Weekend Preview (10.9.09)

What happens when you get a date comedy mega-giant like Couples Retreat released with virtually no competition? Put it on top and slide the rest down. That’s my strategy for predicting this weekend’s box office.

There are tons of quadruple-booked weekends this month, (take last week’s films for example) yet none wanted to compete with this movie. It’s got a cast that can swoop up audiences from ages 20 to 60 and it’s PG-13, so teenagers can even get in on the action. Good thing for Universal, who is coming off a brutal comedy summer with Bruno and Funny People drastically underperforming in addition to the biggest flop, Land of the Lost, which was so bad I forgot to add it to my summer flop rankings.

No worries for Couples Retreat, however. Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau made bank with last year’s poorly reviewed Four Christmases, so this could end up one of the fall’s highest-grossing movies. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should go see it. There were lots of good or at least decent movies released last week that my recommendation is to give one of those your Hamiltons. Also, if the new Blair Witch Project-esque horror flick Paranormal Activity is playing near you, word about that film is spreading like wildfire, so you could consider that too.

Red Flag: If you couldn’t tell, I’m warning you now not to see Couples Retreat. I marked it as a red flag in my Fall Preview and the reviews so far have affirmed that completely. I know what you’re thinking: Look at that cast … Vince Vaughn, he’s so funny … and Jason Bateman! … oh my god and is that Charlotte from “Sex and the City”? … I know you people think these things. So that is why I issue warnings.

Did you actually laugh at the trailer, or did you think you laughed? When was the last time Vince Vaughn made a movie you liked? Don’t you think that huge awesome cast could be a ploy to get you to see just another movie about dysfunctional couples on an island where the surf instructors seduce the women? These are the questions you need to ask yourself. I’ve heard first hand this is a bad movie. Don’t see it.

My endorsement: Go see whatever you didn’t see last week that was supposed to be good, and if you didn’t see anything last week, see Zombieland. It’s a lot of fun. If you want a date movie, go see The Invention of Lying, which received generally favorable reviews. I’d even suggest Whip It over seeing the movie that came out this week. Or go to the independent theater near you and check out a limited release film such as An Education, which did really well at Sundance this year or the aforementioned low-budget horror movie Paranormal Activity. Honestly, my endorsement is just not Couples Retreat.

Box Office Prediction: You can tell I’m more grumpy than usual in this post, and that’s what happens when I predict a winner that I think will be a horrible movie. Couples Retreat has no competition except movies that came out already, so it’s a shoe-in if ever there was one. Millions of Americans won’t read my post and will think what I said they’re thinking and go see it with their spouse and another couple. Plus, the Columbus Day weekend means bigger Sunday totals.

I perfected the Top 5 winners last week and with only one new film threatening, that makes it even easier to predict. Box Office winner Zombieland should have no problem staying up at second place because Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is already in its fourth week and good word of mouth will keep ticket sales strong. With the long weekend, “Meatballs” should only slide down to third, however, as the re-release of the Toy Story movies in 3D proved it wasn’t enough competition. Toy Story/ Toy Story 2 3D should be next in line with the long weekend, extra cash from 3D sales and all those “last chance!” advertisements as it’s only a limited engagement.

As for No. 5, I think positive word of mouth in combination with bad reviews for Couples Retreat will allow The Invention of Lying to hold off third-week competition from sci-fi thriller Surrogates.

In summary, my predictions:

  1. Couples Retreat
  2. Zombieland
  3. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
  4. Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3D
  5. The Invention of Lying


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