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New in Theaters February 27: Focus, The Lazarus Effect

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By Chris Kavan - 02/26/15 at 06:43 AM CT

With Fifty Shades of Grey fading fast (at least domestically), it's going to take another movie to bring the box office on the upswing again. This week's best chance lies with a crime comedy featuring a dependable leading man and one of the hottest up-and-coming actresses. On the other hand there is the inevitable early-season horror film - which has worked in the past, but is a very uneven prospect at best. Likely, this weekend isn't going to feature too much spark - but we'll see if there's at least enough to at least make a worthy effort to equal last year when three films topped $20 million.

FOCUS When you pair Will Smith with Margot Robbie you hope good things are going to happen. While Smith has been on a bit of rocky run as of late (After Earth and Men in Black 3 were both disappointing), Robbie has proven her worth in a dynamite performance in Wolf of Wall Street. (as well as securing major roles in the upcoming Tarzan reboot and the super hero film Suicide Squad). Supporting cast here includes Rodrigo Santoro, BD Wong, Gerald McRaney and Robert Taylor. But the entire fate of this film is going to depend on whether there is good chemistry between Smith and Robbie. From the trailers, it looks like a pretty slick and sexy crime caper. If the actors can generate some heat - and the story doesn't fall apart - at least this has a pretty good chance of making some bank at the box office.

THE LAZARUS EFFECT On the other side of the spectrum, we get our first, real horror film of 2015 with The Lazarus Effect. As has become the norm, releasing horror films early is the new tradition. This one concerns a group of medical students who find their experiment to bring back the dead derailed by the administration, so they go rogue, leading to the death and rebirth of one of their own... and something else. The cast includes American Horror Story vet Evan Peters along with Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Sarah Bolger and Donald Glover. This looks like a pretty typical horror offering - probably mostly jump scares, one I would probably stream some night, but not one I would see in the theaters. That being said, horror fans are often a thirsty lot - and if they are suitably entranced, this could find its niche. Horror films also tend to have a much lower budget than other films, so it won't have to reach into the stratosphere to be successful.

I don't thing this is going to be the most exciting weekend on record, but we'll see if Focus and Lazarus can combine to make a bit of a spark and end February with at least a little bang.


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