Attractions: Who's Ready For Some Box-Office Class Warfare?
Welcome back to Movieline Attractions, your regular guide to everything new, noteworthy and/or three-dimensionally explosive at the movies. This week, there is literally something for everyone as an uncouth dragon takes on an adults-only hot tub, which takes on a really adults-only psychosexual romp. Click through for a closer look.
WHAT'S NEW: How to Train Your Dragon brings the charming-enough story of a young Viking and his enemy-turned-pal title character to multiplexes nationwide, thus likely ending Alice in Wonderland's cash-hoarding run at No. 1. (Until next week, of course, when Clash of the Titans releases the Kraken all up in this 3D bitch.) It's a gigantic release on a weekend when theaters are expected to nudge their prices upward, capitalizing on more than 4,000 screens in 2D and 3D to the tune of about $44.5 million. Alice will still pull some cash away in its fourth week, vying with the cult classic-to-be Hot Tub Time Machine for second place at around $18 million or $19 million. Hot Tub's number could rise or fall by maybe $3 million based on word of mouth; critics generally dig it, for what it's worth, and God knows (literally) that MGM could use anything resembling a hit, so I like it to wind up on the high end of expectations for the over-18 segment who've been languishing all winter and early spring.
I'd also love to think at least some of that crowd will migrate to Chloe, Atom Egoyan's French-thriller remake starring Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried as a married doctor and a prostitute who pair up to solve a matter of infidelity. And then some. I loved loved loved this film at Toronto -- just a total surprise, maybe the most unabashedly, unapologetically mainstream thing Egoyan has ever done. By now everyone knows that, well, the ladies get it on, which may or may not have influenced one of Sony Pictures Classics' widest openings ever: 306 screens, which should at best amount to maybe a $2 million bow spread out around the country.
Also opening: The fine genre-hopping Irish ghost drama The Eclipse; the Cambodian ballet documentary Dancing Across Borders; Catherine Breillat's typically effed-up fairy tale Bluebeard (NYC only); the gay diptych Dream Boy and Just Say Love (also NYC only); the acclaimed, thematically ambitious indie Godspeed (also NYC only, but expanding next week); and, in Los Angeles, the Quebecois high-school mockumentary West of Pluto; and expansions of the lyrical sheepherding doc Sweetgrass and the young-Mussolini tale Vincere.
THE BIG LOSER: Nothing among new releases is looking too vulnerable, but it wouldn't shock me (or disappoint me) to see The Runaways dip below $2,000 per screen this weekend. Off you go, horrible rock biopic.
THE UNDERDOG: Technically Waking Sleeping Beauty has no business here. It's a documentary about the second Golden Age of Disney Animation -- 1984 to 1994 -- and the artists and studio execs that made it happen. It's got the Disney imprimatur, lots of clips and rare footage and some healthy distribution muscle thanks to Buena Vista. But it's so good -- so insidery, so funny, so emphatic and emblematic of what makes movies worth seeing in the first place -- that it's impossible not to wish it the best on its way to finding a wider audience. Read more background and an interview with the filmmakers here, preferably after you see it. Which, pound-for-pound, is likely the best money you can spend at a box office this weekend.
FOR SHUT-INS: A bursting week of new DVD releases includes The Blind Side, The Men Who Stare at Goats, Brothers, Fantastic Mr. Fox, a restored version of The African Queen, the Criterion edition of Days of Heaven, the John Woo epic Red Cliff, the third season of Mad Men, and something called Hitler Meets Christ that I need a drink before I even begin to dig into.