March 2011 Preview

By Michael Lynderey

March 4, 2011

Lizards, cats and owls, living together.

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4. Sucker Punch (March 25th)

Zack Snyder strikes again, with a quite fascinating-looking menagerie of starlets (Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens, Jena Malone) waging a ruthless assault on helpless mechanical beings who wish only to obliterate them into tiny little pieces. And while that premise fascinates me, what Sucker Punch vibes off is a feel of Watchmen without the fanbase, a piece of potentially revelatory fantasy without a proper target audience or a mass filmgoer understanding of what they may be getting themselves into (the underlying premise, about a 1950s mental institution, has the potential to both depress and alienate some of the target demographic). So, just like Snyder's audacious March 2009 picture, this one may open well and then scare off any legs. Gotta root for Scott Glenn, though.

Opening weekend: $31 million / Total gross: $64 million

5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (March 25th)
The first Diary of a Wimpy Kid picture was not a bad deal, with that $15 million budget and a box office gross some four times that. And so here comes the sequel, just a few days and a year to the first film's release, and none too soon, considering how fickle the target demographic can be. The cast's mostly all back (save for the R-rated Chloe Moretz, who in the first film looked mighty depressed that she wasn't cutting the other characters into tiny little bits with a mechanized buzzsaw). That Moretz box office bump aside, it's looking like whatever cosmic forces (quality, timing, awareness) that turned Wimpy part one into a noticeable hit are mostly still with us. And thus, the numbers won't change quite so much from 2010. Not until part 3.

Opening weekend: $24 million / Total gross: $59 million


6. Red Riding Hood (March 11th)

Catherine Hardwicke reimagines the teen world once again, after the lucid Thirteen and the saccharine Twilight. It's a little hard to peg down what's going on here - Amanda Seyfried has been opening those cute little romances very well lately, and she's surrounded by a heady mix of young actors and malevolent supporting players (and Virginia Madsen, too! I like her.). On the other hand, furry werewolf pics haven't necessarily been taking off at the box office lately (yes, yes, I know, Taylor Lautner), and it's not always easy to get teenagers to attend films set in villages where people dress funny and talk like they've been reading an awful lot of historical fiction, lately (yes, I know, I know, The Village). Perhaps once more it will fall on that ever-elusive element, quality, to make or break the numbers here. The ball's in its court now.

Opening weekend: $21 million / Total gross: $47 million

7. Limitless (March 18th)
This is that solo vehicle that Bradley Cooper's been craving ever since The Hangover. And here he is, without a malevolent Sandra Bullock (All About Steve) or a wound-up Liam Neeson (The A-Team) to hold him down. The idea is kind of loopy, with Cooper's vaguely-everyman seemingly getting to spend half the picture as a costume-less superman of sorts, before dabbling in thriller plots and villainy provided courtesy of the ever-masterful Robert De Niro. As with film #6, it's an intriguing idea paired with an up-and-coming movie star in a marketplace ready for a breakout. Thus, the questions are as before: How good is it going to be? How much do audiences trust Cooper? And will it get too weird? The answers will bend this from a minor breakout to a decent hit, if they're the right answers.

Opening weekend: $17 million / Total gross: $46 million

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