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New in Theaters Feb. 07: Monuments Men, The Lego Movie, Vampire Academy

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By Chris Kavan - 02/06/14 at 11:34 AM CT

We should finally have a new box office champion after a few weeks of lackluster entries. The new films run the gamut from family-friendly animation, to tween-age catty vamps to a discerning adult Nazi art-hunting caper. And, if I were a betting man, I would say that families always draw in the biggest numbers - but it should be a good weekend no matter what movie comes out on top.

THE MONUMENTS MEN The latest film from George Clooney has been stewing for awhile. Originally it was supposed to come out late last year until some additional editing pushed it back to 2014. While a February release is a little concerning for a film that I pegged as a potential Oscar candidate - I am still interested in this WWII drama. It is kind of like Oceans Eleven meets Saving Private Ryan - with a cast that includes Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin and Hugh Bonneville. Essentially it takes an actual event - historians, curators, architects, sculptors - and the like - who were sent on a missions to retrieve art the Nazis had stolen (and were in danger of being destroyed). While names and events are likely to be changed, Clooney has a good grasp on how things work. Although early reports have the movie shifting tones abruptly (going from good-natured caper to super dramatic) and not enough character development - considering what else 2014 has given us, this looks like the most interesting film of the year. It may not be the number one movie over the weekend, but it's certainly the only one I'm looking forward to watching.


THE LEGO MOVIE When I saw the first trailer for this all I could think of was how frantic everything seemed - like they were trying to throw everything at you all at once (Batman! Car Chases! Morgan Freeman!). But - here's the thing - there has been a huge Lego revival - video games, home videos and more mini-figs than you could ever imagine - and the popularity is off the charts. How popular? Well, after early rave reviews, A Lego Movie sequel has already been greenlit by Warner Bros. And why not? Look at the talent involved in this movie: Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Jonah Hill, Will Forte, Liam Neeson, Cobie Smulders, Channing Tatum, Alison Brie and Jake Johnson - are among the many people who lent their voices to various characters ranging from superheros (Batman, Superman and the like) to historic figures (Abraham Lincoln and Shakespeare both show up) to other pop culture icons (Gandalf, Han Solo, C-3PO and Lando all show up as well). This seems like a terrifying amalgamation - but early reports are this is going to open pretty big over the weekend. And I can't say I'm at least a bit interested to see how it turns out.


VAMPIRE ACADEMY Finally we have yet another film that features vampires aimed at the teenage crowd. The story concerns a half-human/half-vampire dhampir going to an academy that essentially teachers them how to protect the Moroi (vampires who live in peace with humans) and hunt down the Strigoi (blood-sucking murderers). Our main character, Rose Hathaway also has an unbreakable bond with Moroi princess Vasilisa Dragomir - and, of course, something terrible happens and the two suddenly find themselves on the run. I have a feeling this is going to run into the same problem as Beautiful Creatures and Mortal Instruments - it's going to bring in the hardcore fans of the series (which is not overly-popular to begin with) but fail to draw in a general audience. It doesn't help that director Mark Waters and many of the lead actors are relative unknowns. It's also no screening early for critics - which is never a good sign of faith on the part of the studio. This all adds up to a movie that will be lucky to hit $10 million on opening weekend.


After some quiet weeks, it looks like we should finally have some exciting new blood at the box office. But just how exciting remains to be seen - I'll be back on Sunday with the full report.

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