Welcome to the only weekly column that focuses on the films opening in my personal driving radius. Fortunately, that radius covers enough theaters to include most of your wide releases, and eventually, the occasional indie flick.
This week brings four new wide releases to the cineplex, all hoping to scrape together a few bucks before the big guns start rolling out to commence the start of what is believed to potentially be the biggest summer movie season of all time. It is littered with potential big winners, with the the three biggest coming in May alone. Enough of that — this week holds some promise with a new supernatural thriller, an explosive sci-fi actioner, a B-grade action flick starring a pro wrestler, and a stupid comedy about break dancing and the mentally stunted. Quite the selection if you ask me. I guess the biggest question is whether any of them are worth your cinematic dollar.
The Invisible. (2007, 97 minutes, PG-13, thriller, trailer) David Goyer returns to the director's chair, directing someone else's material for the first time, and his first big screen outing since 2004's Blade: Trinity. The high concept that this centers on sounds very cool, and the trailer looks pretty snazzy, too. It is the story of a high school student who is beaten and left for dead; however the boy lives on in limbo between the world of the living and that of the dead. He has to find out what happened to him for the chance to live again. Justin Chatwin stars as our hero; he has appeared in War of the Worlds and The Chumscrubber.
Next. (2007, 96 minutes, PG-13, thriller, trailer) Nicolas Cage sets his sights on his second hit of the year following Ghost Rider. This time around it is a sci-fi actioner about a pre-cog — he can "see" a few minutes into the future. He is drawn into the spotlight when a terrorist threatens to detonate a nuclear weapon; he is consigned to try and prevent it from happening. I believe this has the best chance of taking the top slot this weekend, although it looks like it could be pretty silly (though it should still be fun).
The Condemned. (2007, 100 minutes, R, action, trailer) Okay, let's take bits of Running Man, No Escape, Battle Royale, and probably a few others, mash them together in what looks to be a brainless, overblown action flick. Is that a bad thing? No. I have a feeling that this will be fun — stupid, but fun. It is the third release through WWE Films (following See No Evil and The Marine) and features Stone Cold Steve Austin in the lead role. It is the story of a group of ten death row inmates that are dropped on an island with orders to be the only survivor, all while the game is beamed live across the Internet. It also includes Vinnie "I'm Juggernaut, bitch!" Jones in the cast. It was directed by Scott Wiper.
Kickin' It Old Skool. (2007, 107 minutes, PG-13, comedy, trailer) Huh? It is not often that a movie makes me shake my head in dismay, but this one did it. This is one movie that is destined to not make much noise come the box office tallies. Jamie Kennedy did his take on the white rapper in Malibu's Most Wanted. Here he moves on to '80s break dance culture. Kennedy plays a 12-year-old dancer who busts his head and lands in a coma in 1986. Twenty years later he wakes up, stunted mental development and all, and sets out to put the dance team back together. Can you guess what I will be skipping this weekend?
Hot Fuzz. (2006, 121 minutes, R, action/comedy, trailer) Moving into wider release following last week's limited dominance. With this expansion, it moves into my driving radius, and I cannot wait to see this. Edgar Wright directs the faces familiar to fans of Shaun of the Dead, including Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The first time around, they took on the conventions of the zombie film and created a great new zombie film. This time they turn towards gun culture and big action films. Pegg plays Nicholas Angel, a top cop who gets transferred to a quiet town with a high accident rate. Angel smells something funny going on and much comedy ensues. I can't wait!
Black Book. (2007, 135 minutes, R, thriller, trailer) Paul Verhoeven left the world of Hollywood, where he worked for decades delivering hits like RoboCop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, and Showgirls, to return to his homeland, The Netherlands, where he went ahead and crafted a thriller set during the end of World War II. Based on true events, it chronicles the journey of a young woman who, with her family, heads for liberated Allied territory before being ambushed. She is the only survivor; she joins the resistance and infiltrates the Nazi command. The trailer looks very good, and I have heard good buzz about the film.
The Wind That Shakes the Barley. (2006, 127 minutes, NR, drama, trailer) This Irish film from director Ken Loach won the Palme d'Or at the 2006 Cannes film festival. The film stars Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Red Eye, 28 Days Later) and Pádraic Delaney as brothers who fight the Black and Tans for independence. It is set in Ireland in the 1920s and focuses on the Irish rebellion against the British. I have heard nothing but good about this film, and considering it won the Palme d'Or, that is a pretty good resume all by itself.
Also opening this week, but not near me:
- Something to Cheer About
- Ta Ra Rum Pum
- Wind Chill
Box Office Predictions
This is it, the last shot for non-blockbuster style films to make some money for a while. The summer movie season officially gets under way next weekend with the release of Spider-Man 3, with Shrek and Pirates hot on its tail. This week is going to be top-lined by Nicolas Cage's second hit of the year, although it will not reach the $100 million final tally. It will be followed by the new teen thriller The Invisible, which should be a decent draw, bleeding fans away from Disturbia, I would think. The rest is up in the air, I would like to think that Hot Fuzz will get a word of mouth boost and do better this week with the increased theater count. We shall see.
Here is how I think the top ten field will play out:
|2||The Invisible||$11 million|
|4||Hot Fuzz||$7 million|
Blades of Glory
|8||Meet the Robinsons||$3.5 million|
|9||Are We Done Yet?||$2.5 million|
|10||Kickin' it Old Skool||$2 million|
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