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Weekend Forecast for August 24-26, 2007

By Reagen Sulewski

August 24, 2007

Mr. Bean dances as he realizes the ridiculous amounts of money he has made...but not in America.

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The comfortably cruising summer box office drives off a cliff this weekend, as studios start to dump the films that weren't ready for the prime summer weeks. Get ready for a couple of weeks of suck until the fall prestige films start opening.

Jason Statham has held a unique distinction in the past few years; since 2004, he has had either the number one or number two film at the box office over Labor Day Weekend. As his latest film, War, is being released the week before Labor Day, this streak is unlikely to continue, but this is close enough to count in spirit, if it can keep that streak alive.

That seems like a pretty good bet, as it matches him with kung fu superstar Jet Li, for a more star-studded late-summer action offering than usual. Statham plays an FBI agent hunting for Li, an international assassin who killed his partner. This pursuit puts him smack in the middle of a gang war between the Triads and the Yakuza, with deadly results.

Li and Statham are probably the two biggest names in "pure" action these days, with Li's international reputation and Statham's Transporter series. This is probably a situation where 1+1=1 as far as box office goes, as there will be significant if not total overlap between their fanbases. There also aren't any fantastic money shots in the ads to really sell the match-up between these two B-titans. I predict a bow of $13 million for this fairly generic looking offering.




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Following the success of The Devil Wears Prada, it's not surprising to see more "confessional" type movies appearing. The latest is The Nanny Diaries, starring Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans and Laura Linney. Johansson plays a college student hired to be a live-in nanny for a rich New York City socialite (Linney). In between dealing with her crazy demands and dysfunctional family, she finds love with a "Harvard Hottie" (Evans).

Based on a relatively popular novel, The Nanny Diaries takes a semi-anthropological view of New York society, and a very dim view of those with more money than sense. Unfortunately, if reviews are to be believed, it's a very superficial look, barely rising above the level of a sitcom. Linney is being singled out for praise in her role as Mrs. X, and Johansson and Evans are an attractive couple, but this film appears to be a bit of a whiff. The Weinstein Company bumped this one close to its release date, and their troubles will continue, with The Nanny Diaries coming in with only an $8 million weekend.

The best hope for quality this weekend comes with Resurrecting the Champ, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Hartnett. Hartnett plays a struggling sports reporter who finds the story of his life when stumbles onto a homeless man that calls himself "champ", and claims to be a former heavyweight contender fallen on hard times. As he attempts to tell the boxer's story, he finds it resonating with him personally, shedding new light for him on his broken marriage and his shaky relationship with his son.

Resurrecting the Champ is directed by Rod Lurie, who is responsible for two of the most frustratingly bad films of the last decade, Deterrence, The Contender, and The Last Castle. Reviews for this one are a little kinder, with Jackson receiving significant praise for his role as the booze-soaked former boxer, and Hartnett for his game attempt at a reporter attempting to find his big break. The overall prospects for the film aren't that strong, though, with it premiering on just 1,600 screens and a fairly talky premise that doesn't really play to either of its leads' strengths at the box office. Look for a weekend of just $6 million for Champ.


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