June 13, 2008

New Movies and Box Office Predictions: The Happening, The Incredible Hulk

Two weeks ago we had a pair of R rated films targeting an older audience, last week were a pair of more teen and family oriented films, and now we get a mix. One of this week's wide releases is rated R, a first for this particular director, and looks like it could be a fascinating thriller. The other wide release has its roots in comic books and would seem to cast a wider net of interest. I am looking forward to both films, how about you?

The Happening. (2008, 91 minutes, R, thriller, trailer) This is the latest from writer/director M. Night Shyamalan, but you already knew that. It is impossible to avoid seeing his name tagged on the posters and other advertising. He is one of the few directors outside of Steven Spielberg who get so much attention in the advertising. Anyway, this new thriller marks his first foray into R rated territory (another fact being hawked in the promos), so it will be interesting to see if it works for the story is just tacked on to use this advertising (and possibly cover up box office shortcomings, you know, blame it on the rating). I do want this to be good, as much as I was disappointed in his last couple of films, the man definitely has skills. Mark Wahlberg stars in this thriller that has humanity under siege from some unknown thing, something that kills quickly and indiscriminately. What is it? I have no idea, I have been avoiding spoilers. I just hope it is worth it.

The Incredible Hulk. (2008, 113 minutes, PG-13, action/sci-fi, trailer) In 2003, Ang Lee brought his arthouse sensibilities to the comic book genre and delivered the "disappointing" Hulk. The quotes are because I liked the film, I thought it was a well made science fiction film that was marketed poorly as an action film. Now, five years later, Marvel has decided to revisit the big green guy, creating a new, non-connected film with a new creative team and a new cast. Transporter 2 director, Louis Leterrier, steps into helm the film, working from a script by comic-adaptation veteran Zak Penn and star Edward Norton (using the pseudonym Edward Harrison). This version still has Banner on the run from the military, but it also has him facing off with another creature called Abomination, played as a human by Tim Roth. Hopefully it will deliver the goods. Another cool thing is that Marvel is now attempting to create a movie universe with their characters, Robert Downey Jr. will appear as Tony Stark (you know, Iron Man). If all goes well, this will be another franchise, with Hulk likely to appear in the planned Avengers film.

Also opening this week, but not near me:
  • Baghead
  • Encounters at the End of the World
  • My Winnipeg

Box Office Predictions
This week could prove interesting as I expect both Kung Fu Panda and You Don't Mess with the Zohan to have strong second frames. I also believe that The Incredible Hulk will have a strong opening. The big question, at least for me is going to be The Happening, as Shyamalan's last couple of films have been less than good, I have hopes that this one will be good, but whether or not audiences turn out on the other hand....

Here is how I think the top ten field will play out:

RankTitleBox Office
1The Incredible Hulk$54 million
2Kung Fu Panda$35 million
3The Happening$25 million
4You Don't Mess with the Zohan$20 million
5Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull$11 million
6Sex and the City$9 million
7Iron Man$5 million
8The Strangers$4 million
9The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian$2.5 million
10What Happens in Vegas$1.5 million


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