Thursday, August 2, 2012

In Theaters This Weekend: August 3, 2012


In theaters this weekend we're again met with two wide releases and one film just starting its roll out. It's also the second weekend with things kind of down after a previous build-up of "The Dark Knight Rises" two weeks back. But if we can get through one more week of this sub-par lineup then there looks to be a couple of decent big releases in the following weeks. But we'll start off with this crop, which headlines with the re-imagined "Total Recall". This version stars Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel. The other film making its rounds across the country is "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days". This is the third installment for the family-friendly franchise. And finishing off this weekend is the Jay Chandrasekhar (Broken Lizards) directed "Babymakers". This film is not an official installment from the Broken Lizards comedy troupe, but it will feature some of the same popular actors.

Not much I'm overly excited about this weekend, but hit the jump and we'll still go over what you can expect from each, along with projections for box office grosses.

We'll start with "Total Recall" since it's surely to make the biggest impression of the films releasing this weekend. As stated above, the film stars Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel, along with Kate Beckinsale and Bryan Cranston. The film is loosely based on the 1966 Philip Dick short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale. It's 2084 and a lowly factory worker, Quaid (Farrell), is bored with his meaningless life. He heads over to Rekall, a company that can implant your mind with artificial memories that you wouldn't have a chance to experience otherwise. While there, it's discovered that Quaid had previously had his mind wiped, and as things break down. Is Quaid a government operative? Is it all just an artificial memory? Maybe none of it's real and Quaid is still at Rekall sitting safely in the chair.

The film looks like some fun, but I thought the 1990 version starring Arnold Schwarzenegger was fun already, so I'm not really sure why we NEED this version. I do like Colin Farrell and I think he's a fine choice for this role, however. From the trailers I've seen, the effects look nice, and as is usually the case with these early-90's remakes, they should improve incredibly in that department and show the story in a much more realistic light (whether that's a positive or negative thing though is up to you). One thing that doesn't give me much hope is that the director behind the project. Len Wiseman helms here, and the only films to his name so far include two of the Underworld films, and the fourth installment from the Die Hard franchise, "Live Free or Die Hard". I've never much cared for the Underworld films, and the fourth Die Hard film was pretty easily one of the worst in my opinion. It's clear that the director has a knack for the visual aspects of his films and knows how to create good imagery, but I'm not sure he's too interested in the overall narrative.

No ratings yet for this one yet, and we're all familiar enough to know what that generally means. I don't expect this to get very strong reviews, but I don't expect it to be terrible either, probably in the 44%-55% range. But we'll see. I'm not incredibly excited, but more so because of my love and interest in this franchise, I'll be checking this film out this weekend. I don't expect it'll be too difficult to get through, even if it doesn't offer much new or provide many lasting memories. Again, it's all speculation at this point, but I don't expect to be blown away. I think it'll look great and be paced quickly enough to provide for pretty solid entertainment. For the 20 to 30-somethings out there, this seems like your best bet this weekend.

We move to the third Wimpy Kid movie, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days". I can honestly say that I've never thought for one second about checking any of these out. This installment revolves around our characters (I believe they've remained the same throughout the series?) who are out of school for the summer. But when all of our main character's big plans fall through, he's left to wonder how he's going to get through the next three months.

I realize there's a small 10-year-old boy cult following with these films, and even though they haven't reviewed incredibly well among adults, they still offer pretty solid returns at the box office. The previous two films had budget ranging from $15MM-$20MM, and have each returned gains of $50MM or more domestically. As far as ratings go, again, no reviews for this newest film yet, but the previous two mustered up 53% and 47% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. Those numbers aren't terrible, especially for the audiences they're targeting. I haven't polled the demographic, so I'm not sure if the fever-level buzz still revolves around this film as it did with the previous ones with the fifth grade crowd, but I'd say it's safe to assume that this film will mirror similar results to the previous ones. If you're a parent and have to figure out something to do with your pre-teen boys this weekend, I think you'll be safe with this film. Outside of that, I don't see much entertainment value in it.

And the final film I'll talk about is the sexually-driven comedy, "Babymakers". First off, have we not yet seen enough comedy films overflowing with crude sexual content yet? I'm so over it already this year. I generally enjoy Broken Lizard comedy though, and while this isn't officially them, I can't imagine Chandrasekhar would stray too much from his regular material. The biggest difference here however is that Chandrasekhar and Kevin Heffernan typically do the writing for Broken Lizards projects, and this time around the film is scripted by Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow. The last film this duo wrote was "Ice Age: The Meltdown", the second and and considerably-worse reviewed film from the franchise. The cast isn't doing much for me here either, and I'm not sure why people are so obsessed with Olivia Munn. I haven't seen her in much, but I'd be perfectly fine with never seeing her again; she's not that good of an actor. I don't understand the enfatuations. She's a hot chick who talks about video games but -- oh wait, I just got it. I realize the gamer crowd is in love with her, but for the rest of us, it's just a bad actress. Paul Schneider is generally funny though, so I suppose it's nice to see him getting a starring chance here.

Though the film is being released in a limited fashion this weekend, even if it were getting a wide release, I wouldn't be heading to the theaters for this. The good news: it doesn't have a review embargo, so I appreciate the studio giving us an early chance at what to expect. The bad news: amongst various reviews, it's currently at a 0%... I doubt the film holds on to such dramatic numbers (probably not even through the afternoon), but only a handful of studio-released films have ever earned 0%'s over their lifespan; it's a rare feat that you generally don't want to be associated with.

Either way, I'm definitely over this type of comedy for now, so I have absolutely no interest in this film. Maybe I'll give it a shot on Blu-Ray someday, but if this is hitting theaters near you, I think you're better off giving this a pass.

As for the box office numbers, it should be a good fight between "The Dark Knight Rises" in its third week and "Total Recall". "Total Recall" I think has a good chance of topping the $25MM mark and possibly even touching $30MM. "The Dark Knight Rises" put together $62MM last weekend, and if it keeps with similar percentage drops it should be in the $30MM area as well. I'm sticking with the proven commodity here and expecting "The Dark Knight Rises" to take the top spot for the third weekend in a row. The Wimpy Kid movies have before opened to about $20MM takes, but both previous films were released in a much slower March and not the latter stages of summer like this installment. I think interest will remain similar, but there's a bit more competition this time around, so a $15MM gross seems more probable. I even get an inkling that it will do a bit less than that, but probably not by much.

After that though, I don't see anything that has a chance to surpass the $10MM mark. "The Watch" bombed last weekend, and it'll be lucky to even stay in the top five with an expected $6MM-$8MM take. Overall, it looks like this could be another down weekend for the box office.

What do you guys think? Which film(s) will you be checking out this weekend?