Take me to your leader. Battle Los Angeles is expected to have the best box office showing thus far in 2011 with estimates at $38 million for the weekend, proving once again that movies pertaining to an alien invasion of earth can make the cash register ring.
It is an intriguing genre considering sub-par effects, acting or storylines don’t seem to deter the forgiving nature of alien invasion moviegoers. In fact, alien invasion movies that fumble in these normally crucial areas only seem to endear themselves more to the alien invasion audience.
With a price tag of $70 million, Battle Los Angeles is not a low budget film. But it comes on the heals of Skyline, a surprise hit in 2010. That movie also depicts an alien invasion of Los Angeles. Although Skyline cost a mere $10 million, it brought in a healthy $65 million worldwide despite being roundly panned by critics and receiving little marketing support. This undoubtedly gave comfort to execs at Sony/Columbia who were in production of Battle LA at the time.
Battle Los Angeles also borrows a filming device from yet another recent alien invasion success, Cloverfield (2008). Cloverfield masterfully had its story unfold through the lens of a camcorder toting character ala The Blair Witch Project. Although the movie was professionally shot, director Matt Reeves added urgency and realism to the story by having “Hud”, an integral character, chronicle the unfolding mayhem through what was supposed to be a handheld camcorder.
It is a device that has been coming into its own and is used liberally in Battle Los Angles. Now, what used to be considered amateurish handheld shots are being combined with unfolding action and it is turning out to be a winning combination for movies heavy in action.
Critics have dubbed Battle LA predictable, territory already covered in movies such as Independence Day. But then again, every alien invasion movie is territory already covered. It began in 1951 with The Day the Earth Stood Still and shows no signs of abating.
It is conceivable that aliens from outer space could invade earth. Perhaps it is a drama we humans need to face. But it has also turned out to be a drama that another form of alien, the Hollywood producer, can take to the bank.