Reject Report: Speed Racer

It is shaping up to be quite a race this weekend, one of the most dramatic box-office showdowns of the year in fact. Will it be the challenger, Speed Racer, or the defending champion Iron Man that takes the checkered flag this week at the box office? Of course, Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz are having a happening time in Vegas where they hope to get their share of the box office loot, but who cares about them.

Time to preview the weekend’s movies here at the Reject Report, beginning with Speed Racer.

Speed RacerSpeed Racer is of course the remake of the legendary Japanese-made cartoon series from the Sixties that was so popular on this side of the world. That series was part of the first wave of popular “anime” series on television (along with Astro Boy and others), and had one of the more memorable cartoon theme songs of all time: “here he comes, here comes Speed Racer!” Ranks right up there with the theme from Spider-Man in my book.

Anyway, a lot of people fondly remember that show and have now come up with a live-action version for the new generation, with producers going so far as to acquire the rights to the theme song! Andy and Larry Wachowski (The Matrix) directed this version of Speed Racer, which stars Emile Hirsch as Speed and Christina Ricci as his girlfriend Trixie. The movie also features John Goodman, Susan Sarandon and Matthew Fox.

So that is the movie in a nutshell, which is opening on 3,600 screens and ought to do great business. But… we keep on hearing all these stories that the testing is bad for this movie, that not as many people are going to show up! This movie is being aimed at family audiences and is basically a big kids movie from what I gather, which is fine by me. But the sense out there is that something is amiss with this movie’s ability to pack them in. I am reading predictions for this movie that range for a box office take from a low of $30 mil to a high of $43 million dollars! For a movie like this, that’s terrible!!

And quite frankly I don’t quite believe it, because the movie looks great and ought to appeal to a lot of people. Maybe people have been burned too many times by too many bad live-action adaptations of cartoon series (The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, Casper, etcetera).

Anyway, I have to think this movie will at least do the same type of business that Horton Hears a Who! and Cloverfield did. So I am predicting a take of about $41 million for Speed Racer, which will put it in the top four opening weekends of the year. But I have to say, this is a bullish prediction for Speed Racer compared to the bearish predictions I keep on hearing. Maybe this movie will do better in Japan. Who knows.

What Happens in VegasNext we go to Las Vegas for another movie set in that delightful burg. What Happens in Vegas… is the title. This movie stars Ashton Kutcher, who is notorious for not being able to pick a good movie to star in to save his life, and also stars Cameron Diaz, who is almost as bad. Here, they play two New Yorkers who have a rowdy weekend in Las Vegas, so rowdy that these two end up getting married!! That is where the fun starts, because they need to get this marriage annulled, but then Ashton strikes it rich at the casinos, so then Cameron wants her share of the loot, and, well … you get the idea. Rob Corddry is also in it.

Some of the reviews are in already and it appears this may NOT be the characteristically bad Ashton Kutcher/Cameron Diaz flick that we are used to getting from these two jokers. But their collective association with all the junk they’ve been in over the years is bound to hurt this movie’s gross. These two have kind of a bad reputation with moviegoers by now — especially with me. So I cannot see this flick making more than $18 million, just because of the track record these two have. I know it’s in a lot of theaters, over 3,200, so the business won’t be that bad. But I just don’t see it doing any better than that. Aren’t people tired yet of movies set in Vegas? Guess not, eh?!

RedbeltExpanding this weekend is a movie called Redbelt, directed by David Mamet and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Emily Mortimer and Tim Allen. It’s an action/martial arts movie about a martial-arts practitioner who, through a series of events, comes in contact with Hollywood movers and shakers, which leads to him taking part in a climactic prize fight.

The movie expands wide into over 1,300 theaters this weekend and ought to crack the Top Ten with a take of about $3.5 million. Incidentally, it doesn’t take much to crack the Top Ten these days, since everyone is opting to go to Iron Man over any other movie these days.

Speaking of Iron Man— here’s the question I have. Can we assume that just because it made $100 million last weekend that first place is a given? Frankly, I don’t think so. Here’s my question: is this movie going to suffer the same type of drop that The Simpsons Movie suffered, or The Fantastic Four 2, or Cloverfield? Keep in mind Cloverfield dropped 68 per cent!

Last weekend I said that I didn’t see this movie suffering the same type of drops that these other movies usually suffered because of the great reviews it was getting. But that was before I knew that this movie had made $100 million dollars! I’m convinced that showing was kind of a freak occurrence. I wonder if everyone who was going to see that movie has already seen it by now, and that people will all opt for Speed Racer or something else this week.

So I think Iron Man could be in for a BIG drop in its second weekend out. But I predict it will hang on and be the number one movie on this side of the world for the second weekend in a row, with a $45 million haul. Incidentally, Iron Man is not just number one on this side of the world — it made another $100 million in international box office as well, so overall it raked in $200 million smackeroos last weekend.

So here is how I see the weekend shaping up at the box office:

1. Iron Man $45 million
2. Speed Racer $41 million
3. What Happens in Vegas $18 million
4. Made of Honor $9 million
5. Baby Mama $6 million
6. Forgetting Sarah Marshall $4.1 million
7. Harold and Kumar Escape Guantanamo Bay $3.6 million
8. Redbelt $3.5 million
9. The Forbidden Kingdom $2.5 million
10. Nim’s Island $2 million

There you have it! Back at weekend’s end when we see who takes the checkered flag — or, possibly, who wipes out — at the box-office finish line here at the Reject Report!


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