Thursday, September 13, 2012

In Theaters This Weekend: September 14, 2012


This is feeling like that time between Christmas and Spring all over again... That period of time when there's not many good holdover films still sitting in theaters, and not much to look forward in the near future. And our wide release schedule this weekend seems just about as lackluster as the previous. A handful of independent dramas will start their limited runs this week as well, but hardly any of us will get a chance to see them. But just seeing them in the mix elicits feelings of a better time to come. We'll wade through films like "Resident Evil: Retribution" and the re-release of "Finding Nemo" in 3D for now, and see a 100+ theater showing of the little-discussed Nicolas Cage film, "Stolen", and the Richard Gere thriller, "Arbitrage". But hey, at least Paul Thomas Anderson's festival darling, "The Master", starts its limited release as well, preparing for expansion next weekend.

Hit the jump for a breakdown on what we might be able to expect from each of these films, as well as a look at what will surely be another low point at the box office for the year.

So the only true new release that is opening wide this weekend is the fifth Resident Evil film, "Resident Evil: Retribution". I'll be the first to admit that I'm not completely familiar with this franchise, as I'd take a guess that I've seen maybe two of the previous four films. I know I saw the first one (though remember nothing about it), and had to have seen another somewhere along the line. I generally like zombie movies quite a bit, but something about this franchise never much appealed to me. I think at this point I'd be interested in revisiting the first film, because I feel like there might actually be something worthwhile there. Outside of that though, my interests are tepid.

So far, reviews are on hold for this film, and I'm going to assume that in this case, it's for the bad reason. Expect them to start rolling in Friday afternoon, if not a bit sooner; I'm not expecting anything too positive though. Other than the first film (while registered a 34%), the three other films have all been in the low-20% range. That doesn't always tell the whole story, but it isn't encouraging, either.

Ben said it the best on this past CinemaCast, stating that if you've followed the franchise so far - whether that be the movies and/or video games - there will probably be something here for you. But if you haven't, then you probably won't have much interest in this one either. I will say, and again, referencing the podcast, Derek made a nice point in that if you have followed the series, this film is bringing back a few of the characters from the earlier films that weren't in the last few. So if you enjoyed the first one specifically, this could be a nice nostalgic/one-last-hurrah type thing for some of your favorites.

No chance I'm going to the theater for this film, and odds aren't very good that I'll give it a rental on DVD down the road either. Proceed with caution, but I feel like this film already has the lines drawn - either you know you're going to go see this one or you know you aren't.

Another film that most of us should get a chance to see if we want is the re-release of "Finding Nemo" in 3D. This seems to be a current theme and one that I don't expect to fade, especially as the quality of post-conversion 3D continues to rise and the cost of doing so continues to fall. And I will say, generally, animated films do look the best in this type of 3D (excluding James Cameron's brilliant technology that would probably make "Metropolis" look good in post-conversion). Anyway, "Finding Nemo" was one of Pixar's greatest successes, both financially and critically. I don't feel like there's much to say about the film, because it's been out for nearly a decade now. And judging by the $865MM it made in theaters, I think most of us checked it out.

For those who enjoyed the story though, or have since had kids that you want to expose to one of Pixar's earlier efforts, I can't much imagine how this would be a bad option. The story is good, even if it doesn't do much for me, and all of the bright blues and yellows in the film should look great with the upgrade in technology. I don't expect I'll have much interest in this one, but I think if I had a kid who wasn't around back in 2003, I would definitely be taking him/her.

Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon headline the cast of the upcoming "Arbitrage", a potential awards vehicle for Gere. The film is a thriller of sorts, with Gere playing a hedge fund magnate, forced to turn to an unlikely source for help when mistakes are made handling the sale of his company. The film received pretty positive praises throughout its earlier festival circuits, and is currently sitting at a healthy 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. Nicholas Jarecki is a first-time director on the film, but mixed with the exceptional efforts from his entire cast, I'm hearing that the pacing and tone of the film is actually quite impressive and fluid.

The film only opens in 197 theaters this weekend, which is an average of about four per state, so even though it's not officially "limited", that feels pretty limited to me. If this one shows up near you, I think there will be some great material here, and something definitely worthy of a watch. I've already checked, and this one isn't coming to the theaters around me. If it were, this is where I would probably be this weekend.

The other film making rounds in the 100-ish theater count this weekend is "Stolen". I'm not going to lie, until I started composing this post, I wasn't even familiar with the title of this film. But it does star Nicolas Cage, Malin Akerman, and Josh Lucas. Cage will play a former thief frantically searching for his missing daughter, who has been kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a taxi.

I really have no interest in this film, and am not very surprised that I haven't heard anything about it. I like seeing that Cage has a few potentially decent films on the horizon, but in all honesty, the guy hasn't done much of note recently. The last two films he appeared in were "Trespass" and "Seeking Justice". I know I never saw either of those, did anyone else? Didn't think so.

If I can say anything about the film, it's that I'm at least intriguing by the fact that Simon West is directing. Notably, he last directed "The Expendables 2", but his first film also paired him up with Cage for "Con Air", a film that went over pretty well with most fans. I don't expect "Stolen" to reach those levels, but it at least seems like it could have some potential.

Understandably, no reviews yet for this one either. I don't expect them to be good, but who knows. Maybe the action will be great and audiences will be able to have a good time with it. Will this film be closer to "Drive Angry" or "Next"? Only time will tell, but I can assure you that until some reviews start rolling in, this isn't one I'm gambling on in theaters. If reviews come back and give this positive marks, I might give it a chance once it makes its way over here (probably only on DVD though). If not, odds are this ends up in the stack of Cage films with "Trespass" and "Seeking Justice" (and "Next", for that matter).

But those are pretty much the films hitting theaters this weekend. As mentioned at the begining of the post, "The Master" does start its roll out this weekend, but it will only be in a handful of theaters. "Liberal Arts" (Josh Radnor fans) and "10 Years" (Channing Tatum fans) do the same, and those will also be two films worth keeping an eye on.

As for the box office, I do at least feel safe in assuming that "Resident Evil: Retribution" and "Finding Nemo 3D" can crack the $10MM+ barrier this weekend, so that's a move in the right direction! The first Resident Evil film opened with $17MM, but the next three all broke the $20MM mark. All three also opened in September as well, so I'd expect similar results from this newest installment. $25MM seems strong, but these films have a pretty devoted following. And mixed with the fact that there's almost nothing else out worth watching should bode well for its numbers. The same seems pretty accurate for "Finding Nemo 3D" as well. There hasn't been a quality family movie out for a while now, and I think most Pixar fans will jump at the chance to check this one out in theaters again - and in 3D to boot. So I'll just say a flat $25MM for each of these, give or take a few million for both.

Outside of those films though, nothing else should make much noise. Our limited release films should provide for good per theater averages, but the overall grosses shouldn't amount to much. And the holdovers from last week will just look worse than they already did. "The Possession" can probably cling to the #3 spot, but a gross of more than $6MM or so seems unlikely.

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