By Steven Zeitchik
The fall may be a time for serious movies. But it still doesn't feel that way, what with the comedies, genre pics and others all rushing to get out before the season turns somber. It's hard to imagine a weekend of boxoffice with more nuggets than this one, so we'll run a few down.
* A land of zombies. "Shaun of the Dead," "28 Days Later, "I Am Legend." There have been dozens of low-budget campy failures over the years, but it seems like every time lately a studio touches a zombie movie, they come to boxoffice life. "Zombieland" didn't get great reviews, the fans didn't always go gaga, and Woody Harrelson isn't the type to open a movie -- and yet it still earned $25m and looks to feast on more next week. That all should be good news for any studio developing a zombie movie, as DreamWorks is with a couple of pics, and motivate scores of other studios to try to get their hands on one.
* Ricky, he's so fine he blows our mind. Ricky Gervais tried to open a movie last year with the underappreciated "Ghost Town." It didn't work, and now he's tried it again with the high-concept comedy "Invention of Lying." The movie's a moral parable -- it's part "Truman Show," part "Liar Liar" -- that doesn't quite come off but is still sly and ambitious. The religious subversiveness may have hurt it in red states, but people who love Ricky really love Ricky, which is why the film at least earned $7.5m and didn't become, well, "Whip It." He'll try again next year with "Cemetery Junction," which like "Lying," he also wrote and stars in.
* Moonlighting. Despite working more often than a hard-boiled private eye, Bruce Willis has not had a bona fide hit since "Unbreakable" a decade ago. (Okay, so he had "Live Free or Die Hard." A hit that originated in the last fifteen years, we should say.) Seems hard to believe, but it's not changing with "Surrogates," which faltered this weekend and has failed to hit $20m in two weeks of release. Yet Willis keeps raking in the roles -- expect 26 more action pics in the next year. One or two of them have to succeed. If not, well, maybe he'll stop making action movies by the time he's 60.