March 2009 Forecast
By David Mumpower
March 6, 2009
Since Julia Roberts had three consecutive blockbusters with Notting Hill, Runaway Bride and Erin Brockovich, her career has been relatively scattershot. The Mexican and America's Sweethearts did okay business, but her stranger choices for roles in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Mona Lisa Smile, Closer, and Full Frontal were all moderate to extreme box office disappointments. Two of those films are personal favorites of mine (no, not Mona Lisa Smile), so I would argue there was great work done in them. The days of her being the Pretty Woman of box office draws seem to be gone, though. Duplicity reunites her with Closer co-star Clive Owen in a film that seems a bit like Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (two spies facing off between lovemaking sessions) with a lot of I Love Trouble thrown in. Given that Closer earned $34.0 million, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind earned $16.0 million and I Love Trouble earned $30.8 million, she seems to have chosen a project that combines the worst of her career decisions into one film. Having said that, I am going off the board here and predicting that this title does surprisingly well. I think that Owen and Roberts have a certain chemistry together that will make this a Mr. and Mrs. Smith type of film. While it will do nowhere near that much box office, I still think it can maybe match The Mexican's $66.8 million, which would be a very solid performance in my estimation.
The Last House on the Left
If there is a horror film with a less scary name than this, I cannot think of what that would be. Even Dark Water seems terrifying in comparison. I mean, how scary can a place be if it needs directions just to get there? "Like, that place is totally haunted and stuff, but you can only find it if I draw you a map and you print out the directions from Mapquest." I'm shaking in my (left and right) boots. I'm completely burnt out on generic horror re-makes. This one is no different. It will do solid opening weekend business before its target audience notices something shiny down the street and wanders off to the nearest Hot Topic.
I have never drank the kool-aid on Alex Proyas. Dark City did nothing for me and while I liked I, Robot, I mainly did so because of Will Smith and the story itself rather than anything unique about the direction. Those of you who have been reading BOP for a while know that I consider Nicolas Cage one of the true frauds of the industry. He plays 27 variations of the same character, allowing him to do any movie offered to him that comes with a too-large paycheck. Given this, the idea of a Nic Cage movie directed by Alex Proyas seems like a special sort of exercise in pretentiousness by a couple of dudes who sold out at first opportunity. Knowing is not exactly on my Must-See List for 2009. Despite this, I can see a certain segment of sci-fi fans who are all fired up about what strikes me as a slight tweak on Cage's 2007 film, Next. It would be easy for me to dismiss this project as weak sauce since Next earned only $18 million domestically, but I think this one will do quite a better, probably around $40 million before it's done.