In Theaters This Weekend: August 24, 2012

Three films open across the country this weekend, though, none of them officially are "wide-releases" (none will surpass the 3,000 theater mark). That isn't too surprising due to the less-than-enthusiastic lineup rolling out. The highlight this weekend, I suppose, will be "Premium Rush". The thriller features a nice cast, but it also revolves around a high-octane chase around the city - on bicycles... Otherwise, we're looking at yet another supernatural horror film in "The Apparition", and an action comedy, "Hit and Run".

None of these titles really grab me this week, but I'm hoping one or two of them will surprise. Hit the jump for a further rundown on each film, as well as what I expect from the weekend box office numbers (we're probably looking at yet another down week at the theater).

"Premium Rush" seems like the main draw here, though as we discussed on our most recent CinemaCast, this is just kind of the least bad looking of the three; generally not a way you want to pick out the "best" movie in a bunch. Nonetheless, it still seems like it might be able to provide some decent thrills. As I stated above, the cast here seems to be the shining point for the film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems to have turned himself into one of the top go-to young actors working right now, and the villain of the film, Michael Shannon, continues to put together great performances, still managing to fly under the radar. Last year's "Take Shelter" helped some, but it didn't culminate in an Oscar nomination as I hoped. This film (and next year's "Man of Steel") should help his notability however, so if that's the case, I'm all for it.

In terms of the plot here, I'm not sure if the film is trying to appeal to this new "Green Generation" or what, but when I have thrill-inducing films in front of me, I generally like a motor in the vehicles my characters are flying around on. Call me old fashioned... Maybe this will end up being more exciting than I expect, but I really am finding it difficult to get behind these types of thrills. What are we, eight years old? I don't buy it right now, but it's still probably the film I end up seeing this weekend, so I'll try to keep an open mind and hope for the best. It does help the director of the film is David Koepp. He hasn't directed many films ("Stir of Echoes" seems the most notable here), but he has been a writer behind such films as "Jurassic Park", "Mission: Impossible", and "War of the Worlds", among many others. Those are all great titles, so I do have confidence that the guy understands thrills and suspense. Can he turn this into something memorable, or will it be another "Panic Room" or "Secret Window" (two other films he helped write)?

Not surprisingly, there aren't any reviews up for the film yet. We'll probably start seeing some trickle in this afternoon, but it might not be until sometime on Friday before we really get an idea of the consensus on this one. That doesn't always mean anything, but it doesn't elicit much hope either. Regardless, I think if you MUST see a new movie this weekend, this is probably the one to go with. I don't expect anything fantastic, but it seems like the best shot to avoid the most disappointment.

I'll go next to "The Apparition", but that's only because I think it will be the slightly bigger draw to "Hit and Run" this weekend. This film is currently at the bottom of my must-see list amongst the three, however. I love the horror genre, and it would be awesome if they did something new and creative here; but Hollywood has gotten very lazy with the supernatural thriller as of late, and in all honesty, this one probably plays out pretty predictably. I'm sure there will be a few jump-scares throughout, but what I'll really want to know, is what this film can provide me that the countless others with the exact same premise haven't already?

The film brings in actors from two of the biggest movie franchises over the last decade: Ashley Greene (Twilight) and Tom Felton (Harry Potter). Sebastian Stan ("Captain America: The First Avenger") also joins the mix here too. I'm fine with this cast, but it really doesn't do much for me either way. I'm sure the studio is hoping that Twilight and Harry Potter fans remember their allegiances this weekend though and show up to support the actors from their previous franchises. But I can't see most fans from either really having many cares for this film.

If you want a couple of quick scares and some eerie imagery, this will fill that void. I don't expect it to amount to much more than that though. Again, no reviews in yet for this one, but I don't expect them to be good once they do come in. If it reviews decently, I'll probably give this a shot later on Blu-Ray or something, but I can't imagine many scenarios where I'm checking this out in theaters. But hey, if you do go for it, you can fit it in while you wait for your photos to develop next door (do people do that anymore?) - the film comes in at a quick 82-minutes. I suppose there could be worse ways to kill an hour.

We'll finish this off with "Hit and Run". This comedy/action/romance hybrid comes to us straight from writer, director & actor in the film, Dax Shepard. If you all can recall, Shepard got his start working for Ashton Kutcher and MTV on the TV show "Punk'd". He's since carved out a little niche for himself in the comedy world, and actually gets pretty good praises for his role on the show "Parenthood" (I've never seen it). What this film has going for it is that Shepherd has gathered up some of his buddies - Tom Arnold, Michael Rosenbaum, David Koechner - and his wife, Kristen Bell, to star alongside him. I'm not saying there's a huge draw in any of those names (if you watched "Smallville", you should be on the Michael Rosenbaum bandwagon though), but it's still a decent comedy lineup. And once you add in Bradley Cooper - maybe they're friends, I don't know - then you have your big draw.

This film actually does have some reviews up on Rotten Tomatoes already, and they're mostly mixed so far. As of his morning, the film is sitting at a 46%, but that will probably fluctuate a bit over the coming days. Either way, that seems like a pretty standard rating for a comedy like this, and at least it's not bombing. Reviews so far seem to all say about the same thing (and what I expected): the film provides for some laughs, but isn't anything more than that.

I'm not sure I have many interests in this film, but I really do think these guys had a great time making this film, and I think it will show through in the work. I expect you'll get your laughs, and if you're a fan of these grittier (as in, like, trailer park) comedies, this should be a fine example of such. I can't imagine this will be anything that sticks with you, but for the end of summer, maybe just a quick, mindless laugher isn't the worst thing in the world. I'll definitely check this out in its DVD release, but I don't think I need much more from it than that.

As for the box office projections, I already wrote this piece in the order I think these will finish this week (at least amongst themselves). The real question here is, how will these films stack-up against the holdovers still in theaters? I feel like "Premium Rush" and "The Apparition" will probably bring in bigger crowds this weekend than "Hit and Run", but I can't imagine that the draws for any will be very significant. I think "Premium Rush" can grab $10MM-$12MM, but I just don't see much more for it than that, even with a less-than-stellar grouping of lingering films. "The Apparition" will probably be right there too, but probably much closer to that lower end than anything. And honestly I don't expect "Hit and Run" to be much behind those, but still, somewhere in the $7MM-$9MM range feels more comfortable here.

"The Expendables 2" was our big new release last weekend, and with a general 50% decrease this week, that still should give the film something in the $14MM range. That doesn't edge out "Premium Rush" by much, but it does edge it out. If "Premium Rush" starts buzzing pretty good on Friday, it could steal the top spot, but right now, it looks like it's The Expendables' to lose. "The Bourne Legacy" enters its third week and probably won't hit the $10MM mark, while "ParaNorman" enters week two hoping to keep up.

Overall, this looks like one of the weakest weekends I've seen in a while. The new movies aren't very exciting, and the hold-overs don't offer much either (I loved "The Expendables 2"). My guess is we'll see the lowest total numbers we've seen all summer, but we'll just have to see.

That's what we're looking at this weekend though. Which film(s) will you be checking out?