Weekend Movie Preview (2.3.12)

Super Bowl weekend tends to be among the worst of the year for the box office, second only to the weekend after Thanksgiving. Yet this year the options are somewhat interesting and shockingly, all three have greater than 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s good news if you’re Daniel Radcliffe, trying out your first film outside the “Harry Potter” franchise in “The Woman in Black.” It’s also looking good for Josh Trank, director of the low-budget superpowers found-footage film, “Chronicle.” And “Big Miracle” appears to be another solid family film. As for if any will make a dent at the box office? Good luck.


Now in Theaters


Directed by Josh Trank
Written by Max Landis and Josh Trank
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Alex Russell

Summary: After a startling discovery, three teenagers develop powers: telekinesis, invincibility and flight. They use them for harmless pranks at first, but as their abilities grow stronger, one of them begins to lose self-control and things get out of hand.

The Word: The found footage phenomenon has finally made its way to the superhero genre in this low-budget story of what your average teenagers would do if they came across extraordinary power. “Chronicle” obviously refers to the fact that this plays like a video diary, but it’s uncertain whether it will take place in chronological order. It’s the first major film for the creators, one of which is Max Landis, son of legendary director John Landis.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87% (great)

My Thoughts: I have to say that I really admire the concept, as this is probably the most lifelike look we’ve had at teenagers coming across superpowers (no offense, Stan Lee). I’m not sure I’m sold on the found footage element, but it allows for that fun low-budget “this might actually be what would happen in real life” feel that made “Cloverfield” an excellent winter season flick (and one of the very best box office-wise, in fact). It sounds like it stays very grounded in the possible, which makes it a gripping diversion. Rarely do you see these kinds of films getting such love, but dorks can rejoice.


The Woman in Black

Directed by James Watkins
Written by Jane Goldman, Susan Hill (novel)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer, Ciarán Hinds

Summary: A young lawyer visits a remote country town in England where he’s tasked with selling an old house. Turns out it was once home to a woman whose ghost currently terrorizes the locals.

The Word: The title was shortened from “Harry Potter and the Woman in Black” in order to … okay, but all kidding aside, the trailer does open with Daniel Radcliffe on a steam engine going through the country. I mean, come on. I think the actor is capable of moving on from his Hogwarts days, and a fantastical horror film seems like a good segue. A script from Jane Goldman is a great start, as her credits have all been good if not great: “X-Men: First Class,” “The Debt,” “Kick-Ass” and “Stardust.”

Rotten Tomatoes: 65% (good)

My Thoughts: I like the writer and I like the cast, so perhaps we’re looking at one of the better horror offerings of 2012. Rarely does the genre ever boast any level of talent, and when it does you either get films like last year’s flop “Dream House” or the acclaimed “Insidious.” Looks like we are leaning more towards the latter with this one, so good for Radcliffe and good for horror fans, who also have Ti West’s “The Innkeepers” in very limited release this weekend.


Big Miracle

Directed by Ken Kwapis
Written by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, Thomas Rose (book “Freeing the Whales”)
Starring: Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Kristen Bell

Summary: A news reporter in Alaska convinces and his ex-girlfriend, a Greenpeace volunteer, try to save a family of whales who are trapped in rapidly forming ice in arctic. Together they rally for government support to help carve a path through the ice to the ocean.

The Word: ”Big Miracle” looks to be the latest in a line of successful inspirational movies involving animals and based on a true story, the latest being the fall hit “Dolphin Tale.” With a few more marketable stars and a time of year devoid of family offerings, this “save the whales” film could do quite well. Ken Kwapis, frequent “The Office” director and the helmer of “He’s Just Not That Into You” directs.

Rotten Tomatoes: 64% (good)

My Thoughts:  I don’t doubt that this movie will be good. I also don’t doubt that this movie won’t be just like every movie you’ve ever seen involving overcoming the odds. The trailer also seems to give away just about every major turning point, but hey, it’s not like you wouldn’t have seen them coming anyway and it doesn’t mean they won’t cut to your emotional core.


Box Office Predictions

A bit of a battle is to be waged this weekend: star power horror vs. found footage. A combination of the two in “The Devil Inside” opened 2012 with a bang. Although both films will be hurt by the Super Bowl, Daniel Radcliffe has his female fans, whereas his competition is aimed squarely at teenage boys. I think the surer of the two is The Woman in Black. Horror films tend to make $10-15 million or so this weekend each year, and with Radcliffe, I expect the high range. This should be neck-and-neck with Chronicle, but pull ahead when Sunday totals roll in.

Last week’s champ, The Grey, should easily find third. A typical drop should be expected, so $9-10 million, enough to beat the feebly marketed Big Miracle, which does cater to a non-Super Bowl audience but doesn’t appear to have much might.

With “Chronicle” steeling some of its demographic (and the Super Bowl too), expect One for the Money to perform better this weekend than “Underworld: Awakening.”

1. The Woman in Black
2. Chronicle
3. The Grey
4. Big Miracle
5. One for the Money


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