There are still a couple more weeks before the summer movie season launches, which means the studios have that many more films to burn off until we get to the good stuff. Still, there are four new selections of varying quality this week.
Weekend Forecast for April 20-22, 2007
By Reagen Sulewski
April 20, 2007
Leading the way is Fracture, a thriller starring Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling. Hopkins plays a rich man, who, after discovering his wife is having an affair, shoots her in the face. Even though he's confessed to the crime, he's set up a series of technicalities that will set him free, if and only if Gosling's assistant D.A. character can pin the crime on him. It's the kind of film that's contractually obligated to include the phrase "cat and mouse" in every single review.
Hopkins is essentially playing his Hannibal Lecter character sans the cannibalism (I think – there could be a twist) with Gosling playing every hot-shot attorney character there ever was. Although I used the Malice comparison for last week's Perfect Stranger, it might fit this film even better – especially considering that Fracture might actually be good. It is just essentially two people talking back and forth in an interrogation room, which doesn't scream exciting, but you can dress a lot of things up as thrillers. Neither Gosling nor Hopkins are big box office draws, though Gosling is on a bit of an upswing, especially after his Oscar nomination. I'd look for this one to come in with around $14 million this weekend.
The obligatory horror film of this weekend is Vacancy, starring Luke Wilson and Kate Beckensale. Where last weekend's Distrubia was open about stealing from Hitchcock, Vacancy is a little more subtle about it, combining bits of Psycho, Rear Window and North by Northwest, and probably a couple more. Wilson and Beckensale play a road-tripping married couple whose car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Stopping at a grungy, no-tell motel, they discover that their hotel room may be the set for a series of snuff films, with the next one potentially starring them.
The rest of the film concerns their attempts to escape. These attempts are complicated by the fact that the entire area is covered with dozens of cameras to track their every move and seemingly innumerable psychos who want to kill them. As a thriller, it seems to operate in some of the same areas as 1997's Breakdown and 2002's Phone Booth, high concept movies with spooky conspiracies and unseen killers. The two leads in the movie bring a little to the table, but neither are huge stars; Wilson's career has never reached the heights of his brother Owen's, and Beckensale has trouble opening a movie when she's not dressed in skin-tight leather. It's a pretty disposable looking thriller, though reviews are not too bad for it. I'd give it about $12 million for the weekend.
Hot Fuzz might not have the largest audiences this weekend, but it will undoubtedly have the most passionate. Created by the same crew that brought us Shaun of the Dead and the brilliant British TV show Spaced, Hot Fuzz is their take on the action genre. After being just a little bit too good at his job, London's top cop is transferred out to the sleepiest, most-crime free town in the country where he can hopefully stop making his fellow officers look bad. However, the little town seems to be hiding a dark secret and it's up to him to uncover it with the help of his ape-like partner and a serious dose of violence.
Much as Shaun of the Dead sent up every zombie-horror film ever made, Hot Fuzz is a parody of the action and buddy cop genre. Shaun of the Dead's success was in still being an effective movie in its own right, and Hot Fuzz may be no different. The biggest barrier for this film is its thorough Britishness, though it is obviously influenced by big-budget Hollywood films. That kept Shaun of the Dead from getting out of the teens in the North American box office, but that was just the necessary step to introduce these guys to a willing public. Hot Fuzz is already a tremendous hit in the UK, having earned the equivalent of about $50 million. While I don't expect that here, a moderate uptick should be in the cards. Think Snatch vs. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Opening on only 825 screens, it nonetheless should be able to reach $7 million this weekend.
Finally, we have In the Land of Women, which sees Adam Brody not straying too far away from the character of Seth Cohen for his first film after the cancellation of The O.C. After being dumped by his hot Spanish girlfriend, Seth, I mean, Carter Webb leaves California to visit his grandmother in Michigan. There, he's befriended by the dysfunctional family next door, including mother Meg Ryan and daughter Kristen Stewart. It's a summer full of life lessons for all, with perhaps more than a smidge of inappropriate romance between the John Hughes quoting Brody and the still-in-high-school Stewart.
Directed by Jon Kasdan of the Hollywood Kasdan clan, this is essentially his Garden State, though he has the sense not to cast himself in it, a la Zach Braff. It's that rare beast, a chick flick aimed at guys, which don't get made that often for the obvious reasons – you've alienated both your potential audiences there. I see this playing out with a weekend of about $6 million.
Disturbia was a moderately surprising box office champion last weekend, bringing in $22 million. The teen-themed update of Rear Window may announce the arrival of Shia LaBeouf as a legitimate box office threat, or it may just mean that kids still have lots of disposable income. Time will tell. For the moment, I'll pencil this film in for another $13 million this weekend, with a chance at a repeat if none of the new films takes off.
Blades of Glory is about to pass the $100 million milestone, which an excellent figure for an "off-season" Will Ferrell movie, and about 100 times more than a movie that stars Jon Heder deserves. It's showing pretty impressive legs, and should see another $8 to 9 million this weekend. However, it might be passed by Meet the Robinsons, which has done even better in hanging onto its audience. As the main (let's face it, only) family option out there right now, it's a bit of a surprise hit for Disney, and will eventually become the fifth film to pass $100 million, after 300, Wild Hogs, Ghost Rider and the aforementioned Blades (unless another film beats it to that mark).
Perfect Stranger came in with a bit of a thud, earning $11 million and fourth place. The Bruce Willis/Halle Berry sexual thriller seems doomed to a run of late-night cable showings and to be lumped in with that mid 1990s run of Bruce Willis films that no one really remembers he was in. Berry, meanwhile, should hope that X-Men 4 gets greenlit. It should fall to about $6 million this weekend.