Weekend Movie Preview (3.25.11)

March is supposed to go out like a lamb, but it just snowed in Chicago (lightly, but enough for late March) and “Sucker Punch” from “300” director Zack Snyder should be anything but a “lamb.” At the box office, however, could be another story. It will have to contend with the much more lamb-like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2,” but the money could be similar for both films.

New This Week

Sucker Punch

Directed by Zack Snyder
Written by Zack Snyder and Steve Shibuya
Starring: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens

The Word: Zack Snyder has become a renowned director for stylized action adaptations. His success on a global scale gave him the ability to make one of his own brain children, a cross-genre mind-**** of a movie concept. The film follows a girl known as Baby Doll (Browning), who is put in an asylum for lashing out at her abusive stepfather. With the other girls she meets there, they learn a way to use their imagination to create a fantasy world through which they can escape the asylum. This fantasy world entails robots, robot samurai, Nazis, bi-planes, fire-breathing dragons and more.

Rotten Tomatoes: 23% (bad)

My Thoughts: Snyder looks to have composed his audio/visual opus. As far as story goes, that looks like it might be another story. Hopefully the action end holds up for pure eye-candy junkies. For some it will be a nice escape from the chilly spring ills that have befallen us.

Recommendation: If the highly stylized action flick looks exciting to you, then I suspect “Sucker Punch” will deliver on that end and be worth admission, but it’s getting ripped by critics, so no for everyone else.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Directed by David Bowers
Written by Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, Jeff Kinney (book)
Starring: Zachary Gordon, Devon Bostick, Peyton List, Steve Zahn

The Word: After the success of last year’s first adaptation (at least when you compare it to the budget), a sequel was guaranteed to be under way, only this time it’s with a different director. This second chapter continues Greg’s agonized middle school life and deals with his relationship with his older brother, Rodrick.

Rotten Tomatoes: 39% (not good)

My Thoughts: There’s a very small fan base here for original film fans and book fans. With Thor Freudenthal not directing and Chloe Moretz moving on, it’s hard to imagine anything left for film fans to be interested in.

Recommendation: No reason to go unless you liked the books or the original film.

Box Office Predictions

Some of you probably look at the spectacle that is “Sucker Punch” and given the notoriety of Zack Snyder’s name, you would think “300” or “Watchmen”-like numbers are possible. I won’t rule it out, but a completely original story without any huge star draws doesn’t spell success. Having been beat before at this game with “Kick-Ass” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” I have to pick Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules to win the box office this weekend. With some parents complaining about the amount of “smoking” in Rango, you can bet several are waiting for this moving to come out. The original did $22 million a year ago, so it’s easy to see $20-25 million here.

Some predictions for Sucker Punch are really low, but I feel $20 million is within reach even if it falls a bit short. We’ve seen films like “Drive Angry 3D” absolutely tank while trying to appeal to this audience, but Snyder’s rep should help get the film make at least $15 million. Either way, there’s no contest for second place here.

In third, I expect strong return business for Limitless. Word of mouth has gotten stronger over the week for this film in my experience and without any real competition, $10 million is easily within reach. Rango should come in just below it, sure to take a bit of a hit with “Wimpy Kid” out.

In fifth, I like The Lincoln Lawyer. Dramas don’t usually drop down as much in their second weeks if they’ve gotten positive reviews. I think it beats out “Battle: Los Angeles” with about $8-9 million.

1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
2. Sucker Punch
3. Limitless
4. Rango
5. The Lincoln Lawyer



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