Weekend Movie Preview (7.22.11)

Talk about a tough act to follow. With the record-setting weekend “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” had last week, I wouldn’t want to be either new film this week, “Captain America: The First Avenger” or “Friends With Benefits.” But it doesn’t necessarily mean both these films are worth passing on. Not at all.

New This Week

Captain America: The First Avenger

Directed by Joe Johnston
Written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (screenplay), Jack Kirby, Joe Simon (comic)
Starring: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci

Summary: World War II is underway and Steve Rogers is a sickly and scrawny guy deemed unfit for military service, but he becomes involved in an experimental procedure that tests a super-soldier serum on him and he becomes Captain America.

The Word: The final piece of the puzzle to be introduced for next year’s “The Avengers,” Captain America becomes the final second-tier Marvel superhero to make it to the big screen after Thor and Iron Man. Chris Evans, who has superhero experience playing The Human Torch in the “Fantastic Four” films, takes the lead and hopes he can bring an all-American charisma to this superhero period film that has a slight flavor of “Indiana Jones.”

Rotten Tomatoes: 70% (very good)

My Thoughts: Period action films are so in right now and “Captain America” appears to pack the charm and fun of most Marvel heroes into a fresh WWII context. Outside of “X-Men: First Class,” I was most interested in this project and it seems that it’s found success to a similar degree as Thor did back in May.

Recommendation: If you’re not suffering a “Harry Potter” hangover or better yet, need a cure, it seems like great summer fun.

Friends With Benefits

Directed by Will Gluck
Written by Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, Will Gluck, Harley Peyton
Starring: Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake, Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson

Summary: Two friends who are tired of bad relationships decide to have a relationship based solely on sex, which as it turns out, has complications.

The Word: Where did you see this before … oh yeah, last January’s “No Strings Attached.” Despite the same exact plot, however, the vibe from this film is more so comedy. Will Gluck, director of last fall’s little hit “Easy A” commands an excellent supporting cast including Patricia Clarkson, who played a similar line-crossing mother in “Easy A.” Harrelson is an unusual choice for a gay best friend as well, which means this fuckbuddy comedy could be vastly different from “No Strings” or most comedies for that matter.

Rotten Tomatoes: 66% (good)

My Thoughts: I think Gluck can do it again after seeing how funny the supporting roles come across and that Kunis and Timberlake seem to have a good comic chemistry. These two are both underrated comedians. It’s been the summer of the R-rated comedy, so who’s to say this should be any worse than the previous entries?

Recommendation: With a lot of other good R-rated comedies in theaters, it’s a tough choice, but to get good reviews when it’s been done before? That’s impressive.

Box Office Predictions

It’s true that the bigger they come, the harder they fall, but fall as hard as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 might, there’s no way it could make less than another $70 million, which is good enough for first place pretty much any weekend of the year minus a few.

The superhero films this year have all had modest takes and I suspect that will be the case for Captain America: The First Avenger. July is a great time for an action release, but with nothing to distinguish it from any of the earlier titles plus some summer fatigue, the $50-60 million of “First Class” and “Green Lantern” seems spot-on.

Friends With Benefits should also claim third easily. R-rated comedies have been booming this summer at the box office and while fatigue is a possibility, Kunis has rising star power and Timberlake is always a draw. I think $25 million is reasonable.

Fourth and fifth will be a tough battle this week. Horrible Bosses seems to have pulled ahead of Transformers: Dark of the Moon at the weekly box office so I think it should hold up to just nudge it with $11 million versus $10 million. “Transformers” has yet another big action film taking away its return numbers and earlier this month we saw how R-rated comedy competition doesn’t really impact returning films.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
2. Captain America: The First Avenger
3. Friends With Benefits
4. Horrible Bosses
5. Transformers: Dark of the Moon


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