The summer may be officially on its downswing, but there are still a couple of potential gems to be found before we close the books on the season. One of those appears this weekend, with the hopes of offering a rare, late-summer delight.
Weekend Forecast for August 17-19, 2007
By Reagen Sulewski
August 17, 2007
As much as this summer has been the Summer of Trilogies, it has just as much chance to be the summer of Judd Apatow. His summer started off well as the director of Knocked Up, the sex comedy with heart, which has earned $150 million on the massive star power of Seth Rogen (experienced BOP readers may detect a note of sarcasm here). Now, Apatow looks to bookend the summer as we produces Superbad, the teen sex comedy... with heart.
Superbad is a day and a night in the life of three high school friends as they attempt to shed their loser status before graduating and going their separate ways. The three are played by Michael Cera (or Arrested Development fame), Jonah Hill (who you may recall as the "Ask Me About My Weiner" dude from Accepted), and newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse (aka McLovin). This isn't exactly the trio I'd build a major summer release around, but the names being sold aren't theirs.
Written by the aforementioned Rogen and his childhood friend (first draft: when they were 14!), produced by Apatow and directed by Apatow bullpen member Greg Mottola, Superbad will be relying heavily on Apatow's golden touch as the Bruckheimer of comedy, dating back to The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Sony has also been promoting the hell out of the film, screening it early and often to build buzz. One of the year's best trailers doesn't hurt either, with numerous lines from it already reaching "catchphrase" status before the movie even opens. This is shaping up to be this summer's American Pie, with a pedigree already in place. Look for an opening weekend of $27 million, and a march to the top spot of the box office.
The Invasion has a lot more bona fide acting star power, but arrives as one of the most troubled projects of the summer. The fourth adaptation of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers novel (the fifth try will probably just be called "of the"), it stars Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig as resistors to an alien invasion that replaces people with emotionless doppelgangers. It's resulted in two classic movies in the past and one not so bad one, so it's no surprise that every 15 to 20 years, someone tries to redo it.
The problem comes in its production, which has led it to go into reshoots one and half years after it was initially in the can. Initially directed by German director Oliver Hirschbiegel (just smile and nod), Warner Bros. pulled the panic lever after not liking the footage, bringing in the Wachowski Brothers for rewrites, with V For Vendetta director James McTeigue handling the new scenes. So uncertain are they at this point that WB cancelled the film's premiere, although it has been sent out to critics, who are dutifully trashing it.
Kidman and Craig give the film some hope to recoup a little bit at the box office, but this is a film that's mostly been abandoned, and is without an audience. An attempt to appeal to both thriller and gross-out horror fans is likely to alienate both. This one is headed right on course to flopsville, for an $8 million opening weekend.
The third new film of the week is more like a traditional late summer dump. The Last Legion purports to be yet another origin for the King Arthur story, set in the last days of the Roman Empire's occupation of Britain, in the Fifth Century. Starring Colin Firth, Ben Kingsley, Aishwarya Rai and Rome's Kevin McKidd, The Last Legion supposes that the last Roman Emperor fled to Britain after his deposition, where he was able to find the fabled sword Excalibur and inspire a final legion to remain loyal to him, and starting the Arthurian Legend.
If this feels similar to you to King Arthur, starring Clive Owen and Keira Knightley, then award yourself one point. This is nearly identical in theme and setting, but steps down the casting level by about two-thirds, and the advertising to almost nil. The Weinstein Company continues to have difficulty finding the juice to promote its films, although getting it out to 2,000 plus screens is a start. However, if this manages more than $4 million this weekend, I'll be greatly surprised.
Rush Hour 3 was the big winner last weekend, albeit with a somewhat muted opening of $49 million compared with the second outing of the franchise. There's a number of explanations as to why this might be off almost $20 million from the last film's opening weekend, none of them pointing to a strong performance as the weeks roll on. Suffice it to say that Chris Tucker should make a movie more than once every six years. I see a second weekend of about $22 million in the cards, pushing it close to $90 million after two weekends.
The Bourne Ultimatum had a somewhat steep drop in its second weekend, shedding a little over half its business, which still left it with a $33 million weekend. This could, as soon as next weekend, become the highest grossing film in the Bourne franchise, with a slight chance at $200 million. Watch for $16 million this weekend.
The Simpsons Movie stayed in the top three for another weekend, adding $11 million to its already impressive total, as it cruises towards $175 million or so as a final figure. While the big $200 million films have gotten most of the box office recognition, this summer has been an extraordinarily deep one thanks to films like Bourne, The Simpsons, Knocked Up, even Fantastic Four 2. This truly has been a remarkable summer for Hollywood's bottom line.