Weekend box office preview: “Inception” to meet its match in “The Other Guys”

Christopher Nolan’s science fiction thriller continues to hold audiences to the tune of over $200 million as it enters its fourth week.  It still will likely be no match for the projected $30-$35 million or maybe a bit more being bandied about by box office prognosticators like Ben Fritz and, more optimistically, jolly Carl DiOrio for the new buddy-cop cop parody/homage from Sony starring Will Ferrell, “The Other Guys.” Of course, having Ferrell in a movie is not an instant ticket to box office glory as the experience of “Land of the Lost” taught us not so long ago. “Inception” will nevertheless go to the #2 spot, it appears.

The Other Guys and friend

This time, Ferrell’s got what looks to be very strong support from the increasingly funny Mark Wahlberg not to mention supporting performances by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson as the supercops who would ordinarily be the leads in a buddy-cop flick. It’s even got very decent reviews, which are not a requirement for Ferrell to have a hit but they indicate the movie might be okay. That always helps, though there’s general agreement that the film from Sony is creatively not in anywhere near the ballpark of something like the similarly themed “Hot Fuzz.”

Aimed at a very different audience of young girls, the prospects are less promising for Disney’s “Step Up: 3D.” As the third film in a series that was actually declining, the conventional wisdom is that the only reason it was even made was to cash in on the three-dimensional craze. I’m thinking that craze has already peaked, at least for the present. Nevertheless, DiOrio says that its tracking indicates it might actually beat the $18.9 million opening of the prior entry. I’ll believe that when I see it, though admittedly there really isn’t a strong film for female tweens right now, so counterprogramming could be the film’s salvation. Though with “3D” actually in the title, I’d be worried if I was the executive who greenlit this one.

Luke Wilson and Friends in This week also sees two films opening in over two hundred theaters, making them larger than usual limited releases. As per Box Office Mojo, “Middle Men” from Paramount will be opening in 252 theaters, including the multiscreen drive-in theater about thirty miles east of L.A. where I’ll likely be attending an informal gathering at this weekend.  The movie is getting mixed reviews, which is about right in my view. It’s an attempt to make a Scorsese-style quality film about a major turning point both in the history of porn and e-commerce that fails simply because it tries to tell a miniseries story in the length of an ordinary 100 minute release. Still, it’s an interesting movie with a lot of good moments and some very good acting, including from star Luke Wilson. We’ve been covering it a lot at Bullz-Eye with interviews by me with co-stars Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht and there’s more to come here at Premium Hollywood.

Being released in 231 theaters is Joel Schumacher’s latest attempt at artistic respectability, “12.” Named after a fictitious designer drug, it’s getting predictably uniform bad reviews and is evoking mentions of Larry Clark’s infamous “Kids.”  On 45 screens is kind of the flip side of that, a sentimental comedy-drama of puppy love that sounds a little bit like a very wholesome “Let the Right One,” minus (obviously) the vampires, called “Flipped.” What’s weird here is not that its reviews so far aren’t so good, but that there are only four of them. Even at his best, Reiner was never a huge favorite of mine, though he sometimes chose great material. (No, “When Harry Met Sally” is not really great material in my view.). Still, only getting four reviews is just sad.

  

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Rainy days and movieland Mondays… (Updated)

…Can really get you down. Especially if you’re a deposed big time executive.

* Marc Shmuger and David Linde are both now former honchos at Universal. As reported in the show biz paper of record, having a far better and busier Monday are Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley, from the marketing and distribution departments respectively. As for the why, I’m sure it can mostly be summed by a number of fairly expensive/high profile box office disappointments/flops including “Duplicity,” “Funny People,” “State of Play,” and the one that got almost no respect from anyone (except Roger Ebert), “Land of the Lost.”

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Still, you can trust Nikki Finke to find a more down and dirty side (Shmuger was “‘The Schmuck'”! Poor Linde was “collateral damage”) while Anne Thompson provides her usual sober assessment and notes that the real killer might have been the lack of any apparent “tentpoles” coming any time soon.

* On a similar note, the Rich Ross ascension at Disney is starting to look like a sure thing amidst an overall shake-up — or at least that’s what they’re saying today at Variety. We’re told to expect “a greater emphasis on tentpoles and family fare.” Not a surprise…gotta have them tentpoles.

UPDATE: Ross’s promotion is official. Anne Thompson has the press release.

* Nikki Finke also has an item to gladden the heart of our own Chris Glotfelty. “Paranormal Activity” has had what the Finke terms “freakishly good” business with $15,000 per screening averages (matching the amount I’m seeing reported as the film’s budget…very spooky!) in a special midnight-only engagement in 33 cities Thursday through Saturday, which means some theaters were making those numbers not only at midnight but even on a day when most people had work/classes the next morning. The film will be expanding into a regular release in 40 cities on Friday.

After reading a few reviews and seeing some comments online in addition to what Chris wrote, I have to say that in the wake of so-called “torture porn” and considering that filmic horror has, long ago, sometimes gone to places so horrible and extreme an awful lot of us won’t even consider following (and I don’t just mean silly gorephobics like me), it’s nice to see you can still scare an audience, including hardy souls like Chris (and supposedly Steven Spielberg), to death with not much more than a big, slow build-up and some very inexpensive atmosphere and basic special effects. Is it possible that our filmgoing innocence still lingers?

* Work on the “Arrested Development” movie continues. Yay.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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Today in casting news

There are times when I really think I shouldn’t mention another single casting related story. There are so many, and the news so often changes several times before the first day of shooting, that it seems kind of pointless. Nevertheless, today brings us a few such items that sort of demand a little attention.

* I don’t think I’ve mentioned the word that’s been floating around for a while now that Brad Pitt will apparently be opposite Robert Downey, Jr. playing the role of Sherlock Holmes’ archnemisis, Prof. James Moriarity, aka “the Napoleon of Crime.” Though it appears he’ll only be in a cameo role, if at all, in the upcoming “Sherlock Holmes” film directed by Guy Ritchie, he’ll apparently be handling head villain duties in the already-planned for sequel — assuming, of course, that the first film is reasonably profitable.

If you can’t get enough of excessively early speculation, Spout’s Christopher Campbell was way ahead of me and rounded that all up as of yesterday. Pitt seems an unusual choice, but he’s always seemed to do better in character roles than leading man parts, and Downey is a genius at bringing a bit of character to leading man roles, so there’s a nice bit of symmetry here.

* If one or even two well known leads can’t guarantee box office success, why not try four and add a cult-comedy kicker? That seems to be thinking behind the latest collaboration of comedy writer-director Adam McKay and post “Land of the Lost“-still-megastar Will Ferrell.

As described by MTV’s Mike Wigler and THR‘s Mike Fleming, “The Other Guys” is a post “Hot Fuzz” spin on the buddy-cop genre in which Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne “No Longer the Rock” Johnson will attempt to allow a day in the sun for presumably bumbling, non-supercop ne’er do wells Ferrell and Mark “It’s been Decades Since I’ve Been ‘Marky Mark!” Wahlberg.  Only time will tell if this funky bunch — which also includes English comic Steve Coogan of “Tropic Thunder” and “24 Hour Party People” — delivers at the box office, but all five of these guys have proven they can be varying degrees of funny.

For some reason Jackson  hasn’t had much luck with out-and-out comedies. (He once remarked wryly that, “They were all funny while we were making them.”) Personally, I’d like to see him break that particular curse. I’m sure he would too.

  

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Weinstein’s Cash Problems to Trouble “Basterds”? …And the Genesis of a “Hangover”

Someday, I’m going to have to write post apologizing to Nikki Finke for all the mean things I’ve thought about her in the wake of some of the mean things she’s written in her still extant column for the quickly crumbling L.A. Weekly. But the fact remains that her blog is absolutely invaluable and mostly avoids the sort of editorializing that used to drive me crazy — even if her commenters still drive me up the wall. Also, today, she helped me learn about two breaking stories which will be very much of interest to PH readers.

* As is being reported by The New York Times among many others, the Weinstein Company appears to be facing some serious financial issues. Of most immediate interest to film fans, particularly those of us who may confess to a certain amount of fanboyism, is how the reported restructuring may affect the release of Quentin Tarantino’s extremely long-awaited “Inglourious Basterds” (I think he spent a year developing the misspellings alone.) The amazing Ms. Finke reports, however, that things may be even worse than the NYT implied, and the company may have issues releasing any film.

Meanwhile, Sharon Waxman is claiming that the ubiquitous Harvey is pressuring Tarantino to cut 40 minutes or so from the currently 160 minute war flick, which got all-over-the-map reviews and comments at Cannes. While reporting a quote from brother Bob Weinstein placing the apparent financial crisis in perspective (i.e., the financial deaths of the Weinsteins have been reported more than once before), she also mentions another lavish production that could be effected: Rob Marshall’s intriguing looking “Nine.”

* And, in a Finke exclusive, she has some possible backstory on how “The Hangover” was induced. Was it really as borderline underhanded and complicated as she makes it sound? Only her “insiders” know for sure. I will say it’s yet another sign of the truth of JFK’s pronouncement that “Victory has a thousand fathers….” (The “but defeat is an orphan” portion of the quote would no doubt relate better to why we’re not reading stories about whose brilliant idea “Land of the Lost” was.)

  

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…And the Winner (Really) Is….

No, this is not a reference to last night’s Tonys. True, the movie-inspired “Billy Elliot” did take the night, continuing a “trend” for B-way musicals that go back to the classic film era, and it’s also true that host Neil Patrick Harris is a winner both for his show-closing/show-stopping musical summation, and because Empire Online has announced a couple of movie gigs for the still up-and-coming Doogie Horrible. (h/t Whedonesque).

However, it seems that the battle for the #1 box office spot discussed on my last post actually had a somewhat different result than we thought. It’s important to remember that those numbers I talk about on Sunday are really only estimates, though they are treated by press-sters as just this side of gospel. The upshot is Variety is reporting that both “The Hangover” and “Up” did better than expected business yesterday, but the former did just a little bit better better business, if you follow me. Sayeth the big V’s Pamela Mcclintock:

Final figures will show that “Hangover” grossed $45 million from 3,269 runs. “Up” should finish at $44.3 million to $44.4 million from 3,818 theaters.

I don’t suppose it really matters that much in the final analysis; nobody’s going broke here. (Well, I can’t speak for degenerate gamblers. Someone, somewhere, just lost a big bet.)

In other box office news I didn’t have time for yesterday, “Angels and Demons” cracked the $400 million mark over the weekend worldwide, sayeth the Finke. “Terminator Salvation” is not doing so badly overseas, actually. “Land of the Lost,” however, may be doing even less well than expected. Critics, you may step up your gloating.

  

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