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New in Theaters January 30: Project Almanac, Black or White, The Loft

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By Chris Kavan - 01/29/15 at 06:37 AM CT

After two monster weekends atop the box office, American Sniper shows little signs of slowing down - and will soon eclipse Saving Private Ryan as the top-grossing war movie of all time. Once again, it will be joined by three new wide releases this weekend - a found-footage time travel film with shades of Chronicles, a thriller revolving around five guys and one body and finally a heart-warming family drama. We'll see if any of these films fare better than last week's new releases, two of which completely bombed.

PROJECT ALMANAC I get a very Chronicle feel from the trailers for the young adult time travel tale. You have a group of late-stage teens finding an incredible power (time travel instead of super powers), use it to do stupid things (win the lottery, go to spring break), realize too late this power is going to their head without thinking about the consequences (plane crash, disappearing friends) and have to figure out some way to fix things. It's like a mashup of Chronicle and The Butterfly Effect - both OK films - but nothing I was blown away by - and Project Almanac looks to follow that trend - interesting concept, but nothing that looks earth-shattering. If it can bring in that younger crowd, it could do well - but considering it was originally supposed to be released last year, it doesn't inspire the most confidence. That being said, it also doesn't have any direct competition for its target audience, so it might score well.

THE LOFT Despite having an impressive cast: Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller and Eric Stonestreet amongst others - the marketing push for The Loft has been on the light side. It revolves around five men who share a secret apartment where they can each have their dalliances - but things take a drastic turn when a woman is found dead and each man begins to suspect the other of the murder. It sounds intriguing, but everything I've seen also makes it look like a pretty by-the-numbers thriller. Being a bit generic is going to hurt its chances at drawing anything more than a meager audience and I suspect this is going to open to mediocre numbers at best. Another one best suited for home viewing in my opinion.

BLACK OR WHITE Another film I feel that is flying a bit under the radar is this family drama. Kevin Costner plays a widower trying to get custody of his granddaughter (Jillian Estell). Even though he is wealthy, he is also a bit isolated and out of touch - but he has plenty of love. On the other end of the spectrum is her paternal grandmother (Octavia Spencer) - the definition of sassy - who has a large family in a poorer neighborhood but who none-the-less thinks she can provide a better home for the girl. Of course I'm sure race comes into play - and economic equality - tolerance and love and looking at things from a different perspective - and everyone learns a powerful lesson and lives happily ever after, the end. It's going to be chock full of sentimental drivel and I'm already gagging from the sickly sweet nature of it. Families can take this, but they're better off seeing Paddington.

So another crop of films of varying natures will all try for that top spot, but odds are American Sniper will once again claim the box office crown. The newcomers don't look to me like any of them are terribly exciting, but maybe there will be a breakout here, but my gut tells me "probably not".


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