Werewolves Devour Brendan Fraser In Bloody Box-Office Tragedy

STV · 01/23/09 11:55AM

Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your bulletproof guide to everything new, noteworthy and potentially misconceived at the movies. This week, werewolves attack, Brendan Fraser slums (again), and the Weinsteins dump Mickey Rourke.

Your Favorite Stars Join Holiday Box-Office Fight to the Death

STV · 12/24/08 10:45AM

Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your regular guide to everything new, noteworthy and/or mortifying at the movies. This week: Hollywood gets stuck in your chimney delivering Benjamin Button and four other holiday blockbuster hopefuls.

'Punisher' Lays Waste to Beyonce, Nixon and Rest of Multiplex

STV · 12/05/08 11:50AM

Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your weekly guide to everything new, noteworthy and/or catastrophic at the movies. Today we welcome back a franchise that uncannily lives up to its name, a meaty slice of Oscar bait and a congested second tier of art-house strivers, all pleading for your time opposite new DVD releases in the smoldering Doomsday aftermath. As always, our opinions are our own, but they are well-behaved, great with kids and they won't chew up your furniture. Adopt them after the jump!

Vince Vaughn, Nicole Kidman Share Their Turkey in Hollywood Charity Tradition

STV · 11/26/08 11:40AM

Welcome back to a special holiday edition of Defamer Attractions, your weekly guide to everything new, noteworthy and/or stillborn at the movies. And this Thanksgiving, we're grateful for a slate of Wednesday releases granting us a reprieve from another day of Twilight chatter. Not that any of them will surmount last week's blockbuster, but we have a quick and dirty forecast for long weekend's hits, sleepers and subplots, including a glimpse at the biggest disappointment and underdog to come. As always, our opinions are our own, but are easy to bake for that last-minute dessert idea. The full recipe is after the jump.WHAT'S NEW: Speaking of recipes, Four Christmases sure has a fresh one! Mix Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn. Add two cups of diced ensemble players including Robrt Duvall, Jon Favreau, Kristin Chenoweth and Sissy Spacek. Flavor with ball-kicking, pratfall and baby-vomit jokes. Bake for two hours. Serve lukewarm. It's good for about $40 million over five days. Transporter 2 is a little simpler hors d'oeurve for the guys out there, with Jason Statham liberally seasoned with bullets, quick cuts and decibels, turning out $18 million before the main course on DVD. But if you're allergic to the multiplex, you may be best best suited to skip ahead to this week's new home video releases; the art-house kitchen appears to be closed to deliveries for the holiday weekend. THE BIG LOSER: Australia is almost three hours' worth of the expansive (and expensive, at $130 million) hisorical epic no one makes anymore. And despite Oprah Winfrey's lavish endorsement, there's a reason for that: It's one in a generation that actually finds any traction in the two female quadrants whose repeat viewings push it toward box-office longevity and, almost necessarily, Oscar luster. Fox needs half a Titanic here (thus its Hugh Jackman heartthrob push at non-starter Nicole Kidman's expense) to make this work, and for the sake of the studio and director Baz Luhrmann and all involved, we hope they get it. But the middling, $26 million reality — especially on Twilight's likely second week at No. 1 — is what it is.

Heroic Dog Fends Off Vampires in Deadly All-Ages Box-Office Duel

STV · 11/21/08 11:45AM

Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your weekly guide to everything new, noteworthy and otherwise avoidable at the movies. Today offers a little more variety than last week's Bond! Bond! Bond! World Tour, but only a little — a total of two major new offerings are crashing the multiplex this week, with a scrappy smattering of indies and upstarts shuffling onto screens behind them. And if that's not doing it for you, there are always a few thrilling DVD's to pick up the slack. As always, our opinions are our own, but you'll never see them schlepping off to Washington for a bailout. Invest wisely after the jump!WHAT'S NEW: Hopefully you enjoyed your mildly adult pleasures last week while you could, because it's an all-puberty weekend this go-around. Twilight finally crashes theaters after a hormonal, high-pitched tidal wave of anticipation, packing tween girls (and not just a few of their mothers) into as much as $70 million worth of sold-out shows. We don't have much to say about the vampire swoonathon that we haven't thrown your way already, but we will go ahead and call it for a $68.8 million gross, 237 fainting spells and a record 455 million shrieks drowning out the dialogue. Disney will represent as well with its 3-D canine superhero opus Bolt, voiced by John Travolta and Miley Cyrus among others. Tracking is close to $40 million, but with reviews well-above average and the imprimatur of ex-Pixar chief John Lasseter, we could see it overlapping quadrants a bit and maybe peaking around $45 million. Also opening: Actor Robert Davi's doo-wop/heist-flick directorial debut The Dukes; the imploding Irish marriage drama Eden; and the ethnically-charged lesbian love story I Can't Think Straight. THE BIG LOSER: For the second consecutive week, the box-office is America's last remaining growth sector. No losers to speak of here, though talk to us next week about Australia.

It's All Bond All the Time as 'Solace' Forced Down America's Throat

STV · 11/14/08 11:30AM

Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your weekly guide to everything new, noteworthy and cash-hoarding at the movies. That latter qualifier is the centerpiece of today's new openings, with the 007 franchise facing virtually no competition outside a few escaped zoo animals from last week. But you still have options, including some critics' choice for this year's best picture and the usual harvest of fresh DVD's. As always, our opinions are our own, but their hauling power is unmatched and they seat millions comfortably. Take a test drive after the jump?WHAT'S NEW: Quantum of Solace has the wide-release slot to itself, where Daniel Craig's brooding Bond will likely crest above $60 million — by far the highest opening gross of any 007 film to date. We'll call it for $63.7 million despite some pull from leftovers Madagascar 2 and Role Models, themselves expecting $40 million and $10 million respectively in their second weekends. Your options are a lot better when avoiding the multiplex in LA: Jean-Claude Van Damme's meta-self-biopic JCVD is opening, along with the almost universally acclaimed Catherine Deneuve/Mathieu Amalric dramedy A Christmas Tale. Also: The Alphabet Killers, featuring Eliza Dushku as a police detective (!); the explicit gay Israeli romantic comedy Antarctica; the talky Afghanistan war indie B.O.H.I.C.A. (Army slang for "Bend Over Here it Comes Again"); the Liberian repression doc Pray the Devil Back to Hell; the Jewish basketball chronicle The First Basket; and a new adaptation of Dalton Trumbo's novel Johnny Got His Gun. THE BIG LOSER: Aside from the glut of indies above, chasing scraps from art-house audiences on their way to DVD — and Soul Men continuing to underperform with $2.2 million or so — today's slate seems to be pretty insulated from disaster. Everyone wins!

'Madagascar' to Trample 'Role Models,' 'Soul Men' in Deadly Multiplex Stampede

STV · 11/07/08 11:50AM

Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your guide to everything new, noteworthy and/or intolerable this week at the movies. Another competitive fall weekend yields perhaps the season's biggest blockbuster alongside David Wain's studio breakthrough, not to mention choice candidates for the weekend's biggest disappointment and must-see indie gem. As always, our opinions are our own, but what can we say? We're just in a giving mood!WHAT'S NEW: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa revives the DreamWorks zoo-animal-on-the-loose franchise this weekend in the hopes of pulling down as much as $60 million — which it might manage, considering High School Musical 3's slowed box-office pace in its third week. Universal deftly counterprogrammed David Wain's R-rated comedy Role Models, featuring Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott as would-be mentors to McLovin and a black kid whose best jokes you've probably already seen in the commercials. That shouldn't stop it from pulling down around $12.6 million while the screeching Madagascar throngs tear down the multiplex around it. Also opening:Stranded: I've Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains, the reenactment-heavy doc about cannibal survivors of a 1972 plane crash in the Andes; the Holocaust drama The Boy in the Striped Pajamas; and the goth horror-musical Repo! The Genetic Opera. THE BIG LOSER: Maybe "loser" is too harsh an estimation of Soul Men's fate, but let's face it: If it weren't the final entry in both Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes's filmographies, it wouldn't likely fare in the top five on any weekend outside the dumping grounds of January or August. But as cynical, posthumous curios go, it'll draw, coaxing up to $9.5 million and possibly cracking the top three. Whatever sells, we suppose.

'Porno' Livens Up Weak Halloween Party at the Multiplex

STV · 10/31/08 10:42AM

Happy Halloween, and welcome to another edition of Defamer Attractions, your weekly guide to everything new, noteworthy and potentially stillborn at the movies. Today we survey a wasteland of R-rated comedies, Disney leftovers and Oscar-season prestige offerings, all battling the holiday for audience dollars. Among them we'll spot this week's likeliest underachiever and its most worthy underdog, with a few worthwhile DVD releases bringing up the rear. As always, our opinions are our own, but they will be the envy of all your friends when sorting through your candy later tonight.WHAT'S NEW: The Pepto-Bismol is on ice at Weinstein Co. headquarters, where Harvey awaits the numbers for Kevin Smith's hopeful studio-savior Zack and Miri Make a Porno. But anyone who has followed our own prophetic Zack and Miri coverage since last summer is at least a couple steps ahead: Our predicted $14 million opening is right about where the raunchy Seth Rogen/Elizabeth Banks comedy is tracking, faced with heavy competition from holdover Saw V and other holiday hellraising outside the 'plex. Still, it's not a terrible showing; it will fall about $4 million shy of High School Musical 3's number-one spot, but should have relatively strong legs in weeks two and three, which is about the most Harvey can hope for with a movie he can't even market accurately. Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie's Changling killed last week in limited release ($33,000 per screen) on its way to an 1,800-screen expansion today. Jolie portrays Christine Collins, whose son's kidnapping in 1928 led to one of the most damning police-corruption scandals in Los Angeles history. Plenty of critics are down on the star as some hysterical dervish chewing up Eastwood's period scenery, but we don't see the point in criticizing an unapoloegtic melodrama for being successful at what it does. Eastwood cranks out lugubrious movies for adults, emphasizing presence and technique; Jolie matches him step-for-step. What's the problem? It's a likely top-three finisher at $10.7 million and probably the best thing going wide today, and either way it's preferable to dealing with costumed punks at your doorstep for three hours. Also opening: The animated suspense anthology Fear(s) of the Dark; the midnight-movie horror-comedy-romance Just Buried; the indie gorefest Splinter; and the bleak circus dramedy Little Big Top. THE BIG LOSER: The teen-possesion The Haunting of Molly Hartley has little but a brow-furrowed turn from Chace Crawford and a laugh-out-loud trailer voiceover from the late Don LaFontaine to recommend it. If this breaks $4 million this weekend en route to Flopz, we will personally finance the sequel ourselves.

Shrieking Tweens Fight Off 'Saw' in Bloody Multiplex Standoff

STV · 10/24/08 10:30AM

Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your fail-safe weekly guide to everything new, noteworthy and/or potentially doomed at the movies. Today brings us another oversaturated batch of fall releases offering more variety than prestige (or quality for that matter), but we'll help you sort through the mess with a glimpse at the week's (and maybe the year's) best film, Ed Norton's latest loser and a sampling of what's new on DVD. As always, our opinions are our own, but franchise opportunities are available. Inquire inside!WHAT'S NEW: Excepting battles for second place, we haven't had a good duel at the box office for a while now. We don't really have one this week either, but we're keeping an eye on High School Musical 3: Senior Year and Saw V for symbolic value alone: Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens and the rest of their East High cohorts may be the first force to vanquish the splatter series on opening day since it launched in 2004. We talked a bit yesterday about HSM3's unprecedented market, and we stand by our $38 million call. Saw V will catch the older kids forced to drive their blubbering siblings to the mall; that and the fanboy cult should treat the film to a $29.7 million opening. As if HSM3 and Beverly Hills Chihuahua weren't enough of a full-time cultural assault, Disney has Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D as well to court the Halloween crowd; that should pick up at least $5.3 million on 284 screens. Angelina Jolie and Clint Eastwood's missing-child melodrama Changeling also opens small today before platforming wide Oct. 31; we'll get into it a little more at that time. Also opening: The Anne Hathaway/Patrick Wilson ESP thriller Passengers (we hadn't heard of it either); the middling Disney/Bollywood animated effort Roadside Romeo; Kristin Scott-Thomas's Oscar bait I've Loved You So Long; and probably the best Swedish vampire coming-of-age film ever made, Let the Right One In. THE BIG LOSER: The week's other wide release, the shouty cop-family drama Pride and Glory, finally gets its furlough from the New Line tombs after a nearly two-year delay. But buzz is low, reviews are upside-down, and Ed Norton and Colin Farrell can't open a window these days let alone a big Warner Bros. offering. It'll be left with about $7 million worth of Max Payne's week-two scraps before being reassigned to a nice, quiet desk back at the precinct.

Violent Mark Wahlberg Kicks Dogs, 'W.' Out of His Way at Multiplex

STV · 10/17/08 10:30AM

Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your one and only guide to everything new, noteworthy and potentially noxious at the movies. This week sees Oliver Stone officially establish the land-speed record for producing an Oscar contender, joined by skull-cracking Mark Wahlberg, sex-driving Seth Green and our diva-colored underdog. As always, someone's gotta lose; we'll call our shot there, too, along with cherry-picking through a new crop of DVD's. As always, our opinions are our own, but we have little doubt they would look great on you. Try them on after the jump.WHAT'S NEW: No one would argue that Mark Wahlberg's video-game adaptation Max Payne won't win the weekend, but with Beverly Hills Chihuahua still barking in theaters (it actually expands by 32 screens this week), the sour-cop actioner might see a tiny bite out of its margin of victory. Still, $20.8 million is a reliable bet, with Disney's purse dog settling settling with around $11.5 million. The X factor is W., the Bush biopic which some forecasters see sneaking into second place with as much as $12 million. But to project any more than $10 million, maybe $11 million max is to overestimate it as anything more than a curio, an election-year stunt that wields neither the bite nor the influence that even we thought it would when the fall movie season began. Josh Brolin drawls and squints in fitful, fascinating bursts, and certain imagined powwows leading up to the 2003 Iraq invasion make for riveting ensemble drama. On the whole, though, W. connotes the rush job it was — undisciplined, tonally dissonant (Stone's professed empathy for Bush repeatedly knocks its head on low-hanging satirical fruit) and way, way too long. The American people deserve better, and at least until Nov. 4, they'll vote with their dollars. There will be no stealing this election. Also opening: Seth Green's R-rated romp Sex Drive; Roy Disney's boat-race vanity project Morning Light; critic Godfrey Cheshire's acclaimed doc filmmaking bow Moving Midway; the indie tolerance drama Tru Loved; and for those of you in New York (and the rest of you on VOD), Madonna's directorial debut Filth and Wisdom. (L.A. will get its theatrical engagement Oct. 31.) THE BIG LOSER: The Barry Levinson-directed/Robert De Niro-starring Hollywood satire What Just Happened is one of the year's finest case-studies in meta: A troubled, pedigreed film about troubled, pedigreed filmmaking, following in the flatlining tradition of every industry saga that preceded it. It false-started out of Sundance last January but finally found a taker at Cannes, and to its credit, Magnolia Pictures has aggressively pushed the film everywhere from baseball playoffs to presidential debates. Still, one half of that audience hates Hollywood, and the other half is off to see W. As recipes for disaster go — even in limited release — this one is ready to serve.

'Express,' 'Quarantine' Climb Into Multiplex Over Leo's Dead 'Body'

STV · 10/10/08 11:00AM

Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your regular guide to everything new, noteworthy and potentially hideous this week at the movies. Today we see another fistful of titles tossed on the fall-release glut, none of which may have the stamina to outlast Disney's purse dog in a three-day race at the box office. We also have our refined eye on the weekend's most disappointing opening as well as our official art-house underdog, plus a few cherry-picked new DVD titles for the shut-ins among you. You know how this works by now: Our opinions are our own, but with free, near-gemological precision like this, why go anywhere else?WHAT'S NEW: Yesterday we broke down some of our problems with Body of Lies, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a CIA operative entangled in the boilerplate "web of intrigue" when his sketchy boss (Russell Crowe) dispatches him to Jordan to zzzzzzzzz... Critics aren't behind it, and it's too late in the year for Warner Bros. to push this as anything more than the beach-reading it is. Which doesn't mean it can't finish in first place, of course — even though it won't. Beverly Hills Chihuahua will sprint out the stretch over Body's lumbering, wheezing frame, narrowly outgrossing Warners' $16 million for the week's biggest dogtrack upset. Warners will do much better distributing RockNRolla for Guy Ritchie and Joel Silver on a smattering of screens in LA and New York before going wide on Halloween, but that's pocket change below Universal's football biopic The Express (should open strong around $15.2 million), the B-horror Quarantine ($11.9 million), the family adventure City of Ember ($6.6 million) and finally in wide release, Keira Knightley nifty bodice-ripper The Duchess ($5.2 million). Eagle Eye and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist will skim off everyone's top as well with a combined $16 million for the weekend. Also opening: Mike Leigh's latest annoyance Happy-Go-Lucky; the quirky microbudget romance Good Dick; the gay family dramedy Breakfast With Scot; Daddy Yankee's gangland redemption saga Talento de Barrio; and the self-explanatory biopic Billy: The Early Years of Billy Graham. THE BIG LOSER: Equipped as it is for international support and a long life on DVD and cable, $20 million is still the low end of studio expectations for Body of Lies. It won't come anywhere close.

Chihuahua Attack Snares Michael Cera, Megan Fox and Others in Box-Office Bloodshed

STV · 10/03/08 11:25AM

Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your weekly guide to everything new, thrilling and thoroughly unnecessary at the movies. And we've got plenty of each to go around today as seven films are opening or expanding on 1,000 or more screens, a pair of Oscar-chasing indies open small and a legion of talking dogs threaten to overtake the box office. You can't say we didn't warn you. So read on for our picks, poxes and DVD alternatives for those of you too overwhelmed to face the multiplex. We feel your pain. As always, our opinions are our own, but with unfailing taste and accuracy like this, why argue?WHAT'S NEW: This is the week we've been waiting for since May, when Disney ignored our urgent plea to immediately release Beverly Hills Chihuahua from its high-camp captivity. And now that it's here, we're kind of over it; blame it on last month's chihuahua-only sneak preview. Not like the sadists at Disney need us: BHC is this week's only new family release and will do business accordingly, setting up for around $32.3 million over the three-day. The Michael Cera/Kat Dennings effort Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist will ride teens and the date crowd to about $17 million, which still won't be enough to overtake Eagle Eye for second place. Nothing else will break $10 million; Greg Kinnear's windshield-wiper biopic (!) Flash of Genius is on too few screens, Julianne Moore's dodgy drama Blindness will fall victim to the angry blind lobby, and Ed Harris's expanding Western Appaloosa couldn't find traction when it was on 1,000 screens, let alone 2,000. Most of the remaining release slate looks like a gang of orphans hassling tourists for change: Jia Zhangke's acclaimed Still Life; the timely, revealing political doc Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story, Rutger Hauer's psychological love-triangle drama Mentor; Obscene, the story of Grove Press publisher Barney Rosset; the Muslim stand-up concert film Allah Made Me Funny, and the Iraq-vet basket case drama The Violent Kind. THE BIG LOSER: MGM's hard-luck streak looks likely to continue with How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, the adaptation of Toby Young's thinly-veiled bestseller about his misadventures in the Conde Nast empire. It won't fail for lack of trying — at least not with a cast including Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst, Megan Fox and Jeff Bridges rocking his best Graydon Carter impression — and a month ago, in less-congested times, this may have even had some multiplex leverage. But in this glut, with the reviews it's receiving and audience awareness less than half of what it needs to be, expect a $3 million opening and quick dispatch to DVD. Where, in fairness, the Fox connection will more than make up for it stillbirth at the box office.