Weekend Forecast for August 28-30, 2009
By Reagen Sulewski
August 28, 2009

Oh, that wacky death! It never gives up!

Like two 17-year-olds accidentally showing up to the prom wearing the same dress, this weekend's slate of films features two movies that really should have talked to each other ahead of time about their plans. Only in this case, they end up brutally hacked to pieces. Next time, girls, compare notes.

I'm speaking here of the odd placement of Halloween II and The Final Destination on the same week of the calendar. Apparently both Warner Bros and the Weinsteins think there's room for two franchise horror films to compete on the same weekend. I suppose that's possible since both carry slightly different gimmicks, but neither film can even play the demographic card, as both are rather hard-Rs.

The Final Destination (its title promises conclusion, but do we really believe that? It's been an oxymoronic titled series since the first sequel) may have the upper hand of these two films thanks to its 3D gimmick. The fourth film in the series, it's once again time for a group of teens to cheat death thanks to a premonition, only to find out that death doesn't like to be cheated. Each of the characters finds their fate sealed, and eventually all are killed in an elaborate and gruesome way. Lather, rinse, repeat and don't forget to let your guard down for the cheap shocks.

This time around, it's a violent accident at a car race that's the source of all the death, which affords lots of opportunities to throw things at the audience using the new-fangled 3-D tech. My Bloody Valentine used this same gimmick to amazing effectiveness back in January, at least from a box office standpoint. Opening to $21 million (although fizzling out at $51 million total, but never mind), it served to prove a point, that a gimmick on top of a gimmick could make a surprising impact in the charts.

Savvy readers will notice I haven't mentioned any actors yet, and I'm not going to, seeing as how irrelevant they are to this film. Odds are you don't know any of them anyway, and of course they're just there to be smooshed, ground up, chopped into pieces or otherwise disposed of. The opening weekends for this series have strangely climbed over the last nine (!) years, and this film, by getting in before 3-D gets tired out again, should benefit quite significantly from it. Opening at over 3,100 venues, it's got some breakout potential and should see about $24 million.

Halloween II is billed as another wrap up of a series, that of Rob Zombie's vision of the iconic movie monster. Of course, no studio can ever say "when" on a horror franchise, so the odds of this being the last film are virtually nil, even if it doesn't hit.

After the events of the last film, Michael Myers continues to search out his sister Laurie Strode, murdering everyone that gets in his way, and a few people that aren't in it as well. Any further explanation of the plot and/or themes of the film seems foolish and superfluous. Zombie's directing style can well be described as a throwback to '70s exploitation horror, with an emphasis on brutality and putting in as much gore as possible. Either you're lining up right now, or you've got very little interest in seeing this. While the first Halloween film of his opened to over $30 million, I believe this will suffer in direct competition with the shiny 3-D of Final Destination. It's due to come in a safe second to that film, with about $14 million. Just one week after proving they still got it with Inglourious Basterds, I think the Weinsteins are going to be back to square one.

A third film opens this weekend but feels almost like an afterthought. Taking Woodstock is the story of the guy who owned the permit that allowed the famous 1969 Woodstock concert to take place. Next up, the film about the guy who did the books for the Rolling Stones' Steel Wheels tour and figured out that Keith Richards' drugs could be deducted as a business expense.

Ang Lee (getting into comedy for the first time in ages) directs Demitri Martin as the guy who made sure the concert happened and ... okay, I'm sure this dude had a fascinating story to tell, but – music permits? And does anyone particularly care about Woodstock anymore? Probably not, considering this film is opening on just over 1,300 screens this weekend. I'll be surprised at even $3 million for it.

Inglourious Basterds blew past every expectation last weekend, winning the weekend with $38 million, more than 50% over any of Quentin Tarantino's previous films' debuts. The highly unconventional war film (sold as a splatterfest, but in reality closer to The Third Man) really struck a chord with its combination of comedy and action. Despite any positive word-of-mouth it's received (and it's not universal, but still), it's not a great candidate for legs. Action rarely gets that, and Tarantino has built up enough of a name to inspire some heavy fanboyism. Give this about $15 million for its second weekend.

District 9 dropped the expected 50% from its opening weekend, but the stealthy hit is on a collision course with $100 million plus even still. It's without a doubt one of the big success stories of summer 2009. Look for it to add about $10 million to its total over the next three days.

G.I. Joe proved it had a bit more up its sleeve than people might have thought by virtue of not cratering by its third weekend. It's aiming for something in the neighborhood of a $155 million final total, which is about $60 million more than initial industry estimates. Score one for crass marketing!

Rounding out significant films, Julie & Julia should see about $6 million this weekend, passing The Time Traveler's Wife, which has not proven to capture the popularity of the best-selling book it's based on. It should get about $5 million in its third weekend, and seems headed for a $60 million final total.