In theaters this weekend, we're met with a pretty healthy variety; a nice step up from last week's films. Four films hit in wide release this week, including "Argo", "Seven Psychopaths", "Sinister", and "Here Comes the Boom". The first is directed by Ben Affleck and figures to be a prominent player come awards season. Psychopaths is the follow-up film by writer/director Martin McDonagh ("In Bruges"), again teaming-up with Colin Farrell. "Sinister" stars Ethan Hawke, and has an intriguing storyline that should play well through Halloween season. And rounding out the crop is Kevin James' "Here Comes the Boom". If you saw last year's "Warrior" (one of my favorite of the year), this is just the comedy version of that.
Hit the jump for my thoughts on which of these titles deserve to be seen this weekend and which should be avoided. I'll also gloss over my box office projections for the weekend, where I expect things will be rather messy near the top.
We'll start with "Argo", because this seems like the easiest call this week (doesn't mean it will necessarily be the most enjoyable film though, depending on your interests). But for me, this is the only title I know for sure I'll be checking out this weekend. I already detailed the different aspects of the film in last week's In Anticipation post, so I'll avoid much of the detail here. Briefly, taking place in the 1970's, the film involves a group of C.I.A. members who need a plan to get a group of Americans out of Iran, who have found shelter at the Canadian embassy. Their solution is to pose as a film crew and fly to Iran to shoot their sci-fi adventure. Once there, they'll slowly dissolve the persons into their "film crew" and sneak them safely back into the States. Everyone knows this is based on true events at this point, and to me that's the greatest aspect of this film; Hollywood couldn't think of a film this perfect if they tried!
Anyway, the film has received great reviews so far- currently at a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Many expect this to be a big player for Best Picture this year, and from the buzz I've heard so far, I can't imagine it not at least being in the conversation at this point. Equal parts C.I.A. thriller, political satire, mystery and suspense, I hear the tone and pacing is perfect for the content and the era it takes place in. Plus, John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Bryan Cranston are all brilliant in their supporting roles.
I will see this as soon as I get the chance on Friday. This looks to be a nice middle-ground film, able to mix critical esteem with general entertainment for audiences. It's a grown-up movie, so I can imagine plenty of teens not being too interested in something like this, but I think if you're over the age of 20, you should check this one out; expect it to be one of the better movie-going experiences of the year.
We'll next go to "Seven Psychopaths", which is probably my #2 film for the week. It's a close battle between this and "Sinister", but I'll give this one the edge due to McDonagh's credentials and the overall great cast on screen. Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson headline here, in what looks to be a crazy adventure. The film revolves around a group of low-level criminals who kidnap dogs for the reward money. But things take a turn for the worse when they accidentally kidnap the beloved pet of a gangster (Harrelson). They're instantly thrown into the criminal underground of Los Angeles, a a place none of them should be.
I like the tone from what I've seen in the trailers, and as mentioned, the cast looks pretty strong. "In Bruges" was one of my favorites of 2008, and if McDonagh has any of that magic left, this film could obtain similar success. Reviews so far have been even better than for "Argo", currently at a 95%. Critics are saying that the casting is perfect, and the absurdity and comedy presented is spot-on; it's the craziest film to release so far this year.
This gives me a lot of hope for the film, and I think if I can find time, I will try to get this one in as well. The film will undoubtedly be incredibly quirky and off-kilter, and similarly dry yet witty to "In Bruges". If you're into films like that though, this looks like a big crowd pleaser. I expect a bit of crudeness, but still plenty of heart (Harrelson seems like a great choice for the gangster - I can see him bringing a perfect balance to a character like that). If you're considering this film, then I expect this will be a solid choice this weekend. Go for it.
The other film that seems to have a bit of promise this weekend is "Sinister". Starring Ethan Hawke, this film involves a crime novelist who moves into a new house with his family. With a box of old videotapes in the attic, he discovers that a family was murdered in their new home. And with further investigation, he uncovers a link to other similar murders as well. The only problem, now that he knows what he's looking for, he might have just put his own family in danger. Part supernatural thriller and part criminal murder mystery, this looks like it could have some decent tones and themes to put it ahead of the standard fare for the genre. Reviews have been solid for the film, with most simply noting this edgy and suspenseful thriller does its job and works as a great next installment for the horror genre. There are plenty of scares to be had, and if that's what you're looking for, you should be able to find it here.
For me, the biggest aspect of this project that gives me hope is that the director of the film, Scott Derrickson, last directed the supernatural horror film, "The Exorcism of Emily Rose". That's probably one of my favorite horror films of the past decade, and if that guy can bring a similar passion and execution to this film, I have no doubts that this can be one of the better ones, too.
Overall, if you like scares and horror films in general, this seems like a great option for the weekend. Now that we're in October and we're wanting to watch horror films every single day, I can't imagine you not wanting to go to a theater and check this out. I'll get there if I can, but with so many other quality films this weekend, this might be the perfect late-night rental for me down the road. I expect plenty of fun for those who do venture out though, so have no hesitations. Don't expect anything dramatically new, but the execution and presentation seem sound.
The final film releasing in wide variety this weekend is "Here Comes the Boom". The film stars Kevin James as a high school biology teacher who turns to mixed-martial arts as a way to raise money for his school's extra-curricular activities, which will be cancelled without the funding. Salma Hayek also appears as James' love interest in the film, giving him something else to fight for.
As I mentioned in the intro, if you like "Warrior" but thought there was too much drama and emotion, and instead should have had more fat guy comedy with a PG rating, then this is most definitely the film for you! Reviews have been better than I expected, but still mostly mixed. Generally, the film appears to be a bit too watered-down, and the laughs are too few. The best praise I've seen for the film: at least it's better than "Grown Ups". Not the strongest endorsement for a picture, but hey, it could be worse. For tweens out there looking for something new this weekend, I could see this being a fit for you (honestly, the other three titles might be best for adult-audiences only). Parents can probably find some entertainment and inspiration here, at least enough if you have to tag along on your sixth-grader's date. For the rest of us though, this probably isn't even worth a rental down the road. I want to like Kevin James, but I just haven't cared about most of his films (his stand-up is solid though). I'd be cautious with this one. Unless you're a huge Kevin James fan and love sub-par comedy, I'd give this a pass. I never had one ounce of interest in this picture, and I think it best to just be avoided - especially with so many other quality titles available.
As far as the box office goes, it seems like all of these titles could create for a bit of a logjam at the top. Last week's big holdover is "Taken 2", which debuted with $50MM. Hard to figure what the film will gross in week-two, but on average, a 50% drop would amount in $25MM this weekend. It might be a bit more than that, maybe a little less, but that seems like a reasonable guesstimate for our purposes here. "Hotel Transylvania", entering its third week, seems like it could also be a player near the top, with the ability to hit $15MM. That seems high to me for week number three, but I've underestimated the film in both previous weeks. You'd almost expect this one to pick up a bit more steam as Halloween nears.
As far as new releases go, I can't see anything out-grossing "Argo". It's done really well with critics, has plenty of recognizable faces in it, it's a political movie based on true events, and Warner Bros. has marketed the hell out of it. It should draw in a lot of different types of audiences, making a run at a $20MM opening weekend. It still is a grown-up film, and this won't attract many youngsters, which will prevent it from climbing much higher than that. If it can hit $20MM though, it will be a success. I don't see the huge audiences for "Seven Psychopaths" or "Sinister", even though they'll both pull their respective genre crowds out in respectable numbers. "Sinister" might fair a bit better with it being near Halloween, but I really can't see either of these films breaking $10MM. I'll say $8MM-$10MM for "Sinister" and probably "$6MM-$8MM for "Seven Psychopaths". And that just leaves "Here Comes the Boom", which unfortunately will probably out-gross both of the previously-mentioned films. It's PG rating should be appealing to many family audiences, and the mixed-martial arts thing is still popular, right? Again, there are bankable faces here (anyone remember that "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" made $145MM?), and even if it's not an ideal option, this looks like it'll be the pick for younger crowds looking for something new. A $12MM-$15MM wouldn't surprise me here.
"Taken 2" should retain the top spot with relative ease this week, while "Here Comes the Boom" and "Hotel Transylvania" (two Keven James films) battle it out for the second and third positions. Everything else feels pretty up in the air outside of that though.
But that's what we can expect this week. Which fim(s) will you be checking out?