This weekend, the nation will get hooked on "Bait."
And for no better reason than a lack of more appealing choices.
As the weekend’s only major opener, the Jamie Foxx comedy will likely take the box office crown, but it won't set new records.
In the limited release area are Cameron Crowe’s rock ballad "Almost Famous" and Gwyneth Paltrow’s "Duets." The two films will probably make the Top 10, thanks to a super slow weekend at the movies plus the opening of the Olympics games.
So the choice is yours. And here’s the lowdown on the three films.
The Skinny: A groovy film about rock ‘n’ roll -- with the requisite rock star (Billy Crudup), long-legged groupie (Kate Hudson) and a teenage rock critic (Patrick Fugit) working for Rolling Stone magazine. The Upside: Directed by "Jerry Maguire" guy Cameron Crowe. It's gotten great word of mouth and rave reviews. The Downside: "People could mistake it for one of those VH1 rock pic things," Brandon Gray from Boxofficemojo.com tells us. And also, the film is opening in a mere 131 theaters this weekend. Even so, Gray still thinks that the film will crack the Top 10.
The Skinny: As the "bait" in question, Jamie Foxx does his comedy routine while trying to catch a criminal. The Upside: It’s the only wide release this weekend. "I don’t think how it couldn’t be the No. 1," says Gray. "It’s a very slow weekend. It’ll probably make $8 million." The Downside: Though the film falls in the same money-making category as "Rush Hour" in 1998 and "Blue Streak" in 1999, Jamie Foxx ain’t no Chris Tucker or Martin Lawrence, and certainly no Jackie Chan.
The Skinny: Six losers in life, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis, travel to Omaha, Nebr., for a national karaoke contest. The Upside: It’s got Gwyneth Paltrow in it. And she sings with her God-given voice. And did we mention Huey Lewis? The Downside: Gray expounds, "The buzz [for the film] is so poor. It’s been sitting on the shelves. But I think it’ll do modest business with its limited release [in 581 theaters]. Moviegoers don’t really follow what the industry thinks. The film should make between $2 million and $3 million."
Last weekend's total box office tally was a mere $61 million, the second lowest of the year so far, and it's possible that this weekend's numbers could be even less, Gray says.
In other words, get ready to see holdovers such as "The Watcher," "Bring It On" and "Nurse Betty" remain high on the charts.
Can Matthew McConaughey lead an all-star, he-man cast of sub-mariners to victory over the Nazis? For that matter, can he lead them to victory over reigning box-office champs Samuel L Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones?
"U-571," which stars McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel and Jon Bon Jovi, leads the pack of new films entering theaters nationwide this weekend. Based on reviews and good-ol’-fashioned buzz, the undersea action flick appears to stand the best chance of bumping "Rules of Engagement" from the top spot.
Two other major films will get wide releases this weekend: "Love and Basketball," with a stellar cast; and "Gossip" starring Joshua Jackson of "Dawson’s Creek" fame and a cast of post-adolescents. Meanwhile, the directorial debut of Sofia Coppola (daughter of Francis, natch), "The Virgin Suicides" with Kirsten Dunst and James Woods, will open in limited release.
Here’s a rundown of this weekend’s new releases:
"U-571" See the trailer THE LOWDOWN: A group of WWII naval officers, using their zippy submarine, try to steal a stop-secret coding device from a Nazi U-boat and save the world from fascism. THE UPSIDE: Harvey Keitel could take on the Nazis single-handedly. THE DOWNSIDE: Standing next to Keitel, Matthew "skinny guy from ‘Contact’" McConaughey and Jon "Livin’ On a Prayer" Bon Jovi are decidedly lacking in the cojones department.
"LOVE AND BASKETBALL" See the trailer THE LOWDOWN: Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan star as lifelong, platonic hoop-shooting friends of the opposite sex, who eventually give in to mutual attraction. THE UPSIDE: Also features Harry Lennix, who was amazing as the Moor in "Titus." THE DOWNSIDE: If your girlfriend can beat you at a game of one-on-one, you ought to try baseball instead.
"GOSSIP" THE LOWDOWN: James Marsden, Kate Hudson and Lena Heady star in a story about a rumor that’s planted as part of a college class project but soon escalates out of control. THE UPSIDE: The film’s marketing campaign heavily exploits the fact that is in the cast. THE DOWNSIDE: Jackson is a supporting player, which means most of the movie is about Marsden, Hudson and Heady.
"THE VIRGIN SUICIDES" See the trailer THE LOWDOWN: Based on a 1991 novel about a real-life 1970s incident, it’s the story of a suburban family thrown into a state of depression and isolation after one of their five daughters attempts suicide. THE UPSIDE: An extremely cool cast, including Kathleen Turner as the family mom. And as "The Ice Storm" showed a few years ago, disaffected 1970s suburban families make for fine movie subject matter. THE DOWNSIDE: This one debuted at Sundance earlier this year, and the word-of-mouth in Park City was not kind. MAINSTAYS: Look for "Erin Brockovich," "The Road to El Dorado," "Keeping the Faith," "The Skulls" and perhaps even "Return to Me" to remain in the Top 10.
EXITS: Several films are likely to be bumped out of the Top 10 this weekend, including "Final Destination" and "Ready to Rumble."