Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your regular guide to everything new, noteworthy and nightmarish at the movies. This week: Blart saves, Biggie lives and My Bloody Valentine sucks in three dimensions.
WHAT'S NEW: There are plenty of reasons to hate January — post-holiday blahs, the weather, another season of 24 — but it took us a while to find peace in the wasteland of the month's film culture. Because while the mostly bad Oscar films you've already seen expand to thousands of screens like a contagion (Mendesitis? Fincher pox?), Paul Blart: Mall Cop and My Bloody Valentine arrive like big, dumb wonder drugs, treating us with the essential seasonal hope that we can forget, if even for a couple hours, about Revolutionary Road.
And that's what we'd expect an ailing America will in fact do this weekend, with a lively counterprogramming mix promising a busier-than-usual January frame. Kevin James's Blart is the only legitimate contender to knock Gran Torino out of last week's surprising first-place slot, and we'll just go ahead and presume it will with $27.4 million to Torino's $24.7 million. Another duel unfolds below them at No. 3 and 4, where we like My Bloody Valentine 3D to stay ahead of Hotel For Dogs by at least a million dollars — maybe $19.6 versus Dogs' $18.4.
Also opening: The chop-socky-meets-Bollywood blockbuster Chandi Chowk to China; the unearthed Godard noir Made in U.S.A.; the 20-years-in-the-making, Oscar-shortlisted doc Nerakhoon (The Betrayal); the poet-meets-biker, poet-loses-biker Leather Jacket Love Story; and the Susan Anton D-potboiler Playing With Fire.
THE BIG LOSER: Competition from MBV will result in a spectacular freefall for The Unborn , which we foresee plunging more than 70 percent before disappearing to DVD.
THE UNDERDOG: Fox Searchlight can drop Notorious on whatever crappy weekend it wants and still probably pull at least $13 million on half the screens of Blart, MBV or anything else. The specialty label had its hagiographic Biggie Smalls biopic on both urban and media radar as early as fall 2007, when it launched a public casting call for the lead; Jamal Woolard probably had the role locked up well before that stunt transpired, but Searchlight's continuing genius advancing its in-house product — Juno was its last — will pay off once again.
FOR SHUT-INS: This week's new DVD's include the Dane Cook folly My Best Friend's Girl, Ed Harris's forgotten Western Appaloosa, the Kevin Costner political comedy Swing Vote, the underrated melodrama Brideshead Revisited, Tyler Perry's even more wildly underrated melodrama The Family That Prays, and the long-awaited sixth season of Walker: Texas Ranger. Run, folks, don't walk.