That seems to be the trend in Hollywood conventional wisdom this busy March weekend, at least as reflected by my only source for such matters right now, the thoughts of jolly Carl DiOrio and Greg Kilday of The Hollywood Reporter. It certainly seems fairly impossible to argue that “Alice in Wonderland” won’t continue to enjoy its ride at the top of the box office for another week, with the aid of all those extra-pricey 3-D tickets. If it makes less than $30 million or so, I’m thinking it would be a rude shock for Disney.
As for the #2 spot, the appeal of Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler seems to be working, as per the mysteries of “tracking,” for “The Bounty Hunter.” The film aroused some serious vitriol, however, from our own David Medsker, who has lost all patience with Ms. Aniston. It’s not doing much better with critics as a whole. Scott Tobias of the A.V. Club opines that:
Based on the onscreen evidence, not a single person in front of or behind the camera cared a whit about how The Bounty Hunter turned out…Some movies are passion projects; The Bounty Hunter is an inertia project.
That’s actually mild compared to the zinger Tobias ends his review with. As you might guess, it’s Rotten Tomatoes rating as of this writing is pretty bad, a very lowly 8%.
Still, audience members may be lured by the film’s effective advertising. Its effective advertising promises a lively ride as a sort of two-fisted spin on “It Happened One Night,” though the PG-13 “Bounty Hunter” is apparently more of an attempt at a light-hearted actioner than the action-packed rom-com you’d expect from the marketing.
DiOrio and Kilday are guesstimating $20-23 million for Sony. Sounds doable to me, though the second weekend might have a huge drop if the film is as much of a creative misfire as it sounds.
Next up is Fox’s PG-rated “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” based on a popular series of young adult “novels in cartoon.” (My pet peeve: why can’t we just call them comics?) I have to say that I hope the movie is much better than the trailer, which I found completely unfunny — just a collection of pale sub-“Wonder Years” jokes. The reviews seem to promise something at least a little better, with “Kid” dividing critics somewhat, though no one seems all that excited in either direction.
In any case, the popularity of the books, which actually started as a series of web-comics, appear to be boosting this one, as is the fact that it’s a family film that is being pitched as having a certain degree of adult appeal. For what it’s worth, “Wimpy Kid” also features Chloe Moretz, soon to be a pre-teen superstar with the release of “Kick-Ass.”
Rounding out the major new releases, we have the apparently more gruesome than you’d even expect, “Repo Men,” starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker as agents who repo organs from luckless deadbeats in a future where, as Roger Ebert implies, it appears that health care reform was permanently stalled. Though our own Will Harris found enough to like in the film, he’s in the definite minority of critics with only 16% finding much nice to say about it, according to the T-meter — and not a single “Top Critic” fully taking it to their still-in-place heart. Many are lingering over the film’s gore, which Will notes may be a bit much even for the strong-of-stomach.
It’s possible that that much grue in a non-horror context is simply not that appealing to audiences. The element of humor, which was supposed to be in their somewhere, I gather, seems to have been lost, and the action/thriller elements may seem muddled. It’s possible that, being reminded by the similar title, some people will stay home and rent 1984’s “Repo Man” instead, which gets a 97% on the Tomato-meter, btw. I know that, gore-phobe that I am, that’s what I’d do.
There’s more going on this weekend, however, in terms of limited releases. According to the bean-counters extraordinaire at Box Office Mojo, “The Runaways,” a new film about the controversial underage punk-pop band is debuting at 244 theaters to mildly positive critical reaction. It may benefit from interest from those of us elderly enough to remember the late seventies band that more or less invented girl power. For younger viewers, the presence of its two very young stars, Kristen Stewart as the young Joan Jett and the now unbelievably 16 year-old and, dare I say it, sexy Dakota Fanning, might help.
If I wasn’t already feeling like a skeez after writing the above, I am now forced by the vagaries of film release patterns to mention the name of Roman Polanski. His critically praised and, so far, commercially solid political thriller, “The Ghost Writer,” is about to be a much less limited release, and will be expanding up to 819 theaters this weekend.