Weekend Forecast for July 14-July 18, 2010
By David Mumpower
July 14, 2010

You and I can get rid of Nic Cage, you know. It's our destiny.

Nicolas Cage is back despite that pesky restraining order that the entire movie-going public tried to place against him. Oddly, the difference this time is that he has been upstaged a bit by something called Jay Baruchel. Yes, I know what the 723 viewers of the short-lived Fox program, Undeclared, are thinking. “When I watched that show, I was absolutely convinced he was going to be a superstar. Wait, are we talking about the blonde-haired British guy? Special guest star Adam Sandler? Who the Hell else was on it?” While said handsome Brit, Charlie Hunnam, has a solid career as the star of FX’s gritty biker series, Sons of Anarchy, he is not one of the two people from Undeclared who leveraged their friendship with Judd Apatow into a movie career.

Those gentlemen are brash, fat, semi-funny man Seth Rogen, who is irrelevant to today’s discussion but I am choosing to mention him anyway, and anorexic Jay Baruchel. The latter man starred in a modest hit, She’s Out of My League, which earned a respectable $31.6 million against a $20 million budget. More importantly, he voiced Hiccup, the lead character in How to Train Your Dragon. That film currently stands as the fifth most popular title of 2010, earning $479 million worldwide including $217 million domestically. This is also one of the best reviewed movies not just of the year but in fact the 2000s as well as the answer to a trivia question about me with the question being “What was the last movie to make you weep like a Baltimore Orioles fan?” The point is that A) I’m a crier and B) Jay Baruchel has become the most unlikely nerd movie star since at least Seth Rogen if not…Nicolas Cage. See how I tied that all back together? I’m like the M. Night Shyamalan of box office prognostication. Err, the good version up to Signs. This is not going well, is it? I hate when Sulewski takes vacations. This is the second straight time he and John Hamann took the same week off. I’m starting to think they’re antiquing together somewhere in British Columbia.

Okay, you see what a mess all of the above is? This is a metaphor for the career of Nicolas Cage in that he’s still making movies and I’m still writing this despite anyone with common sense realizing the whole thing is a mistake. In spite of this, Cage’s blockbusteriest blockbusters usually do pretty well. Everyone but Ebert hated Knowing, yet it made almost $80 million domestically. Kick-Ass is an exercise in purposeless violence the likes of which would make Sun Tzu shake his head in disgust, yet it made almost $50 million. And don’t even get me started on all of those Da Vinci Code ripoffs he calls National Treasures. They’re absolute garbage to the tune of $800 million in worldwide revenue.

No longer deterred by social conventions such as shame and pride, Cage has really gone all out in picking the most offensive possible project this time out. He’s starring in a remake of a beloved Disney animated classic that is no longer animated…as demonstrated by the presence of virtually lifeless Cage in a starring role. Even worse, the casting director didn’t even line up the parts correctly. Absolutely wonderful in every way actor Alfred Molina plays the villain while Cage is the Doctor Strange wannabe. Stuff like this is exactly why the flyover states despise Hollywood.

At least Baruchel is involved as a presumably nebbish apprentice who is shocked and surprise by the job requirements at first who eventually grows into his role as Mickey Mouse. If Jeffrey Katzenberg can do it, how hard can it be? Anyway, buzz for this project is surprisingly low and Disney has taken a page out of the Knight & Day Desperation Handbook by bumping up the release date to Wednesday in hopes of boosting weekend awareness. Yes, it worked for Pirates of the Caribbean but that movie had Johnny Depp. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice doesn’t even have Orlando Bloom. This looks likely to be the latest summer action flick to disappoint. I’m expecting a five-day tally of $36 million, with $26 million of it coming from weekend revenue. We have only ourselves as movie consumers to blame for the existence of this film. We knew not to encourage Mr. Cage, yet we did it anyway.

Kim Hollis will drop by on Friday to offer a more coherent forecast for Inception. Clearly, I lost a bet in having to do this film instead of Nolan's follow-up to The Dark Knight.