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New in Theaters February 05: Hail, Caesar!, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Choice

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By Chris Kavan - 02/04/16 at 06:44 AM CT

With Kung Fu Panda 3 wracking up a record animated opening, January ended on a high note - especially after an East Coast blizzard made the previous week a bust. Now we enter February with a hopeful continuation of some decent box office returns. Leading the charge, the Coen Brothers channel the golden age of Hollywood in a comedic crime, we have zombie invading Jane Austen's seminal novel and yet another Nicholas Sparks adaptation. Will any be able to dethrone the current champ? And how will the stalwart Revenant and Star Wars do in the face of new competition? It should be an interesting weekend.

HAIL, CAESAR! The Coen Brothers (that is, Joel and Ethan) can do gritty crime as well as screwball comedy. From Blood Simple to the Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men to Fargo - they have a knack for being serious and seriously funny. Not every film is a home run (The Ladykillers anyone?) but, for the most part, they are often successful in their endeavors. From what I have seen thus far in Hail, Caesar!, I'm impressed. A great cast - Josh Brolin, Geroge Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Frances McDormand and David Krumholtz just to name a few - and a setting that perfectly captures the spirit of old Hollywood. I think the combination looks like a winner to me and it's probably the first film of the year I'm anticipating (with, surprisingly, Deadpool a close second). I hope it lives up to the trailers.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES Because the zombie genre hasn't quite run its course yet, of course we're getting Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The book was written in 2009 by Seth Grahame-Smith (when the zombie craze was really in full swing) and thus the adaptation wasn't far behind. This is the same author who gifted us with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I kind of think the movie missed the boat a bit, but we'll see if audiences are eager for high drama and romance mixed with, well, zombies. I have a feeling it's probably going to wind up as mediocre in terms of box office, but I also have a feeling I'll check this out once I can stream it - if only because I'm still a sucker for all things zombie-related, good or bad. Lily James, Bella Heathcote, Charles Dance, Sam Riley, Lena Headey, Ellie Bamber and Matt Smith all star - so at least the film has some pedigree (not to mention a few Game of Thrones veterans). If nothing else, the casting looks solid. We'll see if that's enough to break into the top five or not.

THE CHOICE That leaves us with The Choice, the next in a long line of Nicholas Sparks adaptations to hit the big screen. These films have a built-in audience that supports the always too-sweet-for-my-tastes romance drama. In this case Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer play neighbors in a small coastal town whose relationship is tested by life's most challenging events. Of course, the two don't immediately hit it off - but eventually come together - co-stars Maggie Grace, Alexandra Daddario, Tom Wilkinson, Tom Welling and Jesse C. Boyd. This is probably the best counter-programming move with the Super Bowl this weekend, but I don't know if that will be enough to the film to break out. Granted, after 11 adaptations, studios must have trust in Sparks, we'll see how The Choice winds up compared to the previous films.

That's all for the weekend. If you're not planning on watching the big game, I'm guessing one of these three might be right up your alley. I'll be back on Sunday (after the game, of course) with the final results.


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