Weekend Openings (September 9-11)

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I’m going to have very conflicted feelings about this significant weekend, readers…but that’s for another time.  Right now, let’s take a look at the new theatrical releases looking to finally topple The Help from its long reign at the box office:

The most likely usurper will be Steven Soderbergh’s bio-thriller Contagion, about the emergence of an airborne virus that spreads panic around the world faster than the disease itself.  The film has a number of advantages this weekend: it’s opening on more screens – by far – than any other new release, it’s headlined by an all-star cast and has enjoyed an effective (if annoyingly spoilerific) marketing campaign.  Reviews have been a bit south of what Soderbergh usually enjoys with his higher-profile projects but still solid enough for financial success.  Most critics agree that the film is scary and smart but some complain that the film leaves a somewhat cold impression.  Contagion pretty much has the opening weekend in the bag, with a likely $18-23 million take, but its awards prospects are less certain.  It didn’t get the raves that a true contender usually has to garner, and its criticized lack of emotional stakes might cause Academy voters to admire this film more than love it.  Best Original Screenplay is certainly in the cards, and thrillers with multiple plotlines tend to do very well in the Editing race.  No single actor is getting majority “best-in-show” notices as far as I can tell, so vote splitting will probably dash any hopes for acting nods.

Another Oscar contender to hit theaters this weekend is the sports drama Warrior, starring Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy as two brothers with tragic pasts who must battle each other for the MMA championship.  Reviews have been very strong for this film, calling it a stirring and powerful drama that should elicit plenty of man-tears.  Our own Joey Magidson gave Warrior a hearty recommendation and believes that Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte are serious threats for Oscar nominations.  I’m inclined to believe him if the movie becomes a sleeper hit throughout the month of September.  It won’t really make an impression on opening weekend, but that’s fine since it looks like Lionsgate will be relying on word-of-mouth to carry it to financial and possibly awards success.  I’m predicting an opening of just over $10 million and growing from there.

There are really no limited releases this weekend worthy of note, so I’ll just preview two wide-ish releases that might as well have been, starting with Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star.  Nick Swardson (you know, the guy who got his hand crapped on in Just Go with It?) stars as a naïve grocery bagger who sets off to fulfill his “calling” in the adult film industry.  At the time of submission, no reviews have been published…not a good sign.  Personally, I’m not sure what this film could possibly say or do that Orgazmo didn’t already cover fourteen years ago.  This thing is almost destined to perish at the box office and anyone who asks about its Oscar potential needs to check themselves into a mental hospital.

The second semi-wide release is Creature, starring Mehcad Brooks of Desperate Housewives as an ex-Navy SEAL who encounters a half-man, half-crocodile in Podunksville, USA.  What’s sort of remarkable about this film is that it’s obvious just from watching ten seconds of the trailer that Creature is a movie tailor-made for the straight-to-DVD ghetto…so why is it getting any sort of theatrical push, let alone over 1,500 screens?  Either way, I’m not wasting my time or my money on it…

But what I plan to see (or not) isn’t important; I’m more curious to know what your moviegoing plans are, dear readers.  Be sure to head on over to the forum to tell us what you thought of these films next week!