By Chris Kavan - 08/08/13 at 06:53 AM CT
Last week was another "up" week for the box office, but it was also one of the slowest weeks so far. This week should hopefully provide a few more sparks as two family titles, a comedy and a sci-fi film with a message all square off. That makes for a pretty crowded weekend, but with each film aiming for a different audience, there should hopefully be something for everyone out there. I know what I have my sights set on, anyway.ELYSIUM
When Neill Blomkamp showed up on scene in 2009, he gave us District 9 - a smart sci-fi film that combined action, character and a message (as the film followed the apartheid system in South Africa with aliens instead of African Americans). Elysium looks to be a worthy followup in that once again it is a smart sci-fi film that has a message. In this case is is the 1% who are given everything they need (including medical care that essentially results in eternal life) aboard a floating space station while the rest of the dregs have to contest with a vastly overpopulated and polluted Earth. When Matt Damon's character is exposed to a dose of radiation that will kill him in five days, he decides to crash the party by getting on that station by any means necessary. Strap on that exoskeleton and go to work, my young man! This movie has had me excited for awhile. Given the letdown of Pacific Rim - this could very well be one of the top films of the year for me. Considering how outrageous budgets have got this year, the $100 million price tag seems almost quaint. We'll have to see whether this film has appeal outside the sci-fi crowd, but I'm looking forward to this one for sure.
WE'RE THE MILLERS
This film has already opened (taking in $1.7 in late Tuesday showings) so it's not exactly a "new" film this weekend - but the marketing has been ramping up considerably for this R-rated comedy. The Millers are a fake family, created in order to smuggle drug across the border. Too bad that stash turns out to be much bigger than anticipated. You have Jason Sudeikis playing the drug smuggler/dad, Jennifer Aniston as the stripper/mom, Emma Roberts as a runaway/daughter and Will Poulter as the only innocent playing the son. Ed Helms stops by as the kingpin (who has a whale he's so rich) so the cast is shaping up nicely. From what I've seen, it looks like quite a bit of fun. I don't usually go for comedies in the theaters, but this has potential to open up pretty big. There hasn't been much in the way of comedy - The Heat was the last big hit - and this is going after adults more so than teens. Beside any movie where Aniston puts on a strip show can't be bad at all, right?
A spin-off set in the same universe as Pixar's Cars franchise, Planes obviously takes to the air instead of the roads. This was originally supposed to be a direct-to-video title, but apparently there was enough interest to push this into theaters. Considering the crowded family market right now, they may regret that decision. I always considered Cars one of the weakest entries into Pixar's library (I haven't even seen Cars 2, nor do I really want to) but I have a feeling this is going to be even worse. Even the vocal talent looks weak - when your headliner is Dane Cook... well, let's just say there might be trouble ahead. But who knows - kids always want something new, so it may do well, but I have a pretty good feeling it's going to do middling business at best.
PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS
I remember the original Percy Jackson as one of a string of serviceable, if not memorable, teen-centric fantasy film released in a chunk. I did like how they updated some of the mythology into modern times, but nothing set it apart and it pretty much rests in my mind as completely average. That's why I was surprised when they announced a sequel. Luckily, the main cast is back - including Logan Lerman (who was excellent in Perks of Being a Wallflower). Still, the book series is popular, so why not go ahead with another film? At a PG rating, it will attract a slightly older audience than Planes, but the competition is going to be fierce. This is one I would probably rent some time, but I have a feeling it will find limited success at the box office.
A busy weekend is ahead and it will be interesting to see what tastes audiences have in mind as the summer winds down and school threatens to ensnare the younger audience once more. I'll be back here Sunday with the finally results.