With ‘Age of Ultron’ still dominating the global box office, this weekend is all about one thing: counter-programming.
Two titles open nationwide, the first of which has been marketed like crazy in an attempt to draw out a viewer demographic that might not care about Marvel superheroes. (Considering the recent controversy surrounding leaked emails about the role of females in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it might draw out even more of its target female audience than hoped for.) ‘Hot Pursuit‘ is banking on the same audience that made ‘The Heat‘ a big success. Not only does it share a similar comedic set-up, the leading actresses feature the same dynamic: one is an Oscar-winner and the other is a one-note comic TV star working her proven schtick. Reese Witherspoon plays an uptight Texas cop assigned to protect a special witness (Sofia Vergara) who’s set to testify in a case that will bring down a Mexican drug lord. Of course, things go awry and the duo need to make it from location A to location B with crooked cops and cartel killers in hot pursuit. Although reviews are extremely negative, ‘Hot Pursuit’ definitely could have been worse.
Surprisingly, IFC owns the second wide release of the weekend. Yes, you read correctly – IFC is actually pushing a title nationwide. ‘The D Train‘ debuted to a so-so response at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but the small studio must have a lot of faith in it to push it out to 1,000 locations. Jack Black and James Mardsen star in this dark comedy about a guy (Black) who was less-than-popular in high school. Now that a class reunion is coming up, if he can coax a now-famous classmate (Marsden) to attend, he’ll finally be popular amongst his peers. To do so, he’ll travel from Pennsylvania to California – and he’s willing to stoop to any level.
Focus Features is releasing ‘5 Flights Up‘ on 87 screens. The light drama stars Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton as an aging couple who decide that it’s time to sell their coveted fifth-floor New York City apartment and move to a more reasonable first-floor location. As they begin showing their home, hipsters and weirdos arrive one after the other, making for quirky comedy and a tale that will likely end with them realizing that home is wherever you make it.
A few weeks after joining the film festival circuit, ‘I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story‘ is getting a very small release. The documentary focuses on the 78-year-old man who has brought Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to life since 1969. Filled with loads of old professional and amateur footage, the film’s composition and stories are said to be fantastic.