Weekend Movie Preview (2.18.11)

The box office should have another solid weekend with three new releases that cater to different audiences than last week’s releases, plus the four-day President’s Day weekend.

Opening today is teen-centered alien flick “I Am Number Four,” action comedy three-quel “Big Mommas” and Liam Neeson’s latest ass-kicking venture, “Unknown.”

New This Week

I Am Number Four

Directed by D.J. Caruso
Written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and Marti Noxon, Jobie Hughes and James Frey (novel)
Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron, Teresa Palmer

The Word: This sci-fi superpowers young adult action film stars Alex Pettyfer (“Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker”) as one of nine alien fugitives living on Earth, constantly on the move with his guardian (Olyphant) because the enemies that killed the rest of his race want to finish the job. He is the fourth of his kind living on Earth and his pursuers can only kill them in order. The first three are dead. “Glee” star Dianna Agron stars in her first major film role as Number Four’s human love interest. Teresa Palmer (“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”) plays Number Six.

Rotten Tomatoes: 31% (not good)

My Thoughts: With D.J Caruso (“Eagle Eye”) in charge and the backing of DreamWorks and Michael Bay, I’m thinking this teen alien romance genre should lean toward action, but 31% suggests that the mixture doesn’t work, one way or another and we may have another failed attempt at a young adult franchise-starter.

Recommendation: My guess is the folks who will enjoy this like the whole dreamy teen with superpowers thing, namely girls who still watch “Smallville” (written by the same duo).


Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Written by Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell, Didier Van Cauwelaert (novel)
Starring: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Frank Langella

The Word: Look familiar? Middle-aged guys taking revenge seems to be a recurring movie theme for winter months, a trend that started two years ago with Neeson’s “Taken.” In this one, Neeson’s revenge is exacted on the people who stole his life. After a car accident, he wakes up to find out someone else has apparently taken his identity and he’ll stop at nothing to uncover the conspiracy.

Rotten Tomatoes: 53% (mixed)

My Thoughts: Neeson in this kind of role is proven stuff and the fault usually of conspiracy films that are released this time of year is that they entertain but don’t make much sense. I’m okay with that.

Recommendation: Sounds like the perfect rental, but something that would be worth seeing in theaters compared to the dreck around it.

Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son

Directed by John Whitesell
Written by Matthew Fogel and Don Rhymer, Darrel Quaryles (characters)
Starring: Martin Lawrence, Brandon T. Jackson, Faizon Love

The Word: Martin Lawrence’s turn as an FBI agent undercover as fat nanny, did fairly well for a comedy back in 2000 when dudes wearing prosthetics was all the rage, so “Big Momma’s House 2″ came and despite a bigger opening, made less money (that was in January 2006). Nevertheless, Fox has decided to push this gag to the limit and five years later we now have “Big Mommas.” Up-and-comer Brandon T. Jackson joins the cast as Big Momma’s stepson in a move to appeal more to audiences too young to remember when “Big Momma” first hit the screen (or who Martin Lawrence is).

Rotten Tomatoes: 0% (the worst)

My Thoughts: Why Fox thinks they can squeeze more money out of this Big Momma is beyond me. I see absolutely nothing redeeming or funny about this film. This is something I’d watch on TV for 15 minutes and then go do something useful with my time.

Recommendation: We’re not friends if you pay money to see this movie.

Box Office Predictions

President’s Day weekend made a killing last year for “Valentine’s Day,” “The Wolfman” and “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief.” Although that’s not exactly the mix we have her this year, I am adding a bit to the totals for what would otherwise be my modest predictions, but I could still not be giving President’s Day weekend enough credit.

I Am Number Four does not have the built-in following of “Percy Jackson,” but it has been marketed effectively to both teenage girls and guys with some trailers emphasizing action and others romance. No film has pandered to this movie audience in awhile, so I think teens reward it with a total close to but not eclipsing $30 million.

Second place will be tighter. We saw Liam Neeson and “Taken” bring in $25 million Super Bowl weekend two years ago, and in its heyday, Martin Lawrence’s fat-suit action comedy opened with $27 million. I’m more confident in a repeat performance from Neeson because that history is more recent, so I’m choosing Unknown for second with $25 million to be safe and Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son for third with $20-25 million.

As for the returns from last week, you can kiss the Bieber goodbye. Of all the films set to drop, that will fall furthest as most of his fans have already seen the film. “Just Go With It” and “Gnomeo & Juliet” are still the only movies catering to adults and kiddies respectively, so I see less of a change for them, particularly Gnomeo & Juliet. The four-day weekend gives me a bit more confidence for a kids film too. That and Just Go With It should both make $15-17 M.

1. I Am Number Four
2. Unknown
3. Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son
4. Gnomeo & Juliet
5. Just Go With It


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