Box Office Preview: Nothing to See Here

Snow White and the Huntsman

Who throws a cupcake, honestly? On a similar note, who would think combining Snow White with high fantasy and action/adventure is a good idea, honestly? Why, Universal Pictures, that’s who. We’ve got them to thank for the atrocious “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Coming soon to a theater near you!

I just can’t wrap my head around it, it seems like they’re actually trying to make a terrible movie. What separates good fantasy, stuff like “Game of Thrones” or “Lord of the Rings,” from the alarmingly awful majority of the genre is the subversion of cliches like the ultimate battle of good versus evil. When it comes to “Game of Thrones,” believe me, I should know. Especially given how much of my life I spend writing about it. Yet the tagline for “Snow White” is “Evil meets Destiny,” it’s right there in the trailer. I feel I should add this isn’t just me being grumpy either, the film’s at a 46 percent on the Tomatometer.

The movie’s about… Come on, what do you think it’s about? It’s Kristen Stewart as Snow White and Charlize Theron as the queen. Old queenie gets her panties in a bunch when her talking mirror tells her Snow White may one day be the fairest of them all.

The only difference between this and the Disney version is the queen sends a Huntsman (played by Chris Hemsworth) to capture Snow White. Seriously Hemsworth, if I wasn’t still feeling my “Avengers” contact high I might not be able to forgive you for this. Oh, and there’s battles and actiony stuff too, which always makes for a better film. Just ask “Battleship.”

Piranha 3DD

I didn’t think it was possible for me to be less excited about a movie than “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Then I watched the trailer for “Piranha 3DD.” I think I may have strained whatever muscles are responsible for dry heaving. Did you know the extra “D” in the title is meant to indicate this a sequel? Because I didn’t. I suppose it’s also a boob joke. Don’t blame the messenger, this is high-brow stuff folks. Summing this one up on my own might induce actual vomitus. To spare myself the trouble I’ll let the three of you interested peruse the official synopsis:

After the terror unleashed on Lake Victoria in Piranha 3D, the pre-historic school of blood thirsty piranhas are back. This time, no one is safe from the flesh eating fish as they sink their razor sharp teeth into the visitors of summer’s best attraction, The Big Wet Water Park.

Just copy and pasting that hurt. Anyway, “Piranha 3DD” stars a bunch of young no names, along with people like Ving Rhames, David Hasselhoff, and Gary Busey. To this I say fine, get your money while there’s money to be got. But then I read that Christopher Lloyd is in the picture and my face looked something like this. That’s right, the man who played Doc Brown in “Back to the Future” and Taber in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is dragging his name through the mud with this garbage. Alright, in his defense the original’s been certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. But “Pirahna 3DD’s” rating on the Tomatometer stands at a measly 12 percent.

Avoid this film like the plague, or, you know, a pre-historic school of blood thirsty piranhas.

Battlefield America

Did I say I was unexcited about “Pirahna 3DD” because “Battlefield America” has brought me to depths of disinterest I never thought possible. The synopsis calls it “A steady look at the underbelly of the youth battle dance culture in Long Beach, California.” The underbelly of youth dance culture? Seriously? Even if that didn’t sound ridiculous how many dance off movies can there possibly be? And now we’ve got to involve children?

Apparently “Battlefield America” is director Chris Stokes’ follow-up to 2004’s “You Got Served.” Since when do movies as universally disliked as “You Got Served” (16 on the Tomatometer) get follow-ups? Well, for a while now. I suppose a better question is why these movies get follow-ups, sequels, or anything of the sort. Well, money. Always money.

Please don’t make me talk about this movie anymore, it’s killing me. If you’re going to the theater this weekend see “The Avengers” or “Men in Black III.” Better yet, see Wes Anderson’sMoonrise Kingdom” if you have the opportunity. Please don’t waste your time or money on these new releases.

  

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The Twilight Trio at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

Here’s a Hollywood tradition. Here’s actors Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner at “The Twilight Trio” Hand/Footprint Ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

WWW.ACEPIXS.COM ************ November 3 2011, LA Actors Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner at ‘The Twilight Trio’ Hand/Footprint Ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on November 3, 2011 in Hollywood, California
  

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Box office preview: Will “Saw 3D” bloody “Paranormal Activity 2”?

I have no bloody idea, actually, because the entire box office prognostication community — all two members of it that I rely on, anyhow — seem to be taking a break. I know for a fact that both the L.A. Times‘ Ben Fritz and THR‘s ever jolly Carl Diorio are writing stuff, they’re just not venturing any guesses or passing along the usual tracking rumors about this coming weekend. I guess with only major new release, it just didn’t seem worth it. Mr. DiOrio did, however, write a piece yesterday, which is not visible on THR but is via Reuters, explaining why, beyond the fact of Halloween, there actually are a number of reasons why horror pictures tend to come out when the leaves turn orange and the breezes turn chilly. Interesting, but not what I need to get me out of this predicament.

Saw-3D-2-550x366

Indeed, I don’t even have any reviews of “Saw 3D” to mention, because we all know that critics can’t really help, and just might hurt, a picture like this. For you “Saw” fans, however, I can pass along some roundtable interviews our own Will Harris posted a bit earlier today as well as David Medsker’s Bullz-Eye compilation of the most beloved “Saw” series deaths and near-misses. Honestly, though, I’m at a loss, especially I’m too squeamish to have ever seen a single entry in the series.

Regardless, the gory horror tale will be facing some serious competition from the second week of the so-far over-performing ($40 million worth) non-gore driven scare follow-up, “Paranormal Activity 2.” On the other hand, there’s no particular reason to think it won’t suffer something like the typical horror-flick second week drop of 50% or over. That shouldn’t be too hard for the 3D sado-splatter film to beat, but you never know. We’ll see whether the ticket-price raising format can ameliorate the fatigue the “Saw” series has shown on past sequel go-rounds.

In terms of limited releases, we have the final film in the “Millennium Trilogy,” Swedish edition. “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” which isn’t overly exciting critics opening in 123 theaters according Box Office Mojo’s theater counts. Though an internationally huge franchise like this should, in theory, be critic-proof, this is the art-house trade we’re talking about and some might decide to wait for home video or, like me, who enjoyed the first film but haven’t read any of the books yet and skipped the last film, might decide to simply catch up with the books at some point instead. On the other hand, the even-growing fame of the “girl” herself, Noomi Rapace, might help things out a bit.

Also suffering the slings and arrows of often unimpressed critics is “Welcome to the Rileys” a festival drama starring James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, and Kristen Stewart. Directed by Jake Scott, son of Ridley, the film has generated a little attention but I fear that may be over now given its decidedly “meh” critical reception.

Doing a little better with critics, including my esteemed colleague Jason Zingale, is Gareth Edwards’ “Monsters,” a very unusual monster flick arriving just in time for the holiday. It’s generated a lot of online attention and you absolutely have to give it props for its visual power — accomplished on a truly miniscule budget by is special effects trained director — and for its good intentions in attempting a character driven romantic tale with, yes, actual monsters and some genuinely clever chilling moments. Still, like 37% of Rotten Tomatoes critics, I was kind of let down by it and I blame the fact that the film was made with only a story outline and no formal screenplay. On the other hand, it’s easily the most visually striking monster flick that I can think of not directed by Guillermo del Toro.

Whitney Able in

  

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“Date Night” ahead (right now) in titanic weekend box-office photo-finish (updated)

It’s important to remember that the weekend estimates I report every week on these box office wrap-ups are just that, estimates.  “Actuals” come out later in the week and, if there’s a really significant difference I might mention it, but there rarely is.

Nevertheless, considering that I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, West coast time based on material that was largely written some hours ago, there’s obviously some element of the unknowable, and when the week’s top two films are separated in the current estimates by only $225,000, a reversal is far more likely than usual. However, thank God, this isn’t an election and “almost” here counts even more than in horseshoes and about the same as in hang grenades. For the studios and the filmmakers, the point is to make money, not so much to best the competition.

Tina Fey and Steve Carrell in And, in that sense we certainly had more than one winner this weekend as the non-3-D, and therefore more reasonably priced, “Date Night” most certainly won the day in terms of keisters-in-cushions and also, as of now, cash in hand.  As per the mighty Box Office Mojo weekend estimate chart, the Steve Carrell/Tina Fey zany action rom-com earned an estimated $27.1 million for Fox while being seen on about 425 fewer screens than its main competition. Also, since it’s budget was a relatively modest $55 million, not counting the film’s heavy promotion, it will go into the black relatively quickly as well, which should please the bean counters.

UPDATE: Late last night, Nikki Finke had word that the estimates for Sunday’s take were looking significantly off. Today, THR/Jolly Carl DiOrio tell us the current revised estimates has “Titans” collecting $26.7 million and “Date Night” a lower than previously mentioned $25.2. These are, still, however, estimates and not “actuals.” Nevertheless, they are likely more accurate.

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“The Bounty Hunter” to ride shotgun for “Alice”?

Karl Rove and Ken Starr in 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%.

Jenifer Aniston, Gerard Butler, and the back of bald guy's head star in

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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