February 2011 Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
February 4, 2011
4. I Am Number Four (February 18th)
This one is February's big teen adventure extravaganza, following on the heels of slightly younger cousin The Spiderwick Chronicles and slightly older relative Jumper. What I Am Number Four really is, though, is another chance for director D.J. Caruso to craft a teen-aimed hit in the vein of his own Disturbia, with a sci-fi twist, this time, and another actor, Alex Pettyfer, who's being ominously "groomed" for some higher purpose (just ask Shia LaBeouf). Disturbia worked the box office based on good reviews and a lack of competition. If equally well received critically, this one could do the same, even if there's no super-popular source material to prop it up, and the premise is of course as familiar as any mysterious New Guy in School who introduces himself to the school beauty as "John Smith." Film critics of America, the ball's in your court now.
Opening weekend: $26 million / Total gross: $74 million
5. Unknown (February 18th)
A big question mark, this, the undeniable follow-up to Taken, the film that launched - didn't it? - Liam Neeson as a star of action pictures, instead of just an impeccably-accented supporting player in them (but he can still do that too). And the elements composed here are more than a little similar: there's a crafty European setting, not one but two attractive blonde women in jeopardy (Diane Kruger and January Jones!), and, perhaps most important than them all, a hero whose plight is advertised on the poster with the adage "Take back your life!" Do what to your life? To be fair, the premise is undeniably intriguing and the trailers are certainly effective. Still, the wonderdrug that enchanted (some may say bewitched) audiences not too long ago to attend Taken, Gran Torino, and Paul Blart en masse, all at the same time, may not be on the scene still. As Kevin James learned just last month, January 2009 was a long time ago.
Opening weekend: $29 million / Total gross: $68 million
6. Hall Pass (February 25th)
Another domestic dysfunction comedy rolls down the block, and the Farrelly Brothers strike again. It's got Owen Wilson, hearty on the comeback tour, teaming up with Jason Sudeikis, stepping out into what looks like leading roles after a few years in the supporting leagues. Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate are the TV-imported love interests. Now, is it just me, or is the idea for this movie... well... a little creepy, isn't it? Even if the Farrellys have mastered turning unpleasantness into watchability before, something tells me the film's premise of permissible infidelity won't be fully consummated. There's even a feeling here that reminds one a little of The Dilemma, with that buddy movie comedy casting, and the wives waiting in the wings while the husbands misadventure. On the plus side, there are a few fun cameos, like my favorite actor, Richard Jenkins, in what looks like a change of pace. But if The Dilemma couldn't do it...
Opening weekend: $18 million / Total gross: $57 million
7. Drive Angry (February 25th)
From the director of the luridly campy My Bloody Valentine '09, this one mixes action, fantasy, and maybe a little horror here and there, and thus it's no coincidence that it sounds more than a little like Nicolas Cage's own Ghost Rider escapades. Indeed, the B-movie credentials on this one are impeccable, with Cage looking like he's having fun, Amber Heard more than apt as the female lead, villainy courtesy of William Fichtner, in full cynical teeth-nashing mode, and an outrageous premise for a revenge thriller. 3D is becoming increasingly less of a box office factor, so it's real tough to puzzle out how high this can go. But as far as Friday nights at the movies go, it looks like it might deliver.
Opening weekend: $21 million / Total gross: $55 million