Weekend Forecast for January 12-14, 2007

By Reagen Sulewski

January 12, 2007

The competition for Grease: You're the One That I Want gets tough.

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The first weekend of 2007 didn't offer much in the way of new quality films, and although the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend shows some improvement, we're still left to rely on returning and expanding films for the best quality of the frame.

Of the new releases, Stomp the Yard leads the way. It's a movie that centers on the tradition of step dancing (aka krumping), popular at traditionally black colleges, but little known elsewhere. Starring a collection of young rappers, choreographers and a few up-and-comers, Stomp the Yard looks like a cross between 2002's minor hit Drumline and last year's Step Up, with maybe a little bit of You Got Served in for good (bad?) measure.

The main, or perhaps only, attraction here is the high-energy dance scenes. Critics have not been kind to the rest of the film, with its soap opera-quality plotting and acting singled out for specific criticism. Even at that, this isn't a film that is dependent on reviews for its core audience, who will be going for the dance numbers. However, a cross-over appeal can pretty much be written off. Opening on about 2,000 screens, look for a weekend total of just under $10 million.


Competing for some - but not all - of the same demographic is Alpha Dog, an urban crime drama starring a cast of young actors including Ben Foster (of X-Men: The Last Stand), Emile Hirsch and Justin Timberlake, the latter of whom is the reason the film is getting as much attention as it is (although Bruce Willis also figures in the movie in a smaller role).

Directed by Nick Cassavetes and based on true events, Alpha Dog is a purported look at teen culture in the over-privileged suburbs of L.A., filled with drugs, sex, and a kidnapping here and there. It's getting some decent reviews for impassioned performances and kinetic camera work, but the negative reviews are really negative. It feels for all the world like a very special episode of The O.C. Opening on just under 1,300 screens, I peg this one for a mediocre $7 million opening weekend.

Horror is tackled this weekend by Primeval, whose advertising campaign is, quite literally, the biggest crock of this short new year. Or perhaps I should say croc. It purports to be about the world's most active serial killer, named Gustave, with over 300 kills. Gustave, however, is actually the world's largest known fresh-water crocodile, a legend in Africa.

So really, it's Anaconda all over again, as we follow a camera crew attempting to capture Gustave for a documentary. Meanwhile a South African warlord doesn't take too kindly to these interlopers, and tries to hunt both them and the croc down. Unlike Anaconda, the film isn't even confident enough to show us the monster (let alone let us know it exists), which was a big reason why the earlier movie, as bad as it was, managed to become a hit. Primeval, which stars Dominic Purcell, Brooke Langton, and Orlando Jones, does not look to have that same potential, even going so far as to not preview the movie for critics. This one looks doomed to about a $5 million weekend.

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