It seems like ages since we first kicked into the summer with Marvel’s The Avengers, but things are definitely winding down and we’re just a few weeks away from the slower fall months of September and October. Before we get our last three-day holiday of the summer with next week’s Labor Day weekend, we have what is famously one of the biggest dump weekends of the year, one where there have rarely if ever been any significant breakout hits.
Getting an early start on the weekend by opening Wednesday, Dax Shepard wrote, co-directs and stars in Hit and Run (Open Road Entertainment), an action-comedy co-starring his real-life fiancée Kristen Bell and the likes of Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold and Kristen Chenoweth. Shepard’s movie has a strong advantage in terms of theaters over the other movies since Open Road has direct connections to the theater chains that would get the movie screens it might not normally get. Reviews probably won’t be that great for this one, which won’t help matters, but we do think it’s good for two or three million on Wednesday and Thursday before getting some competition for the limited late August male moviegoers from other movies.
The primary competition will come from Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a bike messenger in trouble in the action-thriller Premium Rush (Sony), co-starring Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez and Jamie Chung. It’s directed by superstar screenwriter David Koepp, his directorial follow-up to the Ricky Gervais comedy Ghost Town, which sadly tanked, grossing just $13 million after it got a mid-September release four years ago. Premium Rush was delayed at least once until the end of summer in hopes of capitalizing on Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s growing popularity after The Dark Knight Rises, but we don’t think that will really matter very much. Sony certainly has deep enough pockets to get the word out on the movie but they haven’t made much of an effort until the last minute, which means not many people are aware of the movie’s existence.
Either way, both this and Hit and Run are looking to end up with less than $8 million this weekend, putting them somewhere in the middle to bottom of the Top 10 against some of the returning movies like The Campaign and The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Hit and Run has the advantage of theaters but Sony has definitely been stepping up its marketing with prominent ad placement over the past week, which put it slightly ahead. Regardles, The Expendables 2 will remain in first place with stronger films like ParaNorman and Hope Springs and Sparkle continuing to do decent business as word-of-mouth does better for the returning movies than the new ones.
Also delayed literally for years, Todd Lincoln’s ghost movie The Apparition (Warner Bros.), starring Ashley Greene (“The Twilight Saga”) and Sebastian Stan (Captain America) finally is being released but it’s clear that the studio just doesn’t care about this anymore, because they’re literally dumping it into less than 1,000 theaters as they get rid of the rest of the Dark Castle titles produced by Joel Silver. With so few theaters and barely any promotionhave you seen a single television commercial for it?this would be lucky to make $3 million this weekend which will put it outside the Top 10.
This weekend last year saw the release of three very different movies, two of them produced by respected genre filmmakers, although none of them could dethrone DreamWorks’ The Help in its second weekend at #1 with $14.5 million. As far as the new movies, Zoe Saldana starred in the action-thriller Colombiana (Sony/Tristar), produced by Luc Besson, which did the best of the new movies, bringing in $10.4 million in 2,641 theaters. After being delayed for years, the Guillermo del Toro-produced and written horror movie Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (FilmDistrict) starring Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes, opened in third place with $8.5 million in 2,760 theaters, averaging roughly $3,000 per venue, while the ensemble comedy Our Idiot Brother (The Weinstein Co.), featuring Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and others, opened in fifth place with a disappointing $7 million in 2,755 theaters. The Top 10 grossed $69 million and and though we don’t think much of this week’s new releases, those films and the stronger returning movies should keep this weekend ahead.
This Week’s Predictions –
1. The Expendables 2 (Lionsgate) – $13.7 million -52%
2. ParaNorman (Focus Features) – $9 million -36%
3. The Bourne Legacy (Universal) – $8.9 million -48%
4. The Campaign (Warner Bros.) – $7.6 million -42%
5. Premium Rush (Sony) – $7.2 million N/A
6. Hit and Run (Open Road Entertainment) – $7.0 million N/A
7. The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Disney) – $6.8 million -37%
8. The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros.) – $6.4 million -42%
9. Sparkle (Sony/TriStar Pictures) – $6.4 million -45%
10. Hope Springs (Sony) – $5.9 million -35%
— The Apparition (Warner Bros.) – $3 million N/A
This week’s The Chosen One is Ron Fricke’s Samsara (Oscilloscope Studios), a beautifully-filmed non-narrative meditational piece that took him and producer Mark Magidson to 25 countries over the course of five years filming many things few have ever seen in glorious 70mm. It opens at the Landmark Sunshine on Friday with Fricke and Magidson in attendance to answer questions on Friday and Saturday.
We have a couple other movies we enjoyed enough that they are worth “Honorable Mentions” and that’s the two below:
Danish bodybuilder Kim Kold stars in Danish filmmaker Mads Matthiesen’s debut feature Teddy Bear (Film Movement) playing Dennis, a large 308 lb. man desperate to move out of his mother’s house and meet a woman who loves him, so he travels to Pattaya in Thailand where he gets caught up in the sex tourism trade before meeting the widowed owner of a gym there. It opens on Wednesday at New York’s Film Forum.
Comedian Michael Birbiglia writes and directs in the popular Sundance movie Sleepwalk With Me (IFC Films), co-written and produced by Ira Glass from “This American Life,” playing a burgeoning stand-up comic who finds himself trapped in a relationship with his long-time girlfriend (Lauren Ambrose from “Six Feet Under”), which comes to a head as he drives around the country doing gigs. It opens at the IFC Center on Friday with Birbiglia and Glass in attendance to answer questions all weekend.
A star-studded French cast makes up the ensemble in Guillaume Canet’s Little White Lies (MPI Media Group) including Oscar winners Marion Cotillard and Jean Dujardin, François Cluzet, Gilles Lellouche, Laurent Lafitte and Benoît Magimel. It revolves around a group of friends and relatives who gather every summer at the beach house of the wealthy Max (Cluzet), only this year, they do so while their friend Ludo (Dujardin) lays dying after being hit by a truck.
Kleber Mendonca Filho’s debut feature Neighboring Sounds (Cinema Guild) looks at how a middle-class neighborhood in Recife, Brazil is changed by the arrival of a private security firm while one woman deals with her neighbor’s noisy dog. It opens in New York City at the IFC Center and Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.
Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg star in Julia (Day Night Day Night) Loktev’s feature The Loneliest Planet (Sundance Selects) as Alex and Nica, a young couple engaged to be married who set off on a backpacking trip through Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains with a local guide until things go wrong between them.
Actor Michael Biehn (Aliens, The Terminator) writes and directs the psychological thriller The Victim (Anchor Bay) co-starring Danielle Harris and Jennifer Blanc as two girls who witness the wrongdoings of two deputies and they end up turning to a loner in the woods (Biehn) in order to protect them from the vengeful police officers.
D. Kerry Pryor’s horror-comedy The Revenant (Paladin) involving a soldier, Bart Gregory (David Anders), who returns to life shortly after being killed in battle, and his friend Joey (Chris Wylde) realizes that he can survive by getting a steady supply of blood so they band together to clean up the streets of drugdealers whose blood Bart can survive upon. It opens at New York’s Cinema Village on Friday.
Chris Sheffield stars in Tom Morris’ comedy General Education (Well Go USA/Pelican House) as a guy who has been accepted to a local college on a tennis scholarship except that he didn’t graduate high school which means he has to take summer school where he falls in love with a classmate. It opens in select cities on Friday.
Peter Navarro’s doc Death by China (AREA 23A), narrated by Martin Sheen, deals with the trade relationship between America and China and how the cheap labor found in that country due to the oppressive Communist government has led to the current economic crisis in the United States and the millions of unemployed workers. It opened in Los Angeles last week and opens in New York on Friday, and while I don’t have time to write a full review, I have to say that whatever point Navarro was trying to make with this movie, even including a disclaimer at the beginning that one shouldn’t confuse China, the big corporate communist country, with the hard-working Chinese people, it’s hard not to watch an entire movie of people bad-mouthing China and what it’s done to our economy without feeling that a lot of that anger might be misplaced and turn into out-and-out racism against the Chinese, which I could never condone. In that sense, the movie is a massive failure in getting its point across and it comes across more like one of those awful Tea Party anti-Obama docs that have popped up in recent years.
Linda Goldstein Knowlton’s doc Somewhere Between (LongShot Factory) deals with four of the roughly 80,000 girls who have been adopted from China since 1989 and how they deal with the identity crisis of not being in touch with their Chinese background while being raised in the United States. We haven’t seen this doc which opens at the IFC Center Friday, but we’re going to assume it’s a lot more accepting of the Chinese than Death by China, which opens at the Quad Cinema in New York.
Next week, it’s Labor Day weekend and moviegoers will only have a couple new choices including the horror-thriller The Possession (Lionsgate) and the star-studded crime-thriller Lawless (The Weinstein Co.), starring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce and more. But personally, we think you should skip both of those and instead go stand in line right now for the midnight screenings of The Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure (Kenn Viselman Presents) which is likely to be an instant frontrunner for next year’s Oscar race. (Yes. We’re joking.)
Copyright 2012 Edward Douglas