Weekend Forecast: Moneyball Leads Busy Weekend — But Can It Score?
And that's the least of the overbearing sports puns I'll leave you with today. What are we even doing exchanging formalities at this point? It's a bottleneck at the box office, with new releases battling holdovers for early-autumn supremacy. Your Weekend Forecast is here.
· Moneyball: It seems like only yesterday we were debating the legitimacy of the embattled Moneyball as a mainstream movie project. Flash forward to today, with the terrific final product drawing rave reviews, stimulating Oscar talk, and preparing to lose the weekend box office nevertheless to a 17-year-old Disney film with a 3-D spitshine. What does Billy Beane's spreadsheet have to say about that? Anyway, it'll be close -- The Lion King's repeat performance at No. 1 is by no means a sure thing, with a drop between 40 and 50 percent putting it right in Moneyball's sweet spot. Bottom line: If Brad Pitt can keep his opening magic, and if this thing shows even a little of the four-quadrant spunk it's capable of, and if it can get a little help from Dolphin Tale usurping a few million from the Disney juggernaut, then it can win out. I don't know if Moneyball's stars are that aligned, though; after all, doesn't it seem like only yesterday... Oh, sorry. FORECAST: $17.1 million
· Dolphin Tale: I still can't believe there's a movie... about an amputee dolphin... and the prostheses... that bring her and a young boy... and his wounded soldier/cousin... and Morgan Freeman and Harry Connick Jr. and Ashley Judd and director Charles Martin Smith and Warner Bros. together... in 3-D. Must... fight... diabetic coma... call... 911... accckkkk FORECAST: $15.9 million
· Abduction: Taylor Lautner's first lead role is said to showcase his comic chops in a way that The Twilight Saga has long undersold, and I for one salute this development. Look around! Even Jonah Hill is going straight this weekend. We need the levity! FORECAST: $15.2 million
· Killer Elite: I hold a little warmer place in my heart for this globetrotting Jason Statham/Clive Owen/Robert De Niro assassin intrigue than my esteemed colleague Stephanie Zacharek could provide, but it is most definitely a problem in a congested theatrical market. Upstart distributor Open Road is selling the hell out of it, though, and who knows? Maybe in another 17 years we'll have a beloved family classic re-released in 3-D, finally realizing all the flinging-chairbound-Statham potential we know it possesses. Doubtful, but hey. FORECAST: $11.4 million
Speaking of mischaracterizations, don't let the hilarious poster fool you: Machine Gun Preacher is just a piece of self-important biopic garbage that will leave the taste of battery acid with hints of vinegar, birdshit and sour milk in moviegoers' mouths all weekend in limited release. (I guess it was well-intentioned? If by "well-intentioned" you mean "Oscar-hungry"?) Kevin Smith's DIY curio Red State is a one-night only deal that has already succeeded by pretty much all commercial accounts, so that's fine.
Meanwhile, the gay-romance indie Weekend may turn out to be one of the most unilaterally respected films of the year, leading an art-house pack that also includes the Chris Evans junkie-lawyer drama Puncture, the NYC club doc Limelight and the Jamie Foxx-endorsed high-school-band throwback Thunder Soul.
Whew. All right, your turn. Any recommendations? Adjustments? The floor's open.