By Sarah Sluis
While almost everyone in the industry thinks Funny People (3,008 screens) will be able to grab the number one spot this weekend, its exact gross is more uncertain, with estimates ranging from $20 to $30 million. The film itself is similarly ambiguous, uneven and not immediately satisfying. It's the kind of movie you keep on thinking about after the lights go up. While I liked it far less than The 40-Year-Old Virgin or Knocked Up, it's a film I would want to revisit a few more Judd Apatow pictures down the line. Since Universal announced today that it signed a three-picture deal with Apatow, including an option for him to make films outside the studio, it looks as though the writer-director will have several more chances to add to his body of work. FJI's Executive Editor Kevin Lally called the death-centered comedy Apatow's "most ambitious film, which is both a good and bad thing for the audience. Good, because he's not playing it safe and repeating himself; bad, because the movie falls short of fulfilling its risky ambitions." I suspect this movie will underperform, but its risk-taking increases my respect for Apatow as a director.
Going to battle against the numerous kid films in release, Aliens in the Attic will open in 3,106 theatres. It's expected to perform below Harry Potter 6 and G-Force, making it a likely candidate for the number four spot. With its horror-lite tone and High School Musical star Ashley Tisdale, the movie is likely to do best among young boys.
Horror film The Collector will scare audiences in 1,325 theatres. While the movie wasn't screened for critics, its trailer has rather striking visuals, and the tale comes from the writers of the Saw sequels. The premise is intriguingly moralistic: a thief breaks into a house, only to discover that the family has been held captive by something or someone far more sinister--and he helps save the family he intended to rob.
On the specialty front, documentary The Cove opens in 4 theatres. The filmmaking activists pursue their goal--to record the inhumane slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan--Ocean's Eleven style, adding suspense and allowing the audience to viacriously join the crusade. Vampire film Thirst opens on 4 screens. I adored the "cinematic maelstrom of bloodlust and sensual obsession projected through Park Chan-wook's runaway imagination," but its graphic, depraved representation can be difficult to watch and is certainly not for everyone. Adam, a "sensitive but not sentimental" romance in which one party has Asperger's, opened Wednesday on 4 screens, and Lorna's Silence, a Danish film from the award-wnning Dardennes Brothers about the relationship between a drug addict and the woman who married him for immigration reasons, will appear on 6 screens in New York and L.A. For family audiences and those seeking specialty fare (I would almost count Funny People in that category), it's another jam-packed summer weekend.