Weekend Preview (9.3.10)

So maybe you can’t hear the crunching of leaves under your feet (or don’t want to quite yet — don’t blame you there), but fall movie season is upon us and it starts with a bang. Well, it started Wednesday with a quiet, brooding thriller in “The American” with George Clooney, a good film, but not exactly a major high note. Today, however, is the bang.

“Machete,” the fake-trailer-turned-feature-film from Robert Rodriguez (“Planet Terror,” “Sin City”) and one of my most anticipated fall movies, will tear up and shoot up theaters everywhere. But it’s not getting widest release; long-distance relationship rom-com “Going the Distance,” a summer movie delayed by a week starring Justin Long and Drew Barrymore, gets released in more than 3,000 theaters. Not sure who’s idea that was.

Now Playing

The American (Wed.)

Directed by Anton Corbijn
Written by Rowan Joffe, Martin Booth (novel)
Starring: George Clooney, Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten

The Word: Corbijn, who directed the buzzed-about black-and-white rock biopic “Control,” takes George Clooney on a spin as a man on the verge of dialing it in who makes high-powered rifles for people doing dirty jobs. After things go wrong in Sweden, he ends up in the Italian country and become involved with a prostitute.

Rotten Tomatoes: 60% (good)

My Thoughts: You can read my positive review for this film here, but it certainly is the type that will divide opinion. Basically, it’s not the fast-paced spy thriller one would expect it to be, but it’s visually impressive and still rather suspenseful — and you’ll definitely want to talk about it after.

Recommendation: If you like highly visual films or films that keep dialogue minimal, preferring to speak in non-verbal ways, you at least won’t be disappointed in “The American.” If you need something upbeat, it’s worth a rental later.


Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis
Written by Robert Rodriguez, Alvaro Rodriguez
Starring: Danny Trejo, Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba

The Word: Pulling together the most randomly awesome cast ever, Rodriguez has created the ultimate ’70s “Mexploitation” flick. The film stars Rodriguez regulars such as Trejo and Cheech Marin as well as Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Robert DeNiro, Lindsay Lohan, “LOST”‘s Jeff Fahey and even Steven Segal. The story is a typical revenge tale as Machete seeks to take down the man who hired him as a federale and betrayed him.

Rotten Tomatoes: 73% (very good)

My Thoughts: Can you think of a better film to start off the fall movie season than the delightfully insane “Machete”? Those who enjoyed “Planet Terror” ought to find Rodriguez in top form here. Early reviews are rather positive, so expect over-the-top action and hilarity in only the way a cheesy ’70s homage can provide.

Recommendation: Action B-movie lovers will find this a can’t miss and most people who enjoy not having to take an action/revenge film seriously all the time will likely love “Machete.”

Going the Distance

Directed by Nanette Burstein
Written by Geoff LaTulippe
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Christina Applegate, Charlie Day

The Word: Everyone’s been there or thought about being there: the long-distance relationship. Real-life couple Drew Barrymore and Justin Long star in this story about just that and the funny moments that come out of making it work.

Rotten Tomatoes: 48% (not good)

My Thoughts: A movie such as this seems ripe to be picked on, but I’ll be a bit more forgiving seeing as Barrymore and Long are actually funny people. It is called a romantic comedy after all and too many times the stars are specialists in not comedy, but melodrama. The film can also brag being the first major film role for Charlie Day (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) and he seems like the funniest part in the trailers.

Recommendation: Certainly not worth seeing in theaters, but come rental time, I could see it as a good stay-at-home date movie.

Box Office Predictions

Two words: crap shoot. My projections have the top five films this week finishing with five-ish million dollars of each other, so this should be interesting. If you look at the film comparisons, all three films opening this week project to make at or around $10 million. There’s a romantic comedy that’s been minimally publicized, a slow-paced thriller with a major star and an exploitation film.

Based on buzz, if any of these films have the potential to exceed expectations, it’s Machete. I think the bar is only so high for the other films, but Robert Rodriguez could exceed expectations, even if the film “Machete” was first featured in, “Grindhouse,” was a box-office flop at just $10 million. I think “Machete” could slightly outdo expectations, especially with a more attractive cast, so I’m going to say $16 million.

It’s tough here at No. 2, but I think Going the Distance, the film with the largest release this weekend, will perform slightly better than most films of its rom-com ilk coming out in September and all. Barrymore’s films tend to fair reasonably well, so I think $12 million is possible. The American should finish right behind with $10-11 million based on that estimation.

Last week’s neck-and-neck competitors will round out the top five despite what I anticipate will be a large drop. Based on performance this week, Takers will beat out The Last Exorcism, and horror films usually fall further anyway. Both, however, shouldn’t fear the more successful August films below them. Each will land somewhere between $8 and $10 million.

  1. Machete
  2. Going the Distance
  3. The American
  4. Takers
  5. The Last Exorcism


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