Weekend Movie Preview (9.9.11)

I’m tired of getting shredded in my weekly predictions. It’s time for some films to restore a sense of order to the box office and maybe at least two of our new offerings can do just that. The Tom Hardy-led MMA film “Warrior” and Steven Soderbergh’s thriller “Contagion” have gotten great reviews early on. Of course if you’re still in denial and craving summer leftovers, maybe “Bucky Larson” or “Creature” are for you.

New This Week


Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Scott Z. Burns
Starring: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law

Summary: A disease that transmits through skin-to-skin contact causes a global pandemic that a team of international doctors must quickly plan to stop.

The Word: Soderbergh returns to mainstream film with “The Informant!” writer Scott Z. Burns and they’ve roped in a cast that cannot be described with words, just a list: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne, John Hawkes and more. The film appears to put the fad of global outbreak science-fiction films into as real of terms as possible.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81% (great)

My Thoughts: Everyone who sees this film will probably comes away with OCD, but it’s certainly fascinating in premise and in star power. I’m worried about it juggling too many story lines in trying to show how government is handling the outbreak as well as how it’s impacting people on an individual level, but Soderbergh has shown he can direct large ensembles successfully and handle multiple stories (“Traffic”).

Recommendation: Finally a reason to go back out to theaters.


Directed by Gavin O’Connor
Written by Gavin O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman
Starring: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison

Summary: The son of a former boxer trains for a mixed martial arts tournament that would put him in direct competition with his older brother.

The Word: MMA finally gets its own mainstream film, but you could probably lump it in the same corner as boxing as far as the typical movie tropes. Hardy’s rising profile gets a big boost and “Warrior” should also continue to elevate the prominence of Edgerton as well. O’Connor directed “Miracle,” probably the most recent great sports movie and all the early screenings suggest he might have done it again.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83% (great)

My Thoughts: It’s all or nothing in a sports drama. Yes, I recognize this isn’t action, but there are too many dramas this fall so I tossed it here. Anyway, you either get a terribly cliched sports drama or a powerful and uplifting one. Many review seems to suggest the latter, which is great; we haven’t had a good film in this genre in too long.

Recommendation: Sports movie fans won’t want to miss it.

 Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star

Directed by Tom Brady
Written by Adam Sandler, Allen Covert and Nick Swardson
Starring: Nick Swardson, Christina Ricci, Don Johnson, Stephen Dorff

Summary: Bucky Larson heads from the Midwest to Los Angeles to embrace his destiny when he learns that he’s the son of two renowned porn stars. Despite his “small stature,” Bucky manages to find some success.

The Word: No, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots did not use his lock-out time to direct this film for Happy Madison. “The Hot Chick” director tries to get Sandler protege Swardson on the map as a leading man in the latest R-rated comedy featuring a made-up character name and colon to hit the market.

Rotten Tomatoes: N/A

My Thoughts: This strikes me as one of the more pathetic Happy Madison offerings, somewhere along the lines of “Grandma’s Boy,” which despite being poorly received and making little money, went on to have a bit of a following on DVD. “Bucky” could be in for the same fate.

Recommendation: If you don’t like to get high and watch DVDs, this movie should have no appeal to you. If that comment bothers you, well you should probably get high and watch this on DVD in a few months.



Directed by Fred Andrews
Written by Fred Andrews, Tracy Morse
Starring: Mehcad Brooks, Dillon Casey, Amanda Fuller, Sid Haig

Summary: Several hikers out in the Louisiana bayou encounter a murky creature.

The Word: Out of nowhere, this horror B movie will get a release in more than 1,500 theaters thanks to Bubble Distribution, whoever they are. The film looks like a modern “pretty people getting killed in a remote locale” twist on a “Creature From the Black Lagoon” story.

Rotten Tomatoes: N/A

My Thoughts: Not only does this film not really have any right to be distributed in that many theaters, but it also follows on the tail of “Shark Night 3D,” “Apollo 18” and “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” all of which flopped. And those movie actually had (some) appeal.

Recommendation: If you’re that much of a horror fan, you can wait.


Box Office Predictions

I want swift revenge, and I think I can get it this weekend. The box office is due to be taken over and with strong reviews and a big release, Contagion should manage it and with at least $20 million, especially considering theaters have been completely devoid of anything like it the last few weeks.

No. 2 is a tough battle this week, but I can’t pick against The Help. Great reviews will benefit Warrior long term, but with only 1,800 or so theaters, it can’t make a splash. Hardy and Edgerton might be marquee names in the future, but for now they’re underdogs. I wouldn’t be shocked to see them sneak away with $15 million, but it’s tough with “The Help” looking to bag another $10-12 million.

Of all the pathetic finishers last week, The Debt should hold up the best. It’s well-reviewed sophisticated entertainment and the longevity of those films is tons better than the horror films that debuted alongside it. Look for $7 million from the thriller.

In fifth, all the horror films from last week will slide far, but Rise of the Planet of the Apes should stand tall enough yet again, something close to $6 million. “Bucky Larson” and “Creature” will be lucky to even sniff $5 million, especially the latter.

1. Contagion
2. The Help
3. Warrior
4. The Debt
5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes


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