Weekend Forecast for September 11-13, 2009
By Reagen Sulewski
September 11, 2009

She keeps all her most valuable belongings up in there.

Often, the theme for September weekends is that there is no theme. That could well describe this week's hodge podge of films, a quartet that continues the general "dumping ground" feel of the month, for the most part.

One of them transcends that label, by virtue of being a unique product that is immune to the usual notions of reviews, release dates or quality. Yes, it's time for the next Tyler Perry film, this time titled I Can Do Bad All By Myself, a name that seems to resist comprehension. I think Another Goddamned Madea Movie must have focus grouped poorly.

Earlier this year, Perry had a breakthrough in terms of box office with Madea Goes to Jail, which jumped from the typical mid $20 millions that his films had seen to a remarkable $41 million. As always, it had little in the way of legs, finishing up at just a little over twice that amount, but it didn't matter with that opening. Perry continues to churn these films out at a seemingly ridiculous pace, but audiences really don't seem to tire of them. After what seems like a dozen of these, I've run out of things to say, other than I expect a little return to the mean, and a weekend figure of $29 million.

One film got a jumpstart on the weekend with a numerologically-timed release. The animated film 9 hoped to make the most of its release date of September 9th (9-9-9, geddit?), and perhaps did so with a $3 million start. That, however, feels like a bit of a letdown compared to the hype that surrounded the film when footage first appeared earlier this year.

Directed by Shane Acker (whose short film on which this is based won an Oscar), it's a post-apocalyptic tale of some burlap-constructed marionette creatures that must quest through a wasteland to destroy a group of large, terrifying machines bent on their annihilation. The voice cast is solid, such as it ever matters, with Elijah Wood (no stranger to this kind of story), Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Chris Plummer, Martin Landau and Crispin Glover.

Visually spectacular, it creates a sort of steampunk-meets-2001 ethos. While the visuals sold many early on, confidence in the film's story seems to be minimal, with virtually no promotion following the initial splash of the trailer. There seems to be an acknowledgement that without the kids, there's no real audience for this film, and it's decidedly not for younger audiences. I'm reminded of the Final Fantasy movie, though without the creepy Uncanny Valley problems.

But, there'd at least have been a sense in trying. Opening on only 1,600 or so screens, this has more or less been abandoned to its fate, when it could have at least had a marginal push. That $3 million Wednesday probably translates into about an $11 million weekend.

Kate Beckinsale stars in Whiteout, a film that bills itself as the first murder mystery to take place in Antarctica, a claim of dubious relevance. In the film, Beckinsale stars as a US Marshall tasked to solve a strange death at the South Pole research station right before the start of the Antarctic winter and six months of darkness. And of course, a storm is rolling in (sort of ridiculous on its own – despite being bitterly, amazingly cold, the South Pole doesn't really have much weather).

Ads for this look abominable (ha! I slay me! Sleigh me? Okay, I'll stop), full of noisy, random crashes and cop movie clichés. Critics seem to agree, giving it one of the lowest ratings of the year at RottenTomatoes and Metacritic. And while Beckinsale isn't without her hits, they usually come when she's wearing leather and shooting vampires, not bundled in a parka over a corpse. This looks to be pretty forgettable, and should open to about $8 million.

Sorority Row, the fourth wide release this weekend, takes slasher films to their logical conclusion: it's filled with nothing but nubile young women getting murdered. Is there anything else worth saying about this film? Not really. Okay, it is the big screen debut of The Hills cast member Audrina Partridge, but do you honestly, truly care? I didn't think so. While these generic, high-concept horror films can often break out (see: the similar Prom Night last April), that usually happens following an ad blitz and/or clever hook, which this film doesn't have. Someone seems to be under the impression that people enjoy The Hills unironically, and that fake stardom can translate into actual celebrity. Bad news, Audrina. Look for a meager $6 million for this film this weekend.

Of returning films, Inglourious Basterds should be the strongest. Just shy of the $100 million mark, Quentin Tarantino's deconstructive World War II film is close to passing Pulp Fiction as the director's highest grossing movie. It's still showing some rather rapid decline, though, and has proven to be somewhat unsettling for people expecting either an accurate retelling of history, or a violent bloodbath, of which it is neither. Give it $6 million for this weekend.

Despite repeating as the number one film of the weekend, The Final Destination became something of a one-weekend wonder, dropping over 50% in its second weekend. The 3-D effect, which gave it the best opening weekend of the series by far, proved to be a fickle source of revenue. That said, it'll be the highest grossing of the Final Destination films by Friday (which, you may then conclude, is not that tremendous an honor). It should see about $5 million this weekend.

Also in this vicinity is All About Steve, which squandered all the good will Sandra Bullock earned from The Proposal in one fell swoop. The thoroughly despised romantic comedy opened to just $11 million, and will probably be out of theaters by Thanksgiving. I wouldn't be shocked to see a drop all the way to $4 million.

The remainder of films out there are some long-legged holdovers like District 9 and Julie & Julia, which might see about $4 million each, and some real dregs like Gamer and Halloween II, which are about to disappear from theaters really soon. Really, it's one of the worst starts to September I can recall in terms of quality without involving Steven Seagal.