The dramedy auteur's ''The Family That Preys'' leads a team of four new movies -- also including ''Righteous Kill,'' ''Burn After Reading,'' and ''The Women'' -- aiming to save Hollywood from a deepening rut
Alfre Woodard, Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys

Hollywood may be coming off one of the worst box office weekends of the decade, but now it’s time for a big rebound (bye-bye, Bangkok Dangerous!). Right? Well, maybe. Certainly, the fact that we’re getting four new movies — Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys, Righteous Kill, Burn After Reading, and The Women — signals some hope on the horizon. I mean, this collection of flicks is at least going to be strong enough to bump The Dark Knight out of the top 5 for the first time in two months. Which counts for something. But it’s hard to imagine any of them seriously setting the multiplex on fire.

Don’t you agree? Weigh in at’s Fall Box Office Challenge to predict the weekend rankings along with me. And, of course, also check out what I have to say below — but please don’t burn anything after reading this column. (Bah-dum-bum!)


Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys
Lionsgate · PG-13 · 2,070 theaters · NEW
The latest release from the seventh-smartest person in Hollywood is a characteristic domestic dramedy, this time revolving around the longtime friendship between two women (Alfre Woodard and Kathy Bates). I could go on with the analysis here, but all you really need to know is that all but one of Perry’s movies have opened north of $20 mil (including last March’s Meet the Browns, which bowed with $20.1 mil). Even in these slow days at the box office, there’s no reason this film should perform any differently.
Weekend prediction: $20 million

Righteous Kill
Overture · R · 3,152 theaters · NEW
John McCain may be making old dudes cool this fall — but, good God, have you seen the trailer for this cop drama? Robert De Niro. Al Pacino. Together again! Uh-oh. Both Oscar winners are past their prime, too, as box office draws (De Niro’s last significant non-Focker/Analyze This success was, uh, 1995’s Heat, pretty much — ditto Pacino, if you discount Ocean’s Thirteen). And the movie’s dark, serial-killer subject matter and R rating will only limit its audience further. Sure, the addition of 50 Cent (sorry, Curtis Jackson) could help draw some interest beyond that which is generated by the De Niro-Pacino casting gimmick. Nevertheless, gimmicks don’t always work in box office land.
Weekend prediction: $11 million

Burn After Reading
Focus · R · 2,651 theaters · NEW
Joel and Ethan Coen just won a slew of Oscars for their heavy drama No Country for Old Men, so, per the Coen rules, this is their obligatory light-comedy follow-up. A zany farce having to do with the CIA, a computer disk, and a gym, this film has no shortage of stars: Oscar winners George Clooney, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton appear alongside Brad Pitt and John Malkovich. Which is nice, indeed, though it’s worth remembering that Brad and George in particular have struggled to turn their lower-profile movies into box office sensations (see: Pitt’s brilliant 2007 film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Clooney’s The Good German…not to mention Michael Clayton and Leatherheads). They’re still pretty damn cool, though.
Weekend prediction: $10 million

The Women
Picturehouse · PG-13 · 2,962 theaters · NEW
I know, this column seems to be devolving into a morass of cynicism and negativity. Don’t blame me! I didn’t decide to release all these movies with dubious prospects this weekend. That said…here’s another likely loser! Bad buzz has saddled this remake of the 1939 George Cukor comedy, which featured a cavalcade of female stars and no men. Meg Ryan and others have been trying to get it produced for the better part of two decades, and only now is it finally seeing the light of day. Sure, the movie’s very 1990s/TV cast (Ryan, Annette Bening, Debra Messing, Candice Bergen, and so on) isn’t as hot as it once might have been. But that’s not the big problem here. No, the main issue is whether The Women is any good. First-time director (and Murphy Brown creator) Diane English recently admitted to EW that her studio’s initial reaction to the film wasn’t very positive; only after the similar female-baiting Sex and the City earned $152.6 mil this summer did it get the marketing boost it needed to contend at the box office. Sounds like it needs all the help it can get.
Weekend prediction: $7 million

Tropic Thunder
Paramount/DreamWorks · R · 2,927 theaters · 5th weekend
Box office, meet your new $100 mil grosser.
Weekend prediction: $5 million

Burn After Reading
  • Movie
  • 96 minutes