April 2009 Forecast
By David Mumpower
April 3, 2009
3) State of Play
The British version of this stars every recognizable actor in England. I'm only 70% joking about this. We have had the DVD of this miniseries since Christmas, but we have yet to watch it. I have heard wonderful things, and I have huge concerns about the American adaptation. The main reason for this is that five and a half hours worth of television are being truncated into two hours of cinema. Anyone who was just frustrated by Watchmen is hearing alarms and sirens right now. The good news is that Kevin Macdonald, the director of The Last King of Scotland, has helmed this version. The question becomes whether this is good Russell Crowe (3:10 to Yuma) or the disaster we saw in Body of Lies last year. With a phenomenal cast and a lot of positive buzz about the premise, Universal Pictures has bought itself a solid opening weekend, just as was the case with Fast & Furious above. The key is whether this one will maintain momentum after its first three days. The fact that it's being released prior to awards season and not even during the summer troubles me a great deal. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think they have it here.
4) Observe and Report
It seems like we're getting a new film from the Apatow group every month. There really hasn't been a dud yet in the bunch unless you include The Promotion in that grouping, which I do not. There also hasn't been a $100 million blockbuster in a while, either. Role Models earned $67.3 million and I Love You, Man is headed for a performance in that range. Seth Rogen's credibility as a lead actor went from nothing to...something in the past couple of years, but unless he got an unexpected bump for his voice work in last weekend's Monsters vs. Aliens, he's not a big enough name to turn this into anything more than those two films. I'd like to be proven wrong, as I think Observe and Report looks hysterical, but I'm not holding my breath.
5) 17 Again
See above re: High School Musical 3. Coming on the heels of Zac Efron's decision to drop out of the Footloose re-make, 17 Again becomes that much more important to the 21-year-old actor. He doesn't currently have another project confirmed. While he is too popular at this point to see his career vanish, the reality is that Efron is still largely an unknown. Was High School Musical a fluke that could have happened to any actor or is there something about Efron that raised the bar for what was expected to be a mediocre one-off cable flick. I'm inclined to believe it's the latter, but if 17 Again disappoints, the comment I made earlier about Hilary Duff applies. She was given four opportunities to star in a movie (not counting the Cheaper by the Dozen franchise, War, Inc. and The Lizzie McGuire Movie). Three out of the four earned $38.3 million in combined revenue. This is exactly the reason why she' s having to make movies like War, Inc. That fate could befall Efron if 17 Again doesn't buy him more political capital in the industry.
All of this is relatable for the film's other star, Matthew Perry, who wanted to leverage his starring role on Friends into a movie career. That never happened as five out of his six starring roles were in films that earned less than $30 million, domestically. He's considered a television actor who gets occasional work in films, making him a humorous counterpart to Efron in this film. Body swapping was the all the rage for a five year period in the industry starting with Big, but we've only had one movie with this concept in the 2000s, 13 Going on 30. I'm inclined to think 17 Again is cute enough to do more than most of Perry's movies, but I don't think it's going to beat his most popular film to date, The Whole Nine Yards, which earned $57.3 million.