Weekend Movie Preview (2.25.11)

Our last winter weekend has arrived and thank goodness. No films have been very good thus far in 2011. A couple have been decent-to-good like “The Green Hornet” and “The Eagle” (most would disagree with me on the latter it seems), but nothing has surprised in a pleasant way. This weekend last year, “Shutter Island’ made big waves, but don’t expect anything like that from the dirty comedy “Hall Pass” or the 3-D shoot-’em-up/cars movie “Drive Angry 3D.”

New This Week

Hall Pass

Directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly
Written by Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Pete Jones and Kevin Barnett
Starring: Owen Wilson, Jenna Fischer, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate

The Word: The Farrelly Brothers, whose films I talked about yesterday in my Ranking the Farrelly Brothers’ Comedies post, haven’t found much box-office success since the glory days of “There’s Something About Mary.” This time, they conform to a bit more of a modern couples comedy in this movie about two guys whose wives grant them a week off a marriage in hopes they’ll learn to appreciate it when they’re back in.

Rotten Tomatoes: 31% (not good)

My Thoughts: If you’ve seen the Farrelly brothers’ work, you can expect it to be completely unforgiving in terms of inappropriate sex-driven jokes and shameless toilet gags. I find that depending on the mood, it can either be awful or just what the doctor ordered.

Recommendation: If crude is the word, here’s your ticket.

Drive Angry 3D

Directed by Patrick Lussier
Written by  Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner

The Word: “My Bloody Valentine 3D” director Patrick Lussier keeps looking for the next big 3-D gimmick. “Valentine” was one of the first of its kind. “Drive Angry” less so. Cage stars as a man let out of hell who plans to exact revenge on the men killed his daughter. He teams up with a hottie (Heard) looking for some action (vroom-vroom action, not … yeah …) and he’s also got one of the devil’s men (Fichtner) on his tail.

Rotten Tomatoes: 48% (mixed)

My Thoughts: Sort of like “Taken,” but with the devil and fast cars. I’m really put off by films that imply I’m wasting my time if I don’t see it in 3D. Truthfully, however, why would I go see this testosterone-filled stunt show in anything but? That’s the point.

Recommendation: Cars. Revenge. Nic Cage. If you checked two of the three I think you’ve found your movie.

Box Office Predictions

Last weekend was by far my worst of 2011. Every film finished below expectations and caused a logjam of four films finishing within $3-4 million of each other. I’m lucky sometimes, but not lucky enough to pull that off.

I blew the No. 1 spot last week and am none to happy about that. Liam Neeson hates being underestimated and I should’ve obliged. Anyway, this week will be close too, as the weekend after President’s, though not notorious for it, tends to be a downer. Only Tyler Perry, who has released many of his Madea films, has found success post-President’s Day.

I’m tentative to pick Hall Pass for No. 1, but Nic Cage and movies like that are wildly unpredictable. I think the Farrelly Brothers can get at least a typical $15 million or so, maybe even $17 or 18 M. Their last film had Ben Stiller and only opened with $14 million, but I think the concept behind their latest will attract the adult audience more than their previous endeavors.

I’m not even sure I like Drive Angry 3D for second, but to keep the rest of my predictions intact should it do well, I’m going to pick it anyway. Reason is, we’ve seen male-skewing fanboy-targeted films disappoint at the box office such as “Kick-Ass,” also starring Cage.

When 3D was fresher, “Valentine” made $21 million but that appealed to the horror audience. This film doesn’t. The most similar recent film was “Piranha 3D,” which opened with just $10 million, but with no big stars, so I think with Cage’s involvement, “Angry” could make as little as $12 million and as much as $16 million maybe. Without any competition for another week, I like Gnomeo & Juliet to finish with no less than $14 million, so “Drive Angry” will fall on either side.

The final two spots in the top five will also be neck and neck. It’s hard to envision how much if at all “Hall Pass” will effect its fellow Adam Sandler comedy, but I think enough so that Unknown edges out Just Go With It. The Liam Neeson thriller probably do a bit better than half what i made last weekend, so I think $11-12 million. Sandler’s film has a lower bottom end, maybe $10-12 million. So yes, I think “I Am Number Four”‘s lackluster performance and poor reviews damns it to fall off the map this weekend.

It’s a crapshoot. What do you think?

1. Hall Pass
2. Drive Angry 3D
3. Gnomeo & Juliet
4. Unknown
5. Just Go With It



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