Without a major new DVD release, R-rated comedies "Wanderlust" and "Project X" are among the top titles vying for mainstream audiences this week, with inspirational drama "Big Miracle" also reaching stores after a meager run at the box office. Other titles getting launched this week include indie comedy "Jeff Who Lives at Home" and the second season of critically acclaimed comedy series "Louie." In a light week for older releases, "Evita" will hit stores in a special edition Blu-ray set alongside "Newsies," which celebrates its 20th anniversary since its release.
Launched at the beginning of March, "Project X" seemed like a long shot to have much of a box office impact, mostly thanks to a production budget of just $12 million, no popular cast members, and a mediocre release schedule. But even with plenty going against it, "Project X" was able to capitalize on "The Hangover" phenomenon to the tune of $54 million domestically and $99 million worldwide, making it one of the most profitable movies of the winter/spring.
Produced by "The Hangover" director Todd Phillips, "Project X" follows the lives of a tight-knit group of high school boys who try to become more popular by putting together a great party. Though "Project X" was mostly panned by critics as a revamping of teen comedies like "Risky Business" and "American Pie," mainstream audiences turned out in the slow early March, when there were limited options for adults. After performing much better in theaters than "Wanderlust," it should have a leg up in the home market as well this week on DVD and Blu-ray.
As "Project X" hits stores without much in terms of star power, many adults might turn to "Wanderlust," an R-rated comedy starring Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston. "Wanderlust" received mostly positive reviews from critics, though it faltered at the box office and managed just $17 million domestically after a fairly limited release back in late February. As it becomes more accessible on DVD and Blu-ray, "Wanderlust" should do a little better on the small screen over the next few weeks.
Aiming at a much different demographic will be "Big Miracle," starring John Krasinski and Drew Barrymore. "Big Miracle" also had plenty of critical buzz (74% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes), but that didn't turn into tickets sales at the box office. Based on a true story, "Big Miracle" follows a team of activists determined to free a group of grey whales after they are trapped in ice off the coast of Alaska. With a PG rating, no real competition and some positive critical buzz, the Universal distribution should do a little better with its target demographic in the home market.
Also hoping to find a few more viewers on the small screen will be "Jeff Who Lives at Home," an R-rated comedy starring Jason Segel and Ed Helms. "Jeff Who Lives at Home" had some strong critical feedback, though Paramount Vintage struggled to find a marketing angle and ended up missing its target audience in theaters. After hitting just 513 venues at its widest point, "Jeff Who Lives at Home" will likely see similar struggles in the home market, particularly with competition for adult audiences from both "Project X" and "Wanderlust."
Those looking for comedy can also turn to the second season of "Louie," the successful F/X series created by popular comedian Louie C.K. Praised for its sardonic wit and interesting take on the life of a stand-up comedian, "Louie" has a growing audience that could make it a long-term hit on cable. F/X is set to launch the third season of "Louie" later this month.
Without any prominent older titles hitting special edition Blu-ray this week, period piece "Evita" is among the top new Blu-ray releases. Directed by Alan Parker ("Mississippi Burning") and co-written by Oliver Stone, "Evita" stars Madonna as Eva Peron, a woman who rises from humble beginnings to be the First Lady of Argentina. Based on a popular Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, "Evita" received mixed critical reviews but was able to have a significant box office impact around the globe when it launched in the mid-1990s.
Also struggling to find much critical support was musical "Newsies," a Disney production starring Christian Bale that fizzled at the box office back in 1992. Based on a newspaper strike at the end of the 19th century, "Newsies" does carry a PG rating that might entice some families to give it a shot as it launches on special edition Blu-ray this week.
Next week, popular R-rated comedy "21 Jump Street" is among the top new titles hitting the home market, followed by Oscar-winner "The Artist" and action sequel "Wrath of the Titans." Family film "Mirror Mirror" will also launch on DVD and Blu-ray as will Eddie Murphy's box office dud "A Thousand Words." Alfred Hitchcock's early film "The 39 Steps" will be getting released in a special Criterion collector's edition and "Deliverance" will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a new special edition Blu-ray set.
by RTT Staff Writer
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