Box Office Preview: Two kinds of romance, chimps and Bob Marley

What’s new this week? Well, not much. In terms of wide releases we’ve got a romantic drama starring Zac Efron, a rom-com based on a Steve Harvey book, and a nature documentary from Disney. A critically acclaimed documentary about Bob Marley could break up the monotony. It won’t be in a huge number of theaters but it will be available through on demand television services. For you glass half-full types, at least we won’t be subjected to any sequels or 3D re-releases.


The Lucky One
This movie is exactly what you think it is. It’s an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel (you know, that guy who wrote “The Notebook”) starring Zac Efron. Reviews have been mixed, but tilt towards the not so good side. Even the nicer critics are quick to point out that there’s a formula at work here.

It’s rarely a good sign when you can figure out the entire plot of a movie from a trailer.

While serving in Iraq, U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a picture of a woman he has never met and decides it’s lucky. So lucky in fact that he credits it with keeping him alive. Sound familiar? Didn’t Channing Tatum star in this movie like two years ago?

Logan comes home determined to find the woman, Beth, and succeeds after just a bit of internet stalking. Right when things start to get romancey, boom, conflict. Beth discovers the picture and is understandably creeped out before things inevitably work out in the end. Moral of the story: stalking is OK as long as you look like Zac Efron.


Think Like a Man
Again, nothing new to see here. “Think Like a Man” has gotten mixed reviews and looks like any other romantic comedy with an ensemble cast. Although to its credit, the movie seems like it could be appealing regardless of gender. Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter sums it up nicely:

As executed by an appealing ensemble of smooth operators, this adaptation of the Steve Harvey advice book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man often hits its amusing marks, but with a weighty running time of two hours, it often feels more like a lecture than an intended romp.

My fellow TV junkies will see some familiar faces. Most prominent is Jerry Ferrara, also known as Turtle from “Entourage.” Also appearing are Michael Ealy and Meagan Good, who’ve had recurring roles in “Californication,” as Ben and Kali, respectively.

Hopefully Kevin Hart and Romany Malco, who had a hilarious exchange in “The 40 Year-Old Virgin,” will get to interact again.

Last and least, R&B singer/Rihanna-beater Chris Brown has a role as well. Because nobody belongs in a romantic comedy more than a man convicted of felony assault. Hilarious!


Chimpanzee
Jane Goodall’s appearance on “The Daily Show” on Monday certainly made “Chimpanzee” sound intriguing. The nature-doc has received more good reviews than bad ones.The consensus seems to be that the spectacular raw footage outweighs the sometimes forced, cutesy narration. Above all this is a Disney movie, so even its primate stars can probably count to the average age of its target audience.


Marley
It’s probably just a coincidence that a documentary about Bob Marley is being released on 4/20, also known as the stoner’s Fourth of July. When I say “coincidence,” I mean brilliant marketing. I’m going to stop right there, I don’t want my discussion of a critically acclaimed film directed by Oscar-winner Kevin Macdonald to descend into pot jokes. But believe me, they’re up my sleeve.

The film’s official site describes it as “the definitive life story of the musician, revolutionary, and legend, from his early days to his rise to international superstardom.” “Marley” celebrates its subject’s life, the good parts and the bad. Melissa Anderson of The Village Voice called it “a rousing tribute to a mesmerizing performer that forgoes blind hero worship.”

Despite its Oscar-winning director and overwhelmingly positive reviews, “Marley” will see only limited release. The good news is the film will be available through various on-demand television services. VOD is the future of film. You won’t have to “get up, stand up” and go to the theater, you pay $10 total instead of $10 a piece, and you can pause the movie for bathroom breaks.

Happy holidays.

  

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Weekend box office preview: PG/PG-13 comedies with veiled genitalia references take on “Inception”

cats&dog2

Yes, I’m going to be brief and terse today for, as you can see, we’re pretty busy here at Premium Hollywood right now. However, allow me me to tell you two things. As discussed at a recent press conference I attended, Paramount’s “Dinner for Schmucks” contains a Yiddish word literally meaning “penis” in its title and might just as easily been named “Dinner for Dicks,” if we were all living in a shtetl.  The 3-D kiddie sequel from Warner’s, “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore,” contains an at-one-remove non-reference to female genitalia that somehow seems a million times dirtier to me than the real reference contained in the wonderfully absurd name of the character played by Honor Blackman in the greatest-James-Bond-ever-made (aka, “Goldfinger”).

That being said, both movies have their potential commercial upsides and downsides as they struggle to top the predicted $25-$30 million dollar third weekend for Christopher Nolan’s brain-based blockbuster, “Inception.” I personally don’t know why any parents went to see the first “Cats & Dogs” beyond being dragged forcibly by little ones, but they went. I’m personally convinced watching ‘net videos of non-CGI assisted/created cats and dogs would be a lot more amusing.  The new film adds the 3-D factor and, as jolly Carl DiOrio notes, may be something of a test for the ongoing commercial appeal of the format-cum-gimmick.

Steve Carell has something to show Paul Rudd in I’ve seen “Schmucks” (been one, too) and, while I understand Dave Medsker’s more-negative-than-positive review — well, except for the part about Zach Galifianakis, who pretty much put me away — I myself come down more on the positive side. It’s not great film-making nor is it an example of great screenwriting, but it engaged me and made me laugh quite a bit, mostly based on the sheer invention of its cast, particularly the supporting players, most definitely also including Jemaine Clement. Considering the audience reaction the night I saw it, I’m willing to wager it’ll do the same for most rank-and-file film-goers and could perhaps over-perform on the ongoing appeal of stars Steve Carell and Paul Rudd.

There’s one more new major release, “Charlie St. Cloud,” a fantasy tearjerker for Zac Efron that apparently borrows a page or two from the Nicholas Sparks playbook and may perhaps set the hearts of some teens and tweens aflutter. It doesn’t seem likely to hit the big leagues. Of course, the reviews aren’t so hot.

There is also more than a little action on the indie/limited release front this week. The highly acclaimed “The Kids Are All Right” has a major expansion that could take it through to Oscar time.  There is “The Extra Man” which I’ve been covering here as you may have noticed (more is on the way) which I liked more than most critics. There is also the well-reviewed by nearly everyone but a few fine cinephiles, and me, “Get Low.” The Oscar talk is already flying about this one for the great Robert Duvall in his folksy mode, and we’ll see whether it allows the film some, forgive me, tender mercies from arthouse filmgoers.

Robert Duvall, getting low

  

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Why do you think they call them “Titans”?

There really doesn’t seem to be any way around it, “Clash of the Titans” will almost undoubtedly win the box office race this Easter and Good Friday weekend. Just anecdotally, I can see that interest is high for a remake of a swords-and-sandals fantasy flick that is a sentimental favorite for lots of guys, even if the original film is not really seen as the strongest movie in the cannon of the great stop-motion effects man, Ray Harryhausen, who turns 90 this summer. I’ve been hearing and seeing fairly enthusiastic chatter about this film from French-export action-guy director Louis Leterrier everywhere for months, including at my local Food 4 Less a couple of nights back.

Clash of the Titans

Critics like our own David Medsker may excoriate it for not even having impressive effects, and the Rotten Tomatoes crew as a whole may give it an unimpressive 34%, but you can’t really stop a titan, can you? Moreover, critics seem to agree that, especially in the post “Avatar” world, the retrofitted 3-D is not worth the extra money and audiences will get just as big a kick — if kick, there is, to be had — in cheaper 2-D. But, in for a penny, in for a pound, I suspect, will be the way of things and the roughly 2,170 3-D screens will be mighty crowded this weekend.

Indeed, a returning jolly Carl DiOrio over at THR informs us that the consensus among the box office guru types is that the film could well bring in over $60 million. He also mentions in his weekly video that Easter is traditionally a rather strong weekend at the box office. So, on the weekend that commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as told in the Bible, hundreds of thousands of theoretically Chrisitan people all over the country will be seeing a movie that celebrates ancient pagan deities. Not that there’s anything wrong with that — I don’t really have a dog (or a god) in that particular spiritual fight. Still, maybe I should get a bit more worked up because Warner Brothers’ distribution Dan Fellman told DiOrio that: “We own males over and under 25…” All I can say as someone who falls into one of those categories, neither Warners nor Mr. Fellman own me and I think that’s actually kind of illegal. But, yeah, his movie will make some money and most of it will come from guys.

There are two other new movies coming out, but they both most definitely qualify as counter-programming and are primarily aimed at woman. Adult woman who are also African-American and the men who love them are pretty much the target demo for “Why Did I Get Married, Too?” — a sequel from the Tyler Perry ethnically targeted juggernaut.

Black Dynamite shows his softer side.I will point out, however, that alongside start Janet Jackson, Michael Jai White is in the cast. As everyone who saw him in “Black Dynamite” knows, if the Man wasn’t busy working overtime keeping him down, he’d already be a superstar. So, maybe I hope this does the usual Tyler Perry business and makes between $25-$30 million on a relatively low budget. The film hasn’t been screened for critics it appears. Why bother?

The PG-rated teen-centric weepy romance “The Last Song” starring Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, and guest hunk Liam Hemswroth and adapted from a novel by the ever-popular Nicholas Sparks, who also co-wrote the screenplay, has actually been in theaters since Wednesday — what, you didn’t know that? The film has already done decent business from Ms. Cyrus’s devoted young fans and their moms despite predictably miserable reviews. Still, especially when Disney’s early take is discounted, it will still probably be fairly low on the b.o. totem pole come the Sunday estimates.

There’s no theater count up for it over at Box Office Mojo, and only a handful of critics have eve seen it yet, it appears (of them, currently 58% are favorable at Rotten Tomatoes) but the R-rated “The Greatest” open this weekend in apparently very limited release. Reviewer Jason Newman sure makes it sound like a solid, if heart wrenching, drama. It’s certainly got an outstanding cast with the eternally underrated Pierce Brosnan, the impossible to overrate Susan Surandon, mega-up-and-comer Carey Mulligan, and another potential superstar to be, Aaron Johnson of, dare I say it, “Kick-Ass.” Isn’t it weird that the spill-over notoriety from that couldn’t-be-more-different sure-thing hit will probably help this one move a few DVDs, at least?

Carey Mulligan and Aaron Johnson in

  

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