Friday, May 16, 2008

Prince Caspian weekend preview and a note on summer running times...

Prince Caspian screened on Monday night and the reviews are surprisingly positive. I may be able to check this one out over the weekend, otherwise I'll try to grab a cheap Sunday morning show next weekend while everyone else is at Indy. With reviews like this, the opening number will probably be closer to $80 million than $45 million. The original opened to $67 million back in December of 2005. And since most of the casual and hardcore moviegoers have already seen Iron Man and don't seem to care about Speed Racer, this is the only option in town. Let's give it a Two-Towers type boost and peg it at $85 million. Still, it could pull a Shrek 2 (same release weekend, same 'eh, that's nice' level of interest for a seemingly unwanted sequel), although it's 145 minute running time will prevent any records from being shattered.

Speaking of running times, isn't it a little ironic that Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, at 120 minutes, is turning out to be one of the shortest of the major tent poles this summer. This from Steven Spielberg, who literally went 21 years without making a film that was under two hours (from 1984's 118 minute Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom to 2005's 105 minute War Of The Worlds). Yet now Steven is the slim and trim filmmaker in a summer filled with some very long movies.

Let's look at just May:

Iron Man - 126 minutes
Speed Racer - 135 minutes
Prince Caspian - 145 minutes
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull - 120 minutes
Sex And The City - 140 minutes

And there is every possibility that The Incredible Hulk could run a touch over two hours. That was a point of contention between director Louis Letterrier and the Marvel bosses (ironically, Ed Norton ended up getting tagged again as a troublemaker, this time while siding with the director). Hellboy was over two hours so Hellboy II probably will be too. I have no idea how long Hancock will run, but X-Files 2 oughta run at least 125 minutes (ie - the length of about three television episodes), and Mama Mia will likely be over two hours, as are most musicals. The likely winner for the shortest live-action tent pole could be M Night's The Happening, as his movies almost all have the odd habit of being about 107 minutes.

And, of course, the alleged epic of the summer, The Dark Knight will allegedly run a whopping 165 minutes (another reason why it won't break records on opening weekend, natch). Of course, if the movie is any good, I could watch a six hour cut, but there is a fear of Pirates 3 and Spider-Man 3 style bloat. Here's to it playing more like The Godfather of superhero films and less like Heaven's Gate.

Scott Mendelson

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