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New in Theaters July 12: Pacific Rim, Grown Ups 2, Fruitvale Station

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By Chris Kavan - 07/11/13 at 04:23 PM CT

The Lone Ranger aside, last weekend provided some great fireworks at the box office. Things have been chugging along quite nicely this summer and this weekend brings out some big guns (and giant monsters) along with a safe comedy sequel and a limited release of a film that has been gaining major awards-season buzz. Will audiences go for a big budget action film or an all-star comedy sequel this weekend?

PACIFIC RIM Despite some recent negativity surrounding the box office potential of Guillermo Del Toro's giant robot vs. giant monster mega-action flick, I still see this as the movie with the most potential this summer. It isn't a sequel or based on any existing work (other than Del Toro gaining inspiration from early anime where robots fighting monsters is a staple). It takes a lot of balls to drop $180 million on a what amounts to a pet project. Yet I have faith that Del Toro will be able to balance what looks like amazing action with an actual story (something Transformers - a film this is being compared to - failed utterly at). Many are pointing the finger at having so many unfamiliar faces taking on some big roles (Rinko Kikuchi has plenty of credits - but unless you follow Japanese cinema, chances are you won't recognize her and Charlie Hunnam is more known for TV roles rather than major film appearances) but I want to be surprised. My hopes are high but even if it disappoints, I can't imagine it will fall into Battleship territory as many are already lamenting. Give it a chance - because if we abandon originality completely, all we'll have left are sequels and lukewarm adaptations.

GROWN UPS 2 The last time Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade came together, the result was a $162 million in the bank. Following this nice success, Sandler went on to some pretty dreadful projects, including Jack and Jill and That's My Boy. In fact, aside from the animated Hotel Transylvania, his choices have been pretty grim indeed. But this sequel has a legitimate shot as taking out Del Toro's massive film for through the sheer power of a built-in audience. This is a safe film - people you know, a story that will likely follow the first film and plenty of laughs. Granted, I though the first film was average at best and not all that impressive, but for some reason these guys draw people in. PG-13 means it's in the sweet spot for young adults (mostly men) and it's targeting pretty much the exact same audience as Pacific Rim. I don't want it to but comedy could very well triumph this weekend, especially if reviews for Pacific Rim go south. Because no matter how bad the reviews for Grown Ups 2 happen to be, it won't matter nearly as much.

FRUITVALE STATION Although it's only being released in a limited capacity this weekend, Fruitvale Station has been getting some major award buzz. The story is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, a young man who was gunned down by officers for seemingly no reason other than his looks and race. A lot of credit has been given to both the director Ryan Coogler and actor Michael B. Jordan (of Chronicle fame) for delivering a powerful story and a powerful performance to go along with it. This is a film that I really should see and, depending on how it rolls out, it will most likely show up locally. Other than The Butler, I can't think of another film that has garnered any kind of Oscar buzz - it's still early, so who knows what will happen, but this is a great film to keep an eye on.

It should be an interesting weekend. At this point, it's too early to tell which movie is going to wind up on top: big action or big comedy. I know I'm pulling for Del Toro but there is no guarantee Pacific Rim will pull out the win. I'll see you Sunday with the final numbers.


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