On this, the opening weekend of this year's NFL season, studios have decided to go after that woefully under-served market, guys who like action movies.
Weekend Forecast for September 7-9, 2007
By Reagen Sulewski
September 7, 2007
The western used to be a tough guy actor's staple before falling out of favor in the 1980s, and returning only sporadically. Either tastes changed or actors started being less manly – I can't say for certain which was true, but spandex suddenly became popular around that time, so you be the judge.
Although few original westerns are still made these days, Hollywood's penchant for remakes isn't leaving this genre behind. 3:10 to Yuma revisits the 1957 Glenn Ford film of the same name (and based on an Elmore Leonard story). Russell Crowe and Christian Bale star in the remake as an outlaw and an ordinary man tasked to bring him to justice, in the form of the 3:10 train to Yuma, respectively. As Crowe's outlaw buddies attempt to spring him, it becomes a battle of wills between the two men, with the "Quien es mas macho?" title at stake.
Yuma is positioning itself as a gritty, throwback style western, updating just the filming and acting styles while keeping the themes and gunfights intact. Early reviews have praised the film's kinetic style, along with the possible Oscar-ready performances of Crowe and Bale. The question that remains is if audiences are ready to re-embrace the genre, and are these the stars to make them? Crowe has gone through a bit of a dry spot at the box office lately, with both Cinderella Man and A Good Year disappointing, while Bale has rocketed to...recognition while playing Bruce Wayne in the revitalized Batman franchise. Neither are huge leading men in recent history, though both are well-respected actors who lend credibility to the film. This may be enough to inspire audiences to test out the relative novelty of the western, and in about 2,600 venues, this should see a weekend of $14 million.
In case that's not enough action for you, Shoot 'Em Up dispenses with the trivialities of plot and turns the action up to 11. A tongue-in-cheek hyper-kinetic (take that, Yuma) gunplay film, Shoot 'Em Up stars Clive Owen as a British nanny thrust into the middle of a dangerous situation involving a baby, a wet nurse and a relentless hitman, that can only be solved by shooting things. Lots and lots of things, and in inventive ways. I'm reminded of the Simpsons episode where Homer got a gun and used it to change light bulbs and open beer bottles.
Shoot 'Em Up looks like nothing so much as an English-language version of Hard Boiled with a sense of humor. Owen makes a pretty respectable badass for this decade, and although his main antagonist in the film, Paul Giamatti, is playing decidedly against type, it's just weird enough to work. The love interest, Italy's national treasure Monica Bellucci, isn't exactly likely to cause people to turn away either.
In the broader sense at the box office, Shoot 'Em Up is going to be a self-limiting film, with legions of passionate fans, but with the majority never even getting close to it, like a low-grade Tarantino film, or perhaps a Guy Ritchie. Strangely, it has gotten pretty good reviews, with most reviewers just taking it on its own terms. The director is the relatively unknown Michael Davis, who could find himself the leader of a smallish cult after the weekend, when his movie opens to about $12 million.
"From the director of Let's Go to Prison" isn't an endorsement you're likely to see soon on a movie poster or in a trailer, but even that might be a movie that The Brothers Solomon might look at with envy by the end of its run. Like Prison, Solomon is directed by Bob Odenkirk and stars Will Arnett, and adds on SNL cast member Will Forte for good measure.
The two Wills star as (wait for it...) brothers, who to fulfill their dying father's wish, try to procreate. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) they lack any social ability, especially with the opposite sex, and the movie follows their repeated failures to convince a woman to carry on their genetic material.
Most of the people involved in this film are genuinely funny and talented people, but this does not seem to be the winning formula for them, instead looking like a warmed over Dumb & Dumber spin-off. Given that Sony is deigning to release this in fewer than 1,000 venues, the chances of this movie giving birth to success seem very slight. It'll do well to earn $2 million this weekend.
As expected, Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween took top spot over Labor Day Weekend. Its $30.5 million four-day total came as a little bit more of a surprise, and has made it into one of the stronger of the recent horror remakes. By far the most successful film of Zombie's still-young directing career, it has instantly made him into a force to be reckoned with in horror filmmaking. While a lot of Halloween's success can still be attributed to the franchise, this is significantly more than either of the last two attempts to revive it have been. Zombie's "all the gore you can handle, plus 10%" strategy seems to have been the winning one. Of course it'll sink like a stone this weekend, but that's hardly the point. Give it $10 million on the weekend.
Superbad slipped to second place last frame after two weekends at the top, though it's edging ever closer to the $100 million milestone and remains one of the big comedy successes of the summer. It was challenged in that department by Balls of Fury, which made a moderately surprising $14 million over the holiday weekend. It'll probably top out at around $35 million, but that's a fairly impressive result for a comedy anchored by an unknown Broadway star and Chris Walken.
Some other summer holdovers continue to make an impact, including The Bourne Ultimatum and Rush Hour 3, which passed the $200 and $120 million marks over the weekend, respectively. These films have a couple more weeks to earn as we build up the fall slate, but we're definitely starting to see a change in box office fortunes as we enter the final quarter of the year.