The Reject ReportWe’ve got a message. For Arizona! Machete has arrived, and he’s brought his sharp, little buddies with him. For over two years now, fans of Grindhouse have been clamoring for a full length version of Robert Rodriguez’s Machete. Now, they’ve got it, and, more than likely, it will wind up on top of the box office this weekend. It will have some stiff competition, though, as also in wide release are Going the Distance and The American, the newest vehicle for a man who has Rodriguez partially to thank for his film success. It’s gonna be a barn burner. So let’s sit back, crack open a bottle of Dos Equis, and see how the weekend is shaping up.

BIG HITTERS

Finally, Danny Trejo gets his name above the title. Theatrically, that is. And, for the actor’s first starring role, he’s looking to come out smelling like a rose. While the opening might not be as proportionally big as that tattoo on his chest, Machete does look to have the same, respectable opening we’ve seen from most of Rodriguez’s projects. Looking at his R-rated actioners (yes, we’re including Predators in this analysis), it feels confident to put Machete somewhere in the $16-20-million range. With a grand cast worthy of appearing in a Rodriguez film, the higher end of that range seems to be solidified.

Luckily, the same issues that hampered Grindhouse‘s opening won’t befall Machete. For one, it’s only one film instead of two, so movie goers won’t feel the weight of four hours at the theater. Another reason is in the way 20th Century Fox is promoting the film. They are utilizing the frayed and yellowed edges of the grind house experience, but it’s not overpowering. The straight action selling point is coming through much louder and much clearer. A hurdle Machete may have to deal with, though, is that it is opening on 2500 screens, over 200 screens less than The American and over 500 screens less than Going the Distance. We have faith Machete‘s aim will be exacto.

If you’re not completely sold on the idea of Machete just yet, just take a gander at the message Danny Trejo has for you right here:

Someone not involved with Machete but who has a history with Rodriguez is George Clooney. While The American is anything but a wall-to-wall action epic, that’s sort of the way Focus Features is selling it. Rightfully so, if they want to pull in any major numbers. Clooney, despite his success and the sexiest man alive moniker, isn’t one to open movies on his own. He’s only ever had five films open at more than $20 million. Three of them were the films of the Ocean’s Eleven series. The other two were tent pole Summer movies with somewhat stacked casts, Batman and Robin and A Perfect Storm. It’s not that his movies are failures.

For the most part, they are all modestly prices. Even The Men Who Stare at Goats, a film with a nice cast, only cost $25 million and easily made its money back in domestic box office. However, this means his movies are never glowing supernovas in the galaxy of the box office. With Clooney and the way Focus is selling the film, really the only two anchors pulling in the money, The American will be lucky to get much higher than $15 million. But don’t worry about Clooney. Something tells me he’ll be just fine.

Watch Clooney look earnest. Watch him wield a sniper rifle. Watch him be The American for the trailer to the film right here:

The widest release this weekend could very well end up being the lowest grossing of the newbies. Going the Distance does star Drew Barrymore. It is opening on more than 3000 screens. However, it’s not getting the buzz you might expect from it. The R rating isn’t helping its case any, either. In fact, Barrymore hasn’t had an R-rated film open higher than $7 million. While Going the Distance will surely be #1 in that dual category, it’s not going to turn in the kind of numbers a Drew Barrymore romantic comedy might project otherwise. And, I’m sorry. You love Justin Long. I love Justin Long. But Justin Long is anything but tried and true.

Nonetheless, the movie is very funny, and this trailer shows just a hint of the comedy you might expect from Going the Distance:

FAMILIARITIES

The tossup between Takers and The Last Exorcism will be seen again this weekend, but, instead of fighting over the #1 spot, they’ll both be dueling for #4. Good word of mouth dictates The Last Exorcism will edge out and have a much smaller drop off. However, you can never underestimate the number of ladies out there who want to see T.I.’s abs, Paul Walker’s glutes, or Idris Elba standing around in his boxer briefs. No one wants to see Chris Brown playing leapfrog across the tops of cars. No one. I’m not even convinced John Luessenhop thought that idea was a winner.

Most of the films in that five-feature onslaught we saw a few weeks ago will drop out of the top 10 this weekend. If one sticks around for some notable scraps, though, it will be Nanny McPhee Returns. It had the smallest second weekend drop of those films, and it’s the only family friendly title out there for the Labor Day weekend.

LITTLE OPENERS

The first part of the Mesrine, two-film saga released in the states last week. This week, we have Mesrine: Part 2 – Public Enemy # 1. Vincent Cassel plays the role of Jacques Mesrine, one of France’s most notorious gangsters in recent memory. In this second part, Mesrine’s bloody story comes to its violent conclusion, solidifying itself as the French version of Scarface. It opens this weekend in a number of markets.

That ‘stache is still glorious. See how its owner reigns with a mighty fist in this trailer for Mesrine: Part 2 – Public Enemy #1:

We now you’re all a bit apprehensive when it comes to remakes. Try this suit on for size, though. How about a remake of the Coen Brothers’ first film, Blood Simple? Now imagine it’s a period piece set in 18th Century China. Now imagine it’s been altered to be a black comedy. That float your boat? Well, that’s precisely what you get with A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop, the latest film from Hero and House of Flying Daggers director Zhang Yimou. It opens in New York and L.A.

I’m sold on the woman. I’ll buy the gun. The noodle shop might take some coersion. Nonetheless, check out this trailer for A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop:

Also in limited release:

Clear Blue Tuesday

Seven years. Seven Tuesdays. Eleven New Yorkers. Several songs. These are the key elements in Clear Blue Tuesday, the new rock musical from Elizabeth Lucas. The film deals with all the emotions on the spectrum in the days after 9/11. It opens in New York City.

Etienne!

See, it’s got an exclamation point at the end of its title. That means someone, at some point in the movie, is going to scream that name at the top of their lungs. I’m guessing the person who yells for Etienne, strangely enough a dwarf hamster with cancer, is the man at the center of the story, the man who befriends the dwarf hamster. Etienne! (yes, I just screamed that) opens in New York City.

Last Train Home

The Last Train Home is a documentary about the mass exodus of Chinese migrant workers trying to make it home for the New Year’s holiday. The film follows just a few of the 130 million who make this yearly journey. It opens in New York City.

Max Manus

Max Manus is a Norwegian film about a saboteur fighting the Nazis during World War II. Along the way, he becomes a target by the Gestapo and ends up being one of the founding memebers of the Oslo Gang. Max Manus opens in New York City.

My Dog Tulip

Based on the book by J.R. Ackerley, My Dog Tulip is an animated film about an elderly gentleman who befriends a German Shepherd. Inseparable bonds and distinguished voice actors flourish in a film that has absolutely no potential of ending any way other than someone meeting their emotional end. The film opens in New York and Philadelphia.

Prince of Broadway

Produced by Precious director Lee Daniels, Prince of Broadway tells the story of two men living in New York City, each trying to make ends meet via the counterfeit and knockoff trade. Things get interesting when one of them has to take care of a daughter he never knew he had. Prince of Broadway opens in New York City.

We Are Family

Another week, another Bollywood release. This one is a remake of the Julia Roberts/Susan Sarandon film Stepmom and deals with a broken family coming to terms with the new mother. We Are Family opens in select cities across the country.

White Wedding

Set in the always comical locale of South Africa, White Wedding tells of an impending marriage and a groom who must trek across 1800 kilometers from Johannesburg to Cape Town to reach his bride to be. Trouble ensues when an alien race of prawns crash lands and begins to decimate the wedding attendants. Oh, that doesn’t happen? Well, imagine if it did. White Wedding opens in New York and L.A.

The Winning Season

The Winning Season stars Sam Rockwell as a middle-aged ne’er do well who is recruited by a local high school principal to each girls basketball. Hilarity and Rob Corddry ensue. The Winning Season opens in New York and L.A.

Here’s how the top 10 is shaping up this weekend:

  1. Machete – $19.3m NEW
  2. The American – $15.2m NEW
  3. Going the Distance – $14m NEW
  4. The Last Exorcism – $11.1m (-45%)
  5. Takers – $10.7m (-47.7%)
  6. The Expendables – $5m (-46.4%)
  7. Eat Pray Love – $3.8m (-42.8%)
  8. The Other Guys – $3.2m (-48%)
  9. Inception – $3m (-35.5%)
  10. Nanny McPhee Returns -$2.5m (-45.2%)

If these films are able to average out these numbers, we will see something this weekend we haven’t seen in 12 years. Since 1998, every first weekend of September has had a lower box office take than the preceding final day of August. This is generally regarded as the official end to the Summer movie season even if the number and buzz around the films tend to drop near the end of August. This weekend, however, looks to hit $87.8 million, up just 1.2% from last weekend, but up nontheless.

It also projects an increase of 13.6% over the same weekend last year when new films like All About Steve, Gamer, and Extract failed to muster up much cash. A big win for Machete. A huge win for Danny Trejo. An awesome victory for that special lady he has etched into his chest.

Viva la grind house.

We’ll be back on Monday night to go over the Labor Day weekend numbers.

Click here for more of The Reject Report


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