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Weekend Forecast for September 21-23, 2007

By Reagen Sulewski

September 21, 2007

The next person to comment on her chaps gets cut.

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Anemic box office returns during the first two weeks of fall are due for a bit of a turnaround, as Hollywood turns to what's always worked this season – ass-kicking women and zombies.

Resident Evil: Extinction is the third and probably final (but one never knows) installment of the movie series based on the popular survival horror video game Resident Evil. The genetically engineered zombie plague of the first two films has almost consumed mankind, with survivors mostly relegated to below the surface, working on a way to return. I say mostly, because there is still Alice (Milla Jovovich) and a band of hunters, eking out an existence and fighting against the zombie hordes on their way to Alaska, and safety.

As they come across the ruins of Las Vegas and a major concentration of zombies, Alice catches the attention of The Umbrella Corporation, who thinks Alice has the key to ending the plague once and for all. Of course, they started it, so would you trust them? In what might be the final battle for the human race, Alice and her compatriots fight both zombies and the evil industrialists for the highest stakes possible.

One of the more action-oriented horror franchises out there, the Resident Evil movies have benefited from a small but rabid fanbase, thanks to faithfulness to the source material, some legitimately great trailers and the relative uniqueness of their female action lead. Although Jovovich hasn't been rock solid in other action roles – Ultraviolet comes to mind – as Alice she's brought home the goods twice, with opening weekends of $17 and $23 million respectively. Extinction promises more of the same, with some cool explosions and zombie-chopping action. That's going to pull in more or less the same people it did the first two times, though you can't rule out a surprise for this franchise, which has a surprising resilience and a dedicated following on video. Look for it to win the weekend with $25 million.




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Somewhere, there's a secret document in a Hollywood safe deposit box that states that Amanda Bynes can only star in modernized adaptations and remakes. After exhausting all the "Shakespeare in high school" adaptations that came her way (OK... so there was one. It seems like more), she's now moved on to fairy tale modernizations, with Sydney White, a very shallowly disguised version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

In the film, Bynes plays the title character, a tomboy that pledges at her mother's old sorority as a freshman, to predictably disastrous results. Landing in a house with seven severely geeky male roommates (hmmm.....) she plots revenge against the campus's self-appointed royalty, fighting for the misfits and losers. I wonder if they'll win.

Bynes is quite a likeable actress with energy to spare, though she seems stuck in these broad teen comedies, and time is running out where she can pull off these roles plausibly (then again, Matthew Broderick was 26 when he played Ferris Bueller). While Bynes has generally been able to open movies in the low double-digits, I think these films are starting to get a bit tired, and the fall is not a particularly opportune time for them. I see an opening weekend of about $8 million in the cards here.

Good Luck Chuck represents Dane Cook's latest assault upon decent society, and one of the parting shots for the recent run on sex comedies. Cook plays the titular Chuck, who carries a reputation that is both a blessing and a curse – rumor has it if you sleep with him once, the next guy you meet will be The One. It's great for random sex, but what if someone you really like (say, Jessica Alba) comes along and you don't want the curse to be real?


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