Weekend Movie Preview (1.28.10)

January has come to its bleakest. Not until the weekend after the Super Bowl/before Valentine’s Day will anything come along to resuscitate the box office. Unfortunately, I’ve run out of Oscar-nominated Best Pictures to see, so I’ll have to scout out some more artsy fare (perhaps “Blue Valentine”) or finally do some work on my Netflix queue. Sadly, exorcism thriller “The Rite” and another Jason Statham actioner don’t quite do it for me.

New This Week

The Rite

Directed by Mikael Håfström
Written by Michael Petroni, Matt Baglio (book)
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O’Donoghue, Alice Braga, Ciarán Hinds

The Word: The latest entry in the exorcism genre takes a slightly different approach based on a smidgen of historical events. It follows a young priest (O’Donoghue) who attends the Vatican to learn how to perform an exorcism despite some serious skepticism. He learns from Father Lucas (Hopkins), who has performed many exorcisms, and that doubt turns into belief — and of course fear.

Rotten Tomatoes: 16% (horrible)

My Thoughts: Sir Anthony Hopkins has chosen some interesting films lately, but this role seems to fit him well, regardless of how it ends up being received. “The Last Exorcism” did somewhat well at the box office back in August, so perhaps there’s a bit of an audience for this one. Personally, I tend to avoid these kinds of movies — not exactly my cup of tea — and a late January release tends to mean the same old tricks.

Recommendation: Horror seems to be weak this winter, so “Rite” might be the better of the bunch, but that’s not saying much.

The Mechanic

Directed by Simon West
Written by Richard Wenk, Lewis John Carlino (screenplay and story)
Starring: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland

The Word: Jason Statham always seems to star as the big name in all his action films. “The Mechanic” casts the Brit as a hitman yet again in this remake of the 1972 film starring Charles Bronson. When his mentor is killed, an elite “mechanic” (Statham) vows to take his revenge on those responsible, but he must work with the mentor’s son who demands to learn the hitman trade and avenge his father’s death.

Rotten Tomatoes: 50% (mixed)

My Thoughts: With Simon West (“Con Air”) at the helm, “Mechanic” looks to indulge action junkies on the explosions they crave and the clean-cut Statham will likely deliver. Then again, this looks exactly like another “Transporter” movie.

Recommendation: I find Statham films to make good DVD watches.

Box Office Predictions

How about them exorcism films? “The Last Exorcism” made about $20 million in its opening weekend last August and we’ve seen some pretty awful films (“Legion,” from last year, in fact) make good money in late January. Although last week’s number one had a decent opening, there should be no problem for The Rite to become the number one film in America. I’m looking at between $15-20 million.

So that puts No Strings Attached in second, as our other newcomer will not make the estimated $10-12 million that Oscar nominee Natalie Portman’s rom-com should score with no competition and semi-decent word of mouth (although I didn’t find it all that good).

In the battle for third I have a neck-and-neck competition between two action films, one old and one new. When it comes down to it, my faith goes with the old. The Green Hornet has a bit more going for it than Jason Statham’s The Mechanic. Statham’s following is not all that big. His films range from $8-12 million in their opening weekends. The upper part of that range has been the slightly more hyped stuff. It doesn’t help that CBS Films is distributing, as they only made $9 million over Thanksgiving for their last action flick, “Faster.” Both films should make $8-10 million, but “Hornet” should be closer to 10.

The King’s Speech rounds off my top five. After 12 Oscar nominations, it’s not going anywhere. It made $7.8 million last week and it could even go up, but not enough to threaten the above films unless “Mechanic” really flops. “

1. The Rite
2. No Strings Attached
3. The Green Hornet
4. The Mechanic
5. The King’s Speech


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