Quantity, not quality, is the buzzword of this weekend at the box office, with six new films in wide release. Most of them are thrillers, with none looking to make much of an impact.
Weekend Forecast for April 13-15, 2007
By Reagen Sulewski
April 13, 2007
Perfect Stranger is not the latest TV adaptation to hit the big screen, but I find myself wondering if the adventures of Balki and Cousin Larry might not be preferable to watching Bruce Willis sexually harass Halle Berry. Berry stars as a reporter investigating the mysterious death of a friend who was in the employ of Willis's company. Willis's character has a reputation for violence and misogyny, making him her prime suspect. In a move that I'm sure made sense at the time, she joins the company as a temp worker, trying to get closer to him and expose him.
Directed by James Foley, it's essentially Color of Night meets Disclosure meets a bunch of other sexually charged thrillers (maybe throw in Malice as well) that no one actually remembers five years later, especially with this generic of a title. It'll be the film you stumble on in the video store or on late night cable that you vaguely remember that you might have wanted to see at some point but aren't really sure why you didn't. You should probably go with that instinct.
Still, with the combined draw of Willis and Berry, there are going to be a number of people that will venture out to see it – the reviews are bad, but not so bad that people will notice, and generic thrillers do generically well unless there's a big reason for them not to. Give it an opening weekend of $13 million.
Disturbia isn't officially a remake of or an homage to Rear Window, but the line dividing them is pretty thin. It shares most of the setup of the classic Hitchcock film – the restricted location, the voyeurism, the mysterious and possibly dangerous stranger – but is set in the modern community, a suburban neighborhood.
Rising star Shia LaBeouf is the lead in the film, as a teen under house arrest with an electronic ankle bracelet. Restricted to his house for the summer, he's left to only spy on his neighbors, including the comely young thing next door. After being busted in his voyeurism, these two, along with another friend, discover that one of their neighbors might be up to something sinister. It's left to his friends to investigate and enter into danger while he remains behind to watch. Nice friend.
There are worse films to steal from than Rear Window, and director DJ Caruso seems to have done a decent job, even if it does seem a bit like pandering to young audiences. LaBeouf has had a number of strong supporting performances and one notable lead, albeit four years ago. He's probably about to break out this summer with Transformers, but that doesn't really help this film. This will kind of be the teen counterpart for Perfect Stranger this weekend, with the better perceived quality of this film compensating for the lower star power. Look for it to bring in $11 million.
Redline is less a movie than it is a $26 million ego scratch to its producer, who supplied all the cars for this auto-themed action thriller. If you're thinking that you may have heard of this film even though it wasn't advertised, you probably caught the footage of Eddie Griffin wrecking a Ferrari Enzo in a promotional stunt for the film, a $1.5 million car and one of only 400 ever made. Essentially The Fast and the Furious with more expensive cars, it's little better than a straight-to-DVD release and should see a box office return of about $5 million this frame.
Along that same line is the medieval action film, Pathfinder. The Lord of the Rings's Karl Urban stars as a Viking child left behind in early second millennia North America, and raised by Native American tribes. When those Vikings come back, he decides to stand with his adoptive tribe to fight back the invaders. Much butt kicking and blood-spilling ensues.
This is the sort of thing you would have seen Dolph Lundgren star in during the '80s late at night on Cinemax, right before something by Shannon Tweed came on. This period is not often used for films, which does make it somewhat unique, but I don't think anyone's going to mistake this for history. Reviews have been less than kind, many deeming it MST3K worthy. Opening on about 1,700 screens, there should be enough gore hounds out there to make this worth about $4 million on the weekend.
If people know about Redline because of its publicity stunts, then surely people know about Aqua Teen Hunger Force's movie (whose subtitle, Colon Movie For Theaters, rivals last year's Borat for excellence in absurdist titling). After promotional items for the film were mistaken for bombs by Boston's police department, this rather obscure, completely insane animated series was propelled to the national spotlight. As much that free publicity was welcomed by the Cartoon Network, the audience for ATHFCMFT more or less defines "cult film". It is, after all, a film made from a series where the main characters are fast food items. Either you get that or you don't, and there's not a lot of middle ground there. Realizing this, this film's release is on just shy of 900 screens, which will definitely reach all of the series's fans. An optimistic take on its performance would be about $3 million.
One last wide release film this weekend; Slow Burn limps into just over 1,100 theaters after two years on the shelf. Starring Ray Liotta, LL Cool J and Jolene Blalock, it's about a cat and mouse game between a district attorney and a gang leader in a race against time for... something or other. This one smells of contractual obligation, and is probably a good choice if you're looking for some privacy for theater nooky. $2 million is about the floor for a wide release film, but this could prove me wrong.
Which brings us finally to our returning films. Blades of Glory proved surprisingly leggy in taking its second weekend at the top of the box office, pushing its total to over $70 million. Will Ferrell seems bulletproof at the moment, bringing to mind a late 1990s Adam Sandler. With a decidedly paltry slate of competitors, it could take the top spot for a third weekend, barring a sudden collapse or a surprise breakout. I expect it to win the weekend with just under $15 million.
Meet the Robinsons was also able to hold to a fair portion of its business in its second weekend, falling just 33% and crossing the $50 million mark. Disney may have life yet outside of Pixar, though they will obviously have to build on this performance. It should add another $10 million or so to its total, with an outside chance at $100 million.
Other significant films still running include Ice Cube's Are We Done Yet?, the Tarantino/Rodriguez exploitation experiment Grindhouse, and the biblical horror film The Reaping. None of these should break $10 million this weekend, which in the specific case of Grindhouse is sure to be a tremendous disappointment. It's a rather shoddy weekend all around at the movies, and I suspect it will result in people just staying home.