The Weekend Warrior: July 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.

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

Predictions and Comparisons

1. Inception (Warner Bros.) – $75.2 million N/A

2. Despicable Me (Universal) – $31.6 million -44%

3. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Disney) – $29.5 million N/A

4. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Summit) – $15.8 million -50%

5. Toy Story 3 (Disney/Pixar) – $12.6 million -37%

6. Predators (20th Century Fox) – $11.1 million -55%

7. Grown Ups (Sony) – $9.8 million -38%

8. The Last Airbender (Paramount) – $7.3 million -56%

9. Knight and Day (20th Century Fox) – $4.6 million -40%

10. The Karate Kid (Sony) – $3.3 million -38%

Standing Ovation (Rocky Mountain Pictures) – $450 thousand N/A

Weekend Overview

Wow, we really sucked it last week, huh? Yeah, we don’t remember any time we missed the mark on a movie as badly as we did with Despicable Me. $60 million?!? Yeah, we still can’t believe it, but hopefully that’s a good thing for Universal to be able to catch up to the other studios in terms of animation. They certainly marketed the hell out of the movie. Moving on.

One of the most anticipated movies of the summer is Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi action-thriller Inception (Warner Bros.), which teams him with Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio and a roster of Oscar-nominated actors like Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard and Ken Watanabe and cool indie dudes like Joseph Gordon-Levitt ((500) Days of Summer) and Tom Hardy (Bronson). The movie involves an extremely original but somewhat off-putting premise involving corporate espionage via the way of stealing ideas in people’s dreams, but the marketing has been top-notch and a good chunk of the moviegoing audiences who loved The Dark Knight will give this a look merely due to Nolan being at the helm. With many glowing reviews already, and anticipation and interest having built since the very first rather esoteric teaser, expect this one to explode out of the gate with a solid opening, the fourth or fifth best opening weekend for the year in fact, only limited by the long running time which will limit the number of screenings per day. Word-of-mouth and repeat business should help the movie bring in a lot of business in the next few weeks leading up to its inevitable Oscar nominations at the end of the year. (Note: Tracking sources and advance sales seems to point to a lower opening in the $50 million range, though knowing how many people have been dying to see this movie all summer, there’s very little reason why guys wanting to see this wouldn’t go out to see it as soon as they can.)

Hoping to offer something for the kids and family audiences and those looking for something a little less serious is the reunion of the “National Treasure” trio Nicolas Cage, Jerry Bruckheimer and Jon Turteltaub for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Walt Disney Pictures) with comic Jay Baruchel playing the title role. It has a lot of competition for family audiences, but it looks a lot more fun than some of the other recent family fantasy films and should have better reviews. Opening on Wednesday to get a head start on the weekend (and Inception‘s inevitable domination) should help the movie build a bit of buzz for those who might not be interested in Nolan’s movie. It still feels like Disney picked a really bad weekend to try to face such a huge powerhouse, and it may even have trouble besting Universal’s Despicable Me in its second weekend, considering how much better that did than expected.

Christian movie distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures has somehow figured out a way to get the ‘tween musicalStanding Ovation (it’s doubtful anyone’s ever heard of it) into over 1,200 theaters this weekend but with very little promotion or awareness, it could be competing for the worst per-theater average ever and we think it will end up making less than $500,000 despite that wide release.

This weekend last year saw the release of the sixth chapter in Warner Bros.’ uber-successful series of movies based on the work of J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which opened on Wednesday with $58.2 million, setting a new Wednesday and single day record, made another $22 million on Thursday, then another $77.8 million over the three-day weekend in 4,325 theaters, averaging roughly $18k per site. The Top 10 grossed $150 million and with Inception opening on Friday, rather than Wednesday, and with a strong second in Sorcerer’s Apprentice, this weekend should surpass the same weekend last year with ease.

Unfortunately, we still haven’t figured out the “Chosen One” this week, but it’s the promised return of….

The Battle Cry

The success of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender got me thinking about something that seemed worthy of a “Battle Cry.” Can some bad movies be saved by decent FX or action sequences?

I never got around to reviewing “Airbender” myself due to a last-minute trip out of town, but I didn’t really hate it as much as others have. I thought it had way too many problems in terms of pacing and bad writing and acting to consider it a good movie, but what I was really blown away by was how the movie looked, the non-existent 3D not withstanding. A few months before, I had been to Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and saw what they were doing there, and I was really impressed with how the FX were being used to create the elemental bending FX and to bolster the production design. In my mind, all of that stuff looked great on the big screen, as it successfully pulled me into this world. It was really quite unbelievable how they had integrated everything I saw on set and at ILM even if the writing and acting weren’t up to par and Night was clearly trying too hard to fit in way too much story. While I wasn’t really that familiar or a fan of the original cartoon, going into the movie for the action and the FX that were heavily the focus of all advertisement, I think people would pretty much get exactly what they should expect.

It started me thinking that maybe a movie has action sequences and FX that can make up for its shortcoming otherwise, and a number of examples immediately came to mind. For instance, the “Star Wars” prequels aren’t great, some would say they are awful, yet there are people who still like them and a lot of that is because George Lucas continues to be a master at using CG to create these fantastic worlds and characters, which is what people want from a “Star Wars” movie. There are more recent examples like Spider-Man 3, which has been the target of ire from the fans for years, though I thought the way Sandman was handled looked great and loved the chase/battle between Spider-Man and the New Goblin among other things.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was another one of those… yeah, it was insanely stupid and tried too hard to be funny, but when that Devastator starts climbing up the pyramid (giant constructions balls and all), I totally got into it. Stephen Sommers’ G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra only really worked because it had all these insane CG-enhanced action set pieces. Granted, I’m not enough of a Transformers or G.I. Joe fan for instance to know whether they got it “right” or “wrong” when it comes to the characters or their history, but I thought as summer movies meant to impress with their eye candy, they essentially succeeded in that respect. Granted, there aren’t many things I’m as “fannish” about as others in terms of expecting the movie to be just like the comic or video game, etc–superheroes being the exception–but if you’re going to see a summer movie for the action or FX, can’t that be enough sometimes?

Sure, there are often exceptions where a big budget FX/action movie has great characters and storytelling as well as action–Jurassic Park, J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek and Iron Man all come to mind–but there have been more than a few examples that I was able to look past the failings of the filmmaker in one respect or another because they kept me entertained with crazy action scenes. (Joe Carnahan’s The A-Team is another great example of this.)

The thing is that big budget summer movies like the one I mentioned are really all about the action and the FX. Those are the movie’s strongest asset, and how those movies are marketed by the studio, focusing on the eye candy rather than the acting and dialogue. When clearly more focus is being put on the former than the latter, why isn’t it possible for us to accept that the idea of a summer popcorn flick is that you stop trying to work out plotholes or how different the movie isn’t like the book, comic book, video game, etc. to just enjoy it as it was meant: mindless entertainment.

Of course, we’re discussing this the same week where Warner Bros. releases Christopher Nolan’s latest movie Inception, one of those rare exceptions when eye candy, entertainment, and intelligent storytelling and filmmaking are intermeshed quite irrevocably. Will the moviegoers looking for another movie like The Dark Knight be open-minded enough to accept that one can make action movies that try to say something? Will they accept that the movie isn’t just about those cool visuals and action that has been the focus of advertising? We’ll probably know for sure come Monday, but these are interesting times when we can see such different forms of summer entertainment as Inception and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice opening the same weekend. It will surely come down to moviegoers voting with their dollars whether they want to see more of the former or the latter.

So here’s the question for those reading this: Whether you loved, liked or loathed The Last Airbender or some of the other movies I’ve mentioned, I’m curious to know your opinion on whether you’ve ever been more accepting of movies, especially summer popcorn fare, that delivers on the FX and action promised, or whether you generally need something more to enjoy one of those movies.

Inception (Warner Bros.)
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine
Written and directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, The Prestige, Batman Begins, Insomnia, Memento)
Genre: Action, Thriller, Sci-Fi
Rated PG-13
Tagline: “Your mind is the scene of the crime.”
Plot Summary: Dom Cobb (Leonaro DiCaprio) is a corporate thief who specializes in entering people’s minds while they dream to “extract” ideas for competitors. When Cobb and his team are hired to go the other way and use “inception” to put an idea into the head of a corporate competitor, Cobb has difficulty concentrating on the job as he’s haunted by visions of his ex-wife (Marion Cotillard).



There haven’t been many sure things this summer, but when you have one of the most anticipated movies of the summer that pairs the director and star of two of the biggest movies of all time, you kind of have to expect that moviegoers–and not just the ones who go to the movies every weekend–will pay attention. That’s certainly the case with Christopher Nolan’s first movie since his sequel The Dark Knight, which grossed $533 million, becoming the second-highest grossing movie of all time before James Cameron’s Avatar came along and stole its thunder.

This is written by Nolan and it’s not an adaptation, but his first original idea since Memento, the movie starring Guy Pearce, which first got Nolan attention as well as his first Oscar nomination, not for directing but for the screenplay he wrote with his brother Jon. That led to Warner Bros. hiring Nolan for a remake of the Scandinavian thriller Insomnia, starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank, which ultimately led to Nolan being hired to revive the failed Batman franchise with Batman Begins. That film’s success led to the sequel The Dark Knight and the rest is history, as the movie that money made convinced Warner Bros. to get behind Nolan’s next original idea, which brings us to Inception. (In between “Batman” movies, Nolan directed the period movie about dueling magicians played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, which did decent business but nothing spectacular.)

While Nolan’s involvement plays a huge part in people wanting to see the movie, it doesn’t hurt that he has one of Hollywood biggest stars in Leonardo DiCaprio playing the lead. While Leo is coming off one of his biggest opening weekends for a movie with Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, their fourth movie together, it’s doubtful any one of his movies will surpass the success of James Cameron’s Titanic, the movie that broke Leo in a big way after a number of popular roles. DiCaprio may have one of the most intriguing careers, having been nominated for his first Oscar at the age of 19 for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and building a career based on his good looks and solid acting chops. DiCaprio has established a reputation for working with auteur filmmakers as he did with Danny Boyle in his early movie The Beach and with Sam Mendes and wife and Titanic co-star Kate Winslet for Revolutionary Road, which brought in a disappointing $22 million. DiCaprio’s first teaming with Ridley Scott also had a disappointing gross of less than $40 million and his previous Warner Bros. movie Blood Diamond only fared slightly better. Either way, DiCaprio is clearly at the top of his game as an actor, and for the third time in his career, he has two roles in one year that are likely to be remembered come Oscar time. The $2 billion worldwide his movies have amassed (not including Titanic which nearly made that amount on its own) is a clear indicator that Leo has attained the level of superstar box office status as the likes of Toms Cruise and Hanks (in their heyday) or a Will Smith, and his teaming with Nolan should solidify that status.

While Leo has three Oscar nominations under his belt, the one member of the cast who can say she won one is French actress Marion Cotillard who first made waves on these shores when she entered the Oscar race playing Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose. That was followed by a prominent role in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, and then last year, she was nominated for a Golden Globe and a Critics Choice award for her performance in Rob Marshall’s otherwise critically-maligned musical Nine.

The other Oscar-worthy members of the cast include Ellen Page, the Canadian actress best known for her role as Juno, and Ken Watanabe, the Japanese actor who got a nomination for his role opposite Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai and who played a key role in Nolan’s Batman Begins. While Joseph Gordon-Levitt, former “3rd Rock from the Sun” star, hasn’t been nominated for much, he’s certainly an actor on the rise, having cut his teeth on indies over the years, but having wowed audiences with his performance in Marc Webb’s (500) Days of Summer last year, and his only other previous big budget movie being G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, in which he played Cobra Commander. There’s also Cillian Murphy, who appeared in both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight as Jonathan Crane, the Scarecrow, and the lesser-known Tom Hardy, who turned many heads with his performance in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson and how has been cast to replace Mel Gibson in George Miller’s Mad Max relaunch.

Now that the cast is out of the way–and let’s face it, Leo’s the only one with any real drawing power, despite Page having a huge hit under her belt–we need to look at what makes it worthy of potentially being one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters. Whether or not you understand where Nolan is coming from or going with the premise, Inception is without a doubt the one movie many guys have been waiting to see all summer. In fact, there’s been so much negativity towards everything else that’s come out this summer so far, many moviegoers have put all their hopes on Christopher Nolan’s new movie of being this summer’s savior in terms of quality moviegoing.

Fact is that the material is somewhat difficult involving dreams within dreams, and all sorts of ways that Leo and his crew go in and out of dreams as part of their job. It’s not an easy sell to Middle America ala Adam Sandler’s latest or a “Twilight” movie, but it does intrigue an audience of more intelligent people who don’t often go to the movies. That’s really what’s apt to set Inception apart from other summer movies in that it’s going after more discerning filmgoers, the type that normally will wait until a movie gets an Oscar nomination before giving it a look. Warner Bros. has taken a lot of chances in the past, the most memorable one being the Wachowskis’ The Matrix, which combined Asian martial arts influence with a sci-fi premise on par with Philip K. Dick in terms of questioning reality as we know it. The original movie opened moderately but generated a ton of buzz to the point where it had astounding legs, and its sequel The Matrix Reloaded opened with “Star Wars” level numbers a few years later, because so many people saw the original movie in theaters and on the burgeoning new technology, the DVD. Their success with the “Matrix Trilogy” probably helped convince Warner Bros. to take a chance on Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, even once Hugh Jackman took over for Brad Pitt in the main role. Even with the studio’s full support, that movie tanked for a variety of reasons including the fact that many people just didn’t get it.

Until back in March or so, it was kept a well-guarded secret what the movie was about, but Inception shows the genius marketing of Warner Bros. at work, because they know how to tease something, create interest, give a little more information, a little more, and then blow the doors wide open with non-stop posters and commercials to turn a movie into a must-see event. The fact that Warner Bros. would even make the Wachowskis’ The Matrix is still quite astounding years later, but the success of that trilogy has convinced WB to put more trust behind visionary filmmakers like Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder and the movies they want to make. Unfortunately, that’s sometimes backfired, which was the case with Snyder’s adaptation of Alan Moore’s Watchmen, which failed to perform as well as Snyder’s previous movie 300 despite similar buzz. (Granted, that movie was also Rated R, which might have contributed to its weak showing.) Another movie that needs to be kept in mind is the first pairing of Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise for their adaptation of the similarly cerebral Philip K. Dick story Minority Report, which opened lightly with $36 million and went on to make $132 million total despite their considerable starpower. (Their follow-up remake of War of the Worlds fared much better.)

Fortunately, Inception also has an action element to it, which will appeal to the same teen and older guys who dug The Dark Knight, and that wasn’t exactly a dumb movie, so if nothing else, Warner Bros. can continue to sell the movie with the pull quotes calling it a cross between “James Bond and The Matrix” (which it kind of is). Considering how many guys loved the last few Bond movies as well as the “Matrix” movies and Nolan’s “Batman” flicks, they’re very likely to give Inception the benefit of the doubt.

The question is where this movie stands with women, whether it’s teen girls or older women, and the latter are probably going to be interested in the movie, not just for Leo, but also for the subject matter of dreaming. Younger women are more likely to go for the cute guys or because some cute boyfriend/date invite them to see the movie, but it won’t be as pressing for them to see the movie opening weekend.

It’s true that the movie’s 2 and a half hour running time might be a hindrance, limiting the number of showings per screens, but chances are Warner Bros. is giving the movie a fairly wide saturated release, and one can probably expect three or four prints per venue to make sure they can meet up with demand. Like so many other movies this summer, Inception is also opening in IMAX, and considering how many people first discovered the format with Nolan’s The Dark Knight, it shouldn’t be too surprising if many of them want to see this movie in the format as well, so expect those to sell out fast. It’s also the type of movie that people who like it will want to see it many times since Nolan has created a completely immersive experience ala James Cameron’s Avatar, which surpassed the money made by The Dark Knight and then became the highest-grossing movie of all time earlier this year.

Reviews have been absolutely stellar at this point, something Warner Bros. must have been aware of when they allowed them to go up nearly two weeks before the movie opened, and that’s helped intensify the buzz that’s been prevalent throughout the summer. Many fans of The Dark Knight were quite upset when the movie wasn’t nominated for an Oscar (nor was Nolan) and there’s a good chance Inception can get into the running now that 10 pictures are allowed, and Nolan’s more likely to get recognized in the directing category this year as well.

With that in mind, expect Inception to slam into theaters on Friday with an opening close to $30 million including Thursday midnights, then it should hold up solidly and bring in decent business from word-of-mouth over the coming weeks. With Comic-Con happening next week, one can expect the movie to stay atop the box office for at least two weeks as well.

Why I Should See It: Christopher Nolan may be one of the finest filmmakers we have making big studio blockbusters at this point
Why Not: Will average moviegoers in the “middle states” be able to get into the dream premise and understand what’s going on? Or will they be bored?
Projections: $73 to 76 million opening weekend and roughly $260 to 270 million total.


The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Walt Disney Pictures)
Starring Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina, Teresa Palmer, Monica Bellucci, Toby Kebbell
Directed by Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Cool Runnings, Disney’s The Kid); Written by Matt Lopez (Bedtime Stories, Race to Witch Mountain), Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard (The Great Raid, The Uninvited, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time)
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Comedy
Rated PG
Tagline: “It’s the coolest job ever”
Plot Summary: Dave Stuttler (Jay Baruchel), an unassuming NYU physics student is surprised to learn that he has the power to be a great sorcerer, when he’s approached by the eccentric Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage) who asks for the young man’s aid in his eons-long battle with his evil counterpart Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina).

Mini-Review (Coming Soon!)


There are few names that carry as much weight in Hollywood as that of producer Jerry Bruckheimer, so when he takes a fairly simple idea and gets behind it, there’s always a chance that people with money will be interested in throwing some of it his way. A lot of that comes from the success of Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, Bruckheimer taking a popular Disney theme park ride and turning it into a $2.8 billion worldwide blockbuster.

Before that success, Bruckheimer’s career had been intrinsically linked to that of director Michael Bay and actor Nicolas Cage, having produced The Rock, and after the success of the first “Pirates,” Bruckheimer helped the recovery of Nicolas Cage’s career with National Treasure, a movie that defied expectations by opening with a relatively modest $35 million (still more than most people expected) and ended up with five times that amount by the time it left theaters. With The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the long-time duo along with “National Treasure” director Jon Turteltaub have created an action-FX movie based on an even more unusual source than an amusement park ride, that being the famous Mickey Mouse musical short that was part of the animated classic Fantasia.

In this case, it was Nicolas Cage who got the original idea to turn that famous cartoon into a live action adventure movie featuring a war between magicians, and Balthazar Drake is another wild character for an actor who has become famous for his eccentric choices. Most recently, he starred in Matthew Vaughn’s comic book movie Kick-Ass, which failed to make much of a mark when released this past April, despite a huge amount of promotion by Lionsgate. Last year, Cage had a decent-sized hit with the sci-fi thriller Knowing, but otherwise, his success at the box office is very erratic. He tends to go from huge blockbusters like the “National Treasure” movies to bombs like Bangkok Dangerous and Next, and other than “National Treasure,” most of his family fare has been animated movies like last summer’s G-Force (also produced by Bruckheimer) and the animated bombs The Ant Bully and Astro Boy.

The movie’s real star and possibly its secret weapon is Jay Baruchel, who has found himself a number of teen and older fans due to his appearances in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up and Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder. This has been a fairly decent year for him so far, having starred in the romantic comedy She’s Out of My League and providing the main voice for DreamWorks Animations’ hit How To Train Your Dragon. That movie probably was a good precursor for Baruchel to appear in his second family-friendly movie, and his presence might also help bring in teen girls who may not be interested in Inception and eventually, some of the guys who like his raunchier comedy.

The cast is rounded out by Aussie newcomer Teresa Palmer, who we’ll certainly be hearing more about in the coming years–she stars in D. J. Caruso’s I Am Number Four early next year for instance–Brits Alfred Molina and Toby Kebbell, coming off their appearance in the failed Prince of Persia, and Monica Bellucci in a tiny role.

Even if some of Cage and Baruchel’s teen and older audience might be interested, the movie’s target audience is the same family audience that has been driving the box office in recent months from Sony’s The Karate Kid to Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 and last week’s hit Despicable Me. While Inception will be targeting an audience of discerning older moviegoers, there will be a group of movie audiences looking for something simpler and fun, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice certainly fills the escapist needs of most audiences in the suburbs and Middle States. One problem (of many-that Inception one is pretty massive) is that coming so soon after family-friendly fare like The Last Airbender and Despicable Me, it’s essentially trying to convince people who’ve been spending money the last two weekends to see a third movie. The fact that the latter did so well and has generally good word-of-mouth buzz might make that a choice for those families who skipped or missed it.

Disney has done a decent job marketing the movie and focusing on the comedy to make it look more fun and entertaining than Bruckheimer’s last movie Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time. They’ve also decided to open the movie on Wednesday, maybe in hopes of getting some business before Inception stormed the gates like one of those giant elephants in “Lord of the Rings.” That could work two-fold in that those who happen to see it on Wednesday or Thursday, which mind you may not be a ton of people, should enjoy it enough to tell their friends about it. That was a similar approach that Disney took with Bruckheimer’s first “Pirates” movie, which made $13.5 its first Wednesday roughly seven years ago, $10.5 million on Thursday and then another $46.6 million over the weekend, presumably helped by word-of-mouth, which also helped it gross $300 million. (And this was a time pre-Twitter, remember.)

We’re not saying that The Sorcerer’s Apprentice comes even close to the first “Pirates” in terms of quality or box office, but it has a similar tone that makes for fun summer viewing. That said, this isn’t the kind of movie that explodes opening weekend then disappears, because it’s not a movie based on a built-in fanbase that will rush out as fast as possible to see it. Fortunately, the movie is quite entertaining and like National Treasure, it should be able to find its audience based on word-of-mouth, plus it could make some money over the weekend as a second choice to Inception sell-outs.

Why I Should See It: A great concept and strong comedy chemistry between Cage and Baruchel should make this a solid family-friendly movie.
Why Not: Would you really consider seeing this over Inception this weekend?
Projections: $8 to 10 million on Wednesday and Thursday and another $28 to 31 million over the three-day weekend on its way to $120 to 130 million by summer’s end.


In Limited Release:

With deepest apologies to the publicists and studios who were kind enough to send us DVD screeners, we just haven’t been able to find the time to watch many of this weekend’s releases, so we’re probably going to bow out of picking a “Chosen One” as normal.

Granted, we’ve heard great things about Lance Daly’s Kisses (Oscilloscope Pictures) about two runaways (Shane Curry, Kelly O’Neill) who end up in Dublin, Ireland as they search for one of their brothers and have to rely on strangers in a city with a dark nightlife.

Maria Mondelli’s The Contenders (Studio), which opens exclusively in New York at a brand new venue called INDIEHouse, involves a birthday party thrown at a vacation house by the sea that falls apart as one of the guests dies leading to all sorts of chaos.

In Operation: Endgame (Anchor Bay Films), directed by Fouad Mikati, two rival teams of assassins and what happens when a new person (Joe Anderson) joins the group to learn that his boss has been killed and the entire place has been rigged to blow up unless they find the killer. With the craziest cast ever that includes Rob Corddry, Ellen Barkin, Odette Yustman, Zach Galifianakis, Emilie de Ravin, Maggie Q, Adam Scott, Brandon T. Jackson, Ving Rhames and Jeffrey Tambor, the action-comedy opens for an exclusive release in New York and L.A. before coming out on DVD and Blu-ray on July 27.

Opening in over 1,200 theaters, Stewart Raffill’s Standing Ovation (Rocky Mountain Pictures) is a musical about a group of friends called the Five Ovations who enter a music video contest for tweens in hopes of holding onto their dreams of performing. It’s pretty crazy that this movie is getting such a wide release without much promotion, and we wouldn’t be even remotely surprised if it ends up making less than a million and falling well outside the Top 10.

Next week, Angelina Jolie takes on Selena Gomez as the Philip Noyce conspiracy action-thriller Salt (Sony) takes on the family film Ramona and Beezus (20th Century Fox) – yes the summer’s biggest battle between Sony and Fox continues and we have this funny feeling that Sony will win… again.

Copyright 2010 Edward Douglas