Last weekend, "The Avengers" clobbered Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows" and earned some serious dough. But, we kind of saw that one coming. However, this weekend, Earth's mightiest heroes might have some legitimate competition.
Peter Berg's "Battleship" has been earning big bucks overseas and is making its debut this weekend. And if the alien-apocalypse film doesn't completely steal audience's attention, there's Sacha Baron Cohen's newest envelope-pusher "The Dictator" and the star-studded baby guide adaptation, "What to Expect When You're Expecting."
So, before you put all your money down on a your favorite new release, let's take a look at Moviefone's Weekend Movie Preview. (For a review roundup on the new slate of films, scroll down to the bottom.)
What's the story? Sharing nothing with its board-game namesake, the film stars Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Liam Neeson and pop sensation Rihanna (making her on-screen debut) as Naval officers who take on Earth-crushing extraterrestrials who've landed off the coast of Hawaii.
Box-office prediction: Universal made a savvy tactical move releasing "Battleship" overseas two weeks before Marvel's "Avengers" assembled. So far, it's racked up over $215 million. Stateside, the film will screen at over 3,750 theaters this weekend. But its $42 million won't be enough to best "The Avengers," which is currently tracking at $60 million.
What's the story? Sacha Baron Cohen plays a lovably tyrannical dictator who's forced to acclimate to America when his identity (well, beard) is stripped from him.
Box-office prediction: Ryan Seacrest can attest that promotion for "The Dictator" pre-dates all of its competitors. The film applied the early-bird philosophy to the box office, premiering on Wednesday instead of Friday. Between that and decent reviews, Cohen's new film may end up bringing in $23 million over its five-day release.
"What to Expect When You're Expecting"
What's the story? Based off the baby bible, the film narrates the ups and downs of pregnancy through the lives of five (Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, and Brooklyn Decker) mommys-to-be.
Box-office prediction: There was a time when the weaving-story romcom enjoyed great success, but if the "New Year's Eve" box office fail is any indication, the film should expect disappointing returns. Still, "What to Expect" does boast quite a cast and is trying to appeal to a larger market, so it could earn $16 million.
While the nationwide releases seem to cover all the basics: aliens, dictators and babies, this week's limited releases fill in the blanks. Set during the Regan era, "Beyond the Black Rainbow" narrates the trippy TV-fueled escape from oppressive reality; best friends go head to head in "American Animal" when one attempts to enter the real world; a hesitant coach ends up leading a Native American high school team to lacrosse glory in "Crooked Arrow"; "Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story" narrates the tragic story of the Israeli commander; starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy and Felicity Jones "Hysteria" is a comedy about the birth of the vibrator; the documentary, "Indie Game: The Movie" follows a group of struggling, yet prominent indie game designers; a newlywed encounters her childhood nightmares in "Lovely Molly"; a tongue-in-cheek documentary, "Mansome" sees Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis and more attempt to define modern masculinity; 2011's Jury Prize winner at Cannes Film Festival, "Polisse," follows a group of Parisian Child Protection workers of the Paris police; Samuel L. Jackson stars as an ex-con who tries -- to much difficulty -- to turn over a new leaf in "The Samaritan"; Jennifer Connelly plays the titular lead in "Virgina", whose tangled web gets a little more sordid when the character's son falls for her lover's daughter.
"'Battleship' is a sound vessel floating in Hollywood's oil-slick sea of 'Transformers' <a href="http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20587674,00.html" target="_hplink">sequels and vampire riffs</a>."
"Those looking for big, loud sci-fi action will find plenty to like here as director Peter Berg ('Hancock,' 'Friday Night Lights') pumps up the volume on <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/film-review-battleship-310991" target="_hplink">clashing military hardware and flag-waving heroics</a>."
"And when the F-14s came out for a triumphant flyover, I looked around the room to find the moron who was applauding <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2012-05-16/film/battleship-because-every-generation-needs-an-armageddon/" target="_hplink">only to realize that it was me</a>."
"Cohen employs a comic range that ricochets between wicked political barbs and the lowest anatomical farce, <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/dictator-review-sacha-baron-cohen-borat-323339" target="_hplink">to often funny and occasionally hilarious effect</a>."
"That potential is mostly squandered in The Dictator, which gestures halfheartedly toward topicality and, with equal lack of conviction, <a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2012/05/16/movies/the-dictator-with-sacha-baron-cohen.html?ref=movies" target="_hplink">toward pure, anarchic silliness</a>."
"By turns hysterical, heretical, guilty, innocent, silly, <a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/movies/la-et-the-dictator-20120516,0,6469800.story" target="_hplink">sophisticated, teasing and tedious</a>."
"For all the fear, loathing, and overthinking that Murkoff's bedside text engenders, its journey ends with the hopeful beginning of a new life, <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2012-05-16/film/parent-trap-the-narrow-worldview-of-what-to-expect-when-you-re-expecting/" target="_hplink">whereas the movie leaves you hoping for a swift end to your own</a>."
"Helmer Kirk Jones does a solid job negotiating the material and managing the <a href="http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117947536?refcatid=31" target="_hplink">few tonal shifts when an occasional dark moment emerges</a>."
"As sociology, it's skin-deep, but if you're a parent or preparing to be one, <a href="http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20587690,00.html" target="_hplink">you might see yourself in a few of these folks and have a good time doing so</a>."