Weekend Movie Preview (10.14.11)


October gets diverse this weekend, but not unfamiliar. Returning to the screen in reboot form is “Footloose” and returning in prequel form is “The Thing.” For a more traditional comedy, “The Big Year” offers something for the older crowd with Owen Wilson, Steve Martin and Jack Black.

New This Week


Directed by Craig Brewer
Written by Dean Pitchford and Craig Brewer
Starring: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid, Andie MacDowell

Summary: A city boy moves to a small Texas town where he finds dancing has been banned thanks to an accident that the local pastor and the rest of the town’s citizens can’t get over. His arrival shakes things up.

The Word: This remake of the ’80s classic starring Kevin Bacon has and will draw its fair share of ire from the original’s fans, but in the world of “Step-Up” and the like, this should come as no surprise. The film’s creator, Dean Pitchford, also had a hand in the new screenplay. Most interesting, however, Craig Brewer (“Hustle & Flow,” “Black Snake Moan”) would not be a traditional choice for a studio-driven remake.

Rotten Tomatoes: 74% (very good)

My Thoughts: Looks like we have the makings of a crowd-pleaser. Remakes such as this will always suffer from having to convince its audience why it deserved a new treatment, but a feel-good film such as “Footloose” — in the right hands — should still be a fun movie.

Recommendation: Good for introducing young people to this classic story or to get your nostalgia on.


The Thing

Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
Written by Eric Heisserer, John W. Campbell Jr. (short story)
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Eric Christian Olsen, Adewala Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Summary: A team of researchers/scientists discover a frozen alien specimen in Antarctica. When they unearth it, they realize it not only wants to kill them, but it also assumes the form of its victims.

The Word: ”The Thing” gravitates between a prequel and a remake, because it supposedly takes place before the events of the 1982 classic based on the 1951 classic “The Thing from Another World,” but the events are basically the same. Heijningen Jr. makes his feature-film debut with a script from horror scribe Eric Heisserer (“A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010,” “Final Destination 5″). Up-and-comers Winstead and Edgerton highlight the cast.

Rotten Tomatoes: 30% (not good)

My Thoughts: Part of John Carpenter’s genius in the ’80s was the animatronic alien, so could a rehash likely including a lot of CGI possibly carry the same weight? I’m a big fan of that film, so my expectations might be unreasonably high, but no October horror option looks better in my opinion.

Recommendation: Probably a very worthy rental/download.



The Big Year

Directed by David Frankel
Written by Howard Franklin, Mark Obmascik (book)
Starring: Owen Wilson, Jack Black, Steve Martin, Rashida Jones

Summary: A trio of birdwatchers compete to spot the rarest North American birds at an annual event.

The Word: In continuing with October’s tradition of mystery comedies, we have little to go off of for “The Big Year,” though Wilson, Martin and Black are an intriguing group capable of winning over younger and older audiences. It’s also David Frankel’s follow-up to “Marley & Me” and “The Devil Wears Prada,” so there’s more reason to trust the absence of marketing considering those were also book adaptations.

Rotten Tomatoes: 48% (mixed)

My Thoughts: I can’t say much about this film because the marketing has been so poor. The early word for this “Bird” appears to be good enough to not label this dumped-off studio trash.

Recommendation: Not a horrible comedy option for adults, so if it appeals to you go for it, otherwise no need.


Box Office Predictions

Paramount should be kicking off its Sunday shoes this weekend when the box-office totals roll in. Expect Footloose to earn the top spot, as buzz has been very good for this film in terms of reviews and those interested in seeing it. $15-20 million can be expected.

Real Steel seems likely to beat the other newcomers to still stay high up in the top five; the film has no competitors for its demographic, so $13-15 million is in order.

Horror has performed terribly at the box office this season so far, and with “Paranormal Activity 3” on the horizon, The Thing will get overlooked. Still, it might be the most credible horror film to be released this half of 2011. I think it can crack $10 million, but if so, not by much.

The Ides of March is my pick in the free-for-all that is the under-$10-million group this week. With good reviews and appeal for adults, it should edge out The Big Year, which has just enough star power for me to think it can eek out $6 million or so. “Ides” should make closer to $7 million.

1. Footloose
2. Real Steel
3. The Thing
4. The Ides of March
5. The Big Year


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