By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com April 2, 2012 at 12:19PM
In The Red Corner: Big-screen version of the heavy-metal power-ballad Broadway smash with an all-star cast including Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
In the Blue Corner: Adam Sandler teams with SNL star Andy Samberg for... well, an Adam Sandler movie, but one with a rare R-rating that suggests it'll be an Adam Sandler movie but with boobs and swearing.
Who Will Win? Sandler is about as reliable a comedy name as you could ask for, box-office wise, but he's looking a little more fallible here; his last film, "Jack & Jill," made significantly less than usual, and the last time he went R-rated with "Funny People," it barely grossed $50 million. With his target audience of 13-year-old boys unable to attend, can he survive?Particularly when he's up against "Rock Of Ages"? Musicals in the height of summer are rare, but director Adam Shankman had one of the last big hits with "Hairspray," and this could do even better, given its ransacking of classic rock favorites, and the presence of Tom Cruise, his box office mojo firmly back in place. While it might end up skewing a little older, it should have a broader appeal in general, falling as it does somewhere between "Glee" and "Mamma Mia," and carrying a teen-friendly rating. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but it looks like Sandler might get handed a rare box-office ass-kicking.
In The Red Corner: The latest from animation giants Pixar, about a feisty Scottish princess and her encounter with a witch.
In The Blue Corner: Revisionist historical actioner from producer Tim Burton and "Wanted" director Timur Bekmambetov, which sees the great president's secret life as an undead-slayer exposed.
Who Will Win? Unlike the summer's other animated match-ups ("Prometheus" and "Madagascar 3," "Ted" and "Ice Age 4"), there's more thematic cross-over between Bekmambetov's film and Pixar's. "Brave" seems to lean more action-adventure heavy than the studio's usual work, but also has a female lead, which may turn off younger boys. Pixar's track-record means they bring in plenty of unaccompanied adults, but might that crowd be tempted towards something more in their comfort zone, especially with the company's last film, "Cars 2," disappointing critically, and proving to be one of their lowest domestic grossers in years? That being said, even with Burton's name attached, 'Lincoln' still has to deal with an unknown cast and the kind of silly title that, like "Snakes On A Plane" and "Hot Tub Time Machine," might bring it attention without converting to ticket sales. Ultimately, only a fool would bet against Pixar: even if 'Lincoln' is a hit, it'll likely take well under what "Brave" makes.
In The Red Corner: Universal's smash-hit spy franchise gets a new hero in the shape of Jeremy Renner, who'll face off against Edward Norton and Rachel Weisz.
In The Blue Corner: Paul Verhoeven's sci-fi actioner gets a CGI-heavy makeover, with Colin Farrell in the lead and "Live Free and Die Hard" helmer Len Wiseman in charge.
Who'll Win Out? Certainly to be the toughest battle of the summer, as the LA Times pointed out, this sees a proven hit series that's fronted by a new lead defending its territory from a brand-name remake that's gotten a new spin undoubtedly inspired by the 'Bourne' franchise. As PG-13 actioners, they're chasing the exact same demographic, but one would probably give 'Bourne' the upper hand, just on the basis of the previous films' successes. That being said, will audiences be as happy to embrace a change of lead in the same way they always have with the Bond movies? Jeremy Renner is still untested as a box office draw, and the film doesn't have the same visual effects bells-and-whistles as its competitor. That being said, Colin Farrell has rarely brought in crowds as the lead of a tentpole like "Total Recall," and a feeling of redundancy hangs heavy over the whole affair. 'Bourne' should walk away with this, and we still wouldn't be surprised to see "Total Recall" blink and move later in the year, even at this late stage.