Friday, May 29, 2009

Look Up to animated adventure or get dragged straight to Hell.

If you thought deciding between Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and Terminator Salvation last weekend was tough, you can relax. Choosing what new movie to see this weekend is going to be an easy call. Rarely has there been such a diametrically opposite offering on a summer movie weekend.

A predominance of audiences, particularly family audiences and Pixar animation fans, will be looking Up, the new Disney/Pixar animation project that earlier this month opened the Cannes Film Festival in France and has already been garnering lavish reviews. In the theater just down the hall, dating teens, horror junkies and Sam Raimi fans will feel a firm grasp on their ankles as Universal tries to yank them through the theater floor kicking and screaming "Drag Me to Hell".

With a release schedule both Disney and Universal must be thrilled over, there'll be no cross competition between theaters to catch the big new movie. And in many cases (more than 1500, the largest number since the new technology has surfaced) those moviegoers choosing Disney Pixar's UP will be easy to spot, bespectacled in chic 3D wrap-arounds. With some 400 more theaters than March's Monsters vs. Aliens could muster, Up will become the largest wide release new film produced in 3D to be actually showing in 3D theaters opening weekend. The stage is set to easily surpass the record for 3D box-office which is likely to account for 50% of Up's ticket sales even though Disney 3D equipped theaters account for less than 40% of Up's scheduled screens.

We've already mentioned that UP is getting great advance notices. The truth (though we grudgingly admit it) is that Sam Raimi is also getting slaps on the back for his return to horror after helming Spiderman 1, 2 & 3, the most successful Superhero movies made until last July's spectacular The Dark Knight. Raimi's no virgin when it comes to splashing screams onto the big screen, with writing and directing roots deep into The Evil Dead franchise. (Light-hearted horror fans will also bow down to the writer/director of the Bruce Campbell classic Army of Darkness.) Word is that the humorous touch is present throughout the blood, mud and snot seeking house flies of Drag Me to Hell. Taking the screams with a sprinkle of silliness seems appropriate for a movie whose villain looks like she stepped straight out of evil crone make-up class 101. But perhaps then, that's the point. And in the realm of counter programming to Pixar animation, Drag Me to Hell is laser point perfect.

It's the last release weekend in May, Week 5 of Blockbuster Summer and we'll reflect back a bit in our next post. In the meantime, if a house suspended from 3D balloons doesn't give you a lift and you've got no sympathy for a cursed to hell bank loan officer, no matter how sexy she looks in a mud drenched tee shirt, the best big movie of the summer is still playing everywhere you go to the movies. If you haven't already, Star Trek turns out to be the May movie that should be on your summer must-see list.

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