Weekend Forecast: Wall Street Set to Fleece America Once More

Wow. Is it Friday already? Amazing. Even more amazing: They dusted off yet another '80s icon for a valedictory spin around the zeitgeist, trailed by majestic owls, a catty quintet, sex-mad teens and Ryan Reynolds in a box. Someone has to come out on top, right? Let's have a look.

NATIONAL OUTLOOK

· Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps: Well, great: Here comes Gordon Gekko again, not-quite-swanning out of prison but bracingly cool enough to remind us that Hollywood will cling -- almost literally -- to any port in a storm. Here it's for the sake a Class of '87 reunion cruise boasting Michael Douglas and Oliver Stone, with newbies Shia LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan (but mostly Shia) roping in the crowds neither old enough to know Wall Street's ancient cultural reference nor socially aware enough to realize the pair of contemporary crises that make this movie necessary. The good news is that of the two, cinema's End of Ideas is, for once, not the worst-case scenario among them. The bad news is that the imminent end of American civilization is. So happy moviegoing! On the outside chance that The Town comes back to beat this over the weekend, consider it the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse pit stopping before their inexorable ride ahead. FORECAST: $22.7 million (See Movieline's full review here.)

· Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole: Is Zack Snyder the genre equivalent of Steven Soderbergh? He works a little slower, and his touch is no doubt heavier, but Snyder's vision is as singular, diverse and borderline radical as any mainstream filmmaker out there. Within the space of two years next spring he'll have embraced alternate-universe superhero armageddon (Watchmen), post-feminist grrl-power dystopia (Sucker Punch), and, in the middle, this gorgeous-looking animated adaptation of author Kathryn Lasky's fantasy series. The haters you expect to hate it will do their jobs, and the families you expect to see it will do theirs. (What are their options? Alpha and Omega?) But it will be interesting to see how Snyder does his going forward, and this weekend's take will go a long way to where his curious eye lands next. FORECAST: $19.9 million

· You Again: What the hell is this? Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis as the parents of Odette Yustman and Kristin Bell (respectively), two generations of high-school rivals joined by unwitting matrimonial coincidence and glued together by the incorrigible point-and-shoot comic relief of Betty White? How about we call this movie Goddamn Betty White Again? Projections are saddish for it in any case, with most observers settling on a bumpy landing below $14 million. Let's be generous, though! FORECAST: $14.1 million

STORM WARNING

· The Virginity Hit: After all that "controversy" and the red-band trailer hype, Sony's raunchy teen sex comedy finally makes it on to about 700 screens nationwide. Considering the relative pennies for which it produced (if not marketed), a bad weekend would have to be pretty damn bad to be... well, bad. Like six-figures bad. That won't happen. But lesson learned for any studio who thought the way to the 17-21 demo was through its Facebook page/YouTube account/college town: Despite everything you've heard, people, not their social networks, still make and break movies. FORECAST: $2.5 million

buried_poster_small.jpgTHE PRIME DESTINATION

· Buried: Honestly, all I care about at this point is seeing how Lionsgate plans to place its notorious Ryan Reynolds-in-a-coffin movie in the market. Reviews will matter some, but again, we're down to word-of-mouth, and so far, love it or hate it, it's as much a must-see curio as anything slated all season. It'll start this week on about seven screens; a per-screen-average over $50K seems the least it can manage in the first step to an Oct. 8 wide release. (See Movieline's full review here.)

REGIONAL OUTLOOK

· Ahead of Time (expanding to LA): Documentary recounting the adventurous life and times of 99-year-old journalist and photographer Ruth Gruber.

· The Big Uneasy (NYC, LA): Harry Shearer leads viewers on a tour of New Orleans -- and a scathing takedown of the greed, malfeasance and incompetence that precipitated the city's ruin by Hurricane Katrina.

· Enter the Void (NYC, LA): Gasper Noé's head-splitting death-trip over, through, around and (graphically) inside Tokyo. (See Movieline's full review here.)

· Fruit Fly (NYC): Latest tuner from director H.P. Mendoza, whose Colma: The Musical was a festival-audience and critical darling in 2006.

· The Good Soldier (NYC): Documentary explores the transitions of American veterans of World War II, Vietnam, and both Gulf conflicts from dutiful soldiers to peace-campaigning protesters.

· Howl (NYC, SF Bay Area): Half-biopic/half-on-the-nose adaptation of Allen Ginsberg's seminal poem and the First Amendment firestorm around it. (See Movieline's full review here.)

· A Mother's Courage (NYC, LA): Documentary about -- you guessed it -- a courageous mother determined to learn more about the cause and conditions of (and the battle against) her son's autism.

· Strapped (NYC): A downbeat, overheated rumination on one gay man's sex odyssey.

· Tibet in Song (NY): A Tibetan ethnomusicologist-turned-documentarian winds up in jail for attempting to chronicle the dying art of his country's folk musicians.

· 3 Billion and Counting (NYC): Documentary explores the rapidly growing (and devastatingly lethal) scourge of malaria in the third world -- and the radical cure that can be found in a banned pesticide.

· Waiting for Superman (NYC): Davis Guggenheim's latest doc delves into the crises afflicting America's ailing public schools. (See Movieline's full review here.)

· You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (limited): Woody Allen hits London again, and this time he's brought Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Gemma Jones and Lucy Punch. (See Movieline's full review here.)



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