Friday, June 27, 2008

Adorable robots, super assassins and an American Girl.


This is what summer is all about. New releases, good reviews, diverse appeal over lots of audience types, family movies, summer fun for kids, parents that will be charmed rather than bored and teens and adults that will find all of the shoot-em up action they could ever hope for. Add in the hits the summer has so far produced and there really is something for everyone at a movie theater this weekend. Congratulations Hollywood, these are the weeks we love during Summer Blockbuster season.

In comparison to a weekend ago, when the reviews for the new releases were very nearly toxic, the reviews for this weekend's releases are stellar. Particularly where we would expect them to be, with the masters of the art in computer animation, Pixar. The first feature release since the long overdue purchase of Pixar by Disney, Wall•e is gathering glowing reviews faster than the little character can make garbage blocks. The film will likely take the weekend, and could be the next movie this summer to make a serious play for that 300 million mark, already reached by Iron Man and about to be crossed by Indiana Jones. What all this means to the established animation favorite Kung Fu Panda remains to be seen but it's a good bet that after a spectacular run and box-office approaching 200 million domestic, Panda will begin to cool off and Wall•e will set the new pace.

Amazingly, if kids and parents are heading out to the movies this weekend, CGI isn't the only show in town. Last week's limited release Kit Kittredge, An American Girl opens wide this weekend, though we expect it may find some difficulty finding available theater screens. 

Regardless, it may be worth seeking out. Last week's performances in only five theaters netted the highest per theater take for the weekend, bringing in nearly $45,000 per screen. (To put that in perspective, Get Smart, last week's number one film, averaged just over $9,000 per screen.) Kittredge also has a built in audience of young ladies and their moms who fell for the Mattel line of dolls years ago. Add to that the generally positive critic's reviews and the overwhelming popularity of Abigail Breslin in the title role, and there's a film, though not expected to break the top three, that still offers a ton of summer fun for an audience segment that usually has to tag along to their brother's action fantasies.

We've had a soaring man of metal slam into the summer box-office like, well, a superhero. We've had the long awaited and triumphant return of Indiana Jones and we've got the Hulk still beating up cinema screens everywhere. A comedic movie star that honed his popularity on
television, remade a great TV comedy with huge success in Get Smart and the cast of a hugely popular TV show reunited to splash glamor, girl talk and cosmos onto the silver screen with Sex and the City. What we haven't had yet this summer is a crazy, frenetic, action-fantasy shoot 'em up. Well, 'til today. 

Wanted, starring the real life mom who looks coolest as a bad-ass Angelina Jolie, paired with the surprisingly diversely talented James McAvoy (and the ever present Morgan Freeman thrown in for good measure), should fill the bill. If you've seen even the trailers from 2004's Night Watch or it's sequel, 2006's Day Watch, Russian director Timur Bekmambetov's first American film is flooring the critics and will likely be irresistible to both fans of the director's previous work, or fans of the graphic novel the film is based on. This one promises to be on the level of 2005's Frank Miller's Sin City and will fill in a gap in the cinematic offerings this weekend perfectly.

So there you go. This weekend we won't be expecting anything to crash and burn except for up on the screen, as it should be. We are expecting to bid a speedy farewell to Mike Myer's Guru Pitka and we're thinking that Sandler's Zohan is just waiting to be blown dry right off the movie screen. But what's new and what's left is classic summer stuff. If there's not something in movie theaters this weekend that makes you hungry for popcorn, you either just aren't trying or it just ain't coming. But if there is something that makes you start counting you're cash and wondering about gas money, get to it this weekend 'cause July is looking like a busy month and we're only half way through the summer.

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