By Sarah Sluis
Even as the marathon Potter series reaches its penultimate installment, the movie is still a must-see ticket. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (4,125 theatres) boasts over 1,900 sellouts and a fifth-place spot among all advance ticket sales, according to Movietickets.com. Fans will be greeted with a dark, adult film and oh-so-slightly incomplete feeling. Hogwarts is absent from this film, though the architectural wizardry of the Ministry of Magic makes up for the change in setting. "The film's centerpiece, Harry, Ron and Hermione's daring raid on the Ministry...recalls an episode of Mission: Impossible, complete with the trio temporarily donning false faces," notes critic Ethan Alter, praising director David Yates' maturation into a "more confident director of action." Thursday midnight screenings could give the film some $30 million, with a $100 million plus weekend in the crystal ball. Like the opening weekend behemoth Twilight: New Moon, Harry Potter will benefit from all-digital multiplexes that can program the film in every theatre at midnight and give the movie lots of screens to meet demand. 239 IMAX screens will help boost ticket sales.
For adults in search of some non-wizard focused entertainment, The Next Three Days (2,564 theatres) sets it target on those who "favor twisty plotting over slam-bang action," according to critic Daniel Eagan. The action thriller has similarities to last year's hit Taken, with its family-oriented kidnapping/rescue plot. Liam Neeson, who starred in Taken, has a supporting role here as a kind of advisor to Russell Crowe's character, almost creating a sense of continuity from film to film. An older, more male audience, the exact opposite of the Harry Potter demographic, will ensure this movie won't have to compete with Potter-philes. Still, The Next Three Days has been pegged as a $10 million or so opener, with a chance that it will disappoint and open in the single digit millions.
The U.S.' Payroll Fairness Act may be caught in a Republican filibuster, but on the screen, a group of U.K.-based female autoworkers receive just such a right in Made in Dagenham (3 theatres). "Catching the ripples of optimism of Britain's swinging '60s, the film is intelligent and feel-good and should pull in the usual suspects," critic Doris Toumarkine predicts, comparing the movie to Norma Rae.
Also opening today is Heartless (1 theatre), an "ambitious horror-art movie hybrid," according to critic Maitland McDonagh. The movie centers on a mildly disfigured photographer who is convinced crime is being caused by "feral thugs" that are less than human. Director Philip Ridley's style "walks the line between campfire creep-out and cautionary fable," and "should appeal to horror buffs who prefer lingering unease to the gut-bruising sucker punch."
"[I]ntriguing but inconsistent, drifting back and forth between sequences of razor-sharp insight and slack, ponderous stretches," according to critic Jon Frosch, White Material (3 theatres) centers on a white French woman who refuses to leave her plantation home even as the African country she resides in falls into civil war.
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