Weekend Preview (12.18.09)


In the spirit of having this wonderful new site, I have decided to take the Weekend Preview and begin to evolve it into a more user-friendly weekly staple of the site. In other words, I want this to be more like a guide to this weekend at the movies. Perhaps a future step that I might explore is creating a page totally devoted to what’s playing in theaters. Let me know if you’d like that. Anyway, to explain what I’ve done here – it’s kind of like imdb’s “Now Playing” section. I’ve given you a summary/explained the hype behind a certain movie and then provided my thoughts along with a cleverly named recommendation: “worth admission,” “worth dismissin’” or “worth renting later on.”

This weekend we have the most hyped up film of the Holidays coming to theaters and another formula-loving romcom. So, what to do?

Now Playing


Written and Directed by: James Cameron
Starring: Sam Worthington (“Terminator Salvation”) and Zoe Saldana (“Star Trek”)


The Word: Where to start with Avatar? The buzz began to build when James Cameron announced this project years back saying that it would be his return to film and when James Cameron (Terminator, Aliens, Titanic) speaks, people listen. The man knows how to make a megahit and he’s always one step ahead of cinematic technology and innovation (T2: Judgement Day was way ahead of its time in terms of CGI).

Now he brings us Avatar and the reviews have been glowing, at least from an action/visual standpoint. Have I mentioned yet that this is the first live-action film you’ll be able to see in 3D? The storyline is a forbidden romance Dancing With Wolves type: Humans value an energy source on the planet Pandora where the Navi (those blue creatures) live. There is hostility between the groups and Worthington plays a paraplegic soldier who gets the chance to help by entering (with his mind) a Navi avatar of himself so the humans can have someone on the inside. Naturally the Navi are misunderstood and he becomes conflicted.

My View: Avatar was a damn expensive film to make and the hype surrounding it is mystifying. Although I was never totally sold on this movie by anything I saw or read about it, the prospect of live-action 3D is impossible to ignore. I expect, due to Mr. Cameron’s track record, that Avatar will be cutting edge filmmaking and storytelling and I hope the heart of its story surprises me.

Recommendation: Worth admission. Pay the extra to go 3D, clearly it will be worth it and you’ll be experiencing part of history when you do.

Did You Hear About the Morgans?

Written and Directed by: Marc Lawrence
Starring: Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker


The Word: Nothing but the power of Hollywood producers could have gotten the male face of romantic comedy, Hugh Grant, together with the female face of women’s television, Sarah Jessica Parker, in the same movie.  Borrowing on that familiar idea of big-city, modern-minded individuals being forced to accommodate to small-town America, “Morgans” is about a struggling couple that witnesses a murder and is forced into witness protection – in Wyoming. Romcom aficionado Marc Lawrence, who wrote the successful guilty pleasure films “Miss Congeniality” films and Hugh Grant vehicle Music & Lyrics, writes and directs.

My View: Early reviews have been horrific for this movie (an abysmal 10 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) which means the trailer duped me into thinking it was going to have its moments. I’m guessing the bear stuff must be the only funny part of the entire film. As much as you may love these two stars, this is Oscar season, find something great to see.

Recommendation: Worth dismissin’. There are so many great films coming out this time of year, why bother with junk? These movies are only worth seeing when nothing else is out.

Box Office Predictions

When a film with as much media coverage and buzz as Avatar comes out (my mom was asking me about it the other day), you do not underestimate. The only thing going against it is that its not based on any previous source material – a total rarity these days. And there are no major stars – another tremendous risk and testament to the faith and respect Cameron gets. I was going to guess modest at $75 million, but with high presales and 3D ticket sales, this should pass the $100 M mark.

Next, I’m going with last weekend’s champ, The Princess and the Frog. As I alluded to in my recap on Monday, I think the staying power will be there this week with kids actually being off school and all and that damn chipmunk movie not coming out until next week. I think around $20 million.

In the battle for third, I think Did You Hear About the Morgans? will eek out The Blind Side. Maybe about $12 M for the former and $10 M for the latter.

In that coveted final spot, I really do think we’ve seen the last of A Christmas Carol, but not by much since we are the weekend before Christmas. I think Invictus on positive reviews and word of mouth will just be there, especially if it expands at all. I’d say $5-6 million.

  1. Avatar
  2. The Princess and the Frog
  3. Did You Hear About the Morgans?
  4. The Blind Side
  5. Invictus


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