This weekend’s movies were “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “Flight of the Phoenix,” and “Spanglish.” Of the three, I predict that “Events” will be the big winner, as (like Harry Potter) it is based on a very popular series of books and thus has a large, built-in audience. Curiousity value alone will probably make it a big hit, and Jim Carrey seems to do well with big holiday movies (like The Grinch). While the trailer is quite handsome in spots (it helps to use Edward Scissorhands’ music), there are hints that Carrey is unrestrained (“ulllllltimate dad”) and that the rest of the cast isn’t going to fight him (“We’re very concerned,” said very understated. Way too understated, if you ask me). I’ve heard a couple of the books on tape, and they’re very much enseamble pieces, not only with the Beaudelaire children each contributing to solving the current dilemma, but with a shifting web of Count Olaf’s associates. If the film is too much of a Carrey vehicle, then it may rise or fall with his fortunes. It could be the start of a big film series, like Harry Potter, or it could end up diminishing the whole series.
(Incidently, doesn’t it seem as if the Harry Potter films have had the effect of dampening Potter-mania? I thought the first film was wonderful, the second was more of the same, and I haven’t been moved to seek out the third. But the media frenzy seems to have completely subsided. I hope that the books are still finding their audience. Remember when the release of a Potter book was a big event?)
“Phoenix” I think will do well because, like “National Treasure,” it had its trailer in the theatres for quite some time (since the summer, at least) and was able to build interest without being obnoxious about it. You’re there to see another movie, “Phoenix”‘s trailer pops up, you think “Hmm” and, if well done, the trailer remains bubbling just below consciousness. The trailer was pretty well done, promising a desperate action picture with a few showcase scenes. There was nothing in the trailer that made me really want to see it, but I felt the same way about National Treasure and it did quite well for itself. It will be interesting to see what happens.
“Spanglish” is Adam Sandler, who has managed to retain his popularity for some time, after his contemporaries are all slugging it out in DTV land. It will probably do well, though his last few films haven’t really opened against strong competition. He (or his studio) seem quite smart about picking weekends when nothing else is really happening (50 First Dates opened in February, Anger Management in April). The movie is directed by James L. Brooks, who tends to make things that have some staying power. I’m thinking third place, though the holidays may give a big boost to something holiday-themed, like The Polar Express or Christmas with the Kranks.
Oh, there’s also a fourth movie. “The Aviator” is also opening, a Martin Scorsese film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Personally, I think the day is done for both men, but if the film opens in just a few theatres, and it is actually good, it could have enough staying power to generate some business.
None of the four movies had a clutch of really stellar reviews, but then film critics are usually pretty cranky this time of year.