Weekend Movie Preview (10.7.11)


With September in the rearview, the heavyweights of October enter the ring. First up this weekend is the robot-boxing drama (yea, it sounds weird to me too) “Real Steel” starring Hugh Jackman along with George Clooney’s political ensemble drama “The Ides of March.” If it’s a middling blockbuster against an Oscar contender — it must be October..

New This Week

Real Steel

Directed by Shawn Levy
Written by John Gatins, Dan Gilroy, Jeremy Leven
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo, Anthony Mackie

Summary: In a future when boxers have been replaced by robots, a down-on-his-luck promoter finds a scrapped robot and trains it in hopes of revitalizing his career and connecting with his 11-year-old son.

The Word: Director Shawn Levy spent most of his career helming Nickelodeon shows and movies until “A Night at the Museum” elevated his profile. Still, the director of that film as well as “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “Date Night” wouldn’t seem like the right choice for a sci-fi action movie. Nevertheless, this “Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots: The Movie” looks to have a wide appeal with a blend of science fiction and sports drama.

Rotten Tomatoes: 59% (mixed)

My Thoughts: Definitely a good sign that a movie that one would expect to probably adopt several sports clichés gets mostly good reviews — that sets it up to be a real crowd pleaser. And why not? What’s not to like about Hugh Jackman? We also know Shawn Levy can get the family demographic.

Recommendation: Something fathers and sons can enjoy, which more importantly means yes for all ages.


The Ides of March

Directed by George Clooney
Written by George Clooney, Grant Haslov, Beau Willimon (also play, “Farragut North”)
Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood

Summary: A talented staffer on a political campaign for a popular candidate learns a few dirty secrets about the process and must make a moral decision regarding where his allegiances lie.

The Word: This rather popular play has become the latest fodder for George Clooney’s directorial chops, which could use some adjusting after the disappointment that was “Leatherheads.” Gosling continues to ride the hot had to fame surrounded by a knockout ensemble including Clooney himself, Giamatti, Wood, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright (“Source Code”) and Max Minghella (“The Social Network”).

Rotten Tomatoes: 82% (great)

My Thoughts: This was one of the fall’s most anticipated until its premiere at Venice cooled it off fast with several underwhelming reviews. Nevertheless, Clooney’s directing record is strong otherwise and the cast is terrific. It might not be the Oscar contender it once was, but it should still be a very good movie.

Recommendation: Yes, definitely a worthwhile venture even if it doesn’t end up on the Best Picture nominee list.


Box Office Predictions

For once I feel pretty good about this weekend. Only two newcomers, for one thing and all the returners are poised to make no more than $10 million.

Real Steel should wear the crown this weekend. It has all the pieces to be a success with elements of action, sci-fi, sports drama and family drama. That’s a wide demographic and it should show in better-than-expected numbers, especially with decent reviews. Most predict it modestly, but I think $30 million could be reached.

The Ides of March should have no problem making second place with $10-15 million. It has George Clooney and a strong ensemble cast behind him. We’re likely not talking “Moneyball” numbers and Clooney doesn’t draw like Pitt (separately that is), but it’s hard to envision a returning film beating “Ides.”

Last week’s winner, Dolphin Tale, should stay up at number three and Moneyball right behind it. Positive word of mouth will continue to keep the numbers up for these two films. The only change I see is Courageous holding on and beating “The Lion King.” With the DVD out and a 50 percent drop in sales last weekend, Disney should pull it out of several theaters, keeping it out of the Top 5.

1. Real Steel
2. The Ides of March
3. Dolphin Tale
4. Moneyball
5. Courageous


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