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Weekend Forecast for October 3-5, 2008

By Reagen Sulewski

October 3, 2008

When I take over the world, I will kill you last.

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Flash of Genius is an unlikely biopic if there ever was one. Greg Kinnear stars as the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper, which is a bit like making a film about the guy who invented the bendy straw (maybe there's a fascinating story there too. If there is, I claim story credit).

After coming up with the idea, Kinnear finds it stolen by the big Detroit automakers and goes on a decades-long quest to claim his rightful reward. It's a curious case of obsession and determination, and apparently quite well made, but the banality of the subject material would seem to turn a lot of people off, I think. Someone either won or lost a bet to make this movie, is my guess. Give it about $3 million this weekend.

We don't talk politics often here, and for good reason. However, it's thrust upon us this weekend with two films – An American Carol and Religulous. Both would probably blanch at being lumped with each other, but both cover hot button issues. Carol is a quasi-parody of A Christmas Carol run through an American right-wing political prism and seems to be attempting to diffuse the notion that right-wingers can't be funny. Mission Not Accomplished seems to be the verdict, and David Zucker's (Airplane! was so long ago now...) strawman-fest hasn't even been submitted for reviews (presumably because he thinks he can't get a fair shake).

The film seems to posit that if Michael Moore could just be beaten up a few times, all the world's problems would be solved. Ah, if only that made sense or were easy. Right-wing filmmakers have often struggled with and puzzled about the idea that their political satires never catches on like the way shows like The Daily Show or The Colbert Report do, and this film seems to suffer from the same problem as other failed projects – it comes from a perspective of mocking the little guy, and having utterly no sense of humor about its protagonists. Direct-targeted films have had a decent amount of success lately (see: last weekend's Fireproof), but this tepid punching-bag fest seems to fail the entertainment test. It's also difficult to imagine a worse political climate for this to come out in given the events of the last two weeks. On about 1,600 screens, I see this earning about $3 million.




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Religulous is Bill Maher's sort-of documentary about religion, and how ridiculous he finds so much of the concept. He's not likely to make himself too many friends by calling phooey on the whole lot of them. As one of Hollywood's resident idea bomb-throwers, Maher has a pretty good following, but it feels like he's whiffed on this one (yelling out Scientology beliefs in the middle of the street like a crazy person is pretty funny, though). I could see about $2 million, maybe, for this on its 500 or so screens.

Returning films have to fight their way through this glut, with Eagle Eye being the most significant. Shia LaBeouf's thriller won last weekend with $29 million, a very solid figure for a fall thriller. It's gotten middling reviews, so I don't see this being too much in the way of a challenger for a second straight weekend at the top of the box office, but then LaBeouf's last thriller, Disturbia, spent three weekends at the top, so anything is possible. I see about $18 million for its second weekend.

Nights in Rodanthe took second place with $13 million, following in the footsteps of The Notebook almost exactly. That film rather dramatically picked up steam in its third weekend to become a major buzz romantic film, and that audience is often a slow burner, but I don't see that really happening to that extent here. I see about an $8 million figure for this weekend – respectable, but not world beating.

Below this, four films will be battling out to remain in the top ten versus the clamoring hordes of new films this weekend – Lakeview Terrace, Fireproof, Burn After Reading and Igor, all of which should be in the $3-4 million range. It'll be interesting to see if the surprising Fireproof has any staying power, or if it proves to be a one-week wonder buoyed by a grassroots campaign. My guess is somewhere in the middle, but it's probably the returning film with the performance most worth watching.


Forecast: Weekend of October 3-5, 2008
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3,215 New 25.7
2 Eagle Eye 3,516 +6 18.3
3 Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist 2,421 New 14.3
4 Nights in Rodanthe 2,702 -2 8.5
5 How to Lose Friends and Alienate People 1,750 New 6.1
6 Blindness 1,690 New 5.7
7 Fireproof 852 +13 4.2
8 Appaloosa 1,045 +1,031 3.9
9 Lakeview Terrace 2,574 +107 3.9
10 Burn After Reading 2,397 -252 3.8

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