Weekend box office preview — how high will “Iron Man 2” fly?

“Pretty high” is the obvious answer. As I write this, the first midnight shows are just finishing up the trailers on the East Coast, fanboys are queuing up in the Midwest, and their West Coast brethren are enjoying their pre-film burgers and Red Bull, but as far as everyone seems to be concerned, the sequel to the surprise “four quadrant” mega-blockbuster of 2008 is already a massive hit.  “Iron Man 2” has been booked into a record number of theaters, 4,380 according to Box Office Mojo.

Robert Downey Jr. in

Moreover, Nikki Finke is reporting that the film has already earned $132 million from 53 assorted countries where it has already opened. The summer solstice is more than six weeks away, but summer-time film madness is, we are informed, very much upon us. (Just btw, Anthony D’Alessandro offers a brief historical look at the outward creep of the summer movie season over the last couple of decades.)

So, the question remains, just how many millions will the second film about billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) fetch. Will it beat the record $158.4 million opening of “The Dark Knight” and crack $160 mill? Or, will it get a mere $140 million or so and send everyone to the immensely well appointed and hugely relative poor house? That seems to be the floor being offered up by the various gurus, including Ben Fritz of the L.A. Times‘ Company Town blog and THR’s jolly Carl DiOrio, who characteristically seems to be leaning slightly towards the possibility of a huge opening for Marvel and Paramount.

Nevertheless, there is a small dark cloud here and that’s the general perception, at least among us press types — who are, I remind you again, people too — that “Iron Man 2” is, while not at all bad, also not as good as the first one. This is a rare case where I’ve actually seen the week’s big movie in advance myself and, quality wise, I’m seeing this one as a glass-half-empty. For me, the story simply fails to find a strong emotional connection between Tony Stark’s troubles and the various threats he’s facing. It all feels a bit vague and disconnected despite director Jon Favreau’s way with humor, mostly good acting, and some very decent action scenes.

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A trailer for a Sunday morning/afternoon: “The Kids Are All Right”

It’s a little sad that what appears to be a really entertaining social comedy with two genuine superstars, a leading man who deserves to be one, and another possible emerging young superstar or two is considered an “indie” flick. Anyhow, “The Kids Are All Right” brings us staid and affluent same-sex parents Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. They find their peace interrupted when Mark Ruffalo turns up as the fun-loving, ne’er do well biological father of their teenage children, played by Mia Wasikowska of “Alice in Wonderland” and Josh Hutcherson of “The Bridge to Terabithia” and the upcoming “Red Dawn” remake.

Except for the lesbian part and the artificial insemination part, this could easily have been an “A” Paramount production in 1951 with, say, Jean Arthur and Rosalind Russell as the two mommies, Robert Mitchum as the bio-dad, and Liz Taylor and maybe Dean Stockwell as the kids. Oh, well.

A big h/t to Dustin Knowles of Pajiba. And, yeah, if I was going to have two mommies, Ms. Bening and Ms. Moore would work for me, too.

Also, of course, this isn’t the first movie with this title, give or take and “L” and a space.


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The President of Love, Pt. 2

We continue with our Valentine’s Day/President’s Day-inspired scenes of presidential amour with a scene from “The American President.”

Below, Michael Douglas as fictional prez Andrew Shepherd has considerably better luck than “Young Mr. Lincoln,” thanks to Annette Bening’s very much alive, feisty, and ultra-smart lobbyist, Sidney Ellen Wade. First, however, he must deliver his full share of Aaron Sorkin verbiage.


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“I ain’t much of a lover boy.”

Vice-obsessed film writer Peter Biskind, best known for the book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-And Rock ‘N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood, has a new biography coming out of Warren Beatty.  The most interesting thing to me about Beatty is how an actor who could have easily done just fine on his good looks,  charisma, and acting ability also became one of the most important filmmakers of the later 20th century. But that’s me and I’m weird.

True to form for Biskind, he has grabbed headlines with an estimate that Beatty, who in his prime was definitely noted for being one of the world’s most avid heterosexuals, might have slept with as many as 12,775 women, a number inflated to “almost 13,000” by caption writers. This was all presumably between losing his virginity at 20 in 1957 (kind of late for a future mega-multi-stud, even in the fifties) and settling down with Annette Bening to start a family in the early nineties.

Now, if we simply multiply 365 days by 33 years, the number we get is 12,045. That means that Beatty would have had to sleep with at least an average of a different woman every day, plus add in a good number of various menages or multi-partner days while also managing to help redefine Hollywood movies during the sixties, seventies, and eighties. Not impossible, I suppose but a guy’s gotta sleep and work and eat and stuff.

Naturally, the Beatty camp has shot back and everyone has clarified that, while  Beatty allowed himself to be interviewed by Biskind, the book it is in no way an authorized biography, as some outlets had wrongly stated.

Anne Thompson writes that “Beatty works in mysterious ways.” Absolutely. Anyone who’s seen one of his Barbara Walters interviews can see that the extremely intelligent Beatty is a remarkably cagey fellow in dealing with the gossip-loving press and, based on his reputation, it’s easy to assume that Beatty did sleep with a number of women most of us would regard as enormous, even if this particularly number seems a bit absurd. This, my friends, is not news. Absent moral qualms and given the ability to easily bed innumerable beauties, so, perhaps, would most of us males.

But, what’s really interesting to me is that Beatty’s career-defining role which presumably upped his already massive sexual stock into the stratosphere, was playing a guy who loved exactly one woman and couldn’t even make love to her — not physically, anyhow.  That’s how it works sometimes.


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Serious offers and old gossip

Just another sane Monday in movieland.

A robot* Halcyon, a somewhat odd firm with an all but empty website, has officially put its one and only asset and reason for being, the rights to “The Terminator” franchise, on the auction block. So reports Variety and Nikki Finke. Suddenly, over at Whedonesque — yes, the Joss Whedon fansite where the beloved cult TV and occasional film creator occasionally posts  — Whedon links to it and posts a very serious offer. So serious, in fact, that Finke — who occasionally claims she “doesn’t do geek” runs the item. Meanwhile, back at Whedonesque, the Whe-man and a commenter who appears to be both a fan of the Joss and the late singer-songwriter Warren Zevon (some folks are just blessed with too much taste) note an earlier serious offer.

Quote of the week (probably):

Well, here’s what I have to say to Nikki Finke: you are a fine journalist and please don’t ever notice me.

* Sony Classic has picked up the rights to “Mother and Child,” the latest film from arthouse/cable director Rodrigo Garcia, still probably best known to a lot of people as the son of Columbian literary great Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s not too surprising a pick-up, even in this tough market, given that the cast includes Annette Bening, Naomi Watts, up-and-comer Kerry Washington (“Ray,” “The Fantastic Four”), and Samuel L. Jackson.

* The box office “actuals” for most of the big releases turned out to be a couple of million higher than the estimates I reported yesterday. Sorry MJ’s ghost.

* Thinking about “The Men Who Stare at Goats” which comes out this Friday, Jeff Bridges gets appropriately trippy but not in too dudish a way.

* This is a few days old, but for those of us who find ourselves unduly fascinating by the Church of Scientology, via Kim Masters, here’s an interesting new story opened up last week. Writer-director Paul Haggis (“Crash”) announced he’s leaving the church.

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