Wednesday, August 22, 2012

John Gosling previews the week's new releases (08/24/12).

A relatively low key weekend with just three releases, one of which is it at less than 1,000 locations. We're now in the tail end of August, where studios will often off-load movies that they're not quite sure what to do with.

Hit & Run is a romantic action comedy starring Dax Shephard, Kirsten Bell and Bradley Cooper. It follows ex-con, Charlie Bronson, who breaks out of witness protection to help his girlfriend get to Los Angeles for a once in a lifetime job opportunity. But they won't be making the journey alone as they quickly find themselves pursued by his former partners in crime and a Marshall tasked with keeping the 'witness' protected. Bell and Shephard play the couple, while Cooper plays one of the ex-partners, who ended up enduring prison as a result of Bronson's apparent betrayal. Shephard not only stars in the picture but also wrote, produced and co-directed, alongside David Palmer. The two worked together on the 2010 film, Brother Justice, a mockumentary that followed Shephard's attempts to become the next Chuck Norris style martial artist-movie star (That flick also starred Cooper and Tom Arnold, who plays Randy in this new movie). Prior to that, the actor/director had worked on Punk'd and appeared in Mike Judge's Idiocracy, amongst other films and TV appearances. 

Shooting took place in mid-late 2011, with Open Road signing up to distribute in December of that year (Changing the film's name from Outrun to Hit & Run in process). The first trailer appeared in May of this year, with a release date of August 24th originally in place. However, the film was pulled forward by two days after positive preview screenings over the summer. This marks the third week in a row in which we've seen a major release open on a Wednesday. Having Cooper on board certainly won't harm the feature as the actor's profile has continued to rise since breaking out in the 2009 comedy, The Hangover, with turns inThe A-TeamLimitless and the Hangover sequel keeping him firmly in the public eye. While the film is the widest opening of the three releases this frame, it may still struggle due to a lack of marketing push, not to mention competition from bigger, showier movies already on general release.

Our second release this frame is the action thriller, Premium Rush, which sees Joseph Gordon-Levitt's bicycle courier chased across New York by a corrupt cop (played by Michael Shannon) who is intent on intercepting a package Levitt's Wilee is set to deliver. The film is co-written and directed by David Koepp, the famed screenwriter who cut his teeth on such pictures as Toy Soldiers and Death Becomes Her, before moving on to blockbusters Jurassic Park, Spider-Man and Angels & Demons (to name but a few). His first feature directing gig was the little seen Trigger Effect, starring Elisabeth Shue and Kyle MacLachlan. He would then work on to Stir of Echoes, Secret Window and the 2008 Greg Kinnear movie, Ghost Town. Premium Rush shot through the summer of 2010 with Levitt finding out just how dangerous the job was when a cycle accident resulted in him receiving 31 stitches. 

During production, Sony set the movie for a January 2012 release, which even at that point was some way off. It was greeted with further surprise when the picture was pushed back again, to August 24th 2012, almost two years since principal photography was completed. In the meantime, Levitt's star has continued to ascend, with impressive turns in Inception50/50and a pivotal role in The Dark Knight Rises. The first teaser appeared in November 2011, with a full trailer arriving in June. The delay may have hurt the film, and Sony's decision to open at 2,100 locations (and release in late August) also shows a possible lack of confidence. Furthermore, there's no shortage of competition, with Hit & RunThe Expendables 2 and The Bourne Legacy all vying for very similar markets. Will Premium Rush fall before it gets out of the gate?

Out to only 800 or so theatres is the horror thriller The Apparition. The story follows a young couple who are plagued by a series of frightening events in their home. Upon further investigation they discover a presence which was brought into existence by a group of para-psychology students as part of an experiment. Becoming increasingly desperate, the couple turn to an expert in the supernatural but soon discover that even with his help, they may be too late to save themselves. Like Premium Rush, The Apparition has been awaiting release for some time. The film was first announced by Joel Silver's Dark Castle production company back in May 2009, with Todd Lincoln set to make his feature debut (as well as scripting). Lincoln had actually been attached to direct an adaptation of comic book Hack/Slash but despite extensive development, which began in 2006, the project failed to get off the ground. 

By early 2010, the full cast for The Apparition was in place, which included Twilight's Ashley Greene, Harry Potter star Tom Felton and Sebastian Stan, who would go on to play Bucky Barnes in Marvel's Captain America. Shooting took place in Germany, at the famed Studio Babelsberg (where Fritz Lang shot Metropolis) and entered post-production mid 2010. Since then, little had been heard of the Dark Castle production until a trailer arrived online in May 2012, announcing an August release. With next to no marketing push and a somewhat limited theatre count, this feels more like a  contractual obligation than a proper release, which seems bizarre given its $17M production budget. If the film does manage to break into the top ten, chances are it won't be there for long.

John Gosling

John Gosling - I'm a married father with two daughters who resides in central England. I've always been a film buff, but I prefer writing about films to watching them. I've been an amateur box office reporter since 2002, writing a weekly report from mid-2004. After posting my report on an internet forum for a number of years, I transferred them to a dedicated site, earlier in 2012. You can find me on twitter @boxofficevoodoo or find Box Office Voodoo on Facebook.

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