Hollywood’s September slow season is set to pick up a little steam this weekend with the release of Jodie Foster’s vengeance thriller The Brave One — undoubtedly a more appetizing film feast than last week’s big dish, 3:10 to Yuma, for many of you. Anyway, that’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that The Brave One appears to be, more or less, your only option this weekend. Sure, a few other new wide releases (the comedy Mr. Woodcock and the CG extravaganza Dragon Wars) are hitting theaters, but their prospects are less than promising. Of course, you could always just hang out at home and watch the Michigan-Notre Dame game, which is bound to be interesting because…well, it can’t end in a 0-0 tie, at least. Either way, box office fans, read on.
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
The Brave One
Warner Bros. · R · 2,755 theaters · NEW
We entertainment journalists spend so much time kvelling over the Angelinas and Reeses of the world that, when it comes right down to it, we forget how those ladies simply aren’t the huge box office draws we perceive them to be. That fact is illuminated particularly in light of Foster’s consistently strong track record: So far this century, the two-time Oscar winner has starred in three major movies (the genre pictures Panic Room, Flightplan, and Inside Man) with an average opening weekend take of $27.9 million. I mean, that’s really impressive. Unlike just about any of her peers, Foster seems to be popular across all demographics; though I have no scientific evidence to back this point up, I’d argue that she’s the one actress out there who appeals to women and men utterly equally. All of which is good news for The Brave One, an R-rated action movie in the mold of Charles Bronson’s Death Wish, which would be a tough sell without Foster in the lead part of a woman on a rampage after her lover (Lost’s Naveen Andrews) is murdered.
Weekend prediction: $28 million
3:10 to Yuma
Lionsgate · R · 2,667 theaters · 2nd weekend
The Western remake opened on top last weekend, so props to Russell Crowe for scoring his first No. 1 bow since Gladiator — and props to me for nailing my prediction of Yuma’s $14 mil debut right on the nose!
Weekend prediction: $7 million
New Line · PG-13 · 2,231 theaters · NEW
This comedy’s sky-high concept is awfully amusing: Seann William Scott plays a successful motivational speaker who returns home to find his mom (Susan Sarandon) dating the gym teacher (Billy Bob Thornton) who used to torment him. So why is New Line dumping Mr. Woodcock in September — nearly two and a half years after it finished shooting? Good question. Maybe that has something to do with Thornton’s poor track record of late, starring in movies where he plays a crusty authority figure (while Bad Santa and Friday Night Lights did well enough, financially, the more recent Bad News Bears and School for Scoundrels tanked). Or maybe it’s because, oh, sometimes a movie is just a dud.
Weekend prediction: $6 million
MGM · R · 3,051 theaters · 3rd weekend
Thanks to Halloween’s $46 mil gross so far, I can say that, in 2007, a movie directed by Rob Zombie has far out-earned films directed by David Fincher (Zodiac), Quentin Tarantino (Grindhouse), or Werner Herzog (Rescue Dawn), and not be lying.
Weekend prediction: $5 million
Dragon Wars: D-War
Freestyle · PG-13 · 2,269 theaters · NEW
This fantasy-action-thriller with a typically impossible-to-decipher plot (the title probably tells you enough) is supposedly the biggest South Korean movie ever, both in terms of budget and box office; despite critical gripes, it’s been a moderate hit overseas, with $54.9 mil in receipts. And if those facts don’t convince you to go see this flick, starring Roswell’s Jason Behr and the great Robert Forster, I don’t know what will.
Weekend prediction: $4 million