Weekend Movie Preview (4.15.11)

Kids and nostalgic adults get attention at the box office this mid-April weekend with the release of Fox’s “Rio” from the creator of “Ice Age” and the long-awaited “Scream 4,” which takes us back to Woodsboro after more than a decade for some horror movie fun. In a somewhat limited capacity comes a political thriller set during the trials following Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, “The Conspirator.”

New This Week



Directed by Carlos Saldanha
Written by Don Rhymer
Starring: (voices) Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx

The Word: The director of the “Ice Age” films changes things up a bit and sets this new Fox Animation film in his native Rio de Janeiro. Don Rhymer (the “Big Momma” films and the likable penguin movie “Surf’s Up”) handles all the writing duties, a definite rarity in the animation world. The film stars the voices of Oscar nominee Eisenberg and Oscar host (and former nominee) Anne Hathaway. Blu (Eisenberg) is a domesticated macaw, but also the last male of his kind, so his owner takes him to Rio from Minnesota to mate with Jewel, the last female. But when the two are abducted, they must escape, only Blu doesn’t know the first thing about the outside world.

Rotten Tomatoes: 72% (very good)

My Thoughts: It looks like Fox has executed the formula effectively yet again in a non-“Ice Age” film. Birds and exotic locales make great fodder and no doubt that Eisenberg and Hathaway can lend some heart to their characters. “Rio” should easily match the success of “Rango” back in March and for sure “Hop.”

Recommendation: Animation continues its role. If you passed on “Hop,” this film should prove your decision to be the right one.

Scream 4

Directed by Wes Craven
Written by Kevin Williamson
Starring: Neve Campbell, Hayden Panettiere, Emma Roberts, David Arquette

The Word: The slasher franchise that played off all slasher franchises returns after an 11-year hiatus with the hopes of creating a new generation of “Scream” fans. Neve Campbell returns to Woodsboro where the original film’s events took place and a new Ghost Face is on the loose mimicking the horror styles of today’s films. His victims include the stars of the original trilogy as well as some up-and-comers. Horror legend Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson return to the franchise to deliver more horror genre-inspired scares and laughs.

Rotten Tomatoes: 62% (good)

My Thoughts: I see mixed things in this trailer. Fans of the original films should definitely get a lot out of just seeing these characters and this kind of formula again, but whether its something a new generation horror fans can get on board with, I don’t know.

Recommendation: Definitely worthwhile if you have any fondness toward the original.

The Conspirator

Directed by Robert Redford
Written by James Solomon, Gregory Bernstein
Starring: Robin Wright, James McAvoy, Alexis Bledel, Tom Wilkinson

The Word: A period piece about a trial in the Lincoln assassination case that accused Mary Surratt (Wright) of aiding and abetting those involved with the assassination. The cast that the name “Robert Redford” assembled for this movie is mind-blowing: everyone from McAvoy, Bledel, Evan Rachel Wood and Justin Long to Wilkinson, Kevin Kline, Stephen Root, Danny Huston and others you’ll recognize even if you don’t know them by name.

Rotten Tomatoes: 51% (mixed)

My Thoughts: The film is getting a slightly wider release than expected which is a good sign. The mix of talent is eclectic yet undeniable, but it comes off as more overcrowded ensemble drama than a film where any one or two actors will steal attention. If this script by a pair of unknowns holds our attention, however, it could turn out well enough.

Recommendation: Fans of historical conspiracy ought to be pleased, but outside of Oscar season this film feels out of place.

Box Office Predictions

Will family films and animation continue their domination of 2011, or will an old horror favorite prove a winner? The normal inclination would be never to bet on any horror flick over an animated film, but Scream 4 will not be your average horror flick. The third film in the series opened with $35 million and that was ten years ago. Ticket prices have changed a lot since then. Regardless of inflation, however, the “Scream” franchise has been one of horror’s most lucrative ever and the “reunion” factor should drive all horror fans out to theaters. If “A Nightmare on Elm Street” could make $32 million last April with no familiar faces, expect unusual things for “Scream 4,” somewhere between $40-45 but possibly more.

Rio will still do well, but it’s facing competition from “Hop,” which should hold up well with Easter approaching soon. The bunny and chicks flick made $37 million its first weekend and I think “Rio” can match that easily given strong reviews and typical animated tropes. Hop will be third easily with about $12 million for its third week.

As for the other holdovers, I’m going to give the well-reviewed Hanna fourth with $9 million or so and then I will choose Soul Surfer to eek past “Arthur” with about $7 million.

1. Scream 4
2. Rio
3. Hop
4. Hanna
5. Soul Surfer



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