

This weekend last year, the animated family film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Sony) won the weekend with $30.3 million, followed in a distant second by Steven Soderbergh’s corporate crime comedy The Informant! (Warner Bros.), starring Matt Damon, which brought in $10.5 million in 2,500 theaters. Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart learned that Love Happens (Universal), as do bad career moves like starring in the romantic drama that only made $8 million for fourth place. It did better than the Diablo Cody-penned horror movie Jennifer’s Body (20th Century Fox), starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried, which tanked with just $6.9 million in 2,700 theaters. The Top 10 grossed $83 million and with four new movies opening this weekend, the box office should come close to that same amount.

This Week’s Limited Releases:

No “Chosen One” this week due to time constraints, but both Katie Aselton and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s directorial debuts are worth checking out.

Katie Aselton, star of the Duplass Brothers’ The Puffy Chair, makes her directorial debut with The Freebie (Phase 4), co-starring Dax Sheppard. The two of them play a couple who decide to have one night where they’re allowed to sleep with another person in order to improve their sex life, knowing it’s a decision that could adversely affect their marriage. Look for our interview with Katie and Dax later this week.

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman makes his own directorial debut with Jack Goes Boating (Overture Pictures), based on Bob Glaudini’s play that premiered at the LAByrinth Theater in New York City. Hoffman plays Jack, a lonely limo driver, whose friend Clyde and his wife Lucy, played by John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega, whom were both in the original stage production, introduce him to the lovely but complicated Connie, played by Amy Ryan, hoping things will work out between them, just as Clyde and Lucy’s own marriage is falling apart. It opens in New York and L.A. on Friday; you can read our interview with Philip Seymour Hoffman here and stay tuned for our review later this week.

One Hour Photo director Mark Romanek adapts Kazuo Ishiguro’s popular novel Never Let Me Go (Fox Searchlight), about a trio of private school students, played by Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield, caught up in a love triangle as they learn that their very existence is not what they originally thought. It opens on Wednesday in select cities.


Interview with Mark Romanek

The Sundance favorite doc Catfish (Rogue Pictures) by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, follows Ariel’s brother Nev, as he corresponds with a family in Michigan he met via Facebook, their youngest daughter being an art prodigy who impresses the filmmakers enough to make a movie about her, only to discover that not everything is what it seems. It opens in select cities with a plan to roll out into more over the coming weeks.

Mini-Review (Coming Soon!)

Filmmaker Chris Hegedus (The War Room) teams with filmmaking legend D.A Pennebaker for the foodie film Kings of Pastry (First Run Features) which follows the competition for France’s top prize for pastry chefs, the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (MOF), as sixteen chefs compete to be honored with the coveted collar with their convectionary masterpieces. It opens at the Film Forum in New York on Wednesday, then opens in Boston on Sept. 24, Chicago on October 1, Los Angeles, Denver and Kansas City on October 8 and other cities after that.

Ole Schell’s documentary Picture Me (Strand Releasing) follows model Sara Ziff through her rise from a new face on the scene to having her face on magazines around the world, including interviews with photographers and fellow models to give an inside look at high fashion modelling. It opens on Friday.

The Swedish drama The Girl (Olive Films) by Fredrik Edfeldt stars Blanca Engström as a ten-year-old girl left alone in a house in the countryside after her parents go to Africa and her aunt goes off with a man she met. Sweden’s version of “Home Alone” opens in New York at the Cinema Village and then in L.A. on October 1.

Paul Gordon’s vegetarian comedy The Happy Poet stars himself as an out-of-work Austin poet who puts everything he has into starting a health food stand along with his friends (Jonny Mars, Chris Doubek), trying to make a difference until complications arise that threaten his vegetarian venture. I’m going to take a wild guess that this is probably opening in Austin on Friday.

As a counterpoint, Vlad Yudin’s Last Day of Summer (E1 Entertainment) stars D.J. Qualls as a fast food employee being tormented by his boss who decides to get revenge. It opens in New York on Friday.

Next week, we’re back to a full column (hopefully!) with Zack Snyder’s first PG movie, the animated action-adventure Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (Warner Bros.), Michael Douglas’ return as Gordon Gecko in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (20th Century Fox) while Kristen Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver face off in the comedy You Again (Disney/Touchstone).

Copyright 2010 Edward Douglas


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