Weekend Preview (7.14.10)

If you’re not a Twi-hard, then you marked this weekend as your biggest of the summer. Sure, there was the first weekend of the “summer” in “Iron Man 2,” but Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” has been the only buzz-worthy potential blockbuster of the summer.

The box office is primed to give “Inception” a big weekend. Last week was one of the more surprisingly good weekends with “Despicable Me” surprising everyone with $56 million, which was something I hinted at but didn’t have the stones to officially project.

The other new entry this weekend is “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” which came out today (hence the early weekend preview). Disney hopes that this film will make up for “Prince of Persia’s” mediocre domestic gross and it well could with a PG rating.

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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Wed.)

Directed by Jon Turteltaub
Written by Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Matt Lopez, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina, Monica Bellucci

The Word: Disney’s second of two attempts to find new blockbuster franchises this summer comes from the “National Treasure” collaboration of Nic Cage and Jon Turtletaub. A film expansion of the infamous “Fantasia” scene with Mickey Mouse and the animated broomsticks, this story follows a college student (Baruchel) plucked from the masses to become an apprentice to an infamous “good” sorcerer (Cage) in the midst of a centuries-old battle.

Rotten Tomatoes: 29% (very bad)

My Thoughts: Turtletaub and Cage delivered pure fun with the “National Treasure” films, but this is another ballgame. I’d like to think with the talent that this could be an underrated movie full of humor-injected sorcery, but early reviews leave me exceedingly skeptical.

Recommendation: In any other week, those who enjoy when the fantasy/reality line is blurred might want to take a flyer on this one, but then there’s “Inception.”

Inception (Fri.)

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard

The Word: “The Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan returns to what he does best: making movies that screw with your mind. “Inception” follows a group of dream thieves that enter the subconscious and steal people’s ideas. Sometimes, however, you need to try and create one.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90% (excellent)

My Thoughts: The concept sounds ambitious, but when it comes from Nolan (“Memento,” “The Prestige”) you know it’s going to work. Early reviews are raves, so I hope you like your brains scrambled and fried.

Recommendation: As long as you don’t absolutely despise movies that are hard to understand and leave you wondering what you just saw, you must go.

Box Office Predictions

There’s no betting against Inception this weekend. Just how much money it makes will be the real question. This isn’t the global symbol that is Batman, so nowhere near “The Dark Knight’s” record-breaking numbers or possibly the $72 million plus that “Batman Begins” made. All of Nolan’s prior releases were limited and of course didn’t have the tag “from the director of ‘The Dark Knight,'” which holds a lot of weight, especially with a younger audience. I will modestly say $50-60 million, which could be underestimating Nolan’s pull and Leonardo DiCaprio’s bankability, but I’d at least be surprised to see any less.

The second week of Despicable Me should hold off newcomer The Sorcerer’s Apprentice for second. Expect a drop to just about $30 million, which is what “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” (the other 2010 Disney/Bruckheimer collaboration) did on a Friday release. I think the PG rating will earn more ticket sales for “Apprentice,” but with weak reviews and the extra two days during the week with the Wednesday opening, I don’t see it beating a well-reviewed “Despicable Me.” Then again, I was wrong about “The Last Airbender,” a PG fantasy film that opened on a Thursday. The difference was “Airbender” had a built-in fan base.

All those films should easily fend off The Twilight Saga: Eclipse which should earn $15 million. Expect Toy Story 3 to leapfrog yet another film this week, this time for fifth place, though it certainly might have a shot at “Eclipse.” After 3-4 weeks, animated films with good reviews (take March’s “How to Train Your Dragon”) tail off very slowly so it should only drop 30 percent. Horror films, on the other hand, are notorious for falling by at least 50 percent in their second week, so “Predators” will only make $12 million compared to an expected $14 million for TS3.

  1. Inception
  2. Despicable Me
  3. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
  4. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
  5. Toy Story 3


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