Weekend Forecast for March 14-16, 2014
By David Mumpower
March 14, 2014
Yo, bitch! Mr. White is going to be so proud of me. I’m starring in a MOVIE!
Yes, folks. Now is the time to face reality. Breaking Bad is over, and the best we can hope for these days is an Aaron Paul movie vehicle that is little more than a glorified knock-off of Fast & Furious. Also, I’ll say what we’re all thinking: I miss Gus Fring.
Aaron Paul is in a unique situation. The 34-year-old actor has just finished starring in arguably the most critically acclaimed television series of the 2000s. Still a young man by everyone’s standards outside of Hollywood, Paul has the rest of his career ahead of him, but virtually no credentials as a feature film lead actor. He was one of the bad guys in Last House on the Left, but unless you’re the world’s biggest Garfunkel & Oates fan, you don’t know what that is. Paul is basically a blank slate as an opener.
He does have a couple of things going for him. He developed a loyal following due to his sympathetic turn as long-suffering meth maker Jesse Pinkman. While Bryan Cranston received most of the fawning media praise, Paul was a two-time Emmy winner in his own right and possesses unique countercultural appeal – arguably the most since Peter Fonda in Easy Rider. As an icon of 420 culture, Paul claims rare popularity in the coveted young adult male demographic. Conveniently, those are exactly the same consumers studios seek to entice with theatrical adaptations of video game premises.
That opinion is the optimist’s perspective. The pessimistic viewpoint is that Need for Speed is an obvious Fast & Furious imitator. Alternately, if we want to be low-rent about it, it has some elements of The Transporter, Death Race and Hitman. Hitman is arguably the strongest comparison because it also starred a lead actor from a critically beloved series and was an action film based upon a video game. The star of that film, Timothy Olyphant, now walks a tightrope between starring in his own television series and the occasional middle tier theatrical release. That is Aaron Paul’s likely future.
This weekend, all that matters is how many adolescent and virtually adolescent males want to see fast cars and explosions. Need for Speed has been heavily advertised, and was even given the honor of a Super Bowl spot. Torn between the popularity of car films and the saturation of them, I’m leaning toward the former by projecting a $27 million opening weekend. Independent of how well the movie does this weekend, Paul should prove popular during pilot season for the next several years until he finds a new series that sticks.
I do not want to call Tyler Perry an egomaniac; however, we must face facts. Tyler Perry presents a movie approximately every four months these days. If not for a strange copyright issue involving Lee Daniels and The Butler, the only other director in the industry who has demanded such an egotistical moniker is Quentin Tarantino. And the film that bore Tarantino’s name was Hero, a production that in no way involved him. Of course, if you can create a couple of box office hits out of thin air every year simply by adding your name to them, you’d do it as well.