By Sarah Sluis
This weekend at the box office should be close, with four films settling around the $10 million mark: Lion King 3D, the second week of Contagion, Drive, and Straw Dogs.
Lion King 3D (2,330 theatres) will take advantage of the lack of fresh family titles. Currently, no G or PG-rated movies are in the top ten, making this a prime time for an animated re-release. Some of the younger parents may have seen the movie as kids themselves in 1994, giving them the chance to reintroduce their little ones to a beloved childhood classic. Because of the high price point of 3D, Disney will actually release the movie in both 2D and 3D. The 2009 re-release of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 grossed $12 million its opening weekend, so Lion King 3D hopes to achieve a similar number.
Drive and Straw Dogs will both be competing for the same audiences, mainly young males. Critically, though, Drive (2,886 theatres) is the clear winner. The "coolly beautiful action thriller," according to critic Maitland McDonagh, is "a glittering toy designed to delight a particular kind of movie lover," one who will take pleasure in the "bleakly funny deconstruction of genre movie clichs." Ryan Gosling stars as a stunt car operator who moonlights as a getaway car driver. Carey Mulligan and "Mad Men's" Christina Hendricks add female star power. The movie's worth seeing just for its opening chase scene, which is so powerfully slick it will keep your adrenaline running through the rest of the film.
Straw Dogs (2,408 theatres), on the other hand, is a remake that pales in comparison to the 1971 Sam Peckinpah actioner. Its mediocrity is "a liability that increases exponentially with the quality of the original," according to McDonagh. The violent movie remains "faithful to its underlying notion that civilization is a thin veneer laid over animal instincts," but McDonagh feels this message doesn't have the same cultural resonance it did in the Vietnam era.
Sarah Jessica Parker plays an overcommitted working mom in I Don't Know How She Does It (2,476 theatres), with barely enough time to do anything, much less see a movie. However, those moms will be the prime audience for the comedy this weekend, which is expected to do in the $6-8 million range. Because of the overbooked target viewers, this movie should see more traction in weeks to come if it has positive word-of-mouth, and should be especially popular once it hits the home entertainment market.
On Monday, we'll see if Drive's 95% positive approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes allows it to race ahead of Contagion or Lion King 3D.