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New in Theaters August 21: Sinister 2, Hitman: Agent 47, American Ultra

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By Chris Kavan - 08/20/15 at 06:40 AM CT

So close to the end of August - it turns out I was wrong to assume nothing this month would match up to the fantastic August of last year. Because of Straight Outta Compton (which had an even bigger weekend than first reported - $60.2 million total - and also making it the 5th best August opening on record) last week was actually up over 6% compared to last year. I have a feeling Straight Outta Compton will continue to be the big story as this week's lineup - including a horror sequel, video-game-based action and a stoner/secret identity comedy, aren't likely to unseat the runaway biopic from the top spot.

SINISTER 2 The original Sinister took me by surprise in just how creepy it turned out. From the opening shot of a family getting hung in a tree (and all those creepy videos) it was very effective. It helped that the under-appreciated Ethan Hawke was on hand with James Ransone, Juliet Rylance and a young Clare Foley supporting nicely. I wasn't so sure about the whole bagul demon angle but it seems the sequel is running with it. Ransone is the only original cast member to return (of course, seeing as how the film ended - that's to be expected) and a new family (led the mother played by Shannyn Sossamon) is facing the terror of the kidnapping (and family-murdering) demon. She has two sons (twins played by Dartanian and Robert Daniel Sloan), one, of course, becomes ensnared in the demon's machinations. The reason Sinister worked so well is because you weren't sure where it was going - but now that you know the "secret" so to speak, I don't see how this sequel is going to be anywhere near as good. Still, late-season horror can surprise and with it being the only game in town, it should have the run of things. Even if it can't match the original, I'm guessing the horror film still has a modest budget so even a modest return should be good enough for it to make it to the black (and authorize a third entry into the series, should they so desire).

HITMAN: AGENT 47 So many attempts have been made to successfully adapt video games onto the big screen. For every minor success, there are ten more that scrape the bottom of the barrel - either outright disappointments or a travesty to the source material (or both). We have already had a Hitman film (the 2007 effort with Timothy Olyphant) and it grossed less than $40 million in the U.S. - less than $100 million worldwide. That doesn't bode well for the chances of Hitman: Agent 47. This time Rupert Friend takes on the role of the numbered assassin - he is joined by Ciarán Hinds, Thomas Kretschmann, Jürgen Prochnow, Hannah Ware and Chinese star Angelababy. They really haven't been pushing this film much and I don't expect it to rise above the mid-range for action films. If it makes more than the original HItman, I would consider that a success - but I have I feeling even that result isn't in the bag.

AMERICAN ULTRA Finally we have a comedy that fits right in with these high times of the slow rollout of marijuana legalization. Not since Pineapple Express have stoners and action gone hand-in-hand quite as well as in American Ultra. The perfectly-cast, laid-back Jesse Eisenberg plays a small-town stoner - one who just also happens to be government agent. His partner-in crime is the always stoned-looking (sorry, couldn't resist) Kristen Stewart but their good times are about to get their buzz suitably harshed when the government decides our little stoner boy needs to be eighty-sixed and fast. Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman and Tony Hale round out the cast as the highly-trained government agents (and what not) fail mightily in their task as being high does not, apparently, impede your ability to kick ass. This is the kind of movie I watch on Netflix late some night when I need a good laugh. It looks dumb as all get out but I bet it's a lot of fun. This could go either way - it could open big or it could be forgotten before it has a chance to find an audience. The cast looks pretty good, so I'm going to lean towards minor hit.

The weekend certainly has a great mix - horror, action, comedy - but I don't think any of the three new films will resonate as well as Straight Outta Compton - which should be the top film for the second weekend in a row. I'll see you on Sunday with the final results.


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