By heavily marketing The Five-Year Engagement (2,936 theatres) as "from the producer of Bridesmaids," Universal hopes to draw in audiences looking for raunchy, original humor as well as traditional rom-com viewers. Writers Jason Segel (who stars) and Nicholas Stoller (who directs) guarantee at least some appeal to the male crowd, especially those who took a shine to the duo after Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which shares many similarities with the current project. In my review, I call it a "notch above," but it's nothing more than a reasonably fun way to spend a Friday night. Plus, unlike many more stereotypical romantic comedies, you won't leave with a bad taste in your mouth. Prognosticators expect an opening at least in the teen millions.
The first animated offering in two months, The Pirates! Band of Misfits (3,358 theatres) will release in 3D. The "inspired nonsense" of a story makes for "endearing drollery," according to FJI critic Rex Roberts. The Aardman Entertainment production is filled with typical British humor, which could dampen grosses a bit, but the feature should still land somewhere at least in the teen millions.
A kind of mix of the revisionist fantasy The Grimm Brothers and From Hell, The Raven (2,203 theatres) follows Edgar Allan Poe as he tries to track down a murderer who is using Poe's books for inspiration. The "lamebrain concept" failed to entice critic David Noh, who described the suspenser as an "endless, tireless cartoon." An opening somewhere north of $10 million is in the forecast.
"The best Jason Statham outing in some time," according to critic Daniel Eagan, Safe (2,266 theatres) promises to "[hurtle] viewers along its twisting, sordid storyline." Despite this rave from Eagan, the action thriller is expected to earn just below $10 million, though Eagan feels it could "grab a wider audience through word of mouth."
On the specialty front, indie darling Brit Marling plays a cult leader in the "taut and unnerving" Sound of My Voice (5 theatres), which critic Erica Abeel gave a thumbs-up. Jack Black is the highlight of Bernie (3 theatres), a black comedy about a man who murders an elderly woman, and is based on a true story. Finally, Elles, a sex-filled French tale about a journalist who investigates college students moonlighting as prostitutes, should excite stateside audiences, though male viewers may "[leave] the theatre disappointed that Freud’s famous question, 'What does a woman want?' remains profoundly unanswered," Roberts reflects.
On Monday, come back to see if audiences bought the "Bridesmaids spinoff" pitch and if families turned out for a fresh animated offering.