Weekend Forecast for January 28-30, 2010

By Reagen Sulewski

January 28, 2011

I'll bet Mythbusters would prove that shooting a tiny gun while jumping doesn't work.

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With the Oscar nominations now announced and set to boost the fortunes of a handful of films, Hollywood mostly ducks out of the way, introducing only a pair of unremarkable new films into the mix this weekend, leaving open the possibility for a weeks-old film to top the charts.

That's a long shot, to be sure, as The Rite and The Mechanic look to be just strong enough to keep this from happening, with barely enough star power and narrative hook to earn in the teens. The stronger of the two is probably The Rite, thanks to the exorcism angle, a genre that audiences seemingly can't get enough of in any fashion. Colin O'Donoghue (virtually invisible in the trailers, because who's he?) plays an American priest who travels to Rome in order to train at an exorcism school, which I'm hoping leads to the strangest training montage ever. He's mentored by Anthony Hopkins, who's running on full Welsh-charm mode.

And as in any exorcism story, the danger always ends up being towards those challenging the Devil, which makes me think the Devil just has some insecurity problems. At any rate, shortly after O'Donoghue arrives at the school, an exorcism goes wrong, Hopkins starts showing signs of possession, and the battle for his soul is on, and yada yada yada, you know how this goes.

As a PG-13 horror film, the chances of The Rite offering anything truly scary are slight, and while it looks more stylish than the average film, it still doesn't seem like anything to write home about in that department. Reviews are abysmal, though that often proves to be a minor factor in horror films. Working strongly in its favor then, is that exorcism movies continue to do well regardless of how they look.


The Last Exorcism, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, even Exorcist: The Beginning all opened well, in the high teens to low 30s, and I'm prepared to throw in The Haunting in Connecticut and Paranormal Activity 1 & 2 as close cousins. Audiences simply can't get enough of possession and/or haunting stories for reasons I can't really fathom. I'm not prepared to say The Rite can hang with these films, as the main audience for horror films isn't really jonesing to see Anthony Hopkins. And there's still that PG-13 rating. Opening at about 2,900 venues, The Rite should manage about $13 million.

Although we're not quite there yet, “Jason Statham is The [Occupation]” is threatening to become to the new “Steven Seagal is [Descriptive Movie Title]”. The Mechanic follows up his Transporter films and his co-lead role in The Expendables with him playing a professional ass-kicker killing bad guys in elaborate ways, possibly at some point leaping through the air whilst firing two guns. Slightly unusual is that this time Statham has a sidekick/protege in Ben Foster, who while he may be high on the list of actors who you'd think would resort to crazy violence, isn't that high on the list of believable bad-asses.

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