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.
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I watched “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” this weekend, and one thing really struck me as I took in the initial (and totally gratuitous) shot of Megan Fox in cutoff jean shorts half-straddling a motorcycle: Wow, she’s hot. Throughout the course of the next 150 minutes – really, did a “Transformers” sequel need to be that long? – I found myself observing Ms. Fox’s work wondering if she had what it takes to transform – pun intended – from starlet to star.
By most standards, she’s already a movie star. She has played a lead in two “Transformers” installments, had a supporting role (as a vacant actress, no less) in the Simon Peg comedy “How to Lose Friends & Alienate People” and she recently starred as the title character in the horror flick “Jennifer’s Body.” Moreover, she seems to have a stranglehold on the current #1 ranking as the Hollywood Girl That Guys Want to Bang. But does this really make her a star?
Not in my book. There was no point in the latest “Transformers” installment where Fox couldn’t have been replaced by Elisha Cuthbert, Jessica Biel or some other former (or future) #1 Hollywood Girl That Guys Want to Bang. When I started to type this up, I actually blanked on her name, and had to look it up on IMDB.com. (Ah, yes, Megan Fox.) If nothing else, that makes her a starlet.
Every year or two, there’s a new crop of young’ns vying for the title of “it” girl, and Fox owns it, for now. But it’s a dicey transition from being a hot young thing to developing a long-lasting, viable career in the movie business.
So, does she have what it takes to become a star?
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A CGI-animated family comedy in 3-D performed very well at the box office this weekend and an R-rated horror-comedy tanked. Guess what will be seeing even more of and what we’ll be seeing even less of. Never mind the fact that one film people liked a lot, and the other film they didn’t care for so much. Can’t let a small factor like that affect our views of such matters.
Anyhow, to be very specific, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” didn’t quite hit the level of financial success predicted in the comments to our pre-weekend post by David Medsker, who also reviewed the film. Not that I’m in much position to lord it over Mr. Medsker, since I opined that “I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one go well over the $30 million mark.” Well, I wasn’t wrong if by “well over” you mean by a tenth of a million. The weekend estimate being reported by our usual suspects (Variety, THR/Reuters, Nikki Finke) is $30.1 million, which basically means the film hit the high end of the insider guessstimates, with a small cherry on top for Sony with it’s biggest animated hit yet.
Next in line is a bit of a pleasant surprise in terms of its second-place rank this weekend, not so much in terms of the amount of cash it actually generated. “The Informant!” managed an estimated take of $10.5 million. That can easily be framed as some kind of demerit on the career record of both star Matt Damon and writer-director Steven Soderbergh. For what it’s worth, the film’s critical reception, as expressed in its Rotten Tomatoes “fresh” rating, has improved considerably (from 67% to 74%) since I wrote this all up very early Friday morning, but Nikki Finke has reported a C- ranking from CinemaScore, so we probably have to chalk some of that up to the fact that Soderbergh is kind of a cinephile hometown favorite. He fails frequently with critics and film lovers as well as the public, but he does so by taking big risks, which we tend to see as highly honorable. To the public, however, an unsatisfying movie is just that, unsatisfying, and this one is seems to be appealing just to a particular niche.
Nevertheless, an Oscar nomination for Damon — which Nikki Finke notwithstanding is still possible — might help the modestly budgeted fact-based comedy to make a decent profit over the long haul. At this point, however, this is Damon’s second least remunerative opening weekend. (The first was “The Good Shepherd” a dark, realistic spy film that bored even me — a fan of dark, realistic spy films.) I don’t know if there’s any significance to that whatsoever, since the film is obviously playing down the star’s usual areas of mass appeal and especially considering how many star-driven movies are disappointing the studios these days. Is it possible that after nearly a century of movies audiences are finally figuring out that actors don’t make up the stories as they go along and those writer and director people have more to do with a film’s quality? Nah.
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“Management” is a romantic comedy that chronicles a chance meeting between Mike Cranshaw (Steve Zahn) and Sue Claussen (Jennifer Aniston). When Sue checks into the roadside motel owned by Mike’s parents in Arizona, what starts with a bottle of wine “compliments of management” soon evolves into a multi-layered, cross-country journey of two people looking for a sense of purpose. Mike, an aimless dreamer, bets it all on a trip to Sue’s workplace in Maryland – only to find that she has no place for him in her carefully ordered life. Buttoned down and obsessed with making a difference in the world, Sue goes back to her yogurt mogul ex-boyfriend Jango (Woody Harrelson), who promises her a chance to head his charity operations. But having found something worth fighting for, Mike pits his hopes against Sue’s practicality, and the two embark on a twisted, bumpy, freeing journey to discover that their place in the world just might be together. Watch a new clip from the film below!