Release Date: August 14, 2009

Movie of the Day for Monday, June 15, 2009
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She's about to break out in song.

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Position Staff In Brief
34/169 Max Braden I liked it enough, but really in comparison, I think of Some Kind of Wonderful, School of Rock, and Starter for 10 to be better. This felt a little too Disney Channel for me. I would happily watch M

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It's often a troubling sign for a movie when its title goes through multiple changes. Either the premise isn't good enough to sell it and the studio's marketing team thinks a catchier name will lure in unsuspecting viewers; or, the original title simply didn’t work and because the studio has so much faith in it, they want a better name to do it justice.

As a paying audience, we hope for the latter scenario, but with Bandslam, formerly known as Will, formerly known as Rock On, the former is more likely. The film's synopsis tells us it's more or less a retread of the old "new-kid-in-school-who-makes-a difference" formula (did anyone see Charlie Bartlett?). This is probably not something the studio has a great deal of faith in.

Will Burton (Gaelan Connell) is a social outcast with no friends in his new high school. He’s used to being bullied and picked on, so it surprises him (and his mom, played by Lisa Kudrow) when the most popular girl in school, Charlotte (Alison Michalka), seeks him out. Charlotte, a former cheerleader, is actually a singer-songwriter, and she’s impressed by Will’s wide-range knowledge of music. She asks him to manage her rock band in an attempt to get back at her musician ex-boyfriend during their school’s battle of the bands contest called Bandslam. Will recruits other outcasts to join them and begins a romance with the guitar-playing Sam (Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical).

Considering the premise, the film probably contains the usual high school movie themes - first romances, friendship, jealousy, self-confidence problems, break-ups, etc. And it goes without saying there will be a moment of doubt when we’re supposed to think Will and Charlotte’s band may not win the big competition.

Given its subject matter and lack of bankable stars, Bandslam could have a run similar to or less than last fall’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, another music-driven teen comedy that grossed a respectable $30 million on a reported budget of just $10 million. On the other hand, with Mamma Mia! and High School Musical 3 grossing inordinate amounts of money, “Bandslam” could surprise and become a hit.

Compared to Nick and Norah, its missing names may cost it, just as last summer’s College proved. Nick and Norah had the benefit of featuring Michael Cera (fresh off Superbad and Juno) and Kat Dennings (The 40 Year-Old Virgin and House Bunny). Plus, the premise of Bandslam may be too conventional and worn out for teenagers who are craving something new and different, which this film just doesn’t seem to offer.

The good news is Bandslam probably cost at or around $10 million to make, so it won’t need to be a huge hit to recoup its production and advertising costs. Co-produced by Walden Media (The Chronicles of Narnia) and Summit Entertainment (Twilight), both studios will probably be happy if the film is able to gross double digits in theaters, which might ensure it shows a marginal profit on the home market. (Matthew Huntley/BOP)

Vital statistics for Bandslam
Main Cast Gaelan Connell, Vanessa Hudgens, Alyson Michalka
Supporting Cast Lisa Kudrow, Scott Porter
Director Todd Graff
Screenwriter Todd Graff
Distributor Summit Entertainment
Screen Count 2,121
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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