September 17, 2010

New Movies and Box Office Predictions: Devil, Easy A, The Town, Alpha & Omega

We have moved past the summer season, blasted past the Memorial Day barrier and are now in that dead zone the leads back into the holiday season beginning with a batch of horror films for Halloween and then the bigger releases between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is not to say that the movies released now are duds, no. There is a mix of low expectation releases, movies with nowhere else to get released, and some critical darling types looking to beat the Oscar rush to come. This week features a blend of both types.

Devil. (2010, 80 minutes, PG-13, horror) I am sure most of you have heard the stories of audiences groaning at the appearance of M. Night Shyamalan's name in the trailer. I completely understand where that sentiment is coming from, the man does not foster confidence. I am intrigued by this as he is a good idea man and this is the role he has here. He delivered the idea and a different creative team, in this case John Erick Dowdle (The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Quarantine) directs a script by Brian Nelson (Hard Candy, 30 Days of Night). Not a bad pair if you ask me. In any case, the movie seems to be built on claustrophobia and tension. It is set in an elevator with a number of people trapped inside, only one is not what they seem. It should also be noted that this is the first of Shyamalan's Nightmare Chronicles, a series of films based on his ideas but written and directed by others. This could be helpful in rejuvenating his image, if they prove to be good.

Easy A. (2010, 93 minutes, PG-13, comedy) Emma Stone (Zombieland) stars in this high school comedy about a nobody girl who uses the high school rumor mill to her advantage. Basically, she fakes losing her virginity to help a gay male friend get the bullies off his back by having a fake tryst at a party. Pretty soon she finds herself in the middle of a scandal and helping other guys with their popularity issues. The story clearly references The Scarlet Letter, using it in the trailer and having Emma sew a red A on her clothes. I am not sure if this will be good or not, but I like Stone and it looks like it could be fun.

The Town. (2010, 125 minutes, R, thriller) A few years back Ben Affleck made his directorial debut with Gone Baby Gone. I remember there were a lot of questions about that considering that he is not exactly a great actor. Well, it turns out he did a really good job and the film was really good. Can he repeat that success? He not only directs this time out, he stars. The story is set in Boston and centers on a group of expert bank robbers being hunted by a determined FBI agent. It doesn't help that one of said robbers begins a relationship with one of their former hostages who may be able to turn them all in. Besides Affleck the cast includes Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, and Jon Hamm.

Alpha and Omega. (2010, 88 minutes, PG, animated comedy) This does not interest me all that much. The wildlife comedy has a low level wolf (Justin Long) and a highly talented leader type wolf (Hayden Panettiere) trapped and moved to a state park to repopulate. These two have a different plan and set off to get back home. The animation looks sub-par, characters dull, and a story that feels terribly familiar. With that said, it looks like something kids will enjoy.

Also opening this week, but not near me:
  • Catfish
  • Jack Goes Boating
  • Kings of Pastry
  • Leaves of Grass
  • Never Let Me Go
  • Picture Me
  • Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo
Box Office Predictions 
Overall, this looks like it is going to be a weak weekend. I would suspect that the Resident Evil sequel could have a shot at the top spot based on its dominance last weekend. However, I also suspect that The Town could have a nice opening, it seems destined to be the best received, critically, going in. Granted, I am terrible at predictions over the past few weeks, but I am going to give it a shot anyway.

Here is how I think it could play out:

RankTitleBox Office
1The Town$16 million
2Resident Evil: Afterlife$14 million
3Easy A$12.5 million
4Devil$10 million
5Alpha & Omega$9.5 million
6Takers$3 million
7The American$2.5 million
8Going the Distance$2 million
9Machete$1.5 million
10The Other Guys$1 million

Article first published as New Movies and Box Office Predictions: Devil, Easy A, The Town, Alpha & Omega on Blogcritics.

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