The box office takes on a decidedly retro feel this weekend, as two iconic properties from the 1980s make an appearance on the big screen. Time to break out the AquaNet and legwarmers.
Weekend Forecast for June 11-12, 2010
By Reagen Sulewski
June 10, 2010
With its ridiculous action and implausible plots, The A-Team was the standard bearer for '80s television excess. During the fad for resurrecting TV shows as movies, it seemed so hopelessly out of date that it was filed under the “are you kidding?” adaptations. But if you want something unfashionable to come back in style, just wait ten years, and we’re now (apparently) ready for an A-Team film. And here’s the shocking thing – it might actually be good.
Liam Neeson stars as Hannibal Smith, the leader of a group of special forces operatives who have been wrongly accused of war crimes, and have been forced to become guns-for-hire to survive. Along with weapons-expert Faceman (Bradley Cooper), mechanic and muscle B.A. Baracus (Rampage Jackson) and unhinged pilot Howling Mad Murdock (District 9’s Sharlto Copley), they attempt to prove their innocence while on the run from the US Military.
The trailer and ad spots hit a lot of the touchstones of the series, including over-the-top stunts and small character touches instantly recognizable to fans of the series. They’re clearly going for the nostalgia element here, and at the same time trying to update for modern sensibilities. Shooting a plane down with a tank that just fell out of another plane is exactly the kind of insane thinking that we’d expect from an A-Team movie.
A natural comparison to A-Team in the “are you kidding?” area is last summer’s G.I. Joe, a movie that few ever thought was necessary. Thankfully, this appears to be better, though it’d have to be. There’s still going to be a lot of resistance to the idea of seeing an A-Team movie, but the sheer fun this film projects should win over quite a few people. Opening on 3,500-plus screens, The A-Team should end Shrek’s reign of terror at the top of the box office with about $38 million.
The other big release of the weekend is The Karate Kid, the remake of the 1984 Ralph Macchio/Pat Morita coming-of-age film. This version moves from California to China, and puts Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan in the top two roles. Apparently just being the son of a famous actor is enough to top line a film these days. I look forward to Suri Cruise starring in the remake of Pretty Baby in a few years.
Smith plays a transplant to China who finds himself in the same accidental protégé situation as Macchio did, learning kung fu (the discrepancy in the title is explained in the film, apparently) through everyday actions from the apparently washed-up Chan. It’s a journey of learning self-confidence and a place in the world and one of the simplest yet most effective sports films ever made.
Why mess with a classic? Good question. But despite being mostly unnecessary, this remake appears to be more or less on the mark by following the well-trodden formula, and incorporating some outstanding scenery. In box office terms, though, it’s kind of caught in a middle ground. The older audiences that remember the original Kid aren’t going to need another retelling, and the younger audiences aren’t going to be as familiar with the original for the title to mean anything to them. It’ll have to win on its own terms, which seems appropriate enough, and certainly quite possible (I don’t foresee an Oscar nom for Chan like with Pat Morita, though). Look for around $24 million this weekend.
Shrek Forever After’s three-week run at the top is about as unexpected as these streaks go, and also as unimpressive. It’s managed to not be a complete disaster after its worst-case-scenario opening weekend, when it seemed possible it might not cross the $200 million mark. $250 might be the mark to reach for now, though still below the standards of previous films in this series. Give it $14 million this weekend.
Get Him to the Greek was the most successful of last weekend’s four new films, with the Judd Apatow production emerging victorious over Katherine Heigl’s Killers, as well as the justly-ignored Marmaduke and horror film Splice. Will any of these films crack $50 million? Maybe Greek, as it’s gotten the best word-of-mouth, but otherwise we’re looking at four films you’ll only vaguely recall at the Redbox machine six months from now.
Everything else took a huge tumble last weekend, too, with the critically reviled Sex and the City 2: Sex Harder bearing the worst brunt of that with a 60%. Iron Man 2 will cross the $300 million milestone, which is about all the positive news there is to get out of spots four through ten in the box office charts this weekend.