Pixar will go the "Disney princess" route with Brave, which will release in an astounding 4,164 theatres, 2,790 of which will project the film in 3D. Though Pixar has created many all-ages animated films, Brave is more for kids than adults. Critic Chris Barsanti calls the medieval fairy tale "a feast for the eyes and ears, if not always the mind." My own screening of the film was marred by an extremely dark projection that made it difficult to make out many of the scenes with lower light. The plot, which follows a princess who wants to be independent instead of being married off, is pretty standard, though there's a twist or so that's unexpected. This Pixar entry is already better reviewed than last year's Cars 2. Like that film, Brave stands to make a hefty marketing dollar. I already spotted a girl wearing a Merida shirt, and I'm sure she will be a cash cow as a member of the Disney princess gang. In terms of box office, Brave should earn north of $60 million.
With a title that evokes Snakes on a Plane, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (3,106 theatres) offers just what it says--our nation's 16th president as a killer of blood-suckers. It's shockingly good, according to critic Maitland McDonagh, who praises the "remarkable balancing act," that fuses a "canny mix of action, horror and alternate history in what should be a bona-fide blockbuster." Despite at least some good reviews (the film is rated 36% positive on Rotten Tomatoes), it may be tough for this R-rated film to reach $20 million.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (1,618 theatres) offers a little bit of everything: romance, comedy, a road trip, and the apocalypse. Steve Carell and Keira Knightley play sad sacks who find solace in each other in the days before the world ends. Filled with "an abundance of swift, darkly amusing gags," the movie also "turns rather tender," according to critic Kevin Lally. The "feel-good/feel-bad sensibility may limit its audience appeal, but moviegoers who don’t mind a little astringency in their romantic comedies will be glad they made the journey." With its small-scale wide release, this film should top out under $10 million.
Don't expect another Midnight in Paris. Woody Allen's tour through Europe grows stagnant with To Rome, With Love (5 theatres). Lally pronounces the "wispy collection of unrelated vignettes...a profound disappointment." The "shockingly underdeveloped" storylines resemble "fragments found in an old drawer." Allen's auteur status should make this film at least open fairly well, though his audience is the kind to take notice of reviews and respond accordingly.
On Monday, we'll see if Brave measures up to other Pixar releases and what others releases stood out in this busy weekend.