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Weekend Forecast for October 10-12, 2008

By Reagen Sulewski

October 10, 2008

See, you've got to keep the press in line. Throw a phone at them if you must.

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It's not as crazy as last weekend (how could it be?), but we've still got a huge number of new options at the theater this weekend as Hollywood works through a fall glut of films. Four new films go wide with one receiving an expansion in a very competitive weekend.

One of the three or four films with a shot at winning the weekend is Quarantine, a horror film that's part Blair Witch, part 28 Days Later. Jennifer Campbell (of Dexter) stars as a Los Angeles TV reporter on a ride-along with a fire crew, when a strange call sends them out to an apartment building. After a couple of the residents display some strange symptoms and attack the fire crew, the building is sealed off...but with a few people left behind, like the reporter and her cameraman.

Outside the building, the public is told that everyone has been evacuated, leaving those left behind to wonder just why they would lie about that, and what exactly is in that building? And those people they came to rescue don't look so good...




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The film is made up of "found footage" from the news camera, lending immediacy and a "you are there" feeling to the action. This is a trick that's worked well, sparingly, most recently with Cloverfield. This obviously doesn't have nearly the same promotion as either Cloverfield or Blair Witch, but it's got some pretty effective and spooky ads. It's been a little while for a horror film in the cineplexes, and I think this has the right hook to break out a little. Opening in 2,400 or so venues, it should see about $16 million this weekend.

Body of Lies pairs up Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe in a technological spy thriller, though of a somewhat curious sort. DiCaprio plays a spy hunting for a Jordian terrorist with the help of that country's spy agency, while Crowe, as his CIA handler manipulates events from Washington, and possibly not always to DiCaprio's benefit.

Directed by Ridley Scott, it's got a solid pedigree both in front of and behind the camera, but an unfortunately muddled ad campaign that doesn't seem to make the most of its stars. There are a fair number of explosions to entice people, but the actual intrigue of the plot seems fairly opaque. This might be a film that has to build based on reputation, much like DiCaprio's own Blood Diamond. I look for about $14 million for this on its debut weekend.

The inspirational sports movie is about as formulaic as things get and about as classic a story as there is. As such, they're nearly impossible to screw up, but also nearly impossible to turn into fantastic movies. They're sort of just...there. The Express is the latest example of this kind of movie, telling the story of Ernie Davis, the first black Heisman Trophy winner. Rob Brown (most famously of Finding Forrester) stars as Davis, with Dennis Quaid as his pragmatic coach.


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