Weekend Preview (11.12.10)

A second week into November and we have another three new releases and the expansion of another. Last week we had a road comedy, animated supervillain movie and an African-American women’s drama all earn $20 million or more. This week we have a train thriller, alien invasion flick and romantic comedy. Needless to say, there’s something for everyone playing at a theater near you.

Now Playing

Morning Glory (Wed.)

Directed by Roger Michell
Written by Aline Brosh McKenna
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson

The Word: From the screenwriter of “The Devil Wears Prada” and “27 Dresses” and the director of “Notting Hill” comes a very Mary Tyler Moore-esque romantic comedy about an ambitious television producer (McAdams) who tries to resuscitate a morning show with two spiteful, reluctant anchors (Ford and Keaton).

Rotten Tomatoes: 55% (mixed)

My Thoughts: This movie certainly has a lot going for it. The all-ages appeal and charm of McAdams (who can liven any dead romance/romantic comedy) in tandem with the older-generation reach of Ford and Keaton should speak to the success of the film, though the Wednesday/Veteran’s Day release is a bit curious. I’m not running, but there are some winning components here.

Recommendation: No other viable date movie prospects (unless you’re a Harry Potter couple) are out there now and for another couple weeks. It’s an acceptable middle ground movie.


Directed by Tony Scott
Written by Mark Bomback
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson

The Word: Another year, another Tony Scott/Denzel Washington collaboration. “Unstoppable” marks their second train-centered action thriller in as many years after June 2009’s “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.” This time a freight train packing some serious heat is barreling out of control down the tracks and mucking up everything in its path.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91% (excellent)

My Thoughts: You’ve probably heard me more than once say that the Scott/Washington combination rarely fails. They’ve yet to make a truly great movie together, but if some fast-moving entertainment is all you’re looking for, you’re not going to misfire. “Unstoppable” conceptually trumps the average “Pelham” already, so expect a tense and fast 90 minutes. Critics also seem to think so as 91% is darn impressive for this kind of film.

Recommendation: Like I said before, hard to miss with one of these films. I’d normally wait until the DVD, but I’m liking the critical response so far.


Directed by Colin and Greg Strause
Written by Joshua Cordes, Liam O’Donnell
Starring: Eric Balfour, Donald Faison, Scottie Thompson, David Zayas

The Word: No one had really heard about “Skyline” before this summer. The unfriendly alien invasion film was made on a tremendously small budget because all the visual effects were done by the directors, the Strause brothers, in house. Considering “Skyline” looks blockbuster scale, Universal is looking to make a big profit even if the take is modest by blockbuster film standards.

Rotten Tomatoes: 31% (bad)

My Thoughts: The only thing going against “Skyline” is the Strause brothers’ reputation having directed “Alien vs. Predator: Requiem” and perhaps that the alien attack film is not so original, to be nice. Alien films have certainly see a resurgence the last few years, but other than what the aliens look like and their methods, there isn’t exactly a unique pull.

Recommendation: This promises to be pretty mindless entertainment. The Thanksgiving slate doesn’t look so good for non-Harry Potter fans, so you might have some time to decide to see “Skyline.”

Fair Game

Directed by Doug Liman
Written by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, Joseph Wilson (book “The Politics of Truth”), Valerie Plame (book “Fair Game”)
Starring: Naomi Watts, Sean Penn

The Word: “The Bourne Identity” director Doug Liman brings us this thriller/drama based on the true story of CIA operative Valerie Plame whose identity was leaked to the press and seriously threatened her life and career. Allegedly, the government leaked it as revenge for her husband’s (Penn) editorial in the New York Times questioning the government’s intel about Niger selling uranium to other countries (namely Iraq).

Rotten Tomatoes: 79% (very good)

My Thoughts: Watts and Penn have proven themselves in thrillers and dramas alike and Liman is as seasoned as they come in the thriller department. The premiere at Cannes did not go over that well, but the Rotten Tomatoes score is very positive at the moment. I’m not intrigued to death by this film, but it looks to be some tense and moving (not emotionally, but pace-wise) drama.

Recommendation: If political intrigue thrillers and based-on-a-true-story taglines perk your ears up even a little bit, this is your ticket.

Box Office Predictions

With all these new releases but none being sequels, it’s getting tricky. Three new films plus three decent returners makes this one heck of a guessing game. But of course, I think I’ve got something.

Like most animated films, Megamind should have a good second week. I’m not projecting anything to beat my estimate for the DreamWorks film, which is $28 million. Now it gets a bit tougher.

Tony Scott/Denzel Washington films tend to fair decently — why else would they keep collaborating? Denzel hasn’t made a film in 7 years that hasn’t made at least $20 million so long as it was released in more than 2,000 theaters. Expect Unstoppable to make $20-25 million, which is good enough to beat my projected drop for Due Date, which is around $20 million.

Now it gets really tricky. The difference between these final two films is star power. That’s why even with a five-day weekend, I think Morning Glory will beat Skyline. “Skyline” probably caught some people’s attention in the marketing with visual effects, but there’s no additional draw unless you are a fan of “Dexter” (David Zayas) or “Scrubs” (Donald Faison). “Morning Glory,” on the other hand, has McAdams, Ford and Keaton. I see $15 million for that film and $10-12 million for “Skyline.” “Fair Game” will only be expanding to 175 theaters, so no noise will be made there.

  1. Megamind
  2. Unstoppable
  3. Due Date
  4. Morning Glory
  5. Skyline


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