Weekend Preview (8.13.10)

The undisputed biggest weekend of August starts today. Three of the summer’s most anticipated films will all compete for the box office this weekend: Sylvester Stallone’s consummate action flick “The Expendables” featuring men whose average biceps circumference is bigger than my head, Julia Roberts in “Eat, Pray, Love” based on the bestseller and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” an romantic comedy stuck in the melee of an rock ‘n roll action sci-fi fantasy.

This will be the last big weekend of the Summer 2010 as far as box office receipts. With temperatures blazing across the country and mosquitos biting at large, the theater is definitely the place to keep cool this weekend. If you’re interested in all these films, don’t worry, seeing as nothing comes out that will be more worth your attention: you’ll have plenty of time to go back and catch the one you skipped the first time around.

Now Playing

The Expendables

Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Written by David Callaham, Sylvester Stallone,
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Jet Li

The Word: The greatest team of action heroes ever assembled in one movie is the biggest selling point for this film about black ops soldiers brought in to South America to depose a dictator. The range of stars is wide from former wrestlers and current UFC fighters to the action stars of yesteryear and today.

Rotten Tomatoes: 45% (not good)

My Thoughts: Without the names, I can’t say what would excite me about this film, already the third “action team” movie of 2010 behind “The A-Team” and “The Losers.” Either the presence of all these names gets you jacked for this kind of movie or you’re going to be critical of it. It’s not surprising that the Rotten Tomatoes top critics have given it 36% compared to 80% from everyone else.

Recommendation: How much testosterone do you like with your steroids? You know if this film appeals to you, there’s not much middle ground. Casual action fans could wait, but the rest of the month is slim pickings, so if not this weekend, you might find yourself seeing it before the month is out.

Eat, Pray, Love

Directed by Ryan Murphy
Written by Ryan Murphy and Jennifer Salt, Elizabeth Gilbert (memoir)
Starring: Julia Roberts, Viola Davis, James Franco, Javier Bardem

The Word: One of the most popular memoirs on bookshelves combined with Julia Roberts — hard to call that a bad idea. It follows a woman on a soul-searching trip to Italy, India and Bali. “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy directs.

Rotten Tomatoes: 40% (not good)

My Thoughts: After “Julie & Julia” did well for itself this time last year, this seems like a smart follow-up for with yet another Julia. All I can presume is that the memoir is probably better. There’s a reason few memoirs get adapted into films. I suppose you can expect a lot of Roberts voice-over narration.

Recommendation: Women have been pretty deprived at the movies lately, so if you fit that category, it’s hard to tell you no, even if this might well amount to a rental.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Directed by Edgar Wright
Written by Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright, Bryan Lee O’Malley (graphic novel)
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkan, Jason Schwartzman

The Word: “It” director Edgar Wright’s much-anticipated adaptation of this genre-bending comic fuses rock music, sci-fi, action and video-game references into, well, an “epic of epic epicness.” Scott (Cera) meets the girl of his dreams but learns he must first defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78% (very good)

My Thoughts: I think Wright knows the modern audience better than anyone. This is an ambitious project, but certainly an exciting one that I’ve looked forward to for awhile. From the trailers, it’s tough to describe this project any further other than it looks special if indeed it’s pulled off as well as reviews indicate.

Recommendation: Another film with a clear demographic. Targeted to teens and twenty-somethings, I don’t imagine anyone who feels on the outside of pop culture and is older than 30 would like this film a whole lot. As long as you fit in that 13-30 age window, this is a must-see.

Box Office Predictions

There are three big films out this weekend, which usually spells trouble, but I think the winner is clear. Buzz is strongest for The Expendables. August usually has one or two big films, particularly in this genre and with all the names drawing in action fans from all corners of the globe I think a big opening is in order, something probably between $30-40 million, probably the higher end if I had to narrow it down more.

The next two spots are where it gets tricky: two totally different demographics, but two films that project to finish in the $20 million range. Last year, the two women-target offerings “The Time Traveler’s Wife” and “Julie & Julia” earned $18 and $20 million respectively. $20 million is the safe guess for “Eat, Pray, Love.” “Scott Pilgrim” will be in a couple-hundred fewer theaters. Another alternative comic film, “Kick-Ass” made $19 million in April in more theaters but with an R rating. PG-13, Michael Cera, the fan following and the hype — in my estimation — puts Scott Pilgrim vs. the World over the top with $20-25 million. Eat, Pray, Love would fall just short of that. If anything, I’ve overestimated “Pilgrim’s” following and slightly underestimated Julia Roberts, but I suspect hype and good reviews will give “Pilgrim” the boost it needs despite being in fewer than 3,000 theaters.

It will be hard for any returners to put up minimal decreases with so many new and exciting films hitting the market, so The Other Guys and Inception should slide with ease into 4th and 5th.

  1. The Expendables
  2. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
  3. Eat, Pray, Love
  4. The Other Guys
  5. Inception


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