The Reject ReportI thought about opening this Reject Report with a play on the lyrics to “Circle of the Life.” A certain Disney classic is getting its re-release in 3-D this weekend, and you know how we love playing around with lyrics here at the Reject Report. But then we witnessed Ryan Gosling wearing leather driving gloves. Never mind the white bomber jacket complete with scorpion embroidered on the back. Those gloves are what we focused on. Then, after about 45 minutes of staring, we remembered we have a job to do.

There’s box office analyses that need to be…um…analyzed, and four new wide releases to split the box office dollars between them. Two R-rated thrillers, that Disney classic that’s getting a re-release on over 2300 screens, and a rom-com starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Over/under on how many words I give that movie.

BIG HITTERS

Drive is the latest from Nicolas Winding Refn, not exactly a director who has mainstream audiences clamoring for his latest release. I’m not sure how many casual moviegoers are also hardcore fans of the Pusher trilogy. Still, Drive has a lot going for it. On top of its extended marketing reach, it’s being billed as a speedy thriller starring Ryan Gosling. That as well as the positive word of mouth it’s already garnering from the film festival circuit should be enough to give Drive the edge that puts it in the driver’s seat – yes, I know – this weekend. Not that it will be making loads and loads of cash. Gosling is a household name, but his recognition when it comes time to deliver on box office numbers isn’t exactly a guarantee. Expect Drive to come in low to mid double digits, not enough to consider it an instant success, but it’s chances of taking the #1 spot are pretty decent.

It’s just too damn cool not to show you, so here’s the red band trailer for Drive. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be scouring JackThreads for a pair of leather driving gloves:

The other R-rated thriller hitting this weekend is Straw Dogs, a remake to the 1971 film starring Dustin Hoffman. This time around, the role of the nebbish husband who must defend his wife and home from a group of small-town thugs is being played by James Marsden, because if anyone screams the Dustin Hoffman of 2011, it’s James Marsden. The film also stars Kate Bosworth and True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgård. For that last bit of casting and because Sony/Screen Gems just wanted to, the TV spots for Straw Dogs make it appear as if the antagonists here are vampires. I could be reading too much into that. I could just be projecting my own desire for more vampire films. Still, it shouldn’t be enough to give Straw Dogs much of a boost. No one in the cast is big enough to pilot their own vehicle. The last thriller Marsden starred in, The Box, opened to $7.5m. Straw Dogs will likely do better than that, since it doesn’t have the divisive sci-fi element Marsden’s last serious film had with it. There could be enough give and take between Straw Dogs and Drive that either of them could end up in the top spot, but expect not much more than $12-13m here.

Oh, remember that time Alexander Skarsgard was in Zoolander? No? Well, here you go:

THE CIIIIIRCLE OF LIIIIIIIIFE!!!

Sometimes you just have to belt that out, you know? Much like audiences will be this weekend when The Lion King hits theaters once again, this time in glorious 3D. Usually when I say “glorious 3D” it’s with tongue planted firmly in cheek. However, this time I’m quite interested. Chances are audiences will be, as well. Every once in a while Disney re-releases one of their classics and the box office numbers prove their usually a success all over again. Sure, The Lion King isn’t going to match the $332.9m it’s already made worldwide, but that number will see a bit of an increase over the next two weeks. That’s how long Disney is keeping it in theaters, but it should be enough to make upwards of another $20m for the animated classic.

Now, if you’ll excuse me again, I’m going back to my singing…whilst wearing driving gloves. Just don’t even think about it. It’s better if you don’t understand.

So, Sarah Jessica Parker walks into a bar. Okay, I’m not going to finish that joke. It’s cruel, and isn’t she going through enough being in movies like I Don’t Know How She Does It? Sure she has to bide her time between the Sex and the City movies, but if we’ve learned anything from movies like Did You Hear About the Morgans? it’s more than the fact that she picks projects with the most annoying titles.

That classic comedy opened to $6.6m, and it had the added bonus of Hugh Grant on his sliding scale downward. IDKHSDI has Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear, and though neither of them will be adding much in the way of box office draw, the mere lack of casual rom-coms out there will give this film a bit of a boost. And before you ask, no, I don’t know how she does it. I don’t care how she does it. I don’t even want to know IF she does it. Michael Patrick King should be expecting a phone call come Monday morning. He might not be answering the phone.

FAMILIARITIES

Last weekend’s big winner, Contagion, performed even better than expected. While its second weekend doesn’t seem likely to hold all that strong, even a 50% drop will put its take here somewhere between $12-13m. In fact, between how unsure Drive and Straw Dogs impact is going to be and how strong Contagion could hold on, it will be an interesting three-way race to the finish line. We could have a repeat on our hands for Soderbergh, but ranking is inconsequential here. Contagion has already pulled in $30m domestic, half of its reported budget. You can rest assured it will be matching that before it’s all said and done.

LITTLE OPENERS

Opening in limited release are Back Door Channels opening in select cities, Granito: How to Nail a Dictator opening in New York City, Jane’s Journey opening in New York City, The Mill and the Cross opening in select cities, Muran opening in select cities, My Afternoons With Margueritte opening in New York and L.A., Restless opening in New York and L.A., and The Weird World of Blowfly opening in New York City.

Here’s how the weekend is shaping up:

  1. Drive – $13.2m NEW
  2. Straw Dogs – 12.7m NEW
  3. Contagion – $12.3m (-44.7%)
  4. The Lion King (3-D) – $9m NEW
  5. I Don’t Know How She Does It – $8.9m NEW
  6. The Help – $5.7m (-35%)
  7. Warrior – $3m (-42.3%)
  8. The Debt – $2.3m (-49.9%)
  9. Rise of the Planet of the Apes -$1.9m (-48.5%)
  10. Colombiana -$1.9m (-49%)

Well, the $70.9m we’re looking at this weekend is a slight upturn from last weekend’s disappointing take. Still not a number that will make you look for a Hollywood parade any time soon, but the numbers might be turning for the Fall months. It could also be an even bigger turn than expected with any of the new films this weekend or for the next two or three weekends, for that matter, all having the potential to surprise. That’s the optimist in me. That’s the Jeremy who’s sitting here singing “Circle of Life” and wearing a white bomber jacket, looking out at my Jeep Liberty and wondering if it could beat the cops. Spoiler alert: it can’t.

The pessimist still sees low numbers and low numbers on the horizon. Maybe Sarah Jessica Parker will surprise us all. Let’s hope. I won’t even consider telling that “long face” joke if she does.

We’ll be back on Sunday to go over the weekend numbers.

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