In Theaters This Weekend: May 18, 2012

In theaters this week, we're again greeted by three legitimate wide-releases. And while "The Avengers" still continues to rake in the cash, this will be the film's first test against another big-effects action blockbuster. This week the new options will be "The Dictator" (which actually was released yesterday), "Battleship", and "What to Expect When You're Expecting".

Personally I don't think the quality is extremely high with any of these selections, but they all offer something a little different, so maybe one of them will be the film for you.

Check out the full breakdown for each film after the break as well as a stab at what we can expect from the weekend's box office.

First, we'll start with "The Dictator" since it was released yesterday (Wednesday). You'll probably see this sort of thing a bit more this summer as certain films that feel they have little chance of competing will go for the release a few days early to try and maximize on sales - while you don't get big weekend crowds, there aren't any other new films to compete with you yet; and with schools out across the country, a mid-week release isn't too bad of an idea. We'll see how much it ultimately helps its numbers, but it should provide at least a marginal bump for the film. As for the movie itself, this is another extreme character comedy from Sacha Baron Cohen. As a filmmaker, I really like the guy. He's funny, he knows what works for these films, and he tries to trump his previous efforts with each one. As films though, with previous attempts including "Borat" and "BrĂ¼no", this is just more of the same thing for me. I know I'm probably in the minority though (at least for my demographic), so I don't want to completely discourage the film. Both of Cohen's previous films have opened with at least $25MM, which isn't too bad for  comedies films like these. It looks like there will be some good laughs in the film, and I think once it comes out on DVD I'll want to give it a watch; it's just not a theater visit for me. Ultimately, I would say that if you have an interest in this type of comedy, I'd definitely go check this one out. As we discussed on this past CinemaCast, it will probably be a rowdy theater crowd, but probably fun as well. If you're into a movie, there's nothing like taking in a good comedy with a great crowd.

Up next we have the big-budget flick, "Battleship". You can tell from three seconds of the trailer that this was produced by the same studios as "Transformers" - and a fact they're not afraid of showing due to how well they did with that film. Again, referencing back to our last CinemaCast, I'm partially torn on this film. On one hand, I'm not interested in it at all and I really don't care for effects just for effects-sake anymore. The story doesn't look too compelling, and the cast of actors - Liam Neeson withheld - isn't very exciting either. BUT, all of that being said, I had very similar opinions towards "Transformers" before I saw it too, and that ended up being a fantastic summer popcorn movie! So maybe I shouldn't be too quick to judge? Plus, I was ready to throw up the big difference in Rotten Tomatoes scores to give my disinterest more merit, but upon review, "Battleship" was higher than I expected and "Transformers" was lower than I thought, 43% and 57% respectively. So maybe these films aren't too different. As much as I don't want to say so, I think I'll go check this film out this weekend. I still plan on catching up with "Dark Shadows", which I missed last weekend, so if I only get out to one film, I'm not sure which I'll go with. More than anything I'll be interested to hear feedback on "Battleship" from other like-minded critics and especially some people who write for this site. That should provide me with the boost to either go watch it in theaters or wait for the BluRay release. If you need a boost of effects-driven action with little plot interference, this could be a good choice for you. If nothing else, the film really should look excellent.

The third film releasing this week is "What to Expect When You're Expecting". This is kind of a familiy-romantic-comedy I guess. The film follows a variety of couples who are either expecting children or who have recently had children whose stories all kind of interconnect. The cast is expansive and respectable, but that doesn't take much away from the overall standard process this film will surely cycle through. I can imagine if you're a new parent or are going to be soon, this could be a decent afternoon watch with the significant other. It'll be full of plenty of cheap, situational laughs that shouldn't be too hard for anyone to digest. I can't expect this is a film anyone even remembers six months from now, but I can see the appeal for some. It has the lowest current score on Rotten Tomatoes of any of the new releases this week, with a lowly 29%, which definitely isn't helping things either. Like I said, the laughs will be cheap and predictable, but at least it should warrant a couple. And if you're looking for a date movie and your girlfriend won't go see "The Avengers" again, there are worse fates than this (..."The Lucky One").

As for the weekend box office predictions, as always it's hard to tell, but I think most of these provide decent precedents. I don't know how I want to total-up numbers for "The Dictator" since it's getting a two-day head-start on the weekend, but even the weekly numbers shouldn't affect its outcome too much. Altogether, I would imagine this film will be inline with Cohen's previous efforts, probably landing on the low-side of $25MM. "Battleship" also provides some questions. "Transformers" opened with a $70MM weekend back in 2007, and while that seems a little too high considering the Avengers aftershock still happening, its poor reviews so far, and even the idea that some fans might be over the Transformers-style, effects-driven, Hasbro-themed films. So we'll say $70MM would be the absolute highest, but I'd be much more comfortable predicting this in the $50MM range, and maybe even a touch less than that. While we've seen tons of content and marketing for the film, I haven't felt any hype for it like I did with "Transformers". "What to Expect When You're Expecting" will draw in a lot of couples and parents this weekend, so even given its mediocre premise, it should put up some decent numbers; I's guess a $16MM-$20MM tally would seem reasonable. "The Avengers" will surely continue to hold strong, but even with strong drop-offs considered, it doesn't seem like this film will do anymore than $50MM-$60MM this weekend (not bad for your third weekend though).

But that's what we're looking at this weekend. What do you guys think of the selection of films? Which will you be checking out?