Jeremy Piven vs. the World

Welcome back to Movieline Attractions, your regular guide to everything new, noteworthy and left to mop up after a long summer at the movies. This week, aliens chase the guys, a time traveler chases the ladies, Vanessa Hudgens chases the kids, and Jeremy Piven chases the leftovers. Check out the lay of the land after the jump.

WHAT'S NEW: You know by now that District 9 isn't your standard, disposable late-season fare; it's got ideas, vision and a talent to watch in 29-year-old co-writer-director Neill Blomkamp. The conventional wisdom compares its box-office predicament to that of Cloverfield's a year-and-a-half ago -- like that film's J.J. Abrams, District 9 has a top-shelf producer in Peter Jackson making up the momentum that its dazzling visual effects can't stoke on its own. But it's still rated R, and it still has to face the second week of G.I. Joe, which means an opening capped around $24.5 million. Expect durability, though, based on word-of-mouth as its flimsier summer cohabitants die off around it.

Julie and Julia faces a more formidable week-two challenger in The Time-Traveler's Wife, featuring Rachel McAdams as a woman who makes the most of her husband's (Eric Bana) propensity to disappear involuntarily through the space-time continuum. Warners hasn't expressed a ton of faith in this New Line cast-off despite managing some explosive successes with the label's romcom offerings like Sex and the City and He's Just Not That Into You -- both based on more established brands than Audrey Niffenegger's source novel, but still. This should open nicely at $18.4 million, then taper off as J&J's long legs overtake it in the weeks ahead.

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Summit knows a thing or two about marketing to tweens, teens and the rest, and thus I wouldn't underestimate the Vanessa Hudgens / Aly Michalka musical-comedy blast Bandslam. Especially not with another New Moon trailer debuting ahead of it, which will probably be good for a decent chunk of its estimated $11.2 million bow.

Also opening: Hayao Miyazaki's latest animated, golden-voiced Ponyo; the bloodthirsty baby thriller Grace; the Jimmy Page/Edge/Jack White electric-guitar doc It Might Get Loud; the acclaimed, grisly, watch-at-your-own-peril freak show Taxidermia; the amateur-pimp indie comedy The Pool Boys; the enivro-doc Earth Days (NYC only); and, expanding to Los Angeles, Andrew Bujalski's twin-sister dramedy Beeswax.

THE BIG LOSER: Jeremy Piven has done everything but debase himself on WWE and Big Brother in order to... Oh. Wait. So Jeremy Piven has officially done everything within his power to get his used-car-salesman ensemble comedy The Goods: Live Hard. Sell Hard into a not entirely embarrassing position for opening week. Alas, movies are a collaborative effort, and between the reported ineptitude of the filmmaking and the implosion of its patrons at Paramount Vantage, The Goods won't make it out of the weekend alive. Maybe it's ahead of its time? Let's hope so, because its $6.5 million is going to need to sell a lot of DVDs to its later cult following to make Piven's piledriving worth the trouble.

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THE UNDERDOG: If the "Twitter Effect" can be attributed as in influencer in killing studio films by Friday night, shouldn't we apply the same logic to what some of Ashton Kutcher's 3.1 million Twitter followers might do for Spread? It's not going to shatter any records on around 80 screens, but his oversexed gigolo comedy/love-letter to Los Angeles could net one of the country's highest per-theater averages ($7,000? $8,000?) when the dust clears Monday morning. And this with virtually no TV, print or outdoor campaigns behind it. It's likelier than not.

FOR SHUT-INS: Beyond I Love You, Man and 2008's Cannes-winning drama The Class, this week's new DVD releases won't likely give you much reason to stay home: the horror dumpee The Last Resort (though bonus points for the tagline: "The place where they had the time of their deaths!"); the pseudo-franchisee Road Trip: Beer Pong; the Zooey-Deschanel-manchild-romance epic Gigantic; and the underachieving sci-fi comedy Alien Trespass.



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