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May 13, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

It’s officially only the second weekend of the summer movie season, and already a movie is opening without its being shown to critics in advance — a fate usually reserved for dregs of the season that are tossed out in late August or early September. The movie is Priest, starring Paul Bettany — and if it’s as bad as most of the people who have seen it say it is, then it could set a new record low at the box office for a 3D film. (It was quickly converted from the original 2D, probably in the hope that the 3D surcharge would lift it into profitability.) It opened in the U.K. last weekend, and judging by the reviews in the London press, Sony/Screen Gems was probably correct in its decision not to show it to critics here. In the London Daily Mirror, writer David Edwards delivered an apology to John Travolta for once calling his Battlefield Earth possibly the worst film ever made. “Drab, eye-rollingly stupid and with noisy effects designed to drown out audience snores, Priest is just about as bad as it gets,” Edwards wrote. Tim Robey’s review in the Telegraph was only slightly less disparaging. “Clawing away under its 3D dinge and slick but desensitizing effects, the movie is deadly, even when it’s cool — a comic-book adaptation ruthlessly shorn of the word ‘comic,'” he wrote. Box office forecasters are predicting that Priest will earn about $10 million this weekend. Bridesmaids, the only other film opening wide, will likely open in second or third place with $15-20 million on the strength of solid reviews and alternative appeal. No. 1, the forecasters agree, will be the second week of Thor, with about $25-30 million, which would put its total beyond the $100 million mark. The film has been doing solid mid-week business, averaging about $5 million per day domestically. In its third week, Fast Five is likely to remain in second place with $15-20 million. Not all the art-house fare is being screened in Cannes this weekend. Opening in limited release are Hesher with Natalie Portman, Everything Must Go with Will Ferrell, Skateland with Ashley Greene and the martial-arts action flick True Legend..