The Weekend Warrior: February 19 – 21

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.

This week, we’re doing an extremely streamlined stripped down column so that the Weekend Warrior can take care of some other obligations including covering Toy Fair. In the meantime, if you’re interested in box office games, check out the latest season of the regular game over at EZ1 Productions, where you can pit your skills against the Weekend Warrior and others.

Updated Predictions and Comparisons

1. Shutter Island (Paramount) – $33.2 million N/A (up .6 million)

2. Valentine’s Day (New Line/WB) – $24.0 million -57% (down 1.5 million)

3. Avatar (20th Century Fox) – $17.7 million -25% (down .3 million)

4. Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (20th Century Fox) – $17.5 million -45% (same)

5. The Wolfman (Universal) – $14.0 million -53% (Down .5 million)

6. Dear John (Screen Gems/Sony) – $8.5 million -48% (up .1 million)

7. Tooth Fairy (20th Century Fox) – $3.5 million -42% (same)

8. From Paris With Love (Lionsgate) – $3.0 million -45% (same)

9. Crazy Heart (Fox Searchlight) – $2.8 million -35% (same)

10. When in Rome (Touchstone/Disney) – $1.9 million -47% (same)

Weekend Overview

After an insanely busy Presidents’ Day weekend, the box office settles down a bit with only one new movie, that being Martin Scorsese’s first dramatic feature since winning the Oscar for The Departed. Based on the novel by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River), Shutter Island (Paramount) is a ’50s era thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Sir Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo and others, essentially another solid cast of Oscar-worthy actors, which should make it a primary draw for audiences over 30. Not only that but at least the 17-to-25 year old male crowd should be interested in it for its horror roots and even 20-something women might be interested for Leo. The last three movies they’ve done have been hits, and although Shutter Island is likely to open in fewer theaters than The Departed, the latter has created enough interest in seeing what they do next. Like with David Fincher’s Zodiac, Paramount decided to push the back to the generally slower Winter movie season rather than releasing during the fall awards season, but that’s allowed them to put more promotion behind it and eagerness to see it, as well as getting it a rare week to itself for release. With that in mind, the main competition will probably be Universal’s The Wolfman, which is likely to tail off having done so much business in its opening weekend. Expect Shutter Island to open in first place with between $31 and 34 million this weekend but being a long movie and quite slow, expect it to lose interest among younger audiences next week going up against two R-rated movies that offer more immediate entertainment value. (UPDATE: We’re figuring on $85 million to $90 million tops during its theatrical run.)

Comparisons for Shutter Island

Interview with Screenwriter Latea Kalogridis

Mini-Review (Coming Soon!)

This weekend last year, Tyler Perry had one of his biggest hits as his sixth movie Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail (Lionsgate) opened with $41 million in just 2,032 theaters dominating the box office in first place, while the raunchy comedy Fired Up! (Screen Gems) bombed with $5.5 million to end up in ninth place. The Top 10 grossed $112 million but with three big movies in their second weekend, we can expect this weekend to beat that amount.

(To maintain our desperate need for a streamlined column this week, we’re taking a break both from “The Battle Cry” and “The Chosen One” this week as well. Apologies in advance!)

In Limited Release:

The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2010 (Magnolia Pictures) – For the sixth straight year, Shorts International and Magnolia Pictures collaborate to bring the entire run of animated and live action shorts nominated to select theaters, as well as to ShortsHD On-Demand and iTunes. This year’s highlight probably will be the new Wallace & Gromit short from Nick Park, but every year, the Academy honors the best of the best and this is a great program to check out in theaters.

The Ghost Writer (Summit Entertainment) – Oscar winner Roman Polanski’s political thriller, based on the Robert Harris novel, stars Ewan McGregor as a writer assigned to work with a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan) to write his memoirs, only to find himself caught in a game of political intrigue as his subject ends up in the media crossfire for his actions while in office that might have gotten his previous ghost writer murdered. It opens in New York and L.A. on Friday and then in other cities on February 26.

Review (Coming Soon!)

Lourdes (Palisades Tartan) – Jessica Hausner’s drama stars Sylvie Testud as a woman paralyzed below the neck who makes a life-changing pilgrimage to the French village in the Pyrenees Mountains thought to be able to create miracles from the legends of the Virgin Mary spending time there. It opens in New York at the Film Forum on Wednesday.

Mini-Review: (Coming Soon!)

Happy Tears (Roadside Attractions) – In the new comedy from Mitchell Litchenstein, Parker Posey and Demi Moore play sisters Jayne and Laura, trying to care for their elderly ailing father Joe, played by Rip Torn, and try to deal with his increasing senility. It opens in select cities on Friday.

Mini-Review: (Coming Soon!)

The Good Guy (Roadside Attractions) – Julio Depietro’s romantic dramedy revolves around Beth (Alexis Bledel), an ambitious New York woman who is madly in love with Tommy (Scott Porter), a hotshot Wall Street trader, who is grooming the shy and sensitive Daniel (Bryan Greenberg) to be a player both on the market and with women, a relationship that gets complicated, as these things often do. It opens in New York and L.A. on Friday.

Mini-Review: (Coming Soon!)

Blood Done Sign My Name (Paladin) – Jeb Stuart (writer of Die Hard) wrote and directed this adaptation of Timothy Tyson’s autobiographical Civil rights drama about a 23-year-old black Vietnam veteran in North Carolina who is beaten and shot by a white businessman, forcing his cousin Ben Chavis (Nate Parker) to stage a peaceful march to Raleigh to try and get justice. It opens in select cities on Friday.

Mini-Review: (Coming Soon!)

Celine: Through the Eyes of the World (The Hot Ticket/Sony) – This concert film, playing for one week only in select cities, follows international superstar Celine Dion on her 2008-9 Taking Chances World Tour, apparently the second-highest selling tour after Madonna for that year, and gives moviegoers “another chance to experience the magical event.” (And I quote… I didn’t write this crap!)

Next week, Kevin Smith returns with his buddy cop comedy Cop Out (Warner Bros.), starring Bruce Willis, Tracy Jordan and Seann William Scott, and Timothy Olyphant stars in the remake of George Romero’s The Crazies (Overture Pictures).

Copyright 2010 Edward Douglas