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SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/19

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SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/19

Postby Shrykespeare » February 17th, 2010, 1:25 am

Hmmph. Quite an eventful President’s/Valentine’s Day weekend, wasn’t it? Valentine’s Day pulls in a whopping $63 million in its first four days, shattering the record set by Ghost Rider a few years ago ($52 million). And this past weekend’s other films didn’t fare so bad either: Percy Jackson pulled in a very respectable $38 million, while The Wolfman clawed its way to $35 million. Meanwhile, Avatar continues to pull in record numbers, and now stands at $661 million in total domestic take.

The bad news is, with only one wide-release and only one limited-release film to talk about this week, there’s not that much for me to talk about. The better news is, for those who chose any of last week’s films, the odds are outstanding that you will be gleaning extra Top 5 and PTA points again this week.

February 19th’s only major release is a film starring an A-list Hollywood actor, helmed by a legendary Hollywood director, and based on a best-selling novel. But (and there is a but), one can only wonder exactly why Shutter Island, which was originally slated to debut on October 2nd, a weekend that many would have called the beginning of “awards consideration season”. However, with less than two weeks to go before being released, it was shuffled off to mid-February without so much as a by-your-leave.

If you believe Paramount, the reason was because they “didn’t have the financing in 2009 to spend the $50-60 million necessary to market a big awards pic like this.” Other reasons were star Leonardo DiCaprio’s unavailability to promote the film internationally, as well as the hopes that the new time slot would be more conducive for a film aimed at older audiences. Well, whatever the truth is, and whatever you may believe, the long wait is just about over.

The legendary director I spoke of is none other than Martin Scorsese himself, one of the single most-respected directors of all time. And rightly so, having been the driving force behind such classics as Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, The Color of Money, Goodfellas, Casino, Gangs of New York, The Aviator and The Departed. Shutter Island marks Scorsese’s second foray into the horror/thriller genre, the other being the noir-ish remake of Cape Fear in 1991.

The film takes place in 1954 Massachusetts, where U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are summoned to the titular Shutter Island, which is home to a hospital for the criminally insane, where a woman convicted of murder has mysteriously vanished into thin air. He meets nothing but resistance during the course of his investigation, from the head physicians Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley) on down to the orderlies, nurses and guards.

Things get worse when a hurricane hits the island and all hell breaks loose. The nightmarish ambience of the place begins to take its toll on Teddy, who finds it harder and harder to reconcile his instincts and his sanity while being strategically manipulated by everyone around him, including ex-Nazi Dr. Naehring (Max Von Sydow).

I’ve read several of the 20 reviews over at RT (17 are positive), and most agree that the acting is phenomenal, with extra kudos going to DiCaprio as well as supporting players like Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer and Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach from Watchmen, who will be donning the finger-knives of Freddy Krueger in April). Though those same critics call the film uneven, they all agree that Shutter Island is a testimony to Scorsese’s enduring intensity as a filmmaker.

At the time I am writing this, Shutter Island has nearly 900 votes in the can over at IMDb, and its current User Rating is a whopping 8.9. It’s likely that many of those votes came from DiCaprio or Scorsese enthusiasts, but it’s equally possible that some of those votes came from appreciative film fans who watched its debut at the Berlin Film Festival this past weekend.

As much as this film has going for it, it seems to have two things going against it, the first being its rather clumsy dismissal from awards season. The second thing is the fact that Box Office Mojo has Shutter Island only debuting in 2,500 theaters, which is a lower number than the top EIGHT movies this past weekend had. Now granted, films like Tooth Fairy and From Paris With Love have already started to tail off, and Dear John was quickly supplanted in the romantic genre by Valentine’s Day. But when you try to gauge Shutter Island's potential against everything else, you have to take a lot of variables into consideration.

On the one hand, Valentine’s Day dominated this past weekend, and there won’t be another rom-com out for another month, but will that matter now that the holiday in its title is now past us? The Wolfman, after its lackluster reviews, will probably drop hard as most R-rated horror films tend to do. Percy Jackson will probably drop the least, given that movies aimed at kids and teens tend to have the best legs (as Tooth Fairy has ably proven, placing 6th in its 4th week with only an 8.7% drop). And then there’s Avatar, of course. But the biggest factor is star power: Leonardo and Martin have tons of fans, and positive word of mouth can only aid Shutter Island's chances. After all, it’s been 3½ years since The Departed, and two years since Leo’s last big-budget movie, Body of Lies.

With a length of nearly 140 minutes and an R rating, it’s a safe assumption that kids and young teens will not be forking over large sums of cash to see this one. Which doesn’t necessarily mean anything bad... after all, It’s Complicated shattered my expectations by achieving blockbuster status. But February is not December.

I predict an opening weekend of $26 million for Shutter Island, which means that it will be a neck-and-neck race for #1 against Valentine’s Day, assuming a 50% drop for that title. For $23 in Ultimate ($22 in Box Office), I predict nine or ten Top 5 points, five PTA, a total take of about $70 million and a User Rating in the low 8’s. The film’s current Rating combined with all of its positive reviews make it a very tantalizing prospect, not to mention the fact that it has the mantle of “new kid on the block” all to itself this week. If you passed on Valentine’s Day, I would definitely take Shutter Island.

This weekend’s only limited-release feature is The Ghost Writer, which, I am happy to say, may have even better potential as a pick. When picking a smaller film to fill out your Ultimate slates, you look for three things: 1) PTA potential, 2) a favorable theater count and 3) not much competition. The Ghost Writer goes three-for-three by those standards. Plus, like Shutter Island, it also is blessed with a terrific cast filled with proven actors, is based on a best-selling novel, and is directed by an equally famous, if considerably more notorious, director.

I won’t delve into the volumes-long saga of Roman Polanski’s legal troubles, which have been in the news a great deal in the past few years. But I will say that when your resume includes titles like Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown and The Pianist, I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, especially when professional critics seem to be in agreement (case in point: 8/9 positive reviews over at RT).

The “ghost writer” mentioned in the title is played by Ewan McGregor (he is apparently never given a real name), who is brought in to complete the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) after Lang’s aide dies in an unfortunate “accident”. Settling down in Lang’s American east-coast beach house, the writer can scarcely begin when a former Cabinet minister comes forward accusing Lang of war crimes. Things get even dicier when the writer, inadvertently stumbles onto a very sinister secret that may have not only cost Lang’s aide his life, but may jeopardize his own.

The quite considerable cast, apart from McGregor and Brosnan, contains the always-terrific Tom Wilkinson, as well as Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Timothy Hutton and Eli Wallach (who is 94 years old and STILL acting, if you can believe it). And then there’s Polanski, who is out to prove that he can still crank out a compelling story despite the many other distractions in his life.

I gotta tell you, I am almost sorry that The Ghost Writer will be showing in only four theaters this weekend, as I must admit, the trailer for this film has got me hooked. It is precisely the kind of taut, tense thriller that I like, and I absolutely expect it to win the PTA crown this week. It may even hold on for additional points next week, which means that for $7, it could be an extremely wily purchase. Given its release platform, however, it is hugely overpriced at $4 in Box Office, so don’t be swayed by my praise. Its current User Rating is a robust 8.8 (with just over 200 votes), so it certainly won’t hurt you in this category either.

I was hoping that the late additions to Box Office Mojo’s lineup for this weekend, The Good Guy and Happy Tears, might be added at the last moment, but it doesn’t look like that will happen.


My predictions for the weekend of February 19-21, 2010:

1. Valentine’s Day – $27 million
2. Shutter Island - $26 million
3. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief – $17 million
4. Avatar - $16 million
5. The Wolfman – $13 million


Well, that will do it for me for another week. Next week, I’ll close out February with four films of varying level of potential: Cop Out, a rote-looking police-slash-buddy-action-comedy starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan; The Crazies, a horror flick about a small town whose population is plague by insanity after their water supply becomes contaminated by a mysterious toxin; A Prophet, the highly-acclaimed French Best Foreign Picture nominee that has been drawing comparisons to The Godfather; and Prodigal Sons, a documentary about a filmmaker who returns to her small-town home after having gone sexual-reorientation surgery.

Later!



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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/19

Postby undeadmonkey » February 17th, 2010, 4:37 am

On one hand, i can see Shutter Island making about $100M, on the other hand i can see it totally flopping. Like you said, why was it released? Most of the time it's because there's something wrong with the movie but i guess we'll find out. I'm going to a screening thursday night. I'll let yall know how it turns out.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/19

Postby Buscemi » February 17th, 2010, 4:55 am

I see Shutter Island flopping due to overexposure. Some people are even convinced that the movie was already released a long time ago.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/19

Postby numbersix » February 17th, 2010, 6:15 am

I doubt there's a huge number of people that think Shutter Island was already out. In fact, I'm almost positive the film will open to $30mil. It has Leo as a draw, it has Scorsese (and I imagine anyone who enjoyed the Departed wil have an interest in seeing this), and it's opening alone, which usually only happens when rival studios know it's going to do well. Plus tracking has it from high 20's to mid 30's), and as Shryke pointed out, it's impressive early IMDB suggests word of mouth will benfit it.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/19

Postby undeadmonkey » February 17th, 2010, 1:32 pm

All the things you list are true, but Leo could only bring $39M in with Body of Lies. Also the trailer gives away the ending. Unless there is a double twist that the trailer isn't showing.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/19

Postby Geezer » February 17th, 2010, 5:26 pm

I still dont see how the trailer gives away the ending
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/19

Postby undeadmonkey » February 17th, 2010, 7:47 pm

I think it's really obvious, but maybe i'm wrong. hopefully i am wrong but whaat i get out of the trailer is that Leo's character is actually in the insane asylum and not actually investigating it
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/19

Postby Geezer » February 18th, 2010, 4:18 am

I don't get that at all... I think they are just showing flashes of what happens in his mind as he investigates there. If you are right, a lot of people are going to be pissed off
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/19

Postby becs » February 18th, 2010, 10:33 am

Yea, that would be a really crappy twist if that is the case. As much as I liked Stay, the twist was just so WTF, it cheapens the movie.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/19

Postby Shrykespeare » February 20th, 2010, 6:51 pm

Friday's Estimates:

Shutter Island - $14.1M
Valentine's Day - $5.7M
Percy Jackson - $4.0M
Avatar - $3.9M
Wolfman - $2.9M
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/19

Postby Shrykespeare » February 21st, 2010, 3:56 pm

Sunday's Estimates:

5 points - Shutter Island, $40.2M
4 points - Valentine's Day, $17.2M (down 70%)
3 points - Avatar, $16.1M
2 points - Percy Jackson, $15.3M
1 point - The Wolfman, $9.8M

PTA (Jan, Feb)

5 points - The Ghost Writer
4 points - Shutter Island
3 points - Valentine's Day
2 points - Percy Jackson
1 point - The Wolfman

PTA (Dec)

5 points - Shutter Island'
4 points - Avatar
3 points - The Last Station
2 points - Valentine's Day
1 point - Percy Jackson

So that is 44 Top 5 points, 42 PTA and $687 million for Avatar, if you're counting.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/19

Postby J.I. » February 22nd, 2010, 4:11 pm

And I thought The Dark Knightwas the ultimate FM pick.

Bad drops for all of last weekend's openers, but very good for Shutter Island. Should finish with Departed numbers.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/19

Postby Buscemi » February 23rd, 2010, 3:50 am

I can't see Shutter Island holding very well. General audience reaction seemed to be mixed at best.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/19

Postby numbersix » February 23rd, 2010, 5:55 am

While I would agree to a certain extent, there does seem to be a large amount of people who thoroughly enjoyed it as a popcorn flick, and its IMDB rating would (sort of) back that up. I think $100 mil is almost certain for Shutter.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/19

Postby Buscemi » February 23rd, 2010, 6:08 am

Now that you think about it, it should hit $100 million. However, I do expect a second weekend drop of over 50% in its second week (while still retaining the top spot due to new titles that won't set the box office alight).
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