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Weekend Preview: Pattinson vs. Damon in Melodramatic Remember Me and Political Green Zone

Weekend Preview: Pattinson vs. Damon in Melodramatic Remember Me and Political Green Zone

Heading into its second weekend, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland will continue to score big numbers. According to Flixster, the Tim Burton fantasy (which has a Tomatoscore of 52%) is pacing about five times ahead of this week’s new releases. That’s not hard, because none of the newcomers are crossing over from their target demo. (Trailers are on the jump.) UPDATE: Box office watchers can now place bets on their predictions.

Universal’s long-delayed Iraq-war thriller Green Zone, which reunites the director-star Bourne team of Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon, will appeal to men. Unimpressive marketing materials have stressed the film’s relationship to the Bourne movies; it’s more like Michael Mann’s angry Big Tobacco expose The Insider, which earned rave reviews but tiny box office. Green Zone isn’t tracking well, but will likely earn a range of rave to mixed reviews as it opens on 2999 screens.

Written by Brian Helgeland, inspired and shaped by Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s “Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone,” the material will be familiar to anyone who saw the Iraq documentary No End in Sight. The villain of the piece is the Coalition Provisional Authority’s Paul Bremer-figure (Greg Kinnear), who allowed the disbanded Iraqi army to transform into deadly armed insurgents. Damon plays a warrant officer searching for WMDs who rather unbelievably allies himself with a rogue CIA officer (Brendan Gleeson) to track down an Iraqi general. Amy Ryan’s WSJ reporter resembles the NYT’s Judith Miller.

Universal should never have allowed yet another gorgeously-mounted movie for smart people to cost so much. Greengrass deployed his usual on-the-run improvised guerilla filmmaking methods on multiple locations including Morocco. The hand-held cinematography is whip-sharp. You feel smack inside the action. Helicopter night shots over Baghdad are stunning.

But this time Bourne producer Frank Marshall wasn’t riding herd on the production. Working Title was in charge. With a budget of some $130 million, Green Zone is as ardently political as the $11-million The Hurt Locker was not. Finally, Green Zone (along with out-of-control The Wolfman, which should have been shut down after Mark Romanek bailed) cost studio co-chairmen Marc Shmuger and David Linde their jobs. The duo pushed back the Green Zone post-production and release to allow Greengrass to find the film–and an ending–in the editing room. Reshoots also boosted the budget, at a time when boss Ron Meyer needed to keep NBC’s Jeff Zucker happy as the NBC/Comcast merger was going through.

Ardent female fans of Twilight and Rob Pattinson will fuel Summit’s Remember Me, which will earn terrible reviews, I suspect, and fall off fast. (Here’s A.P.) The dead-serious romance appeals to women under 25, but will be a must-to-avoid for males. Pattinson gives his all in this New York-set drama about an alienated NYU student who battles with his banker father (Pierce Brosnan) and falls in love with a fellow student (Lost‘s Emilie de Raven) whose father (Chris Cooper) is an over-protective cop. Unfortunately the actors can’t save a meandering, melodramatic script with a twist ending that has already leaked all over the web and has proved problematic in research previews.

Tracking is weak for two comedies, Paramount’s date-movie She’s Out of My League, starring Jay Baruchel, which opens in 2600 theaters, and Fox Searchlight’s culture-clash wedding comedy Our Family Wedding, starring America Ferrera and Forrest Whitaker, in just 1500 locations.

Remember Me:

Green Zone:

She’s Out of My League:

Our Family Wedding:

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