Weekend Forecast for April 18-20, 2008
By Reagen Sulewski
April 18, 2008

You don't happen to know that 5-finger-kill-bill-palm technique, do you?

We might still have April's lackluster releases to get through, but there's a real sense of momentum, a building anticipation, as the week's releases get just a little bit better each week.

Most notably, we have Forbidden Kingdom, which gives us the first-ever pairing of two of the legends of Hong Kong cinema, Jet Li and Jackie Chan. This is something akin to Pacino and DeNiro finally appearing together in Heat, with the similar parallel of it happening about ten years too late.

Li and Chan play rival lung fu masters in ancient China who band together to free something called The Monkey King, after they are joined by a time-traveling American with a secret weapon. I'm sure this all made sense at the time.

Of course, the plots of these films are typically ancillary to the fight sequences, which are courtesy legendary choreographer Wo Ping, albeit with some heavy CGI influence. Chan is well past his prime but still has some moves, and Li has basically announced that he's bored with fighting in films, so one wonders if the choreography is enough to make this film. It at least looks like it doesn't take itself too seriously, so that's something.

Notably, it's a Western produced Asian film. These have generally never gotten the action quite right, but have puzzlingly, bafflingly been more successful. Forbidden Kingdom certainly won't be a Rush Hour, but then maybe that's a good thing at this point. It's a pretty strong bet to win the weekend box office, with about $17 million likely for an opening weekend total.

Walk Hard may have interrupted Judd Apatow's seemingly unstoppable march to the summit of Hollywood royalty, but one gets the feeling it was merely a speed bump. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is the attempt by his production company to restart his mojo, and simultaneously make a star out of yet another of the supporting cast of his other films.

Jason Segel has appeared in several Apatow productions, from Knocked Up to Undeclared and Freaks and Geeks, though he's probably best known lately as Marshall from How I Met Your Mother. He wrote this script for himself, starring as an ordinary schlub who happens to be dating a TV star (played by Kristen Bell - where'd they get that casting idea?). That is, until she messily breaks up with him.

After going on vacation to try and forget her, he ends up at the same resort where she is staying, with a new English rock star boyfriend in tow. Hilarity, emasculation and embarrassment ensue, but all is not lost. A hot young hostess (Mila Kunis) at the resort takes a bit of a liking to him, and starts to help him on his road to revenge. This, of course, leads to the classic, "which oh which hot woman will I have to chose from" dilemma. I mean, I'm just guessing here, the guy wrote a screenplay for himself to star in. It's what I'd do if I could get away with it.

Segel probably isn't a huge draw, but then, neither was Seth Rogen, and look where he is now. This isn't quite the concept that Knocked Up was, so I don't expect a huge breakout, but there's enough solid (and dirty) jokes in there to make it at least interesting. The raunchy comedy is a pretty safe go-to at this point, and this one has pretty solid reviews, leading me to believe it should come in with about $14 million.

Many years back, a new Al Pacino cop thriller might have been something to anticipate and celebrate. It still can be, under the right circumstances, but 88 Minutes, his latest, doesn't satisfy those. In it, he and his hair star as a Seattle forensic psychiatrist - a profession that sounds entirely made up, like rock star biologist - who is apparently being stalked by someone he helped put into jail. Through an ominous message, he's informed that he has just 88 minutes to live. It's probably a Back to the Future fan.

Pacino has to figure out exactly who's holding a grudge against him, while dodging constant attempts on his life. Hey, I thought he had 88 minutes! What gives? Reviews for the film are shockingly bad, with most calling it inept and nonsensical - and those are the positive reviews.

You're not going to scare people entirely away from a Pacino film, and even one with as many warning signs as this - noisy, incomprehensible trailers, overacting galore - will be able to ride a bit on his name. Just don't count on any word of mouth. It should bring in about $7 million this weekend, or about $6 million more than it apparently deserves.

I have debated long and hard about whether to even acknowledge the existence of Expelled, Ben Stein's documentary film that attempts to prove intelligent design and to bash evolution, which debuts this weekend in an astounding 1,000 plus venues. Obviously, I decided to, but really just to say this: don't even see this out of kitsch. These charlatans don't deserve one thin dime of yours.

The remake of Prom Night won last weekend's box office with a depressing $20 million, hastening the day when every single movie in release will be a remake of some 70s teen slasher film. It was almost comically front-loaded, earning $9.5 million on Friday, and $2.9 million on Sunday… and already falling to third mid-week. Is there any percentage drop that doesn't seem plausible with this in mind? 65 per cent? 80 per cent? You can't rule it out. I'll give it a little bit of credit and say it earns $7 million this weekend.

The film that has temporarily taken over top stop is Street Kings, though I don't expect it to fare all that much better than Prom Night. The dirty-cop-thriller, starring Keanu Reeves and a really quite solid cast of actors, took over the mid-week crown mostly by default, by the virtue of not sucking entirely that much. Let's say $7 million for this one as well.

21 is hanging on pretty strongly, dropping just 31 per cent in its second weekend, and crossing the $60 million mark. It's about the only thing for adults right now with good word of mouth, so I expect that to continue, and what do you know, should find itself in that logjam around the $7 million mark.