Weekend Forecast for October 8-10, 2010
By Reagen Sulewski
October 8, 2010
The onslaught of fall films continues this weekend with four new films hitting wide release, but after a couple of weeks of oddball movies leading the way, this group gets a lot more conventional.
How conventional? The leading candidate to top the box office charts is a romantic comedy with Katherine Heigl looking after a baby. Life As We Know It has Heigl and Josh Duhamel as two people thrown together when they're named as guardians of their mutual friends' toddler. This apparently comes as a surprise to them, although this strikes me as the kind of thing you'd want to talk to them about first.
This is one of those “boy, you single people really don't have meaning in your life unless you have a kid” movies, which Hollywood puts out every so often with the idea that they're teaching us a lesson, possibly out of guilt for being deeply unsatisfied workaholics themselves. At least this time they're not just doing it to punish single career women, like in Raising Helen.
Despite being by all accounts completely unlikeable in person, Heigl remains a pretty reliable draw in romantic comedies. Knocked Up, 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth average about a $27 million opening weekend, with The Killers being the first chink in her armor, thanks to some really bad ads and a sketchy premise. While reviews for Life As We Know It aren't great, babies and couples are usually a pretty sure fire method of finding success at the box office. Those poop jokes just write themselves, I guess. Heigl should find herself back into her normal range of movie openings with around $24 million here.
Inspirational sports movies are back this weekend with Secretariat, the story of the horse that won the 1973 Triple Crown, the first in decades to do so, and which did so in ridiculously dominating fashion. It's also the story of the horse's owner, a woman (by itself an extreme rarity in those days) who was determined to raise champion horses despite the boys' club nature of the sport and the extreme financial difficulties of her stable. Diane Lane stars as Penny Chenery, in what looks like her best ever shot for a Sandra Bullock Oscar.
Disney is producing, in The Rookie/Miracle/Invincible style, though this time the quality of the story they've found and its familiarity may help it break out more into the public at large, rather than just sticking with the sports fan demographics. Its spiritual predecessor, Seabiscuit, earned $120 million and was nominated for seven Oscars. That level of awards contention might be pushing it for Secretariat, which seems to lean more towards the schmaltz, but three or four might not be out of the question, including a possible Best Picture nomination.
This is all dependent, of course, on the movie actually being a hit, or to what level of hit it might become. Reviews show that Disney seems to have gotten this one right, and as far as sports figures go, Secretariat is among the most well-known figures whose backstory hasn't been beaten to death. While not likely to approach last year's start for The Blind Side, I'd not be surprised by an opening of about $22 million.