We start the week by repeating ourselves from the weekend. Once again, Hollywood is faced with four new nationwide releases, and while the mix has changed, their prospects look just as average as the previous batch. With that in mind, it is time to take a look at a group of films designed mostly for adults across four different genres.
The headliner appears to be Universal’s Kick-Ass 2, the sequel to the action-comedy that not only got Matthew Vaughn on board for the well-received X-Men: First Class, but also gave Chloe Moretz (an actress with what seems like a new project every time the calendar turns) one of her first major feature roles for which she garnered widespread recognition.
This one has Moretz back, it has Aaron Taylor-Johnson back, and it even has Jim Carrey added in there for comedic effect. The new director though suggests this is a cash-out opportunity for the series’ producers, so we really need to monitor reviews due to Jeff Wadlow’s mixed track record. If he does deliver, good because Fox reportedly needs more superhero directors and they might just use another Kick-Ass vet for their next spin-off, this one being X-Force.
Also releasing on August 16 is the much-talked about Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher. There are not a whole lot of tech savvy folk who have yet to hear about Jobs and its wild inaccuracies, leaving things up to mainstream moviegoers for support. Considering the Facebook movie The Social Network was much better in terms of quality and it only opened to $22 million three years ago, it would be safe to say that awareness might not translate to box office receipts in this particular scenario.
It should also be mentioned that the distributor on the project is Open Road Films which is owned by AMC and Regal. Their movies are more so designed as loss leaders to shore up weak periods at your local theater in order to boost concession sales. The director on the project was Joshua Michael Stern whose last movie was the politically-themed comedy Swing Vote.
Beyond that, there is the Robert Luketic-directed thriller Paranoia. This one stars Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman as two very wealthy business men fighting it out in the world of corporate espionage. The tool of choice is Liam Hemsworth of The Hunger Games fame which is why this movie will probably get attention it otherwise would not receive.
Early reviews are not all gravy, so it is worth mentioning that as Luketic has seemingly created yet another highly-marketable yet underwhelming entry to follow up Killers, The Ugly Truth, and 21. Those three films are more than likely the reason why he took three years off before making another one. Hopefully, for his sake, word of mouth will pick up once all critics have weighed in.
Last but not least, there is The Butler which was marketed as Lee Daniels’ The Butler. This movie is unfortunately best-known in the press as ‘that bio feature that had to change its title.’ Harvey Weinstein and Warner Bros. were at odds for weeks via the trades for the rights to simply call the film The Butler, but WB was playing hardball with a short film they had from nearly a century ago under the same name.
These are not based on copyright restrictions from what I gather, but rather an MPAA-managed pact that studios have to limit marketplace confusion, thus why TWC had their hands tied here. Warner Bros. was simply exploiting their leverage in an attempt to receive a quick cash settlement. At one point, the studio went as far as to suggest Weinstein give up his Hobbit participation in exchange for title use.
All that noise is a bit of a shame though because from what I am hearing, the movie is really quite good. Despite a cast that seems a little more than simply random, the Forest Whitaker-led presentation about a White House butler with heavy themes relating to racism is a film many used to think had a chance at Oscar gold. Putting it in August pretty much says to everyone that the movie is on its own as this is usually when Weinstein dumps movies that he considers ‘second-tier’ contenders. Think of The Butler as this year’s Lawless which came out at the same time last summer.