Weekend Openings (August 19-21)


This weekend – I’m not gonna lie – looks rough, both in terms of quality and box office (none of them are likely to topple The Help). Here goes…

RAWR! GRUNT! Conan the Barbarian is the first of two new remakes this week.  Starring Jason Momoa in the role that Arnold Schwarzenegger immortalized, everyone’s favorite barbarian undertakes a quest for revenge against the warlord responsible for murdering his father.  Critics have thrashed this film as hard as Marcus Nispel’s horror remakes, complaining of its mind-numbing violence, unimaginative action sequences and non-existent plot.  This film looks to be the strongest newcomer of the bunch at the box office, if for no other reason than the Conan fanbase, which should give it a nice $15-20 million front-loaded opening.

The second retread of an older movie this weekend is Fright Night, and luckily critics have been kinder on this one.  Not raves, exactly, but most reviews express delight at its blend of cheekiness and creepiness.  Unfortunately, horror-comedies are a mixed bag to audiences, and modern vampires have been so tainted by The Twilight Saga that its target audience of young males may be turned off by it.  I have a feeling that $12-17 million is a good as it will get.

There was some early speculation of Lone Scherfig’s One Day being a major Oscar player…but that evaporated pretty quickly when the trailer hit, and now it appears that the reviews have hammered the final nail in its coffin.  Frankly, I’m a little surprised that the same people who fell for the drippy mediocrity of An Education and the exact same gimmick in the ridiculous Same Time, Next Year are tearing this film apart, but à chacun son gout, I suppose.  Between bad reviews and competition from The Help, and I’d be shocked if it reaches double digits by Sunday.

And finally…oh Christ, this is a tough one…uh, okay, so…Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D.  So…Jessica Alba is in this film, and she plays a retired (huh?) secret agent married to a nincompoop with two bratty children.  But then Ari Gold hatches a plot to take over the world, and then the kids get involved and stuff.  Not that different from the previous installments, but this one is in, uh, 4D!  What’s the fourth dimension, you may ask?  Why, Smell-O-Vision, of course!  *sigh*…anyway, reviews have predictably been horrified by scratching and sniffing dirty diaper odors and seeing Robert Rodriguez’s trademark rushed histrionic style bombard their senses.  But hey, kids don’t pay attention to reviews, so maybe there’ll be enough to put the film at…$10-15 million?

...I got nothin'...In limited release is The Last Circus, a pitch-black comedy that won the Silver Lion at the 67th Annual Venice Film Festival.  Set in Spain’s Franco regime, the son of a war hero works at a circus as the Sad Clown and is tormented relentlessly by a sadistic Happy Clown.  Destined for a cult following, most critics agree that Álex de la Iglesia is not the most disciplined director, but the phantasmagoric tale he spins has so many striking and indelible moments that they say it’s worth seeing.  Despite its success at Venice, the Academy will most likely be turned off by such an extreme film.

Also in limited release is the caper comedy Flypaper, about two pretty white people who amble into a bank just as two gangs rob it at the same time.  Critics have been very harsh on what they describe as a keyed-up, charm-free comedy.

So are you all planning to see any of these, or are you taking this opportunity to catch up to The Help?  Let us know right here on The Awards Circuit!