Weekend Movies: Boys Are from Venus, Men Are from Mars

Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated sci-fi survival movie is technically the only new wide release of the week, but the nationwide expansion of Emily Blunt’s gritty cartel-busting film hopes to steal away an audience of its own.

Drew Goddard adapted Andy Weir’s popular book ‘The Martian‘ for Ridley Scott, who directed the large ensemble space epic for the big screen (but not the IMAX screen, which is what you might have expected). Matt Damon plays the lead in this picture about an astronaut whose team, under the impression that he’s dead, abandons him on Mars during a deadly sandstorm. With limited food and no communication with the ship or Earth, he must find a way to get in touch with someone – anyone – who can send a rescue mission after him. His rock solid self-control and superior botanical knowledge will help, but can they keep him alive long enough for four years or more? In need of another re-write to condense the story a bit, the good-but-congested movie co-stars Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mackenzie Davis, Donald Glover and a lot of relentless pop culture references.

Next to ‘The Martian’, the only other movie moving to wide status is ‘Sicario‘, which – after receiving stellar reviews and two great weeks in limited release – is climbing up to 2,620 screens. Lionsgate’s preachy hit is expected to continue its success, but ‘The Martian’ is poised to outpace it this weekend.

Like Ridley Scott, Robert Zemeckis is also hoping to produce another critical and box office hit with the limited release of his PG-rated thriller ‘The Walk‘. And just like ‘Everest’ did a few weeks ago, ‘The Walk’ started off its theatrical run this past Wednesday with an IMAX-only debut. For nine days, the dizzying 3D film can only be seen in the large-scale format. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in the true story about tight-rope walker Philippe Petit and his heist-like illegal mission to sneak to the top of New York City’s World Trade Center towers in 1974 for a wire-walk like no other. The documentary about this story, ‘Man on Wire’, is absolutely brilliant, so it might be really difficult for Zemeckis to make a dramatized feature that’s even better than the doc. ‘The Walk’ expands to nationwide 2D and 3D screens next Friday, October 9th.

Lionsgate hopes to keep the ‘Sicario’ success going with the two-screen release of ‘Freeheld‘. Peter Sollett’s drama tells the true story of a gay couple (Julianne Moore and Ellen Page) whose domestic partnership and civil rights are tried when one falls ill to cancer and is declined the right to be covered by her partner’s health insurance provider. Based on the 2007 Oscar-winning documentary short of the same name, the feature adaptation has some decent buzz following its TIFF debut last month.

Also buzzing is Fox Searchlight’s documentary by Davis Guggenheim, ‘He Named Me Malala‘. The film begins its platform release on four screens this weekend. The doc follows the story of a Pakistani school girl who started a controversy when she spoke out about equal education for girls and ultimately made her way in front of the United Nations.

3 comments

  1. Timcharger

    Luke: “Lionsgate’s preachy hit (Sicario)…”

    Don’t you have to be wordy to be preachy? I guess a picture is
    worth a thousand words. For a “preachy” film, Sicario says very
    few actual words.

    Interesting that Phil says the exact opposite:
    “While Villeneuve clearly comes at the material with a point of view and a message, he never preaches.”

  2. Chris B

    Dammit Luke! I’m seeing this on Tuesday and now I’m worried I’m going to find it overly-preachy! I hope not….

    In other Ridley Scott news, it looks like Matchstick Men is finally coming out on blu ray this month. Hallelujah…thought you’d like to know.

  3. CC

    -“The documentary about this story, ‘Man on Wire’, is absolutely brilliant, so it might be really difficult for Zemeckis to make a dramatized feature that’s even better than the doc.”
    The doc fell short on one thing that The Walk has. The doc never SHOWED the walk.

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