Weekend Forecast for February 14-16, 2014

By Reagen Sulewski

February 14, 2014

Rock, paper, scissors is *not* the best foreplay.

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A trio of romantic films hit theaters for Valentine's Day, trying to capture the big “Well, we gotta see *something*” market that rules Wuv Day. But if you ask me, nothing's more romantic than cyborg policemen in a dystopic future? Am I right, ladies?

RoboCop is a remake of the 1987 science fiction film by Paul Verhoeven. As the future has basically caught up to Verhoeven's vision (run-down Detroit? Over militarized police departments? Crass popular culture? Never happen), remaking it doesn't seem like the worst idea ever, other than it was perfect the first time. But oh well. Joel Kinnamen, most known from the AMC series The Killing, takes over the title role, as a police officer reconstructed into a cyborg after a violent death. Much more of a straight up action movie than the original, it's also a much more human RoboCop, with the conflict between man and machine being more front and center.

Directed by Brazillian filmmaker Jose Padilha (probably best known for the documentary Bus 174), it also features a sterling cast, including Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Michael K. Williams and Jackie Earle Haley, among others. What might not be so sterling is the movie itself, which is mostly drawing reviews of “well, for a reboot, it's not that bad.” While Hollywood has been busy raiding 1980s sci-fi for ideas, the results have rarely blown the doors off – Dredd, Total Recall and Red Dawn all failed to capture the zeitgeist of today's audiences, and while RoboCop may be a small cut above those, it's clear the same fate is going to apply here. Opening to $2.8 million on Wednesday, it looks on track for about $13 million on the weekend.


Thus, the biggest new film of the weekend should be About Last Night, another '80s remake, but a romantic one, and a test of Kevin Hart's nascent stardom. With Ride Along still in the top three last weekend, he'll even be competing against himself a little bit.

Originally based on a David Mamet (!) play, the 1986 version of the film starred Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, James Belushi and Elizabeth Perkins as two couples who hook up and then have to determine if they're in it for a relationship or not, and if so, what kind of relationship they're after. Hart costars with Michael Ealy (of the sci-fi series Almost Human) along with Regina King and Joy Bryant in the same scenario, although at this point we're definitely not expecting them to be dealing with Mamet's circuitous dialog, and instead we're got a relatively straightforward (so straightforward it even loses the ellipses from the title) romantic comedy.

Ride Along of course just opened to $41 million, largely on the strength of the buddy cop scenario, but also to some extent on Kevin Hart's popularity, which has been growing steadily over the last few years. Certainly on Valentine's Day, being in a romantic comedy does not hurt your chances for box office. Films can easily double, or even triple their normal box office on February 14th. Reviews are relatively kind to it, but that not even matter, given the subject and the timing. With all that in mind, I'd look for $21 million.

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