In Theaters This Weekend: April 27, 2012

With our first full foursome of the year, this weekend looks to provide more variety than any other has had to offer thus far (though I make no promises that the overall quality level will match). But there is a great slate to choose from, and presumably options for everyone's taste.

The four films releasing nationwide this weekend are "The Five-Year Engagement", "The Raven", "Safe", and "The Pirates! Band of Misfits". So that makes one Judd Apatow-produced romantic comedy, one murder/mystery thriller, one action/crime film, and one animated family feature. And while I said that I can't promise on the quality levels, I still genuinely think that all four of these have something to offer, and at the very least, it can't be any worse than last weekend's selection.

Also, at the very end we're going to try out something new with the box office predictions. Normally, I'm terrible at them, so I just avoid the subject entirely. But after last weekend's analysis with the Box Office Report, I decided I'd try the same thing in my predictions. So below, I tackle them with history with statistics!

The film that I'm most interested in this weekend is "The Five-Year Engagement". The film stars Jason Segel and Emily Blunt as a couple happily wanting to wed, but are continually forced to prolong the wedding date due to external and internal complications. That makes it sound quite a bit lamer than it actually looks. First, the two main characters here are great. I love both of them and they make me want to see just about anything they're in. Then you add in that Judd Apatow is producing, and generally when he gets his hands into projects, they turn out pretty good. I think the comedy will be solid, and you can always count on an Apatow production to take it that much further over the top. While the obvious demographic here is 20-30ish, what's nice is that it should be enjoyable for both men and women - unlike last week's "The Lucky One", which I'm sure many a' boyfriend were drug to. Consider this the easy first choice for me this weekend.

The next film on the slate is "The Raven". This is the murder/mystery thriller that stars John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe. Poe is approached by the police after a series of murders start to unfold with his stories as the inspiration. Not only is he drawn into the investigation due to his curiosity and relevant knowledge, but the killer has also kidnapped his love in an effort to further force Poe to play along. I watched a documentary on Edgar Allan Poe once, so while I understand what this man might have been like, I'm unfortunately fairly unfamiliar with his writings (which I hear are okay??). That being said, I really enjoy John Cusack, so I'm happy to check this film out for nothing more than that. From what we're hearing early, it's not the greatest film (currently 21% on Rotten Tomatoes), and it sounds like a lot of the problem is the director's inability to build this film and do anything more with it than what's laid out. Cusack is getting decent reviews though, so hopefully that will at least be a positive aspect for the film. I'm interested in this one just enough with its cast and the idea that the murders should generally be pretty grotesque and unconventional to off-set any of the technical shortcomings of this film. I don't expect I'll love it, and I don't expect it will stay with me for any amount of time, but I feel I have to go see it just to get an opinion. If you're a Cusack fan or into this genre, I'd say it's worth a watch for the intrigue alone. Hopefully it will impress more than I expect.

Between these other two films for me, it's a bit of a toss-up (though I know both genres/styles have their die-hard fans, and those markets are already pretty much set). We'll start with "Safe" just because it's the live-action piece of the two - though believe it or not, I might actually be taking Pirates! here if I had to pick. But "Safe" is the new action/crime thriller staring Jason Statham as a vertan cop who just so happens to run into a little girl that's being chased by every criminal in the city. She holds the key to some clue that everyone wants. But Statham, as the hero cop, vows to protect her at all costs. The plot might be a little different, but the way this one is filmed, and with the tone of the action, it looks pretty relatable to other Statham films ("Crank" 1 & 2, "The Transporter" 1 & 2, "The Mechanic", "War", etc.). So if you're into that kind of action, I don't think you'll be disappointed here. It looks like another solid installment for the genre, presumably full of non-stop action. Personally, I've never really got into any of these movies, but the ones I have seen I definitely haven't hated.

And that just leaves "The Pirates! Band of Misfits". As I've stated many times, I'm generally not that into animated films - especially not in theaters. But this one has a style of animation that I really enjoy, and the concept seems silly enough for me to get behind. As most animated films do, this film has a huge voice cast, full of tons of great actors. Hugh Grant plays the lead pirate, The Pirate Captain, who sets out to with the Pirate of the Year Award. The winner, of course, is chosen by the pirate that collects the most loot. The Pirate Captain is notoriously known as one of the worst pirates in the world, so most give him no chance, and his adventures are more comical than anything. I would say overall I was completely indifferent toward this film until I saw a little featurette with Hugh Grant talking about the movie. It didn't offer anything groundbreaking, but for some reason it made it look like a lot more fun than I originally expected. I still don't think I'll be seeing this one in theaters, but I wouldn't be upset if I were. I think this will be a fun little family-friendly film that probably has a good amount to offer. "The Lorax" is finally dying down, so it's about time for another animated film to jump in and take over (though I'm not sure this film will have the success "The Lorax" did).

The biggest question I'm having now, is figuring out what this weekend's Box Office is going to look like. Generally I'm not very good at this anyway, so I usually just try to avoid it. But we're going to play with some general statistics and see if we end up anywhere close to what really happens. First, "The Five-Year Engagement". If we look into other similar films that Judd Apatow has produced over the last few years, it looks like we range right between $20MM-$30MM. I know that's still a pretty big gap, so we'll single-out last year's "Bridesmaids", which seems relevant, and which did about $26MM in its opening weekend. I'd peg this one for something in that ballpark (with so many new films, I might call it just under that $26MM mark). Another film we can pretty easily look for comparrissons in is "Safe". As I said, this film seems very much in the same vein as Statham's previous endeavors, so if we take a look back at some of his films, we see that opening weekends usually fall in the $8MM-$15MM range. They have strong followings, but not huge ones. With that, mixed with the fact that it's a tougher than usual market this weekend, I'd predict it on the very low end of that, with an $8MM weekend being a success (think more $6MM-$7MM, as we saw with "Lockout"). Animated films are harder to predict, but if we try to look into the Stop-Motion department, it shows that films generally open with around $15MM. That seems like a fair number for this film, as it doesn't have a lot of other direct competition this weekend. And that just leaves "The Raven", which I have no idea how to figure. The only comparable I'm really drawn to is "From Hell", but that featured a more bankable star in Johnny Depp, and it also debuted 11 years ago. That film opened with an $11MM box office take, but personally, I think that might be on the high end for this film. If it were receiving better reviews, that might be a good starting point. But I just don't know that it will get there in this weekend's market. Let's put it at an $8MM-$10MM weekend?

So anyway, I guess we'll see how that segment goes this week. I love looking into little stats like that, so if it proves any bit sucessful, maybe I'll make it a regular thing in these posts. As usual though, I'm pretty off when it comes to box office projections, so usually it's best just to sit them out. I wouldn't take any stock in those numbers.

Anyway, of the four movies listed above, which ones will you be checking out this weekend?