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New in Theaters September 21: The Master, Dredd, Trouble with the Curve, End of Watch and More

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By Chris Kavan - 09/20/12 at 04:13 PM CT

Wow - so many movies coming out this weekend, I couldn't even fit them all in the headline! Yet, after weeks of disappointing, low returns, will Hollywood finally be able to celebrate? The good thing about this week is that you have a lot to choose from: brooding drama, horror, sports, action meets found footage and a reboot to boot. Yet that also means that amidst this veritable avalanche of releases, you're going to have winners and losers. With audiences being fickle this fall, I'm predicting mostly losers despite the variety of movies coming out.

DREDD Ah, yes, I'll lead off with yet another ill-fated reboot. While the original Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone is not known a great piece of cinema, from what I've see of this remake with Karl Urban under the helmet, I can't imagine this is going to do much better. It looks like all action without much substance. While that may please a certain demographic, I don't think it's going to be a big enough draw. Considering the competition, a top five showing may have to be good enough. But, hey, at least he keeps his freakin' helmet on in this one.

END OF WATCH Most found footage movies have pretty much had some element of horror to back them up. End of Watch, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peņa takes a different approach. Using some Cops-like camera (dash cams, hand-held action, etc) combined with traditional filming - this looks like a typical action/crime type of movie but where you're much closer to the action. Throwing in the whole cartel drug angle is a novel (and relevant) bit of crafting. However, it all does feel a little gimmicky - to me this may warrant a rental in the future but it doesn't interest me enough to take the theatrical plunge. I think the success or failure of this film rests on whether the actors and story can draw in a broad audience.

TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE After giving an, uh, interesting and widely-panned speech at the Republican National Convention, hopefully Clint Eastwood can somewhat redeem himself in Robert Lorenz's Trouble with the Curve. For once, he's not in the director's chair, but he still appears to be playing that kind of crotchety old man that reared his head in Gran Torino. Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake are along for this ride but as much as I have faith this will be a decent drama, it also doesn't look terribly exciting. This will definitely draw an older audience but the problem is, older audiences just don't go to the movies as much as younger people, so it's also going to have a limited audience. Once again, a top five finish is about as good as this movie is going to hope for.

HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET She's played a mutant, a redneck and an bow-wielding badass, but can Jennifer Lawrence bring that same appeal to horror? House at the End of the Street seems like a standard horror setup - mom (Elizabeth Shue) and daughter (Lawrence) move into new house they got an amazing deal on only to learn why it was so cheap: oh, just the murdered family and the crazy daughter who did it... who may or may not be still living in the woods planning even more fun. Max Thieriot plays the bad-influence boy-next-door. While on the surface this appears to be just another generic horror film, Lawrence has impressed me with the projects she's chosen. If she can bring the same kind of passion and acting chops I've seen before, I have a feeling this will turn out to be a better-than-average horror film, even if it doesn't seem that way on the surface.

Two other films to keep an eye on this weekend: Paul Thomas Anderson has a certified limited-release hit with The Master. Now that it's expanding this weekend to a nationwide audience, we'll see if it can attract as much of a broad crowd as it did a limited one. I have a feeling this is going to be an Oscar contender, so if it makes it's way to me, I'll make time for it. Still, drama-heavy films like this tend to draw less of an audience than louder, action-oriented films, but maybe the buzz will mean a bigger boost. Speaking of limited releases, the best bet this week has to be on the teen drama, The Perks of Being a Wallflower that has been drawing some good reviews from the young cast, including a post-Potter Emma Watson, but also Ezra Miller and Logan Lerman. While the trailers have left me wanting a bit less angst - this knows its audience and should play well with them.

There's a lot to choose from this weekend - but so much competition means a divided box office. It's hard to say who the champ is going to be - but I guarantee it will be one of these new movies. But it's wide open - I can see any of these movies opening in the top spot... or opening outside the top 10 entirely. It all depends on who decides to brave the fall doldrums and actually go to the movies again. Stay tuned Sunday to see if we can finally have a decent weekend again.


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