Weekend Movie Preview (1.6.12)

A new year, a new start. Will 2012 be a better year for movies and for the box office? Let’s just say if it’s any worse, well then good thing the world is ending in December.

The last thing I’d ever want to be is the first new wide release in January. It’s a brutal position that almost never delivers anything good. You could say that about most January releases, but the first weekend is the dreaded let down of “oh yeah, Hollywood makes crap too.” This year, that honor goes to “The Devil Inside,” the latest exorcism film presented in faux-documentary style.

We also have a fairly wide expansion of the spy thriller “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” an Oscar hopeful.


Now in Theaters

The Devil Inside

Directed by William Brent Bell
Written by William Brent Bell, Matthew Peterman
Starring: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Suzan Crowley

Summary: A young woman travels to a hospital in Italy to find her mother, who was taken there years ago after killing three people performing an exorcism on her. In order to cure her, she’ll have to learn more about exorcism and experience the rite firsthand.

The Word: Another exorcism film and another documentary-style horror film — what’s one more? “The Last Exorcism” performed well in August 2010 and the “Paranormal Activity ” franchise is doing better than ever. This one goes much the route of the former with a no-name cast and a relatively inexperienced director in William Brent Bell, who made the video game slasher film “Stay Alive” back in 2006. There’s been a dearth of horror films lately, and they tend to perform decently in the winter months.

Rotten Tomatoes: 13% (very bad)

My Thoughts: My two cents don’t mean much having never seen a single exorcism film outside of “The Exorcist,” but this does look rather freaky. It should appeal more to the “Paranormal Activity” folks, though I doubt it will even make much more than a quarter of what those films do.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Written by Peter Straughan, Bridget O’Connor, John le Carré (novel)
Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt

Summary: A Cold War era thriller about a former British Intelligence agent named George Smiley who is asked to come out of retirement to investigate the likely possibility of a Russian mole at the top of the Circus.

The Word: An all-star lineup of British actors supports this adaptation of famed spy novelist John le Carré’s 1974 book of the same name featuring the author’s beloved character George Smiley. “TTSS” was previously adapted into a TV mini-series in 1979 starring Alec Guinness. Swedish director Alfredson (“Let the Right One In”) took on the new version, which has received a positive reception since it debuted overseas this fall. Veterans Oldman, Firth, Hurt, Toby Jones, Ciarán Hinds and Mark Strong join up-and-comers like Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy.

Rotten Tomatoes: 84% (great)

My Thoughts: Shockingly, I can’t recommend it to anyone except fans of le Carré as it does not move or behave like your typical thriller. It’s incredibly slow and definitely takes a certain mood, though to its credit it’s masterfully directed and acted. Just very difficult to sit through. Read my review.


Box Office Predictions

I have a hard time imagining anything dethroning Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol this weekend. It’s held up exceptionally well and there’s nothing to suggest it should get beat, but I suppose I have to admit it won’t be a landslide. I think $15-17 million should be acquired with ease.


What to do with The Devil Inside? We’ve seen some monstrous horror openings in this early January slot including “The Unborn” and “Hostel,” which earned close to $20 million. Previous found-footage exorcism movie “The Last Exorcism” made that much too. But horror has been in a real slide lately. Buzz has been solid for this one on Twitter and it has a strong percent of daily sales, but I’m too conservative to list it No. 1. I’m going to say $15 million.


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows should hold up similarly to “M:I” with $12 million or so. It will certainly stave off Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, both of which will finish with close to $10 million. “Dragon Tattoo” might even have a chance to jump, but I can’t bet against a family movie.


1. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
2. The Devil Inside
3. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
4. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


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