Colombiana, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, and Our Idiot Brother are all opening today, and -- hey, stop yawning! This is what you get the last weekend of August! It is the way of Hollywood. Don't believe me? Well, let's take a look back at what opened 365 days ago. How soon we forget....
The weekend of Aug. 27-29, 2010
Starring Hayden Christensen, Paul Walker, and a plank of wood that is indistinguishable from Hayden Christensen and Paul Walker.
You know you're in trouble when a generically titled heist caper full of second-tier actors is the widest new release of the week. This one got mostly bad reviews (27% rating at Rotten Tomatoes), co-starred the famous woman-hitter Chris Brown, and barely managed to win the weekend with $20.5 million. Though it was the kind of film that sets itself up for a sequel, it's not likely that its $69.1 million worldwide total gross will be enough to justify such madness.
Nonetheless, do not weep for the cast and crew of Takers. The director, John Luessenhop, is shooting a remake/reboot/prequel/sequel/reimagining called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D that is set for release in October 2012. Paul Walker returned to the Fast and the Furious franchise, where he belongs. Chris Brown is alive and not in jail, which is really the most he can hope for, and Hayden Christensen hasn't been heard from at all, which is probably best for everyone. And hey, Zoe Saldana was in this movie, and she's the star of Colombiana, so good for her! If given the opportunity, I would personally buy her a sandwich, for crying out loud.
The Last Exorcism
Starring nobody famous because it's a "documentary," wink wink.
Here was a reasonably scary little flick that took the form of a documentary about a huckster who pretends to perform exorcisms on gullible people until he encounters some real supernatural bizness. It wasn't really a documentary, of course, but it followed the format well enough to convince some of IMDb's dumber users (which, granted, doesn't take much). The lack of star power didn't hurt it, and the positive reviews (73% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes) probably helped. And considering it was made for only about $2 million, its opening weekend of $20.4 million was cause for rejoicing. It eventually pulled in $67.7 million worldwide. That's about the same as Takers, you'll notice -- but Takers cost $32 million, not $2 million. You don't have to spend a lot of money to scare people, as Joan Rivers has demonstrated with her discount plastic surgery.
Hence, there will be a sequel, presumably titled When We Said 'Last' Exorcism We Meant 'Previous,' Because This is Actually the 'Last' (i.e., Final) One. A screenwriter was hired just this week. There's no word yet on who will direct, or when it will be released, or how many more exorcisms are still on the docket.
Avatar: Special Edition
Starring what's-his-name and that one actress and 3D.
A small indie film called Avatar was released around Christmas 2009, and now James Cameron thought it would be nice if people could pay to see it again. Many viewers would have paid to see a shorter version, but Cameron went the opposite route. This "special" (that is to say, longer) edition opened on 800 screens and eventually made another $10 million, which is sort of like Warren Buffet finding a twenty dollar bill on the sidewalk.
Wait a sec, Zoe Saldana was in this, too. The final weekend of August belongs to Zoe Saldana, as does my heart, and a sandwich, if she wants it.
Hey, look what else opened a year ago!
Centurion, a delightfully goofy sword-and-blood-and-guts tale starring Michael Fassbender and Dominic "When will people learn not to f*** with the Ninth?" West, opened on a dozen screens and made $42,000. It never went any wider than that stateside, and grossed only $123,570 all told. But overseas, it made a tidy $6.7 million ... which still wasn't enough to recoup its $12 million budget, so never mind. There will be no Centurion II.
And what about FIVE years ago??
Aug. 25, 2006, brought us the inspiring Mark Wahlberg football tale Invincible, Broken Lizard's Beerfest, Outkast's Idlewild, and kiddie flick How to Eat Fried Worms. Like I said, the end of August has pretty much always looked like this.
(All box office figures are from Box Office Mojo.)