Weekend Forecast for February 3-5, 2012
By Reagen Sulewski
February 3, 2012
There's not a sure thing this weekend at the box office like last week, where the annual Liam Neeson vs. Something movie was pretty close to a guaranteed hit despite its out-there premise. Instead, we've got two sort of medium-sure things in a close battle for box office supremacy on Super Bowl weekend. We're still waiting for that breakout early year hit, however.
The bigger wild card of the weekend is Chronicle, the latest in the seemingly annual series of X-Men ripoffs that come our way, such as Push, Jumper, I Am Number Four, and I'm sure I'm missing a few others in there. However, while the teens-discover scary powers genre has been done to death, one thing that hasn't been tried with this type of film is the found-footage gambit. Okay, it's a thin branch to stand out on, but it is at least a branch. One thing that also hasn't really been tried is making the film any good, while may be just crazy enough to work for this film.
In Chronicle, a group of three Seattle teens (led in fame by Michael B. Jordan, with the other two being mostly unknown) discover a mysterious book in an underground cavern, which somehow gives them telekinetic powers. Before you can say “filming this crime spree was the greatest idea ever!”, they're off testing their abilities, starting with pranks and moving on to some light murder. As their powers grow, their friendship is tested and their abilities begin to consume them. First time director Josh Trank, who wrote the film along with first-time screenwriter Max Landis, appears to have breathed new life into this idea, thanks to seamless special effects and an apparent dedication to little things like characters, theme and plot, with this film getting some of the best reviews of the year, as short a time as that is.
This is a film that's burst very quickly onto the scene, with not a lot of hype, so it may not be as big as it could have otherwise been (it's definitely no Cloverfield, for instance). Then again, the undersell may have been a valid tactic in this case, as it plays into how found-footage films typically arrive. Ultimately what's going to hold this film back more than that or its lack of recognizable stars (c.f. The Devil Inside) is its genre, as sci-fi films are a tougher sell than horror films in general. I think quality wins out here, though, and we're looking at around a $16 million debut.
A more traditional release is The Woman in Black, and by that, I mean not just in terms of how it's shot, but in its narrative style, which harkens back to Victorian ghost stories. Daniel Radcliffe gets the lead role in his most significant to date non-Potter role, as a young widower who travels to a seaside house that even Tim Burton would find a little creepy. Throw in some mysterious disappearing children and a local legend of a spectral woman and you've got yourself a proper horror story there.