Weekend Preview (10.23.09)

It’s that time of year again. The makers of “Saw” are blessing us all with another lovely chapter of creatively brutal torture horror. Hard to believe we’re already up to number six. Before I know it I’ll be taking my grandkids to Saw XLVI in IMAX 4D.

I suppose we have that to be glad about – Saw VI is not in 3D unlike the other horror films trying desperately to be entertaining. I’m sure now that I said that next year’s movie will be in 3D, especially if Saw’s typically pre-written $30 million check is any bit smaller this year.

But don’t expect it to be. I predicted in my “Saw” apathy rant yesterday that Saw VI would take a pay cut, but we’re talking just a few million – maybe it ends up with $27 M instead of $30 M.

Unusual this year, however, is that little film called Paranormal Activity, which is doubling its release and then some to 1945 theaters. Could Saw’s yearly horror film spotlight get dulled down? It should certainly play into it, but we saw The Stepfather do surprisingly well last week with “Activity” in the picture. 2000 theaters is a different story, however, and so is a “Saw” movie.

The only film that will compete strictly for first place with Saw VI is Astro Boy. The first animated kids film since Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, it will definitely hold its own, just don’t expect it to do what “Meatballs” did. For the awkward tween audience, there’s Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant opening this weekend and for people who enjoy premature Best Actress Oscar fare there’s Amelia starring Hillary Swank opening in 800 theaters.

Saw VI – Astro Boy – Cirque du Freak – Amelia

My Endorsement: I’m not really high on any of these new films. I can’t say Amelia because I’m just not ready for an Oscar biopic yet (and maybe I just watched The Aviator) plus the reviews have sucked something awful. With that being the case – I hesitate to do this – but I have to endorse A Serious Man, which is being expanded to 176 theaters this weekend. It’s tough to recommend a Coen brothers film to a generic moviegoer, but read my review and really decide if you’re in the mood for something incredibly challenging.

Red Flag: I included Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant on my Fall red flag list just because I’m a.) tired of vampire’s, b.) tired of young adult “embracing their strange powers/destiny movies and c.) the title has a colon in it. I understand it comes from a popular book series and thus a colon, but that doesn’t mean I should sympathize with it. I just don’t see a whole lot of potential and apparently neither have the critics whose reviews I’ve read.

Box Office Prediction: If Astro Boy had been getting some early and overly positive reviews, I would feel more conflicted, but it hasn’t show me it’s got enough to handle Saw VI. I feel like we have a pretty safe bet for extending the streak to seven.

Beyond that, this week I think is pretty difficult. It’s hard to predict what Paranormal Activity will do expanding as much as it is and going up against “Saw.” I have it neck and neck with “Astro.” I think with all those factors in that the safe pick is “Astro” at No. 2 followed by “Activity. I think I could be horribly wrong here, but considering word for Where the Wild Things Are is “don’t take your kids,” that means “Astro” is only competing with six-week-old “Meatballs.” Eew.

For No. 4 and No. 5, I’m slating both “Wild Things” and Law Abiding Citizen in their second weeks to hold off a flopper in “Cirque du Freak.” While I regretted that last weekend (not picking The Stepfather), I think the audience is different, plus we’re coming off the richest box office weekend of the fall season where multiple films were competing as opposed to just Couples Retreat.


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