The May 2010 Movie Preview

by Dave Thomas
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Scarlett Johansson, Iron Man II
Either I’m getting too old for this, or this is the least exciting launch to blockbuster season since, um, last year.
MAY 7
IRON MAN 2
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
He hates Iron Man, duh-de-duh-de-duh-duh, Mick-ey Rourke!
WILL IT SUCK?
Jon Favreau is back and is a known and welcome quantity as a director. Justin Theroux only has one other screenplay under his belt, but it’s Tropic Thunder so I’m satisfied. Whole cast (minus Terence Howard) is back plus Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Don Cheadle, and John Slattery.
Early buzz is mildly disappointed, but still happy.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Summer may blow its load early. Be surprised if anything actually beats this (Toy Story 3 or Twilight: Eclipse stand a chance). $444mil.
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BABIES
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Doc about four babies growing up in Namibia, Mongolia, Japan, and the US, respectively.
WILL IT SUCK?
Hard to get a read on this one since not much is known about the filmmakers. That having been said, if you like babies, you’ll get your fill. Cute trailer.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
I don’t know about releasing it wide, but this is certainly good counter-programming for Iron Man. $1mil.
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MOTHER AND CHILD
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Ensemble drama about several mothers/would-be mothers (Annette Bening, Naomi Watts, Kerry Washington).
WILL IT SUCK?


Early buzz is good. Writer/director Rodrigo Garcia’s (Nine Lives, Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her) best work, sez IMDb users. Also starring Samuel L. Jackson, David Morse, Tatyana Ali, S. Epatha Merkerson, Jimmy Smits, Cherry Jones, and Shareeka Epps.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Really? You’re going to release a movie called Mother and Child the same day as a movie called Babies. Actually, probably won’t matter. $1mil.
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CASINO JACK AND THE UNITED STATES OF MONEY
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) takes on Jack Abramoff. And Congress.
WILL IT SUCK?
This stars Paul Rudd as the voice of Michael Scanlon and Stanley Tucci as the voice of Jack Abramoff. I’m not sure what that means, but I want to find out. Early buzz is good, and Gibney knows his stuff.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Gibney’s good, but he’s not box office. $2mil.
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SOLITARY MAN
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Man (Michael Douglas) bangs his girlfriend’s (Mary Louise Parker) daughter while taking her to visit a college. Pretty much goes downhill for him from there.
WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is good. High praise for Douglas, who’s joined by Jesse Eisenberg, Danny Devito, Susan Sarandon, Jenna Fischer and Richard Schiff. Writer/Directors Brian Koppelman and David Levian wrote Rounders, Runaway Jury, and Ocean’s Thirteen (and co-wrote and directed Knockaround Guys, but the buzz is better than that).
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Indie Michael Douglas has not been a big draw so far. But at least they didn’t release last year, where they’d have to content with Single and Serious men as well. $2mil.
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MAY 14
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ROBIN HOOD
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe go all Gladiator on this shit.
WILL IT SUCK?
This is Ridley Scott we’re talking here, son. He rarely sucks. He does disappoint occasionally. Tell ya what. It’ll look great. Brian Helgeland as often as not is on targtet w/ his screenplays (Mystic River, LA Confidential). Although I have my doubts that there’s anything new to say about Robin Hood. And at least one early preview attendee was unimpressed.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Sandwiched between Iron Man 2 and Shrek Forever After is not a good place for even Russell Crowe to be. $82mil.
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LETTERS TO JULIET
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Amanda Seyfried tries to help Vanessa Redgrave find her long lost love.
WILL IT SUCK?
Director Gary Winick hasn’t exactly gotten back to his Tadpole roots yet, and this probably won’t help. Still, he’s working with a solid cast (Gael Garcia Bernal and Franco Nero are also up in here), and one of the writers did a bunch of Eerie, Pennsylvania eps and the other was one of the 50 or so writers on Flushed Away, so that’s something, right?
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Good blockbuster counterprogramming, but Just Wright had the same idea. $60mil.
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JUST WRIGHT
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Physcial therapist (Queen Latifah) falls for the basketball player (Common) she’s treating.
WILL IT SUCK?
From director Sanaa Hamri, whose Something New and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 are supposed to be halfway decent. From writer Michael Elliot, whose Brown Sugar is probably better than his Like Mike, but you can see his basketball pedigree.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
While targeting a slightly different demo than Juliet, still a lot of crossover. $38mil.
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MAY 21
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SHREK FOREVER AFTER
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
It’s a Wonderful Shrek
WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is split, with audiences more in love than critics. This is not surprising, as it comes from the director of Surviving Christmas and Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (and, to be fair, Sky High) and co-writers that span Date Night, Lost, and Shrek the Third. Keep an ear out for Jon Hamm and Jane Lynch.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
While Shrek the Third saw diminished returns, this one’s in 3D. $382mil.
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MACGRUBER
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Clearly an SNL skit that works best in 30 second installments should be a feature-length film. Any child knows this.
WILL IT SUCK?
Here’s the shocker. Early buzz is actually really good. Cast looks fun: Will Forte, Val Kilmer, Ryan Phillipe, Kristen Wiig, and Powers Boothe.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
I think it’s been long enough since we’ve had an SNL movie that this won’t necessarily suffer from that curse. Plus it’s a nice R-rated alternative to Shrek. $56mil.
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HOLY ROLLERS
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Jewish Orthodox drug dealers. True story.
WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is mixed. Nice to see Jesse Eisenberg working with Justin Bartha, tho. Q-Tip doesn’t hurt, either.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Fairly slim pickings in Inidieville. But not huge stars. $8mil.
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MAY 28
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PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Jake Gyllenhaal protects a time altering dagger from bad guys.
WILL IT SUCK?
Here’s the good news: They got director Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Donnie Brasco) on the case. Here’s where I lose wood: The writers penned The Uninvited and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. This might be an early bellweather for Sorcerer’s Apprentice because a lot of the same writers show up there, too. At least the original writer of the video game has a “screen story” credit, but the curse of all video game movies sucking is unlikely to end here.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Coming off the second frame of Shrek doesn’t help but nothing really facing it the following week. The bigger problem is that video game movies almost never make tentpole money. $86 mil. (which would make it the second most successful video game movie of all time, behind Lara Croft: Tomb Raider)
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SEX AND THE CITY 2 (MAY 27)
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
The city, in this case, is Abu Dhabi.
WILL IT SUCK?
Same team as last time, so no reason to expect anything terribly different. Joining the cast this time are Miley Cyrus, Penelope Cruz, and Liza Minelli, and look out for the return of John Corbett.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Killers is going to be a little bit of a challenge next week, but not much. $190mil.
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MICMACS
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Guy gets revenge against the men who put a bullet in his brain. Quirky, endearing revenge.
WILL IT SUCK?
It’s been five long years since Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s last writer/directorial effort, the amazing A Very Long Engagement, his follow up to the classic Amelie, so, yeah, I’ve been waiting for this one. Early buzz is solid. At SXSW, I heard it described lovingly as Jeunet does Ocean’s Eleven.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Jeunet’s films never make as much as they deserve. $7mil.
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GEORGE A. ROMERO’S SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
In Romero’s sixth installment in the undead saga, two families war over what should be done with all these damn zombies.
WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is mixed. The worst yet from Romero according to IMDb users.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Unlikely to fare much better than Diary of the Dead. In fact, I won’t be surprised if it makes far more in its month of VOD release in advance of theatrical. $1mil.
Next Month: Will Toy Story 3 help us forget about the DP violation of the 80’s that is A-Team and Karate Kid coming out on the same day one week before?

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