Summer got off to a lukewarm start with Tom Cruise and company, but the blockbusters keep on coming, with an old style disaster movie leading the way for the weekend.
Weekend Forecast for May 12-14, 2006
By Reagen Sulewski
May 11, 2006
And by old style, I mean that literally, as Poseidon, the weekend's big opener is a remake of 1972's The Poseidon Adventure, which starred Gene Hackman, Shelley Winters and many, many more that was the box office and critical smash of the year. In the original and the remake, a suspiciously thorough cross-section of humanity is aboard a luxury liner, which is hit by a freak wave and capsized. The survivors must work together to reach the outside, with numerous perils in their path and differences to overcome. In the course of things, much is learned about human nature, or so the theory goes.
This version stars its own sizeable cast of B and A-minus listers including the likes of Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss, Emmy Rossum and Andre Braugher. There are some comparisons that are made with this film and Titanic, mostly because it's on a boat and is a disaster film. That, of course, ignores the central love story of that film and the fact that it didn't in fact start out all that hot relative to its final total. Frankly, I'd think it was a comparison that Warner Bros. might want to discourage.
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen, a veteran of aquatic disaster films from The Perfect Storm (and in looser definitions of aquatic and disaster, Troy), Poseidon is, like The Perfect Storm, a film that looked a lot better in teaser form than when we got more footage of the film. It's fallen in stature from a must-see down to a mere appetizer for the rest of the summer. Rumors of chuckling and out-right mocking at preview screenings have to be worrying. That said, the tradition of summer disaster films is long-lived, and we haven't had an overload of them recently. It should hold on for about a $20 million opening weekend.
US Weekly and National Enquirer staple Lindsay Lohan stars in the week's second new film, Just My Luck. Playing a spoiled New York socialite (so it's just been Method acting, then?) who is the Luckiest Girl in the World, she has her luck stolen by a boy with kiss. And I thought I learned everything there was to know in Health class. In her quest to regain her lucky touch, lessons are learned and love is potentially won. Of course, if the other guy really was lucky, you'd think he could do better than Lohan.
Just My Luck falls square into the wish-fulfillment teen fantasy genre, populated by your Lohans, your Duffs, your Bynes and your Olsens, which has faded a bit in recent months after being oh so hot in the past. It's tragic to outgrow your demographic. Lohan's most recent big film was last summer's Herbie Fully Loaded, which should have been a slam dunk but only grossed $12 million opening weekend. Maybe it's just that girls don't like cars (to speak in an overly broad stereotypical sense), but that seemed like a big test that she failed. There's nothing much to distinguish this film and make it look clever (like, say, Mean Girls) so look for Lohan's creepy wink to come in with around $8 million for the weekend.
Goal! The Dream Begins is wish fulfillment of a different sort. The other new wide release this weekend covers a young Mexican immigrant (ooh, hot button issue!) who dreams of one day playing football (ooh) for Newcastle United (oh). Does anyone have the heart to tell him he's come to the wrong country? Despite his disadvantages in culture, language, financial status and geographic knowledge, he is spotted by a talent scout and recruited for the Premiership, where he is never heard from again in the United States.
While I wait for English soccer hooligans to track me down and beat within an inch of my life, I will point out that the film certainly looks charming enough, and fits the mold of the underdog story quite nicely. Perhaps almost too nicely, as it has taken many hits in the critical vein as clichéd and predictable. And with the lack of stars and the general lack of interest in soccer in North America (yes, yes. Bend it Like Beckham. Which one in this film is Keira Knightley?) this seems stuck in a niche. Released on just over 1,000 screens, Goal! should come in with about $3 million.
Though Mission: Impossible III came in with a below-expectations-but-still-fine $48 million last weekend, the real test for the film may be this weekend. The blockbuster market is still unsaturated as it will be in June or July, and it can still capitalize on its fairly favorable audience reception. Then again, nothing has legs these days, especially blockbusters. The generally crowd-pleasing action should trump the bad mojo surrounding Cruise that hurt the film slightly, and it should bring in another $28 million, leaving it in position to hold on to the top spot at the box office is Poseidon falters.
The rest of the box office is made up largely of spring holdovers, with only RV with the possibility of bringing in over $5 million. The dismal Robin Williams comedy sits at around $35 million after two weeks of release. Give it another $6 million this weekend on its way to about a $50 million total, a generally unimpressive figure for Williams but perhaps decent for a generic family comedy.