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Each week, I will highlight the movies that are opening wide in most markets over the weekend and take a stab at guessing who will come out on top of the box office.

Opening April 8th, 2011:

Arthur, starring the Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner and Greta Gerwig. Directed by Jason Winer.

Rating: PG-13.
Length: 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Synopsis: A drunken playboy stands to lose a wealthy inheritance when he falls for a woman his family doesn't like (via
What are critics saying?: Likely to end up with around the same critical response as last weekend's Russell Brand movie, Hop, Arthur is getting mostly negative reviews. Most of the reviews compare it to the original 1981 Dudley Moore movie and find that it doesn't hold up some 30 years later. It looks like Arthur is suffering the fate of many remakes: the viewers find them unnecessary and mediocre when compared to the original films.
Box office prospects: The film is expected to make around $17 million, coming in 2nd only to Russell Brand's other movie, Hop. It's a solid take for a spring comedy, but one would think that the studio would hope it could out-do an animated comedy in its second week of release.
Want to see it?: Find showtimes by clicking here.

Watch the trailer for Arthur:

Hanna, starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana. Directed by Joe Wright.

Rating: PG-13.
Length: 1 hour and 51 minutes.
Synopsis: A 16-year-old who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives (via
What are critics saying?: Critics seem to quite like it, applauding star Saoirse Ronan's performance and the action. Being a revenge film, it seems to make even those who like it almost feel like they shouldn't, which is a unique reaction that could end up dividing audiences.
Box office prospects: A $10 million opening expected, Hanna is set to end up at the bottom of this week's new releases. It's a relatively small movie, so perhaps it isn't a bad showing, especially considering the movie's subject matter (a young girl on a murderous revenge rampage) may not appeal to the broadest of spectrums.
Want to see it?: Find showtimes by clicking here.

Watch the trailer for Hanna:

Soul Surfer, starring AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt. Directed by Sean McNamara.

Rating: PG.
Length: 1 hour and 46 minutes.
Synopsis: A teenage surfer girl summons the courage to go back into the ocean after losing an arm in a shark attack (via
What are critics saying?: This true story of Bethany Hamilton, the surfer who lost an arm in a shark attack, is sure to be emotional. Critics, though, think the film lays it on a bit too thick, becoming sappy and overcome with faith-based overtones. It may not technically be a Lifetime movie, but it appears to have a lot of the classic hallmarks of one.
Box office prospects: A projected $10.5 million opening weekend sounds pretty good for a small movie that hasn't been broadly promoted. It, as mentioned, is predicted to outdo Hanna, another film with a young female protagonist conquering adversity that has been more heavily promoted, so maybe faith and waves appeal to more people than revenge and blood.
Want to see it?: Find showtimes by clicking here.

Watch the trailer for Soul Surfer:

Your Highness, starring Danny McBride, Natalie Portman, James Franco and Zooey Deschanel. Directed by David Gordon Green.

Rating: R.
Length: 1 hour and 42 minutes.
Synopsis: When Prince Fabious's bride is kidnapped, he goes on a quest to rescue her... accompanied by his lazy useless brother Thadeous (via
What are critics saying?: Compared to the last David Gordon Green/Danny McBride collaboration, Pineapple Express, Your Highness is getting pretty poor reviews. It looks like the pot-and-poop humor that made Pineapple Express work doesn't translate well to the Medieval time period. This movie seems to rely too heavily on the modern humor, with Natalie Portman and James Franco playing straight men to McBride's anachronistic slacker. Critics think the concept, which sounds decent on paper, doesn't deliver on film.
Box office prospects: An $11.5 million weekend is predicted, which is not terrible for an R-rated comedy released at this time of the year. The aforementioned Pineapple Express made twice that amount, but it was released in August, where it could still ride the wave of the busy summer box office. Still, I'm sure the producers were hoping that the high profile cast (which includes Natalie Portman and James Franco, Oscar nominees from this year), would have proved to be a bigger draw beyond the college crowd.
Want to see it?: Find showtimes by clicking here.

Watch the trailer for Your Highness:

Which movie has the most buzz? Your Highness has a lock on Facebook buzz, dominating the competition in terms of fans. This makes sense, since Facebook is still a social network chock full of college students, who are undoubtedly the target audience of this movie. On Twitter, Arthur edges out the rest in terms of tweet volume, but there's no telling whether those tweets are from people anticipating the movie or venting about the fact that it's another Hollywood remake. Though, since it's predicted to make more money than the rest of this weekend's new releases, maybe the Twitter buzz really does reflect an eager movie-going audience.

What am I going to see? The comedies don't do much for me, even though I don't mind Russell Brand and really liked Pineapple Express. The movie I'm really looking forward to seeing is Hanna--the reviews promise a decent action movie, and I have enjoyed what little I've seen of Saoirse Ronan. It also doesn't hurt that it's female centric--female-led action movies took a hit with the critical lashing of Sucker Punch, and this seems to redeem them a bit, in terms of quality. Director Joe Wright hasn't disappointed me yet, either.

Who will come out on top? Spring fever is still alive and well, so I think Hop will retain its hold on the box office, with some Easter anticipation helping it to do so. Of the new releases, Arthur seems to have the best shot at contending with Hop, though I think the experts are underestimating Your Highness's drawing power just a bit.

Posters courtesy of and

1 Comment

  1. search-movies On April 8, 2011 at 12:22 PM

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