Weekend Forecast for March 19-21, 2010
By Reagen Sulewski
March 19, 2010
Spring is typically a time of renewal and rebirth, a time to sweep out the old. It's sort of the same in Hollywood – as the season officially turns over, studios sweep out a bunch of old dusty things they had lying around and dump them in theatres.
Of these cast-off wannabe blockbusters, The Bounty Hunter has the best overall chance for success. A sort of romantic comedy take on Midnight Run, it stars Gerard Butler as a down-on-his-luck bounty hunter who's tasked to bring in his ex-wife, Jennifer Aniston, who's jumped bail to investigate a murder cover-up. As she tries to escape from him on the way back to prison, the murder cover-up follows them, and wacky hijinks ensue.
This is, of course, a pretty threadbare premise, and you've probably seen many, many films where variations on the Bickersons find themselves in fish-out-of-water scenarios – we had it just recently with Did You Hear About the Morgans? – and suddenly find those old wounds healing, if only for a couple of hours on screen. These generally live and die by the chemistry of their leads, and Butler and Aniston aren't the worst pairing imaginable. There's something just off about the ads, though, which are mostly devoid of jokes that don't revolve around one ex instigating violence on the other. I'm not saying I don't understand, just that it doesn't make for great cinema.
In fact, it's one of the poorest reviewed movies of the year, with just 8% of critics giving even the most tentative of thumbs up. That doesn't always matter when it comes to romantic comedies, but it often keeps them from becoming huge hits. Both of these actors have actually managed to survive horrible trailers in recent years, Butler with The Ugly Truth and Aniston with He's Just Not That Into You, but this combination of actors and material feels a little more toxic, like a mini-Gigli in the making. Opening on slight more than 3,000 screens, this should open to about $24 million this weekend.
Pre-teens get another potential franchise-starting film this weekend, on the heels of Percy Jackson. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is decidedly less action-oriented of course, but perhaps no less popular for it. Based on a best-selling series of illustrated novels, the film follows the titular junior high student as he deals with bullies, cooties and the horrors of gym class.
The whims and desires of pre-teens are often mercurial when it comes to entertainment, but this film seems to be hitting at perhaps the optimal possible time. Six books related to the series are in the Amazon Top 100 for children's books, and its target audience hasn't had the chance to outgrow them yet. Helmed by the director of Hotel For Dogs, which you probably forgot opened to $17 million, Wimpy Kid has the chance to be a moderate hit with around $19 million for an opening weekend.
The third wide release is Repo Men, which belongs to a genre that typically sends distributors running for the exits – dystopian satire. Jude Law and Forest Whitaker star as the titular characters, repo men for artificial organ suppliers, who forcibly reclaim organs when their owners can't make the payments. Since you usually need a heart or a liver to stay alive – well, that's kind of a problem for their owners.