It feels like there’s very little reason to write a full column this week, because the only movie being given any sort of wide release, and barely at that, is the found footage horror movie The Pyramid (20th Century Fox), directed by Gregory Levasseur, Alexandre Aja’s right hand man… or WRITE hand man, if you prefer, ’cause he’s written many of Aja’s films as well as acting as 2nd Unit and Art Director and Producer. The Pyramid doesn’t have much in the way of star power, with the only recognizable actor being venerable character actor Dennis O’Hare.
But that’s about all I know about the movie except that it looks a lot like August’s As Above/So Below or 2012’s Chernobyl Diaries, transported into adifferent setting and both of those bombed, grossing $21.3 and $18 million respectively after opening on holiday weekends with $8.6 and $7.9 million. Those both opened in nearly five times as many theaters as The Pyramid, and the barely-wide release 20th Century Fox is giving this movie doesn’t bode much confidence in it. General awareness for the movie is probably so low even among diehard horror fans that it will be lucky to get into the bottom of the top 10 opening in just 500 to 600 theaters as it is. This is probably going to be this year’s Old Boy, which tanked over Thanksgiving despite having a big name cast and director as well as being a remake of a cult classic. I’ll be shocked if it makes more than $1.5 million, which may be enough to crack the top 10 but just barely.
This weekend last year was a similar post-Thanksgiving weekend with only one wide release, that being the new movie from Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper Out of the Furnace (Relativity), a crime-thriller starring Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Willem Dafoe and more. It followed suit with other post-Thanksgiving releases, taking in just $5.2 million its opening weekend in 2,101 theaters, less than $2,500 per location, but still enough to take third place behind The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen (which moved into first place with $31.6 million). The Top 10 grossed $84 million and I don’t even think that this weekend will match that amount.
This Week’s Predictions –
(I’m skipping the gallery this week because it’s essentially the same as last week.)
#1 The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 1 (Lionsgate) – $24.0 million -58% (up .2 million)
#2 The Penguins of Madagascar (DreamWorks Animation) – $11.0 million -57%
#3 Big Hero 6 (Disney Animation) – $8.5 million -55%
#4 Interstellar (Paramount) – $7.6 million -52%
#5 Horrible Bosses 2 (New Line/WB) – $7.3 million -53%
#6 Dumb and Dumber To (Universal) – $3.5 million -58%
#7 The Theory of Everything (Focus Features) – $3.3 million -35%
#8 The Pyramid (20th Century Fox) – $1.4 million N/A
#9 Gone Girl (20th Century Fox) – $1.3 million -47%
#10 Birdman (Fox Searchlight) – $1.2 million -40%
We edge closer to Christmas as we celebrate “Passover: The Movie” i.e. Ridley Scott’s biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings (20th Century Fox), starring Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as the Pharaoh Ramses. Also, Chris Rock does his own sort of preaching with his star-studded comedy Top 5 (Paramount).
This Week’s Must-Sees
While we may have a lame week as far a wide releases, this week sees a number of limited releases that have played film festivals including three from the Tribeca Film Festival.
Wild (Fox Searchlight)
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, W. Earl Brown, Kevin Rankin, Michiel Huisman, Gaby Hoffman, Keene McRae
Of Note: In what is likely to be one of the most discussed performances of the year, Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed, a woman who has dealt with drug and sex addiction after the sudden death of her mother (Laura Dern) who decides to hike the thousands of miles of the Pacific Crest Trailer on her own despite not having any experience. It opens in select cities on Wednesday.
Zero Motivation (Zeitgeist Films)
Director: Talya Lavie
Stars: Dana Ivgy, Nelly Tagar, Shani Klein
Of Note: Lavie’s directorial debut is a comedy set among a group of Israeli women soldiers that takes a biting look at gender relations in the military as well as what women get up to when they have to contend with ridiculous rules and paperwork in an exceedingly boring job. The winner of six Israeli Film Academy awards plus two awards at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, it opens at New York’s Film Forum on Wednesday.
Life Partners (Magnolia)
Director: Susanna Fogel
Stars: Leighton Meester, Gillian Jacobs, Gabourey Sidibe, Kate McKinnon, Adam Brody
Of Note: Another women-centric film that premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival is this comedy about two BFFs in their late 20s, Gillian Jacobs’ Paige being straight and Leighton Meester’s Sasha being gay. As they help each other dealing with dating and relationships, Paige meets a guy named Tim (Adam Brody) and as things get more serious, they start to drift apart. It opens in NY, LA and Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Friday as well as being available on VOD platforms.
Other Limited Releases of Note:
Murder of a Cat (Gravitas Ventures)
Director: Gillian Greene
Stars: Fran Kranz, J.K. Simmons, Nikki Reed, Greg Kinnear, Blythe Danner,
Of Note: Sam Raimi’s wife makes her directorial debut with this comic noir starring Joss Whedon regular Fran Kranz (The Cabin in the Woods) as Clinton Moisey, a man who finds his cat “Mouser” dead one morning and sets out to find out who killed him. It opens in select cities and on VOD having also premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Take Care (eOne Films)
Writer/Director: Liz Tuccilo
Stars: Thomas Sadoski, Leslie Bibb, Michael Stahl-David, Marin Ireland, Betty Gilpin
Of Note: Leslie Bibb stars as a woman who has been immobilized after a car crash forcing her to call her ex Devon (played by Sadoski, who also pays Reese Witherspoon’s ex in Wild), and as old wounds are reopened, his crazy new girlfriend shows up.
Still Alice (Sony Pictures Classics)
Director: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Stars: Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth
Of Note: In what is expected to get Julianne Moore her fourth Oscar nomination (and many feel that she will win, although I’m thinking it will go to Witherspoon for Wild), the actress plays Alice Howland, a happily married linguistics professor who starts to show early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, putting her life into disarray as her husband (Alec Baldwin) and daughter (Kristen Stewart) try to adjust. It receives a one-week Oscar run before its release on January 16.
Comet (IFC Films)
Director: Sam Esmail
Stars: Emmy Rossum, Justin Long
Of Note: This eccentric sci-fi romantic comedy stars Justin Long and Emmy Rossum (from “Shameless”) and that takes place in a number of different places across space and time.
Dying of the Light (Lionsgate)
Director: Paul Schrader
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Nicolas Cage, Irène Jacob, Alexander Karim, Adetomiwa Edun, Aymen Hamdouchi, Claudius Peters, Robert G. Slade
Of Note: Nicolas Cage is back in another basically straight-to-VOD movie playing a CIA agent ready to retire when he learns that a terrorist from his past has resurfaced, forcing him to go rogue to eliminate his enemy along with his protégé (Anton Yelchin). Best known for his screenplays for Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull and Taxi Driver and as the director of American Gigolo, this is acclaimed filmmaker Paul Schrader’s follow-up to last year’s controversial The Canyons.
Director: Erik Skjoldbjærg
Stars: Wes Bentley, Stephen Lang, Aksel Hennie, Stephanie Sigman
Of Note: The Norwegian filmmaker behind the original version of Insomnia, remade into English by Christopher Nolan pre-Batman Begins, returns with a conspiracy thriller set during the Norwegian Oil Boom of the early ‘80s involving a diver sent on a dangerous mission to reach the bottom of the Norwegian sea. It opens in New York and L.A. on Friday as well as on various VOD platforms.
The Barefoot Artist (Paladin)
Director: Glenn Holsten, Daniel Traub
Stars: Lily Yeh
Of Note: More than just a cinematic autobiography by the Philadelphia artist who creates community art projects in some of the world’s most troubled areas as it follows her around the world and back to her childhood home in China.
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Copyright 2014 Edward Douglas