Weekend Forecast for June 15-17, 2007

By Reagen Sulewski

June 15, 2007

Isn't it romantic?

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While it may not contain another trilogy title, this weekend does offer up a pretty high profile franchise sequel for audiences, with hopes to keep the to-date white hot summer box office going.

The Fantastic Four franchise might not seem like the best candidate to get the sequel treatment, seeing as how the first film was greeted with a collective "meh". There wasn't anything particularly bad about it, but there wasn't anything that great about it either. Wooden performances and unremarkable storytelling threatened to sink this franchise before it got going, even with a $56 million opening weekend.

So, it's time to bring out the big guns for the second film, and it's right there in the title: The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. In terms of the cool factor, The Silver Surfer undoubtedly has the highest cachet, even if he isn't quite as well known as a Spider-Man or a Hulk. A morally-ambiguous silver-coated alien arriving from space on a surfboard and wielding almost unfathomable power, he is one of the few comic villains to become a star in his own right.

There's also an ace-in-the-hole that the film's ads aren't revealing in regards to his character, which, if you read the comics, you know about, and if you don't, far be it for me to ruin the surprise. Suffice it to say that the Surfer is a potential precursor to Earth's entire annihilation.


This pits him against the Fantastic Four, all of whom are returning for the sequel, which is both good and bad. Michael Chiklis as The Thing and Chris Evans as The Human Torch are the good, with Ioan Gruffudd as Mr. Fantastic and Jessica Alba as Sue Storm (only slightly more believable as a scientist than Denise Richards) the bad, at least performance wise. It's a good thing Alba's pretty.

These movies have staked out a relatively vacant area in comic adaptations, with both receiving a PG rating, and aiming squarely at younger and family audiences. For comic fans, this has also had the effect of limiting the enthusiasm for the film, as they might have hoped for a more X-Men like treatment. So despite the inherent zing in adding the Surfer, it's going to remain a hard sell to hardcore audiences. And as we've seen so far this summer, audiences are definitely not so willing to ask for second helpings of mediocre fare. Opening in a super-wide slate of 3,957 venues, it should debut to about $49 million.

While that film is aiming at pre-teen boys and those who still think like them, Nancy Drew will be taking care of the pre-teen girls. Based on the classic series of children's novels, Drew stars Emma Roberts (daughter of Eric, niece of Julia) as the titular detective. In the film, she travels from her small town to Los Angeles on vacation, only to find herself in the midst of a decades-old Hollywood murder mystery. Plucky, self-reliant sleuthing follows shortly after, with the film apparently putting her in some actual dangerous situations, though obviously nothing that would push it beyond PG.

The tone of the film appears to be one of winking irony, which makes sense in a "16-year-olds can't really solve crimes" kind of way, though you wonder if the target audience is sophisticated enough to watch the film on that level. Generally I would think they'd watch it straight, so this is possibly aiming at any parents that will have to provide guidance. The general consensus seems to be that those parents will be pretty bored, and that kids won't get a whole lot out of it, either. Look for a weekend of about $10 million here.

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