Below you'll find a preview of the upcoming and highly anticipated Community Halloween episode. In it, Señor Chang is Peggy Fleming. Britta is a dinosaur, turtle, Yoshi incest disaster. Shirley is Glenda the Good Witch, and Jeff is David Beckham. The episode revolves around a Halloween party, where zombies are everywhere because the bouncer was too busy breathing in and suctioning a plastic cup onto his face and forgot to bounce them. But don't get your hopes up because at your Halloween party, there will be children with dirty fingers and runny noses. Unless, of course, you've made the decision never to befriend anyone with children...in which case, your festivities will have a fun level that rivals a Broadway performance of Spamalot. Also be careful in watching the clip below because the two spoon costumes you already bought for yourself and your boyfriend aren't returnable, and you're bound to want to change it once you see Donald Glover without his shirt on. Do not think you're better than anyone else.
The end of August is a dumping ground for marginal movies that are, in many cases, barely worthy of release. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer made friends on “the island of misfit toys,” but not even Rudolph would pay to see the “misfit movies” bowing for Labor Day weekend.
I am putting my money on a third consecutive weekend win for Tropic Thunder (Dreamworks/Paramount) with another excellent hold. With Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black and Tom Cruise all continuing to generate laughs in this Stiller-directed movie satire, it may have just enough juice to win another weekend with a three-day of $11M-$13M (my prediction is $12.5M) and a four-day of $14.5M-$16.5M (I am calling for $15.75M). That would push its US cume to $86M-$88M. At this pace, Tropic Thunder appears headed for $115M-$120M domestic.
Babylon A.D. (Fox) will probably finish at No. 2, the strongest opener of a weak crop of new titles. The last movie from director Mathieu Kassovitz, Gothika starring Halle Berry, was a disappointment with a $19.2M opening. This Vin Diesel sci fi vehicle will open even softer. Barely screened for critics, Babylon A.D. will likely finish with a 3-day of $11M-$13M, probably a tick below Tropic Thunder, and I am targeting $14.5M for the 4-day Labor Day weekend.
Vin Diesel, whose career seemed promising after his work in Saving Private Ryan, will likely post only his 6th-best opening, behind XXX ($44.5M), The Fast & The Furious ($40M), Saving Private Ryan ($30.6M), The Pacifier ($30.5M) and The Chronicles of Riddick ($24.3M).
The latest Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer movie spoof seems headed for a performance well below their previous silly satires. Tracking for Disaster Movie is pointing toward $9M-$11M for 3-days and $11M-$13M for the Friday-thru-Monday period. If my 3-day number of $10.5M holds, it will finish behind previous Friedberg/Seltzer openings Scary Movie 3 ($48.1M), Scary Movie ($42.3M), Scary Movie 4 ($40.2M), Scary Movie 2 ($20.5M), Epic Movie ($18.6M) and Meet the Spartans ($18.5M).
The House Bunny (Sony) has a strong chance of hopping to a #4 finish with $8M-$10M (my call is $9.3M) for the traditional weekend and $10M-$12M (I see $11M) for the long holiday weekend. The PG13-rated comedy’s new cume will be at about $30M by Tuesday morning.
MGM has rounded up an odd group of young actors to star in College. Included in the cast are Drake Bell, who has 54 episodes of the Nickelodeon series Drake & Josh on his resume, along with Andrew Cardwell (a few episodes of Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel), Kevin Covais (the singer known as Chicken Little from American Idol), Alona Tal (10 episodes of Veronica Mars on the CW) and Ryan Pinkston (a season of the Andy Richter series Quintuplets). With virtually no Awareness, little Definite Interest and a very soft First Choice, College will struggle to $3M-$4M for the 3-day and $4M-$5M for the 4-day.
The Focus comedy Hamlet 2 (Focus) expands to 1,500 screens on Friday, but the Sundance favorite has limited upside. I am expecting about $3.7M for the 3-day and $4.5M by Tuesday morning. That three-day would represent only Director Andrew Fleming’s sixth-best opening, trailing Threesome and Bad Dreams, both at $4M, but ahead of his political satire Dick ($2.2M).
Meanwhile, Don Cheadle’s Traitor (Overture), getting a jump on the weekend with a Wednesday opening, is receiving decent reviews, and it could reach $3.6M for Friday-thru-Sunday, $4.4M for the four-day and about $5.6M for 6 days. This will continue the streak of soft “War on Terror”-themed movies that has included Lions for Lambs ($6.7M), Rendition ($4M) and In the Valley of Elah ($1.5M).
FINAL PREDICTIONS FOR THE FOUR-DAY LABOR DAY WEEKEND
1. Tropic Thunder (Dreamworks/Paramount) - $15.75M
2. NEW – Babylon A.D. A.D. (Fox) - $14.5M
3. NEW – Disaster Movie (Lionsgate) - $12.6M
4. The House Bunny (Sony) - $11M
5. Death Race (Universal) - $10.8M
6. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) - $8.3M
7. NEW – College (Fox) - $5M
8. Hamlet 2 (Focus) - $4.5M
9. NEW – Traitor (Overture) - $4.4M [$5.7M for 6 days]
10. Mamma Mia (Universal) - $3.5M
In the sci-fi thriller 28 Days Later a psychological rage-inducing virus is unleashed the type of vile horror-movie germ that infects its victims within 20 seconds and causes them to violently spew out contagious pathogens. The bug is set free when a group of animal activists free some infected chimps from a primate research facility in London. Twenty-eight days later Jim (Cillian Murphy) a bike courier wakes up from a coma and finds himself in the deserted intensive care unit of a hospital. He eventually stumbles on to the street and from old newspaper clippings littering the streets of London realizes the foggy metropolis has been evacuated. Jim eventually hooks up with another "survivor " Selina (Naomi Harris) who brings him up to speed on what has happened: All of Britain has been contaminated and they have no way of knowing if the disease has spread worldwide. Their only salvation comes in the form of a taped broadcast message by a group of Manchester soldiers saying they have the answer to infection and invite any survivors to join them at their blockade. After a harrowing hike to the barricade and dodging attacks form rage-infected lunatics the duo thinks they have found salvation. But this armed force is not there to offer deliverance--they are a militia of out-of-control megalomaniacs ready to jump-start human civilization.
Murphy and Harris the two lead actors in the film are relatively unknown yet are capable of carrying the pic and both give strong performances that complement each other. Murphy's character Jim for example first awakens in the hospital lost and confused--but by the end of the film he emerges as a leader a champion. This change however isn't triggered by any one incident and we never feel blindsided by his heroic transformation. Harris's character Selina on the other hand starts off hardened and pessimistic but gradually lets her guard down. Alone her only goal was survival. But when she hooks up with Jim her aspirations change not only because of the friendship they develop but because he is able to make her see that surviving simply isn't enough that as humans beings they also need freedom and happiness. And although Selina develops a somewhat softer side in the film she is never a helpless victim waiting to be rescued by the film's male protagonist. Another important character in the film is Hannah played by Megan Burns. Hannah is a young girl that Jim and Selina scoop up in their northbound trek to the military blockade. Burns who made her feature debut in the 2001 period drama Liam is an excellent addition to the cast and her character adds a touching and personal element to the gruesome storyline.
Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) delivers a post-apocalyptic horror film an homage of sorts to George Romero's Night of the Living Dead in which an army of dead bodies comes to life and terrorizes a group of friends trapped inside a farmhouse. Although 28 Days Later--from The Beach author Alex Garland's debut screenplay--tells a different tale the grainy shaky camera work is very derivative of the 1968 cult pic. Shot entirely on digital video the film has a gritty appearance that makes it look and feel like a shocking documentary rather than a sci-fi feature. Boyle also uses low light levels and strobe effects to conceal the movie's cheesy low-tech special effects--specifically the flock of red contact lens wearing zombies. But despite its cost-cutting optical effects this contemporary horror has the power to shock and frighten because the protagonist's most dangerous adversaries not only come in the form of frightening flesh-eaters but militiamen in fatigues. 28 Days Later's most striking sequences however are the warily calm opening scenes in which Jim wanders through the streets of London--crossing Westminster Bridge and reading the bulletin board at Piccadilly Circus--without a body in sight. Blocking off the busy streets of such a compact bustling city had to be Boyle's most ambitious undertaking in the film's production.