From left: Anna Kendrick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dracula, Selena Gomez, Frankenstein. (Photos by: Getty Images)Four new wide releases hit theaters this weekend, including the smartest sci-fi action film of the year, a surprisingly sharp a capella comedy, a fun monster movie for the kids, and a dramatic look at the struggle of the inner-city school system.
Meanwhile our expert, Exhibitor Relations' Senior Box Office Analyst Jeff Bock, predicts big things for Adam Sandler's new animated feature. "Hotel Transylvania will bite, but in a good way," he told us. "Whereas ParaNorman’s dark sensibilities had families wary, Hotel Transylvania looks more like typical kiddie fare that should attract a sizeable amount of tweens too."
Directed by Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Jeff Daniels
My favorite film of the year, Looper is a visionary sci-fi/western/neo-noir/horror film filled with explosive sequences and charged performances. In the future, time travel is used by the mob to send marks back in time to be killed by specialized hitmen, called "loopers." Levitt plays Joe, a looper who comes face-to-face with his future self (Willis), and must kill him. The trick to excellent sci-fi is not just an original idea (which Johnson has), but executing that idea so it resonates with audiences. Looper does that and more, giving us a furious chase film with a mind-blowing ending. Full Review.
See it? Yes.
Box office prediction: $19M
Our interview with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Rian Johnson
Won't Back Down
Directed by Daniel Barnz
Starring: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Holly Hunter, Oscar Isaac
The "Fail Safe Law" is a provision stating a parent may start their own school within a district with a number of signatures from parents and teachers and school board approval. Won't Back Down is the story of one parent and one teacher who are determined to fight the mediocrity of their childrens' Pittsburgh public elementary school (and the teacher union), and change some lives. Produced by the same company that gave us Waiting for Superman last year, this film definitely has an agenda, but it also has a very weak script. Full Review.
See it? No.
Box office prediction: $5M
Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez
Hotel Transylvania is a cute way to apply Toy Story to the world of Halloween and monsters. It takes every character within a concept and gets them all in one place. Dracula runs a hotel where Frankenstein's Monster, the Mummy, werewolves, the Invisible Man, etc., all go to party, free from the prejudices of the human world. Dracula uses the hotel to protect his daughter from human influence, but she ends up meeting one anyway. Expect a ton of corny jokes from Sandler and co. but a lot of fun-looking monsters.
See it? Sure.
Box office prediction: $24M
Pitch Perfect (Limited)
Directed by Jason Moore
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp
Set in the world of badass dueling collegiate a capella groups, Pitch Perfect does take its singing seriously, but is happily self-aware of the absurdity of its story. Cut from the same cloth as Hamlet 2, the movie will delight fans of Glee and American Idol with its cover songs and choreography, but it's also very funny. If the film does well at the box office, and I think it will, Rebel Wilson is the reason why. Full Review.
See it? Yes.
Box office prediction: $2.5M
The Other Dream Team (Limited)
Directed by Marius A. Markevicius
A documentary about the story of the Lithuanian Olympic basketball program and its enormous affect on a country kept subjugated by communist rule. The team beat the U.S. to win gold at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and became symbols of freedom after the fall of the former Soviet Union. This is not just another basketball documentary, it's a tale about how sports can be a symbol for much more. The trailer alone will move you.
See it? Yes.
Solomon Kane (Limited)
Directed by Michael J. Bassett
Starring: James Purefoy, Max von Sydow, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Pete Postlewaite
Set in the 16th Century, Solomon Kane is a vengeful assassin who makes a deal with the devil never to kill again. That doesn't last long once he makes it his mission to kill all the bad guys wreaking havoc on England. Purefoy is a force, but this looks like just another of the million "one man versus incredible evil" films that are churned out every season.
See it? No.