Attractions: Fierce Alice Crushes Brooklyn's Ganglords
Welcome back to Movieline Attractions, your regular guide to everything new, noteworthy and/or overbearing at the box office. This week, a glance at the release calendar yields some frighteningly slim pickings, Avatar achieves another milestone, and I'm still looking for a decent Underdog to recommend. At least the DVD marketplace is looking up. Read on for a quick spin through what's out there.
WHAT'S NEW: Exactly two new movies open today in wide release, and neither of them are going to do much to deter you from catching up on those last few Oscar nominees you've procrastinated with for months. Still, Alice in Wonderland is going to take the weekend by more than a landslide -- it'll be like a house fell on Shutter Island, which will cede first place to the 3D Tim Burton fantasy's $70.5 million.
Island should manage to hold tight to second ahead of Brooklyn's Finest, the Don Cheadle/Ethan Hawke/Richard Gere/Wesley Snipes cop drama that stands to earn around $14.5 million on just under 2,000 screens. It's a pretty fascinating movie, not least because of its Shakespearean ambition around an unapologetic B-movie conceit and the hatchet job Overture Films took to it after last year's bleaker-than-bleak Sundance premiere. I mean, it's still bleak, and its operatic pretensions -- the angst of betrayal, afterlife-ish lights above dying characters' heads, Hawke's hilarious spring-loaded dialogue ("I don't want God's forgiveness! I want his fucking help!"), etc. -- remain largely intact. But someday, when the film's original cut (including the jaw-dropping ending) is restored via DVD, we can finally have the real discussion I think Brooklyn's Finest deserves: Is it good? Bad? So bad it's good? I really don't know.
Also opening: The week's limited releases are in NYC only: The Oscar-nominated animated feature The Secret of Kells; The Nazi-filmmaker documentary Harlan; and the decade-in-the-making (or decade-in-the-shelving, depending on how you view it) street-opera Harlem Aria.
THE BIG LOSER: Gasp! Avatar, a loser? Well, yes -- literally. The blockbuster will lose virtually all of its 3D screens to Alice in Wonderland, driving its revenue down anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of last weekend's gross. That said, Oscar latecomers have been pretty good to Avatar this week, keeping it in second place overall. So who knows? And anyway, it's temporary; depending on how many trophies it collects on Sunday, it should manage a reasonable comeback next week despite an even bigger windfall of new releases to challenge it.
THE UNDERDOG: Unless you count my sincere belief that Gabourey Sidibe can sneak through the Bullock/Streep clutter to win the Best Actress Oscar, the Underdog is taking a quiet week off.
FOR SHUT-INS: New DVD releases this week include the Roland Emmerich disasterpiece 2012, the acclaimed (if troubled) Maurice Sendak adaptation Where the Wild Things Are, the Paul Giamatti-plays-himself dark comedy Cold Souls, Disney's all-star Miyazaki effort Ponyo, a reissue of the original 1981 Clash of the Titans, Jared Hess's DOA comedy Gentlemen Broncos, and at long last, the complete fourth season of Matlock.