By Sarah Sluis
This week's new releases have set up shop in diagonal demographic quadrants: older men (Edge of Darkness) and younger women (When in Rome). Edge of Darkness has the best chance of unseating Avatar, which is still bringing in its millions at an impressive clip. A 20% drop for Avatar will still put the movie at $28 million for the weekend. Unless Edge of Darkness can divert a significant portion of the audience, Avatar will remain on top, though it's likely that Darkness will win Friday before dropping through the rest of the weekend, just like The Book of Eli two weeks ago.
A "well-made genre-blender by professionals who know how to coax tears, deliver thrills," according to our critic Rex Roberts, Edge of Darkness (3,066 theatres) offers a familiar filmgoing experience that will appeal to Mel Gibson fans in particular. The theme of a kidnapped daughter worked particularly well with Liam Neeson's Taken, which released exactly a year ago. Will Darkness be able to beat Taken's $24 million opening weekend?
Romantic comedy When in Rome (2,456) falls on the low end of the struggling genre. It will probably appeal most those teenage girls who haven't fully grasped the genre's conventions yet. In my review, I noted that its brisk pace keeps the audience from dwelling on the movie's considerable faults, "[whisking] us through the conventions of romantic comedies so quickly there's barely time to groan." The movie will probably open in the single digits or low teens and drop quickly out of the top ten (e.g. Leap Year).
On the specialty front, Saint John of Las Vegas will release in one theatre as part of a new strategy by distributor IndieVest. Wealthy people invest in the film with the side benefit of parties and Hollywood glamour. The movie raised over $10 million, more than it needed, so at least the investors will get some of their money back, given its 5% Rotten Tomatoes rating. That seems to nix its chance at being a cult favorite.
On Monday we'll see if Edge of Darkness was able to pull a coup on reigning champion Avatar, and if When in Rome and Saint John of Las Vegas were able to draw in audiences for their opening wekened.