Weekend Preview (7.30.10)

The last weekend of July is always a dud at the box office. Last year, “Funny People” with Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen took in just $22 million to finish first. The year before, “The Dark Knight” did so in its third week. That’s what I think we’ll happen with “Inception.”

We have a talking animal action comedy this weekend along with a contemporary comedy and a teenage drama. By far the biggest mystery of the group is “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore.” The first “Cats & Dogs” came out in 2001 and grossed $200 million worldwide. Hardly the sign of a future franchise, let alone a sequel nine years later. At least there are some solid if not great films still in theaters.

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Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore

Directed by Brad Peyton
Written by Ron J. Friedman and Steven Bencich, John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (characters)
Starring: (voices) James Marsden, Nick Nolte, Bette Midler

The Word: A sequel nine years in the making sounds like a weird thing to say about a movie few people remember in the first place. But if anything’s been proven in Hollywood (most recently with “G-Force” this time last year), it’s that talking animals with high-tech gadgets tends to lead to box office success. In this film cats and dogs must work together to stop the evil Kitty Galore.

Rotten Tomatoes: 15% (awful)

My Thoughts: There are few Hollywood head-scratchers these days and this is one of them. Talking animals mixed with real people has always generated receipts, but when the original came out before the kids who will see this one were even born, there’s no fan base here for Warner Bros. to please.

Recommendation: Please don’t. There are so many good kid-geared films out there this summer that “Cats & Dogs” can’t possibly be something you need to see.

Dinner for Schmucks

Directed by Jay Roach
Written by David Guion, Michael Handelman, Francis Veber (French original)
Starring: Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Zach Galifianakis

The Word: A remake of a 1998 French film, “Schmucks” tells the story of a businessman who in order to appease his bosses must bring a stranger who is a total idiot to a weekly idiot dinner where the men make fun of the bizarre guests.

Rotten Tomatoes: 53% (mixed)

My Thoughts: July has been extremely week on comedy, so “Dinner” could satisfy your appetite. It sounds as though the humor is crazy nonsense with some solid lead performances. If you loved the farcical nature of the original, expect a much different film.

Recommendation: If silliness is something you enjoy in movie theaters and you haven’t had enough lately, this is your cup of tea. Otherwise it sounds like a good rental possibility this fall.

Charlie St. Cloud

Directed by Burr Steers
Written by Craig Pearce, Lewis Polick, Ben Sherwood (novel)
Starring: Zac Efron, Amanda Crew, Ray Liotta, Kim Basinger

The Word: The “17 Again” combo of Zac Efron and Burr Steers tries out a more serious film about a college-bound teen who gets in a car accident that results in the death of his younger brother. He begins to see his brother in the woods and teaches him to play baseball, while everyone in his small town thinks he’s crazy.

Rotten Tomatoes: 24% (very bad)

My Thoughts: Dramas are always hard to pull off in the summer months despite this film being very much a summer movie. I think Efron has the dramatic chops, but I don’t think very much of this story, which the trailer pretty much entirely gives away.

Recommendation: Either you can skip this entry in your Zac Efron collection or wait for the DVD.

Box Office Predictions

This weekend is tough. It’s hard to pinpoint talking animal movies. They can earn anything from about $10-30 million in a weekend, which puts us right where our current box office leader projects to land (toward the top of that number of course). My faith is with Inception. The film dropped just 30 percent last week. A good sign of a gradual decrease, so I project the film to end up with $25-28 million this weekend. With $10-30 being the range for a film like Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, I see somewhere in the middle. (The original made $20 million.) So I will slate it for just north of that amount, maybe $20-22 million.

Your standard comedy with high-profile comedians along the lines of Steve Carell and Paul Rudd usually earns about $20 million, so that’s where I expect Dinner for Schmucks to land with ease. I don’t see anything a couple million more or less being possible. These films are fairly simple to predict.

That leaves two returners to duke it out for the last spot. They should finish neck and neck, but because of last week’s finish I will take Salt for fourth and Despicable Me for fifth with a difference of $1-2 million between them. I project “Salt” to finish at $16 M and “Despicable Me” to finish at $15 M.

  1. Inception
  2. Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
  3. Dinner for Schmucks
  4. Salt
  5. Despicable Me


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