Max Braden's April 2008 Forecast
By Max Braden
The month of April last year only saw one movie open over $20 million, with the rest struggling to get into the teens. Yikes, this April looks even worse. At least there are some of December's Oscar movies arriving on DVD. Here's my outlook for movies in theaters and on DVD this month:
Weekend Starting April 4th
This family-friendly adventure with Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin will probably win the weekend, but mostly because of the number of theaters. Last year's Are We Done Yet? won the weekend but couldn't get past $50 million gross in its run at the theaters.
The trailer makes the movie look like a mix between The Descent, which I thought was a good horror and Bug, which looked intriguing. Where Bug looked a little claustrophic stuck in a dark hotel room, The Ruins has the appeal of a tropical setting, exploration, coeds, and coed-hungry parasites. I don't think this horror movie will be great, but I do think the trailer hits the right notes and will draw its target demographic. The R rating is an obstacle but I wouldn't be surprised to see this as the per-site-average winner of the wide releases.
Without a doubt, George Clooney is perfect for this role, as he's this generation's mix of Clark Gable and Cary Grant. Had this period screwball romantic comedy been released 60 or 70 years ago, it would have been the bee's knees. But I don't think the presence of smiling John Krasinski (still trying to establish himself in features as more than a half of "Jim and Pam from The Office") is going to help draw in the younger crowd, leaving the theater seats to viewers who went to see Miss Pettigrew last month. Still, this would be my choice if I saw one movie this weekend (despite Zellweger).
Also notable: On DVD this week I highly recommend Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter duet perfectly together.
Weekend Starting April 11th
The title Street Kings makes it sound like this movie is going to showcase breakdancers from the '80s spinning around on cardboard layouts. As it looks, though, I get a We Own the Night vibe surrounding a story of cops and thugs. You've got Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, and Common in the cast, and David Ayer (Training Day), James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential), and Kurt Wimmer (The Recruit) behind the scenes. Probably the weekend winner though I wouldn't expect it to last on the streets for long.
Also notable: On DVD this week, Daniel Day Lewis' Oscar winning performance in There Will Be Blood will probably receive the most interest from viewers.
Weekend Starting April 18th
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
The trailer for this anti-romantic comedy has been getting some good laughs from theater audiences, and the "from the makers of The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up" pitch should draw in enough of a crowd to win the weekend at the box office. I don't expect this one to perform as well overall as Virgin and Knocked Up, though. It will be interesting to see if Jason Segel can use this as a stepping stone from his role on How I Met Your Mother.
The Forbidden Kingdom
This is my pick as the movie to see this weekend, even if it only performs moderately (and that's a very relative 'moderate' this month) at the box office. Jackie Chan and Jet Li finally appear together in a martial arts movie. The writer and director are American, and the stars are aging, but for their fans, this movie is a must see.
Also notable: On DVD this week, expect Juno to fly off the shelves. I'd also recommend Lars and the Real Girl for a quieter, more dramatic comedy choice, or Before the Devil Knows You're Dead for Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance.
Weekend Starting April 25th
Tina Fey, enough said. She didn't write this one, (Austin Powers cowriter Michael McCullers did), but I think she's got enough buzz from her SNL work and 30 Rock that she'll be able to draw audiences in. This looks like the opposite side of the Knocked Up coin, and should win the weekend, maybe pulling in more of the female audience while the guys are seeing Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
After Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle became a big fan favorite I'd expect this movie to easily win the weekend, but it's been four years since the first movie and this one has undergone some changes in story and release dates. And I've seen very little advertising for it, possibly due to New Line's scaling back of operations as they are folded into Warner Bros. The upside: Neil Patrick Harris (also currently in How I Met Your Mother) is back as himself.
Also notable: On DVD this week there are a bunch of notable releases, in particular January's monster thriller Cloverfield, highly regarded foreign horror flick The Orphanage, and Philip Seymour Hoffman again in Charlie Wilson's War and The Savages.