Thursday, August 9, 2012

In Theaters This Weekend: July 10, 2012


This week there are three wide releases, and hopefully enough good content to go around. We're met with an action thriller, a political comedy, and a romantic dramedy. The first is the fourth installment for the Bourne franchise, "The Bourne Legacy". This film will deter from Matt Damon's character and instead introduce Jeremy Renner as another member of the program. Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis headline the political comedy "The Campaign", as dimwitted individuals battling each other in a local election. Finally, it's Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones in the dramedy "Hope Springs". This will revolve around the aging couples' continued struggles with marriage and their attendance at an intense couples counseling retreat.


Hit the jump for a further rundown on each film, as well as a stab at what the weekend box office totals might look like.

We'll start with "The Bourne Legacy" because this is the film I most gravitate towards, even if I'm not clamoring to see it. This will be the fourth film in this franchise, and Jeremy Renner takes over as the leading man. Along with other hold-outs from the previous films, like Joan Allen and Scott Glenn, we also get a handful of new faces, including Edward Norton and Rachel Weisz. What this film will tell us is that Jason Bourne wasn't the only person subjected to these tests and experiments, but that there were a whole slew of different recruits involved. Renner is one of them, supposedly even more deadly than Bourne was. It appears that the story will still revolve significantly around the goings-on of Jason Bourne, even if he isn't actually featured in the film (as a big Matt Damon fan I'm still holding out for that cameo though). Nonetheless, it's a creative approach to the franchise, and one that should allow for the studio producers to carry on the "legacy" for as long as they want.

So far, it appears that the film has not been nearly as appealing to critics as the previous three films were. Each film from the original trilogy received an 80% or higher on Rotten Tomatoes, with the final chapter, "The Bourne Ultimatum", recording an impressive 94%. But it appears that critics are responding in a way that seems very expected, and stating that the Bourne franchise has now worn out its welcome, and at this point isn't doing much more that the previous films didn't already establish and create. The film currently sits at a 54% on the site, which isn't a terrible place to be. Most critics state that the film is fun and action-packed, but doesn't always execute like the previous films did. We are reminded however that this is still an introduction movie of sorts, and the expansion of this universe has good potential to provide for future quality films.

I imagine I'll be checking this one out this weekend, if for nothing other than to refresh my action pallet after last week's misstep, "Total Recall". I think this franchise knows how to do action right, and as long as they didn't get too "studio" with this installment, I'm confident that it should at least be fun to watch.

The other big film releasing this weekend is "The Campaign", which stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as rivaling "politicians" vying for the North Carolina Congressional seat. From there, we've seen enough of the trailers to know what to expect here: two men in way over their heads, making comedic mistake after comedic mistake. I imagine there will be some eventual heart, and the incumbent, Ferrell, will probably end up losing his seat to the seemingly less competent Galifianakis. Either way, it looks like pretty standard Will Ferrell comedy. Personally, I'm not interested in Galifianakis' character, and I've already seen plenty of this Will Ferrell character in "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby". I think there will be plenty of laughs if you want them, but it really doesn't interest me for a theater watch.

Currently, critics have this at a strong 75%, saying that while incredibly silly and nonsensical, the satire is still entertaining, and Ferrell and Galifianakis play off of each other perfectly. If you're not over Will Ferrell's brand of humor yet, and you're looking for a few good laughs this weekend, this wouldn't be a bad option at all. If you're anything like me though, an eventual DVD rental might do just fine.

The final film opening in theaters across the country this weekend is "Hope Springs". Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones (if you think about it, isn't it kind of weird that we still call a 66-year-old man Tommy? I know Tom Lee Jones doesn't quite have the ring to it, and obviously Tom Jones would create some confusion - okay, maybe he's just stuck with it; ignore my previous questioning) star, along with Steve Carell and Elisabeth Shue. Jones and Streep are a long married couple, who decide to attend an intense, week-long counseling seminar to rediscover the happiness of their marriage. This doesn't appear to be anything more than a happy, maybe even slightly humorous, take on marriage and relationships in general. With overly positive reviews so far, critics are saying that for mature audiences not looking for anything more than a few good smiles, this film delivers. The emotional aspects of the film have been generally accepted as relatable, and should provide for an entertaining experience.

I have very awkward opinions on Meryl Streep, where I acknowledge that she's a great actress, but I still don't care too much about seeing her in films (I don't go out of my way to avoid them, but I don't go out of my way to take them in either). I think her performance will be solid in this film as usual, but I just can't muster up any interest as of now. the concept seems enjoyable, and I'm sure that someday this film will make for a very pleasant Sunday afternoon watch. A theater visit isn't in the cards for me, and probably won't be for most of my demographic. But for mature couples, this film should provide the perfect setting for a great date night. This one ends in happiness, and unlike so many others of this material, doesn't focus on the negatives that go along with many marriages, which is surely refreshing.

As for what we might be able to expect for box office grosses, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that "The Bourne Legacy" seems primed to take the top spot. "The Dark Knight Rises" has held that position for the past three weeks, but it seems like it's finally time for it to move aside for some fresher meat. Bourne, much as I predicted with "Total Recall" last week (even though I was wrong), will probably pull in something in the $35MM-$40MM range. This film is receiving decent reviews, and there is a fresh, established audience already in place for these films. The first three films all increased dramatically from film to film with their opening totals, but I think that too many audiences will be over the series to show up for numbers similar to Ultimatum ($69MM). Right around $40MM seems plausible, with "The Campaign" right on its tail. I expect this will slide smoothly into the #2 spot this weekend, probably not with much other competition. Comedies have been incredibly difficult to judge so far this summer; no matter with good or bad reviews, it's felt completely random as to which have succeeded and which have flopped. I think there's enough positive buzz and enough notable actors for this to succeed though. $25MM-$30MM seems reasonable here, but due to the unstable comedic market so far in 2012, I'm inclined to go a bit lower. But we've seen multiple comedies already open with similar takes this year, so if it performs like it seems, these numbers should be attainable.

Outside of those, "The Dark Knight Rises" will probably pull up a chair in the #3 slot, probably with $18MM-$20MM this weekend. "Hope Springs" has a shot to get to $12MM-$15MM if adult audiences decide to show up at theaters. And "Total Recall" can probably hold on for similar totals and stay in the top five as well.

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