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New in Theaters January 29: The Finest Hours, Fifty Shades of Black, Kung Fu Panda 3

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By Chris Kavan - 01/28/16 at 06:42 AM CT

Now that we can all breath a sign of relief that we can't blame low box office results on a major winter storm, let's see if The Revenant can continue its winning streak. This week it faces competition in the form of a comedy spoof (of a movie that was already hilariously bad to begin with), an animated sequel and a gripping rescue drama taking place during a brutal storm off Cape Cod. I think this grouping has a better chance of unseating the current Oscar-worthy champ, but we'll see of Leonardo DiCaprio and co. handle the newcomers.

THE FINEST HOURS People love a good, thrilling rescue - and moreso when it's based on real events. Taking place in 1952 off the coast of Cape Cod, a group of men with the Coast Guard are sent out during a brutal storm to rescue survivors when two tankers collide. Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Eric Bana, Kyle Gallner and Holliday Grainger lead the cast. While I don't think the marketing push on this has been as good as it could have been, the film is being released by Disney (while Star Wars: The Force Awakens still has a solid grip at the box office) and thus maybe they scaled back a bit to not harm their cash cow. We'll see - but it is taking a bit of the bite out fhe IMAX screens and we'll see how that affects the bottom line. The film certainly looks gripping and we'll see if audiences are ready to give another dramatic movie a chance.

FIFTY SHADES OF BLACK On the other hand, we have Fifty Shades of Black - the Marlon Wayans/Kali Hawk pairing that will trope the hell out of Fifty Shades of Grey. Not that the film needs it - Grey is essentially a comedy already, right? Anyway, I've seen this advertised all over the place and I'm guessing it's going after the same audience as Ride Along 2. Nothing wrong with that and, I do admit, I have rather enjoyed the sophomoric humor of the Scary Movie and more recently the Haunted House films - stupid, yes, but enjoyable none-the-less. This kind of lowbrow humor is sometimes exactly what the doctor ordered. Theater worthy? Maybe not, but we'll see what audiences think. Co-stars Fred Willard, Mike Epps, Affion Crockett, Jane Seymour and even Florence Henderson. Should be interesting if nothing else.

KUNG FU PANDA 3 That leaves us with Kung Fu Panda 3. The first film brought in over $215 million while the sequel was down, but still had a hefty $165.2 million draw. So where does that leave this third film? By the law of diminishing returns, it will probably gross less than the either of the other two films, but animated films (especially with no competition around) also tend to do better than expected. I'm guessing at least $150 million and, depending on how desperate parents are, it could wind up higher than the second film. Once again Jack Black voices the martial arts expert Po and most of the original cast is returning as well: Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Dustin Hoffman and James Hong all return to their respective characters. Joining the cast is Bryan Cranston, J.K. Simmons (voicing the big bad, Kai) and Kate Hudson. The story is twofold - Po is reunited with his family when his long-lost father shows up unexpectedly and takes him back home for a panda reunion; meanwhile a supernatural foe appears and begins methodically taking down each kung fu master. Po has no choice but to teach his clan the art of kung fu - no matter how dire that seems. The first two films were OK, but Kung Fu Panda is the comfort food of animation - good but empty.

The weekend has enough big, new films that The Revenant should give up its crown. Still, we'll see which film is the one that connects most with audiences to do so.


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