I just watched the LeBron thing with Jeremy “Mr. Beaks” Smith. If you’d like to have the same experience, I suggest you convince a child that Santa Claus doesn’t exist.



THIS AND THAT

- I read an article this week suggesting that the opening weekend numbers on The Last Airbender might be enough to save M. Night Shyamalan’s career. I wouldn’t bet on it. Though the picture may end up making money for Paramount, the negative word of mouth – though not necessarily toxic this upcoming weekend – and the fact that he’s burned a couple of studios now doesn’t bode well for him. Nor does the fact that the film was last-minute converted to 3-D. The latter suggests that Paramount knew they had a better opportunity for bigger numbers with the inflated 3-D ticket prices(and as all who have seen the pitiful 3-D will attest, the 3-D sucks), and thought they needed to make those quicker dollars, because it would be a quicker play. If the film was a runaway hit, there might be a case for his work but this seems more an “in spite of” than a “because of” moderate success. That doesn’t mean the writer/director goes away, what it does mean is that he’ll have to work within a budget, and his name isn’t much of a draw. But also you’re talking about someone who seems to have actively burned his bridges with Disney and Warner Brothers. I don’t know if Fox hates him – The Happening was profitable – but he jumped to a different studio with his next picture (Paramount), and they don’t necessarily seem pleased with him, so there’s not a lot of places left to work (Sony, Lions Gate, etc.). And with the number of people who seem burned by the film, what could have generated some repeat business and home video sales are not necessarily there on this one. The movie wins, but not Shyamalan.

- Despicable Me is a 3-D movie, but the question here is how many 3-D screens can it get? With Toy Story 3 still doing business and The Last Airbender less than two weeks old, it all depends on how many screens are set up for the third dimension. The question is: will there be a shortage (it seems likely) and will people care? The film finally found its marketing hook, and there seems to be some interest, but it’s already in an awkward position coming after two massive kids favorites that were also in 3-D. It should open, but I wonder how many people will get to see it in 3-D, which this film supposedly benefits from more so than Toy Story 3, or Airbender. Then again, the market for 3-D may be dwindling with so many crappy movies already in the format, or – if not crappy – films that aren’t Avatar.

- Predators seemed like it had a whisper campaign, but the marketing has come on stronger in the last week or so. Though men of a certain age love the first film, it’s also coming after three weaker sequels (though I don’t mind the second film that much), and Fox may have been smart in recognizing the niche appeal of this film sans California’s current governor. That said, I don’t think they’ll be pinching as many pennies when it comes to Ridley Scott’s two Alien prequels, though I also wouldn’t be surprised if those ended up PG-13 if the budget gets too high. As they say: “Forget it, Jake. It’s 20th Century Fox.”

PUT YOUR HAND UPON MY HIP, WHEN I PREDICT, YOU PREDICT, WE PREDICT

So the weekend goes. Despicable Me has kid appeal, which makes tracking a bit wonky, so the numbers could go up or down a bit. Predators should open, and was done on a budget, but Fox has been low a lot this summer, and the film is a Friday picture. I wonder if it will get to the chopper.
1. Despicable Me – $35.5 Million
2. Twilight 3 – $26.7 Million
3. Predators – $24 Million
4. The Last Airbender - $23 Million
5. Toy Story 3 – $16.7 Million

Sunday. You know what to do.