It's comedy weekend at theaters, with the week's two new wide release films offering laughs of various sorts, along with yet another 3D offering.
Weekend Forecast for March 26-28, 2010
By Reagen Sulewski
March 26, 2010
That 3D film is the animated family movie, How to Train Your Dragon, which creates an unlikely cultural pairing of Vikings and dragons. Jay Baruchel (in his second leading role in two weeks) is the voice of a young Viking warrior who's unable to work himself up into taking part in the annual dragon hunt. Instead, he wants to star training and riding them, disappointing his father and throwing his clan into chaos.
Dragon is a light-hearted action-adventure that hopes to be, at least from DreamWorks/Paramount's perspective, a new Shrek, with a few less pop-culture references. Created by a couple of defectors from Disney who brought the world Lilo & Stitch, they may be the ones to help the studio known for producing animated films that are heavy on the cynical humor with some much needed heart. Also starring the voices of Gerard Butler, America Ferrara, Craig Ferguson, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill and Chris Mintz-Plasse, it's promising to be something of a wacky, offbeat comedy.
It's also hoping to leverage the power of the new 3D technology, which as we've seen very recently, now has the power to elevate mediocre films into record breakers in the right circumstance. The hope here has to be that it'll take it from being, say, a Shark Tale to an Ice Age level of success. It's also had an unusual amount of critical support, as reviewers praise all elements of the film, from its animation to the implementation of 3D to its story. The novelty of the Viking setting also has to help, plus the ads are genuinely funny. We're looking at a winner in several ways here. It's definitely opening like a summer blockbuster, on over 4,000 screens, and should see a weekend of about $61 million.
This weekend marks a turning point in cinema. I truly think film history will be marked as of this weekend, denoting the dividing line between a pre-Hot Tub Time Machine world and the one that follows it. Or maybe we'll look forward at it. Time travel makes things confusing.
Yes, what's hands-down the potentially silliest plot-line for a film in 2010 arrives this weekend, as Hot Tub Time Machine follows in the footsteps of films like Dude, Where's My Car and Snakes on a Plane of movies you can't quite believe were conceived, let alone made. The film stars John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke as a quartet on a skiing holiday who discover... well, you know... and are transported back to 1986. The theory behind this movie seems to have been that we can't get Cusack back as his 20-something self in a dumb comedy, so let's just pretend like we can.
A mix of The Wedding Singer and The Hangover, the four leads split their time between figuring out what happened to them, and trying to exist in the era of big hair and neon-coloured spandex clothing. It's completely insane – yet it seems to have potential for how emphatically it embraces its ridiculousness, daring you to mock it. Preview audiences have found it screamingly funny and reviews have been moderately positive, which makes me think there's some room for a breakout hit here. The ad campaign has been nothing short of brilliant, highlighting the potential advantages of traveling back in time. Opening at about 2,700 venues, it could see a weekend of $26 million.
This means that Alice in Wonderland will be kicked out of top spot after three weeks on top. Not only has it run its course as a film, it's losing its 3D screen monopoly to Dragon. There's no sense crying for Burton and company, though, as it's close to reaching the $300 million mark, a rather stunning figure for this early in the year. Look for around $16 million here.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid was a mild surprise with a $22 million opening weekend for second place, though the signs were there for a potential breakthrough. The popular kids' book series did well in translating its print success to the screen, and it should probably hold moderately well, though reviews were just middling for it. Give it about $13 million this weekend.
Third place went to The Bounty Hunter, with $20 million. That's okay for an average romantic comedy, but one that's trying to bank on the star power of Jennifer Aniston (and to a lesser extent, Tom Green-look alike Gerard Butler), it's kind of troubling. That is, it's troubling for the stars, who are potentially on a bit of a slide. Give this just $11 million this frame.
Nothing else will cross $5 million this weekend, though almost nothing else crossed it last weekend either. Since that includes a big-budget action film's opening weekend and a Matt Damon war film's second weekend, there's a lot to find troubling in that statement. Both Repo Men and Green Zone should sit at around just $3 million this weekend, along with Shutter Island and She's Out of My League.