We're in the Studio-Huntin' Business, and Cousin, Business is A-Boomin'
Welcome back to Movieline Attractions, your regular guide to everything new, noteworthy and Nazi-scalping at the movies. This week, Quentin Tarantino walks the Weinsteins back to first place, the studio dregs of August ooze into neighboring auditoriums, and a cluster of promising indies break into the art house. Plot your weekend accordingly after the jump.
WHAT'S NEW: After months of hype from the French Riviera to American Idol, Inglourious Basterds is finally upon us. The build-up shouldn't hurt the film, though, which has its star quotient to help open, above-average reviews and status as literally the weekend's only wide release that won't leave you hating Hollywood. It's length, R-rating and holdover competition from District 9 will work against it, but the Weinstein Company should get a healthy $27 million opening to help shoo the vultures away for another few months until The Road.
The rest of the wide releases will do their jobs just fine: Robert Rodriguez returns to his family-film hobby with the magic-rock fantasy Shorts, which could earn around $13 million as the rest of the season's kids fare preps for DVD. Alexis Bledel's comedy Post Grad will find maybe $6.5 million worth of women under 25 who'll deign to attend. Disney actually made a 3-D feature out of ESPN's X-Games franchise, which the network is promoting relentlessly and could see as much as $3 million on almost 1,400 screens.
It's even messier in the art house, which will lose some juice from Basterds crossover appeal but still features a relatively strong batch of contenders for August: Jim Sturgess's latest breakout role in the otherwise spotty IRA drama 50 Dead Men Walking; Liam Neeson doing his own big, heavy IRA thing in Five Minutes of Heaven; the charming but inconsistent George Hamilton origin story My One and Only (featuring the week's other breakthrough star, Logan Lerman); the inspirational Little League yarn The Perfect Game; and, in a trio of New York exclusives, Lucrecia Martel's mindfuck The Headless Woman, Spike Lee's acclaimed Broadway doc/performance film Passing Strange, and the foreign-language Oscar nominee The Baader Meinhof Gang. More on their L.A. releases as they approach.
THE BIG LOSER: There's not much point of weeping over the corpse of The Marc Pease Experience, one of the last releases the defunct Paramount Vantage has to dump in the secluded quarry known as late August. And it's not even putting the Jason Schwartzman/Ben Stiller comedy in major markets, lest Big Paramount spend a dime promoting it beyond secondary markets like Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle. I mean, the mall in Eden Prairie, Minn., gets this one, but L.A. and New York can bite it. Just another avoidable casualty of timing, recessionomics, and imagination vacuums in Hollywood. But that's entertainment.
THE UNDERDOG: More on this later in the day, but Bobcat Goldthwait's pitch-black bipolar comedy/drama World's Greatest Dad is a film that, were there any justice, would receive Oscar campaigns for its star Robin Williams (who plays an otherwise decent man exploiting the death of his truly, truly awful son) and its writer/director (who manages radical tonal swings about as nimbly as possible), all while finding word-of-mouth traction and a gradual platform release throughout America. Sure, I'm an optimist, but that's not the film's fault. It's that good and that funny, and you should see it.
FOR SHUT-INS: New DVD's this week include James Toback's gripping documentary/one-man show Tyson, the much-awaited (I think?) Hannah Montana: The Movie, the slick, bullshit remake of Wes Craven's nihilist masterpiece The Last House on the Left, David Carradine's next-to-next-to-next-to-last role in The Golden Boys, and the complete 12th season of The Simpsons.