Weekend Forecast for November 2-4, 2012
By Reagen Sulewski
November 2, 2012
After a couple of months of just intermittently interesting releases, the Holiday movie season has finally arrived. We're finally getting the real tentpole releases, with at least one a week for the next couple of months, not to mention a bunch of Oscar hopefuls. The season starts off strongly with one of the most intriguing ideas for a mainstream movie in some time.
Just about every writer that's ever stared at a blank page is kicking themselves looking at Wreck-It-Ralph, thinking “now why the hell didn't I think of that?”. An animated film from Disney, it exists entirely in the world of video games, following the title character (voiced by John C. Reilly), an antagonist from a fictional game from the 8-bit arcade era who starts to question his purpose in life, and starts jumping games to change his story, moving him through video game history as he works through his journey. It's a brilliant conceit that has tons of potential for clever humor as well as meaningful story, since video games are so theme-rich. The script also seems to have a lot of fun with the quirks and idiosyncratic nature of video games, with their rigid logic and unique abilities.
Although the game in the title and a few of the others used in the plot of the film are made up for the film, there's a tremendous number of familiar franchises in the film, including Pac-Man, Q-Bert, Street Fighter, Sonic the Hedgehog and more. It's a little bit like the video game version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, with a bit of Toy Story thrown in there for good measure. The biggest worry one might have is that the video game setting might be a little alienating for non-gamers, but I think the inclusion of these older games is an incredibly savvy move, and cashes in on their considerable cultural capital, without having to figure out how one would make a movie out of Pac-Man (hint: don't).
The ad campaigns have been fairly brilliant as well, emphasizing the pure chaos and anarchic mayhem Ralph causes as he moves through the gaming world. Although it's primarily a family-targeted film, the film should also pick up a sizable slate of gamers, happy to see a film that seems to get the logic of games. Although I don't know if it can be as big off the bat as some other animated films, like Shrek or Toy Story, I do think it can challenge some of the middle tier films like Despicable Me or Madagascar. Opening in over 3,700 venues, Wreck-It Ralph should start out with a solid $52 million.
Few actors have been as consistent in recent years as Denzel Washington, who has achieved a later-career success (he's now *57*) that shows little sign of stopping. This has largely been due to some excellent script choices and a turn towards more action-oriented films. This weekend's Flight is more towards the dramatic end of things, although it's built around a harrowing set-piece that's driving the ad campaign.