Weekend box office preview: Will “The Roommate” breach “Sanctum”? Does anyone care?

It’s Superbowl weekend and that means partially empty theaters on Sunday as a good chunk of the nation drinks beer, eats various high fat and sodium foods, and obsesses either over the game or the commercials. Between that and possible lingering effects of the big storm being suffered through by my easterly Premium Hollywood/Bullz-Eye colleagues in the Midwest and the East, you’re talking about less than optimum movie-going conditions. And, this week, it’s certainly looks like a battle between two less than optimum movies.

To be specific, we have “The Roommate” from Sony/Screen Gems which features “Gossip Girl” star Leighton Meester and the similar looking Minka Kelly of the acclaimed “Friday Night Lights” in a what sure looks like a retread of one of those “the _______ from hell” movies of the eighties and nineties. I never actually saw it, but the model in this case appears to be 1992’s “Single White Female” but set in a dorm room — scarier because the personal space is even smaller, I suppose.

909285 - The Roommate

It’s also scarier because it’s not being shown to critics and the trailer for this alleged thriller actually gave me a couple of good laughs. Even so, hopes are reasonably high for this very young female skewing PG-13 flick to top this very top-able weekend. The L.A. TimesBen Fritz and THR‘s Pamela McClintock both pass on the general opinion that the take will probably not be much more than $15 million and quite possibly significantly less. On the other hand, “The Roommate” only cost $16 million to make so, it’ll make back its budget and it doesn’t seem to me like the studio is blowing much on marketing this one either. Today was the first I’ve heard of it.

The other major new release, which has been on my radar to some degree, is an underwater Australian thriller shot in 3D that is pushing the name of its producer as hard as it can. I guess James Cameron can afford to sully his brand name with what sure looks like a sub-par effort if he wants to. It’s not nice to judge a movie you haven’t seen but with mostly bad reviews and a trailer showing off some scary moments and some surprisingly poor acting it’s hard to hope it’ll be terribly good.

Pamela McClintock reports that Universal is downplaying expectations with a guess of $6 to 8 million. $10 million is apparently too much to hope for. Considering that men are the primary audience is here, if you want to treat a movie theater like your own inner sanctum, I suggest seeing this around 6:00 on Sunday in a theater in or near Wisconsin or Ohio.

In limited release in some 26 theaters according to Box Office Mojo, we have a film with a title that must be on movie marketers’ minds every Superbowl weekend: “Wo Zhi Nu Run Xin.” That’s, transliterated Mandarin for “What Women Want.” The remake of the rather funny Mel Gibson/Helen Hunt 2000 fantasy rom-com from Nancy Myers is back at us from China with Andy Lau and Gong Li.

  

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Killer Movie

Ever since 1996’s “Scream,” it’s been tough for filmmakers to do subtle parodies of the horror genre without being greeted with a bored “it’s been done.” Kudos to Jeff Fisher, then, for deciding to take a slightly different approach by mocking reality TV and horror movies but managing to get a few laughs without sacrificing the scares. (He has the right resume for it: he used to work on “The Simple Life.”) Although “Killer Movie” can’t be called a groundbreaking scary-movie entry, it has a wittier-than-average script and a strong cast, including Nestor Carbonell (“Lost”) as a sleazy agent who looks sharp but doesn’t think twice about sacrificing morality in favor of a big paycheck, Kaley Cuoco (“The Big Bang Theory”) playing the middle ground between Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, and Leighton Meester (“Gossip Girl”) in what can only be described as a glorified cameo.

The premise of the film involves a reality-show director – played by Paul Wesley, late of ABC Family’s “Fallen” – who gets drafted for a gig covering a high school hockey team in White Plains, ND, but ends up battling with the show’s executive producer (Cyia Batten), who’d rather go sensational and focus on the death of the team’s former coach, who had just gotten out of prison after having had his murder conviction overturned. It will not surprise you that the coach’s death soon becomes only one of many within White Plains, but you probably will find yourself unexpectedly impressed by Cuoco’s performance in the film, which gives one hope that she may yet have a film career ahead of her…not that we’re hastening the end of “The Big Bang Theory,” you understand. Beyond the blood, what keeps the film moving is the decision to intersperse interview footage with the characters between scenes. Though there’s a decent amount of typical horror stuff here, it’s those bits which raise “Killer Movie” a bit above the ordinary.

Click to buy “Killer Movie”

  

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Entourage 5.7 – Gotta Look Up To Get Down

Lately, this blog has been getting a lot more comments than usual, and to that I say “thank you.” The debates might get a little heated once and awhile, but if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that we love watching “Entourage.” With that said, however, this week’s episode was a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, we have yet another totally pointless story about Vince falling for some model, and on the other hand, we have a subplot involving Ari that could potentially transform the series forever.

Let’s save the best for last, though, and jump straight into the other half of the episode first. It’s been a long time since Vince last worked in Hollywood, and in that time, he’s turned down an awful lot of opportunities to make some fast cash. Granted, some of them (like the “Benji” film) showed real integrity on Vince’s part, but why in the world would he turn down a one-day modeling gig for Dolce & Gabana worth $1 million? He may not care about money, but one of the reasons he’s suffering through such a job drought is because he ran away to Mexico for six months. That may not sound like a very long time to most people, but in Hollywood, it’s the equivalent to being gone for several years. That Dolce & Gabana gig would have gotten his face back out into the public (or at least the people that matter), and it would have gone a long way in helping to restore his image.

Entourage 5.7

Of course, he decides not to do it. Why? Because he likes the model that was fired, and instead of making a little extra cash and working on getting a job, he decides that hopping on a plane to Hawaii with a bunch of hot women is a much better idea. Under any other circumstance, it probably would have been, but Vince is supposed to be responsible these days and, well, that wasn’t a very responsible decision. He can party as much as he wants once he’s a star again, but honestly, why is he still being treated like royalty when he’s clearly far from it? Forget for a moment that the writers used this exact same storyline with Leighton Meester only a few weeks ago and ask yourself this: if it weren’t absolutely necessary to get Vince and Ari in the same room (or in this case, airplane hangar) together for the final scene, would this subplot have ever been written?


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Entourage 5.2 – Unlike a Virgin

Turtle: You wanna go to the Villa tonight, E?
Eric: What, just you and me?
Turtle: Yeah, you’re right.

If there’s one thing I learned from tonight’s episode, it’s that the writers have no reservations about taking things slow. That’s actually good news, since it means they’re serious about the show’s future, despite the fact that some fans were probably hoping the new season would start off with a little more of a bang. All I can say is, be patient, because although the first two episodes have been relatively tame, they’ve also shown real promise for the things to come.

Even Vince is taking things more seriously since being courted back to Hollywood. He’s busy reading scripts, and though the films he’s interested in already have actors attached, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get back into the game. Unfortunately, no one is listening, and while Eric would love for him to do an indie film called “Nine Brave Souls” from a duo of up-and-coming screenwriters, he agrees with Ari that Vince’s next project should be a studio film. He’s also probably not willing to gamble away what little left there is of Vince’s career, but that doesn’t stop him from tracking down the writers to discuss the possibility of signing with him.

Entourage 5.2

What he doesn’t expect is for LB (Lukas Haas) and Nick (Giovanni Ribisi) to be so demanding. A little too demanding for a pair of unknowns, perhaps, but they also have a point. After all, if Eric is Vincent Chase’s manager, then why can’t he convince him to star in their movie? Eric explains that Vince is only interested in doing a studio movie right now, but Nick doesn’t want to hear it. Instead, he suggests that Eric sell their script first before they begin worrying about any kind of contract.


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