In Theaters This Weekend: August 17, 2012

This weekend we're looking at three full wide releases, and a handful of films debuting in limited fashion, but starting their theater runs nonetheless. The films that all of us should be able to get a look at this weekend (if we want to) are
"The Expendables 2", "The Odd Life of Timothy Green", and "ParaNorman". Many will also be able to check out "Sparkle", which will try to bank on it being 'Whitney Houston's last feature film appearance'. The film will open in 2,000+ theaters this weekend, but it won't get nearly the same roll out as the previous three films.

And two other films I'd keep an eye on, though 99.9% of us won't get a shot with them this weekend, are "Cosmopolis" and "Robot and Frank".

As usual, hit the jump for details on each, as well as a quick stab at what we can probably expect out of the weekend box office.

We'll start with "The Expendables 2", since that appears to be the biggest draw for our demographic this weekend. For those of us who love those nostalgic feelings, it doesn't get much better than this. I know a lot of us were hurt by the last film, which originally promised to overwhelm us with action stars from our youth. Somehow or another, the cast was eventually whittled down, and though there were still some good draws, we were left with far too much focus on the newer stars. But this time around, Stallone has upped the ante, and it looks like we will finally have more of what we were hoping for with the first installment. We'll return all of the main 80's icons (sans Eric Roberts, I'd assume, which is unfortunate), but add a full dose of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, and bring in Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme. Who cares what the plot will have to offer, all I care about is that my heroes from the 80's will all be on screen together blowing crap up! I just hope that the film can live up to what we've always wanted from it; I don't know if I can handle being hurt again...

Expect healthy doses of action, with plenty of classic 80's cheesy one-liners, and a likewise paper-thin plot that doesn't much matter. If that's the type of film you can get behind, then you'll probably be like us and be there opening night with bells on! If you care more about substance or some crap like that, then you might not have much interest in a film like this. But here's hoping that this one will be an adrenalin ride that's tons of fun. If it can be that, I'll be a happy camper. And hey, if this one doesn't work out, at least we can get our expectations up again in two years, when it's presumed that the likes of Nicolas Cage, Wesley Snipes and Harrison Ford will join the cast. Just make sure to bring in Kurt Russell and you've got a deal!

Next on the list is "The Odd Life of Timothy Green". As much as I can enjoy Disney's family adventures, I have to say I have little interest in this installment. Even with my love for Jennifer Garner, it still isn't anywhere on my radar. If you haven't seen any of the ads yet, this one revolves around Garner and Joel Edgerton's characters who want nothing more than to have a child. The only problem: they can't. But due to some sort of magic, one night a little boy grows from their garden and becomes the perfect child they always wanted. I assume there will be a lot of family morals and values worked through here, but probably nothing too unexpected.

The film so far has received mixed reviews from critics, with most underwhelmed - general consensus: the story is undeniably sweet and sentimental, but feels a little too manufactured to elicit much real emotion. If you're a parent or older adult, then this would probably be an enjoyable venture for you this weekend. Expect it to be fairly contrived, but still fairy heartfelt. This definitely won't be a theater watch for me, and maybe only my interests in Jennifer Garner will warrant a DVD rental someday. Odds are, this one will fade into the distance and I'll quickly forget of its existence. You're probably not missing much by passing on this film, but for the right demographic, you're probably not losing much by giving it a chance either.

Our third film this week releasing in wide variety is "ParaNorman". This clay-mation animated feature comes to us from the same studio that created "Coraline" two years back. Again, the studio looks into less-than-childish themes, this time focusing on zombies. The premise here does seem fun, where a young boy, Norman, must save his town from an impending zombie attack, as he is the only one who can communicate with the zombies. Since I'm not that into animated films, this is more what I'm looking for if I am going to give one a shot. That being said, from what I've seen so far, I'm not digging the animation styles nearly as much as I did with "Coraline". That film had some darker tones than this film appears to have, and tackling these types of themes without dark tones is off-putting to me; though, maybe that's just what had to be done for the kiddies.

The film has received generally positive reviews so far, with most critics lauding the animation styles and overall emotion of the film, saying it's a great mix of scary, funny, dramatic, and emotional. I think critic Jonathan Kiefer of the Village Voice appealed most to me most when he noted it's "John Carpenter meets John Hughes". Whoever doesn't want that combo I don't want to be around!

The film should be great fun for most children, probably targeting more of the older demographic than the little tots; ages 8-14 seem ideal here. But I think, as is the case with many animated films, all ages should be able to enjoy this flick in some regard. I know I won't be going to see this one in theaters, but I have it tabbed for the Blu-Ray release. It will surely look amazing in theaters, and I think if you have any interest at all in this one, go check it out. I don't think it will disappoint, I just didn't get the part of my brain or heart that gets people excited for animated films. I expect this will be a strong Best Animated Feature contender when all is said and done.

Unfortunately, this post is already getting too long, so if you have thoughts on the other films outside of these three opening wide, you'll just have to research them yourself. I think of all of them, I'm most intrigued by "Cosmopolis", but think I'll probably end up liking "Robot and Frank" more. Both should be interesting picks to check out down the road.

As for the box office, let's take a quick stab at this. "The Expendables 2" looks like it will have no problems taking the top spot this weekend. The previous film opened at about the same time, and brought in just over $34MM. That seems like a good place to start, and I imagine with a relatively weak field otherwise, it has a chance to reach the $40MM mark. The first film wasn't nearly regarded high enough to warrant much more this weekend, but people like me will still head to theaters just to see all of their favorite action stars together in one place. I think "The Bourne Legacy" can take the second spot, but it might be close between that and "ParaNorman". Bourne made $38MM last weekend, and with an expected 50% drop this weekend (give or take), that would account for $19MM this weekend. I think "ParaNorman" will be in the $14MM-$18MM range, and I'm not sure the marketing has been quite strong enough with this one to elicit much more. But even if its opening weekend isn't amazing, with strong word of mouth, the film should do just fine. "Sparkle" has a chance to squeeze into this mix as well I think, even though it's not opening to a full wide-release this weekend. $12MM-$15MM seems expected there; Whitney Houston fans will surely heading to theaters for this. Otherwise, "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" will probably stay at the bottom of the totem pole amongst all of these films, as I don't see the bigger market for it that I do with these others. $10MM would be a great start for this film, but with four other films already ahead of it, $8MM seems a bit more expected.

But that's what we're looking at this week. Which film(s) will you guys be checking out?