The Reject ReportThank God for Piranha 3-D. The closest we had come to the realization of this collective love had been sitting around Rejects HQ throwing Captain D’s clam strips at each other’s faces, and that Cole Abaius has a wicked throwing arm when it comes to hush puppies (Editor’s note: that never happened).

Getting back to the movies, though, five new releases hit wide this weekend, and any one of them has the potential to be #1. Not that they are all surefire winners. The lot of them are actually the sort of offerings you would find in these dog days of Summer, that ditch between the highway of the Summer season and the corn fields of Fall and Winter. Even The Expendables has the potential to come out on top for a second weekend in a row, but, to do so, it has to contend with a whole slew of competitors.

BIG HITTERS

It’s best to just hit these out in alphabetical order. We aren’t going to post trailers for all of them this week, as there are so many. Just the ones that pique our interest more than the others.

First up is Lottery Ticket, a comedy that looks to have its biggest stars appearing in glorified cameos. That isn’t going to stop Warner Brothers from making it known that people like Ice Cube, Terry Crews, Mike Epps, and Keith David are in this film. When you’re backing your project on the name recognition of Keith David, I both show you my respect and my condolences for the poor box office you are about to have. Needless to say, the lack of solid buzz behind this film is going to put it likely at the bottom of the new releases.

Nanny McPhee does, in fact, return in Nanny McPhee Returns, a sequel to the moderately successful, 2006 film. Emma Thompson is the only returning aspect for this new film, but I don’t think the kids who want to see it will care or not if Colin Firth is returning. Apologies to all you frumpy children out there who have a thing for the Single Man. The first Nanny McPhee opened to $14.5 million, but that was in January when there wasn’t much competition going up against it. This sequel might do slightly better, but don’t expect anything magical.

Speaking of magical, I present to you Piranha 3-D. Aja isn’t much of a factor here. Neither are Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, or any of the other legendary actors who find themselves in dangerous water here. The two things selling this film are found right there in the title, Piranha and 3-D. 3-D is a major selling point when it comes to the horror movies the embrace the gimmicky nature of the whole thing. Even My Bloody Valentine opened to $21.2 million. That gimmick could very well be enough to put the fishies on top of the charts. The Weinsteins and Dimension have certainly been marketing it enough to do just that.

In case you haven’t seen this yet, here is the “for your consideration” video the Weinstein Company has put together for Piranha 3-D. It’s sure to rake in some little gold statues early next year.

Even though Jason Bateman is the clear star of The Switch, Miramax’s ad campaign for the film is making it just as much Jennifer Aniston’s film. That’s a smart move considering their respective box office records. Miramax realizes Bateman wasn’t able to sell their 2009 comedy, Extract, to much more than a $4-million weekend. In fact, other than that and the $7.8 million Teen Wolf Too made in its entire run (anyone remember that ’87 classic?), he is pretty much untested in vehicles.

Aniston, on the other hand, has films that consistently open to higher than $20 million. Even her January releases like Along Came Polly open bigger than expected. Whether her star power, mysterious as it may be, is enough to get The Switch to much more than $15 million this weekend remains to be seen. It is good to see Jeff Goldblum back on the big screen, though. It’s been too long.

See Jason Bateman be funny and Jennifer Aniston be bland in this trailer for The Switch:

Which brings us to Vampires Suck, the latest master work from Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Despite the horrendous comedy found in their films, they had had quite some success until 2008’s Disaster Movie tanked. With Vampires Suck, they threaten to bring all of the weirdos out in force, lovers of everything vampires and the people who actually find their movies funny. Personally, I’ve never found one, but the vampire-loving community just might be big enough to give Vampires Suck a decent opening.

If you want all the funny in your immediate area to be sucked into your computer like a black hole of comedy, by all means, press play on this player right here:

FAMILIARITIES

The Expendables could make a run for the #1 spot this weekend. Even with a 50-60% drop, it could pull out the top spot given the lack of any extreme competition this week. Regardless where it ends up, expect it to get past $60 million through this weekend, still $20 million shy of its reported budget. It will take some serious muscle, probably more than is actually found in the movie, to get The Expendables past the $100-million mark. Look for it to top out just South of there.

At just over $150,000 shy of breaking into the all time top 10 domestic, Toy Story 3 continues to pull in around $300,000 each day. Look for it to push its way onto that list some time on Friday.

LITTLE OPENERS

Of the cavalcade of new films openings in limited release this weekend, one stands out above the rest. The Tillman Story is a film I was lucky enough to see at the Sundance Film Festival this year. It is a truly gripping and heart-wrenching documentary and a film that keeps the audience on the edge of its seat much better than some narrative films out now. The story behind former NFL pro Pat Tillman’s death in Afghanistan is an important one, one that had to be told, and with this film that story is told in the best way possible. Be sure to see it, as it opens this weekend in New York and L.A.

See the trailer for The Tillman Story right here:

Army of Crime

Army of Crime tells the true story of a group of French volunteers, 22 men and one woman, who rose up in the early days of World War II to fight off the invading, German army. The film opens this weekend in New York and San Francisco.

Calvin Marshall

Steve Zahn stars in this comedy about a college student’s dream of playing in Major League Baseball. Jeremy Sumpter and Alex Frost co-star. Calvin Marshall opens this weekend in New York City.

A Film Unfinished

The truth behind Nazi propaganda films comes to light in this powerful documentary. A lost reel of film from this film brings a whole new truth to this 70-year-old story. A Film Unfinished opens in New York City and L.A.

Mao’s Last Dancer

Mao’s Last Dancer is a true story of a young, Chinese ballet dancer who falls in love with an American woman in the late ’70s and early ’80s. The film opens in select markets throughout New York and California.

The Scenesters

A black comedy set in the world of crime scene photography and clean-up, The Scenesters stars Blaise Miller and played the Slamdance 2010 Film Festival in Park City. It opens this weekend in L.A.

Soul Kitchen

Not to be confused with “soup kitchen”, Soul Kitchen is a comedy set in the world of culinary arts. A young restaurant owner attempts to sell his restaurant after his girlfriend leaves him. It opens in New York City.

What If…

Two words. Kevin. Sorbo. That is all. What If… opens in select theaters around the country.

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

  1. Piranha 3-D – $18m NEW
  2. The Expendables – $16.6m (-52.2%)
  3. Vampires Suck – $15.9m NEW
  4. Nanny McPhee Returns – $15.6m NEW
  5. The Switch – $14.8m NEW
  6. Eat Pray Love – $12m (-48%)
  7. The Other Guys – $9.4m (-45.5%)
  8. The Lottery Ticket – $8.8m NEW
  9. Inception – $7.2m (-35.6%)
  10. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World – $7m (-33.3%)

This puts this weekend’s top 10 at $125.3 million, down 2.7% from last weekend. This was to be expected with the Summer season coming to a close. What is surprising is how small the decline form last weekend is anticipated to be. In fact, if every film performs as predicted, this will actually be an increase from the same weekend last year, when Inglourious Basterds opened to $38 million. Sometimes there are safety in numbers, and this weekend’s box office is sure to prove that theory.

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

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