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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Michael Cera

Michael Cera and Harvey Weinstein try for a (small) insurrection

January 7, 2010 |  3:09 pm

“Youth in Revolt,” the mishmash of meshugas from a mustachioed Michael Cera, is unlikely to turn into a surprise hit a la Harvey Weinstein’s recent breakout, “Inglourious Basterds.” But after being blown around the calendar more than a plastic bag in a windstorm (and written off as much as, well, Harvey himself), the Weinstein Company/Dimension film actually may manage a decent opening this weekend after all.

Thanks to an inescapable blitz, people apparently want to see the pomo story of a sexually frustrated teenager and his police-provoking antics. Tracking for the film has begun to spike in recent days, and L.A. Times box-office guru Ben Fritz says he expects that the movie will open in the $10 million to $12 million range -- not “Avatar” but not “One Last Call” either.

Much of that interest comes from a blitz of late-night and sports-oriented commercials – if you’ve seen even five seconds of ESPN in the last month you may find yourself unwittingly quoting the not exactly hilarious but somehow catchy “I’ve decided to create a supplementary persona” line that Cera says to describe the movie’s setup.

How Harvey came up with the money for such a barrage is anyone’s guess. Equally surprising: While Cera is generally a draw for the girls, the commercials have actually helped stoke a male audience, with interest in the film highest among teenage boys and men 20-29 (with, no surprise, almost nonexistent interest among anyone over 30).

Capitalizing on that interest when the men will still be coming out for “Avatar” this weekend will be the challenge, but it’s not an insurmountable one. The subject matter, as well as the book on which it’s based (a cult novel from YA author C.D. Payne) should help, even if a teenager who actually read the mid-'90s “Catcher in the Rye” wannabe when it came out is at least close to 30 himself.

When we interviewed Cera at the Toronto Film Festival, he was quick to call out the book as a reason he took on the role. “It’s 500 pages but really funny," he said. The amended quote for the movie could wind up being, “It may not be that funny, but it could still make some dough.”

-- Steven Zeitchik

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