With it being their last chance to get films two full weekends in before Labor Day, Hollywood rummages around in its closet to release whatever it had left over from the movies you actually wanted to see this summer. Hey, if they can't release quality films, they may as well release a lot of whatever they can come up with.
Weekend Forecast for August 20-22, 2010
By Reagen Sulewski
August 20, 2010
One of the five films new to wide release got a jump on the weekend with a Wednesday release. Vampires Suck, the latest Friedberg/Saltzer atrocity, arrived in the middle of the week to almost literally zero acclaim, holding a coveted spot at 0% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes until after its release date when one lone reviewer stuck up for it (surprisingly, it wasn't professional contrarian Armond White).
A paint-by-numbers parody of Twilight, Vampires Suck's lazy approach to comedy does the seemingly impossible – making one feel sorry for Stephenie Meyer for having her work treated in such a way. If you've seen the directors' other works, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, Disaster Movie and Date Movie... well, your brain is probably a non-functioning pile of goo, so you can't read this column. Look up at the pretty pictures! But if you've seen less than all of those movies, you know what to expect and can still be saved.
Tragically, the film claimed several hundred thousand unsuspecting victims and looki-loos on Wednesday, as it opened to $4 million, almost beating the first weekend total of Disaster Movie. While that film's failure gave us hope that this pair were dead and gone for good, they've clearly learned from that and are now just making the most obvious jokes possible about only one movie, instead of just throwing every trailer they saw in the last six month in a blender. Picking on the most prominent current sensation in film surely doesn't hurt, as there's surely a large group of people eager to see Twilight get the piss taken out of it. But – not like this, not like this. Opening at over 3,200 venues, Vampires Suck should find its way to about $15 million this weekend.
For something a little more intellectually challenging, perhaps turn to Nanny McPhee Returns. Emma Thompson returns as the eponymous anti-Poppins charged with taking care of a group of unruly and spoiled children in rural wartime Britain (sending them to work in the coal mines apparently having been ruled out. Stupid child labor laws). The buck-toothed and warted one accomplishes this mostly by the use of flying cars and elaborate Busby Berkeley style production numbers involving pigs. You know, I never thought of LSD as a babysitter before, but it just might work.
Disappointingly retitled from its UK release (where it debuted as Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, which is probably already in production from Vivid Video), it follows the 2005 film in this series, which opened to a little over $14 million. It's tough to imagine this budging much from this mark in either direction, as the target market remains firmly in the 12-and-under demographic, and the character remembered fondly but also seeming a bit quaint. Look for around $13 million.
Like a rogue Sci-Fi Channel (I'm not calling it that other thing) movie brought to life, Piranha 3D assaults movie screens this weekend with gratuitous gore and nudity. Following in the tradition of a series who previous directors included Joe Dante and James Cameron (no really. Look it up), Alexandre Aja (of The Hills Have Eyes and High Tension fame) brings us story of a bunch of subterranean piranhas suddenly released into the middle of a lake in Arizona during spring break (and geography weeps).
Its strange cast includes Ving Rhames, Elizabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd, Jerry O'Connell, Adam Scott, Richard Dreyfuss (seriously?) and British bombshell Kelly Brook and a whole host of other, B-, C-, and Z- level actors who try to avoid getting nibbled to death by swarms of ravenous Amazonian fish while wearing as little clothing as possible.
Catering to pretty much the same group of people interested in Snakes on a Plane (but in 3D!), it's a completely unpretentious splatterfest. In a significant upset, it's also the best reviewed movie of the week, the result of promising little and delivering on that lack of ambition. Listen, either you want to see Ving Rhames battle carnivorous fish with an outboard motor or you don't, and there's little anyone can do to persuade or dissuade you depending on which of those sides of the line you fall on. Look for it to pull in about $13 million this weekend.
Lottery Ticket is about as complicated as its title sounds. Bow Wow (formerly Lil') plays an Atlanta dweller of the projects who wins $370 million in the lottery. Unfortunately for his sake, this word gets out, and suddenly everyone wants a piece of him – in some cases quite literally. Can he survive three days (what, you can't find one place to hide out?) over a long weekend to claim his prize?
Also starring Brandon Jackson (who you remember by sight if not by name from Tropic Thunder), Ice Cube, Mike Epps, Keith David, Terry Crews, Bill Bellamy, Naturi Naughton (of pop group 3LW), it's one of those madcap “community” comedies that you can basically write by heart already. The sooner this release gets over with, the sooner it can play on cable 12 times a day. Give it $8 million this weekend.
Although it boasts the strongest individual cast members of any new release this weekend, The Switch looks to be the runt of the litter. Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman star as a platonic couple (that is to say – he wants to do her and she won't have him), with Aniston deciding to turn to a sperm donor to become pregnant. At the impregnation party (oh yeah), Bateman gets drunk and accidentally dumps the sample from her chosen stud (Patrick Wilson) and replaces it with his own. Cue hilarity seven years down the line when her kid looks and acts (and mopes) just like Bateman.
Recent ads have actually focused less on the second half of that, cutting out a vital part of the punchline and making them kind of incoherent. Now the top joke is Bateman getting smacked in the face with a turkey baster. The Hangover it is not. Aniston can be a draw in the right situation (see: The Bounty Hunter) but you have to include the jokes. This one likely bombs hard with just $6 million.
The question of the weekend becomes whether The Expendables can hold on to the top spot again. While Vampires Suck is putting up surprising resistance, it's much more likely to fade as the weekend progresses as opposed to gaining steam. No one's suggesting The Expendables will resemble Avatar, but even with most of the actors in the movie being well past their sell-by date for action, it's probably able to hang on to about half its opening weekend to the tune of $17 million.
Eat Pray Love seemed to use up its good will for its opening weekend of $23 million, at which point everyone realized that these characters are profoundly irritating and selfish. Go self-improvment! Julia Roberts' presence as the lead doesn't really matter past the opening weekend, so look for this to drop to around $13 million.
Following up behind these films are The Other Guys, Inception and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (well on its way to cult status, by which I mean box office failure), which should all sit between $5 and 8 million on the weekend.