Weekend Forecast for June 8-10, 2007
By Reagen Sulewski
June 8, 2007
The summer of trilogies gets its fourth entry this weekend, though it's not out to break any records. Also, the box office slate finally starts to approach something resembling depth, with three new wide releases.
When Ocean's Eleven opened in 2001, it was something of a risky novelty. A remake of a heist film that wasn't all that good in the first place, with one of the most star studded casts (read: expensive and difficult to schedule) assembled in recent memory, along with a director known for experimentation, few thought it would be much more than a one-off. But nothing succeeds like success, and after grossing $183 million, they got the gang back together. After all, they had so much fun, and it all came naturally, so that should translate to a sequel pretty easily, right?
Yeah. About that. The trouble with Ocean's Twelve was the fact that although the actors were having obvious fun, they forgot that it was the caper part that made for an interesting movie. When a Topher Grace cameo is the highlight of your film, you've got problems (not to hate on Topher, but let's face it, he's not who we came to see). Still, Ocean's Twelve made enough money to justify another kick at the can, and Ocean's Thirteen is the result.
Steven Soderbergh, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, et. al. seem to have learned their lesson about what went wrong in Twelve, moving the action back to Vegas and focusing more on the caper than the camaraderie. After Elliot Gould's character is double crossed by casino magnate Willie Bank (Al Pacino) and then suffers a stroke, the gang gets back together to fix the games at Bank's casino's opening night, thereby getting their revenge. And... maybe a few million while they're at it.
In addition to Pacino coming along, Ellen Barkin is the other major newcomer to the cast, with Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones exiting stage right. They'll likely miss the romantic subplots that those actresses provided, but then caper films have always been a pretty testosterone filled environment. Reviews have been kinder to this outing, though the general sense is that the group hasn't quite captured the magic of the first film. A few of the teaser moments positively kill, including Clooney's eyeroll, but as the last couple of weeks have shown us, there's no guarantee that audiences will be forgiving after a flat second installment of a franchise. In the bigger picture, I think Ocean's Thirteen is in generally good shape for its opening weekend, with about $45 million, and hopefully a satisfying enough reception that Soderbergh can put this series to bed and move on.
Early summer always feels like a weird time for a horror film to be released. It's too sunny and nice outdoors to ponder the brutal slaying of nubile teens, especially in the hyper-violent "gorno" style that's become so prevalent. One of the premier purveyors of this style has been Eli Roth, who returns with Hostel: Part II this weekend, the sequel to his sadomasochistic interpretation of European Vacation.
This time it's the girls that get the chop chop, fizz fizz treatment while visiting a Slovakian party house/organ factory/sex dungeon, which probably counts as innovation in this genre. So, if you like this sort of thing, Hostel: Part II is the sort of thing you'll like. And judging by the numbers for the original Hostel, there are a fair lot of you out there. This seems to be travelling down the same road as the Saw series, albeit at about 60% of the box office. Pencil this one in for about $18 million.