Flee the box office! Four b-grade films premiering

It’s another week, another day to write a Weekend Preview column. Oh joy unbounded! So here’s the deal: we’ve got another week where four films are opening up at the box office. And they all look uninspired. (Did all the creative talent in Hollywood really make the jump to television?) Whatever. It’s still hot and muggy at TDIN headquarters where the Weekend staff works. I mean, having the entire nation acting as a giant sauna is nice in theory, but the novelty wears thin after a few hours.

So we do stocks first? Is that it? So wait a second… We do the business angle, which nobody cares about, first? And we bury entertainment at the end? It’s like a local newscast, making you wait a segment or two before you get the weather forecast (which is why most people watch anyways). Fine. We’ll be snotty like that. For now. Some stocks were up, some where down. That’s all you chose to get out of business stories anyways, isn’t it? Oh, you actually want substance? Fine. Apparently, this week the market is nervously trading in anticipation of more information from the Fed. Happy? HAPPY? (No, I haven’t taken my chill pill yet, thanks for asking!)

At the sound of the closing bell on Wednesday, here’s what the three major US markets looked like:
Dow Jones: 11,199.93
NASDAQ: 2,078.81
S&P 500: 1,278.55
(Note: The Weekend Recap maintains exclusive rights to the fancy graphics for the stock market. So we can’t use them during mid-week. There’s something about contracts and “not being able to find a loophole” and all of that.)

Movies! Alright. (We’re feeling less crabby now, thank you. We think the humidity dropped a bit. We estimate it’s now at a cool 179%.) This week, we’ve got a bit of something for everyone. We’ve got another family-friendly animated movie, keeping up our one-a-week quota. We’ve got a suspense/horror/slasher film, a dark drama, and a Will Ferrell comedy. Basically, Hollywood is saying that you have no excuse not to go to the movies this weekend. Except… let’s take a closer look at the movies, shall we?

Barnyard – Remember in Toy Story when the toys “came to life” whenever humans weren’t looking? Same principle, except with barnyard animals instead of action figures. And the cows can even stand on two legs! And have incredible brain power! And watch television! And, and… be cows…? So the plot of the film is that Otis, the practical joker, is being pushed to grow up and be more responsible. The responsible cow is taken out of the picture and Otis must lead the barn! But he doesn’t have leadership genes! HILARIOUS! And then the farmer finds out about the secret, coyotes plot to eat everyone… I bet you can guess the ending. For children who really enjoy fiction. Starring the voices of Kevin James, Courtney Cox Arquette, Danny Glover and the omnipresent Wanda Sykes.

The Descent – So the movie’s official description introduces the main characters as “six girlfriends”. Interpret that as you will. The description also points out that the movie is set “one year after a tragic accident,” which isn’t brought up again at all during the press release. Losers. So the leader of the pack has discovered the one unexplored cave in the Appalachians, which no hikers or nerds playing with Google Earth has ever found. And as such, nobody can rescue them from the creepy humanoid creatures living underneath the cave! This film is brought to you by some of the people who worked on the Saw movies and Hostel, so you know that when they die, it’s going to be gruesome. And gory. Very, very gory. Starring Shauna MacDonald (who?), Natalie Mendoza (who?), Alex Reid (who?), Saskia Mulder (who?), and Nora-Jane Noone (who?).

The Night Listener – So there’s this late-night radio show host called Gabriel Noone. He develops an “intense relationship” with a young listener named Pete and his adopted mother, just as his own domestic life is undergoing changes. The release tells us that “when a troubling question arises regarding the boy’s identity, it causes Gabriel’s ordered existence to spin wildly out of control as he sets out on a harrowing journey to find the truth.” Ah, but I know the twist! The young listener is an acclaimed writer who is dying of AIDS! Stars include Robin Williams, Toni Collette Sandra Oh, and Rory Culkin. Joe Morton also stars in this film.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Rick Bobby – Ricky Bobby is a NASCAR sensation who “wins at all costs”. He’s a national hero. He has loyal friends and family who encourage him onwards. But then a flamboyant French Formula One driver, Jean Girard, who “challenges him for the supremacy of NASCAR.” Being threatened, Ricky Bobby must face his own demons and fight for his place as racing’s top driver. Basically, it’s an excuse to do a “Will Ferrell comedy”, which, like an Adam Sandler film, you know exactly what you’re getting when you go into the theater. And it’s gift-wrapped with NASCAR, so people will flock to it! You studio executive geniuses you… Starring Will Ferrell, Sascha Baron Cohen, John C. Reilly, Michael Clarke Duncan and Amy Adams. (We checked… No Wanda Sykes in this film as far as we can tell.)

Predictions! We’re gonna have to make a graphic for this part of the column someday… We think that the most logical choice for the no.1 slot at the box office this weekend is Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. It’s got the broadest appeal of any of the films, plus, Will Ferrell can bring in the dough. But in this current economy, he won’t bring in alot. I think the film will get between $30 to $35 million. Nothing shabby, but nothing exceptional either.

The Descent will come in at second place with $20-25 million. Pirates 2 will come in a close third with $20-25 million. Miami Vice and John Tucker Must Die will come in fourth and fifth respectively, with $15-$20 million each. And the total box office income for the weekend? $108-112 million.

Folks, that’s it for this week. Hopefully, the heat index will be below 100 by the time we meet again this weekend! Until then, stay safe, dry and hydrated!

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