It’s the weekend after Thanksgiving as well as the first weekend of December, neither which tend to be a very good time to release a new movie, which may explain why we only have one new release and that’s Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper’s dramatic thriller Out of the Furnace (Relativity Media), starring Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana and Forest Whitaker.
The movie’s opening without a lot of buzz compared to some of the other upcoming festival season movies–it played at AFI Fest a few weeks back to tentatively mixed reviews–but certainly the big-name cast, particularly Bale, will be a draw to male moviegoers, as will the bare knuckle boxing setting. For whatever reason, Relativity is giving the movie a platform release in New York and L.A. on Wednesday before expanding moderately into about 2,000 theaters, showing that theater owners don’t have the confidence to boot a sure thing like “Catching Fire” or Frozen for an edgy thriller. Granted, Warner Bros. was able to sell the dark and violent Hugh Jackman-Jake Gyllenhaal thriller Prisoners to great success this past September, but it’s hard to really tell what this movie is about from the commercials, which will put people off seeing it in theaters. Reviews will probably be mixed at best and the enigmatic title doesn’t help matters either.
Other movies that have basically been dumped into the weekend following Thanksgiving, when most people are back to school and working hard to make money for holiday presents, include the Jessica Alba-Hayden Christensen thriller Awake, which opened with $5.8 million in the same number of theaters. Last year’s Killing Them Softly only did slightly better in more theaters. While there is a chance that Out of the Furnace could find an audience, especially if it gets any awards love (which I’m highly doubting), as far as its opening weekend, the best it can do is third place with between $5 and 7 million and it will be lucky if it grosses more than $20 million.
As is the case this year, the first weekend of December last year saw the release of just one movie, Gabriele Muccino’s romantic comedy Playing for Keeps (FilmDistrict) starring Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel and Uma Thurman, which bombed with just $5.8 million to open in sixth place. That weekend wasn’t the one directly after Thanksgiving (which is normally slow) as that fell one week earlier, but that weekend also saw a reshuffling of the Top 3 with the James Bond movie Skyfall moving back up to first place, followed by Rise of the Guardians (up from #3) as The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 dropped to third. Regardless, no movie grossed more than $11 million that weekend and the Top 10 grossed $68.4 million and this weekend should generally do better business with both “Catching Fire” and Frozen vying for the top spot with $30 million plus each.
This Week’s Predictions –
1. Frozen (Walt Disney) – $34.7 million -47%
2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate) – $33.2 million -56%
3. Out of the Furnace (Relativity Media) – $6.7 million N/A
4. Thor: The Dark World (Disney/Marvel) – $5.3 million -52%
5. The Best Man Holiday (Universal Pictures) – $4.4 million -48%
6. Delivery Man (DreamWorks) – $3.5 million -48%
7. Homefront (Open Road) – $2.8 million -60%
8. The Book Thief (20th Century Fox) – $2.7 million -43%
9. Philomena (The Weinstein Company) – $2.0 million -47%
10. Black Nativity (Fox Searchlight) – $1.9 million -52%
Once again, I haven’t seen that many of the movies opening in limited release (just two, in fact) but the clear and present “CHOSEN ONE” has to be the latest from the Coen Brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis (CBS Films), their first movie since True Grit three years ago.
It stars Oscar Isaac, an underrated supporting player as the title character, a folk singer trying to make ends meet in the early 60s, playing the occasional gig in the West Village and crashing on any couch he can find. It’s a far more somber and bittersweet affair than some of the Coens’ wackier comedies, such as the similarly music-driven O Brother Where Art Thou?, and it’s more in the vein of A Serious Man, the Michael Stuhlbarg vehicle from a few years back.
Isaac is fantastic in a role that has him in every frame of the movie, often performing classic folk songs, but it’s John Goodman who steals the show as a crotchety snob with whom Llewyn ends up hitching a ride to Chicago. I also loved Carey Mulligan in another fantastic role–her second opposite Isaac for those who remember Drive–and many of the other quirky side characters including one played by “Girls” star Adam Driver, who tears it up during a recording session with Llewyn and his friend Jim, played by Justin Timberlake.
You can read more about the movie in my review and interviews below.
Inside Llewyn Davis opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday and then in more theaters on December 20.
Interview with John Goodman (Coming Soon!)
Penelope Cruz and Emile Hirsch star in Sergio Castellitto’s Twice Born (eOne), his second adaptation of a bestselling novel by his wife Margaret Mazzantini, once again reuniting him with Cruz. This time, Cruz plays Gemma who visited Sarajevo in 1984, before the war broke out, and fell in love with an American photographer (Hirsch). Decades later, she goes back to Sarajevo with her teenage son PIetro only to discover a secret that has lay dormant for many years.
Ruari Robinson’s sci-fi thriller The Last Days on Mars (Magnolia) stars Liev Schreiber as a member of the first manned mission to Mars who believes he’s discovered something unheard of, so he goes out on an unauthorized expedition to collect further samples. When he nearly falls to his death when the ground collapses beneath him and his crew starts to disappear, they begin suspecting that the life form he discovered many not be dead. After playing On Demand, it opens in New York and L.A. on Friday.
For those that didn’t see The To Do List this past summer, Jonathan Gurfinkel’s Sex Acts (Tribeca Film) stars Sivan Levy (not as cool as Aubrey Plaza) as a teen girl trying to change her status at a new school by hooking up with the most popular guys.
Zach Clark’s low-budget holiday movie White Reindeer (IFC Films) stars Anna Margaret Hollyman as real estate agent Suzanne Barrington who loses her husband Jeff just before Christmas, and she finds out he’s been seeing another woman named Fantasia who Suzanne seeks out and she ends up getting caught up in Fantasia’s world of “dance parties, shoplifting and substances.”
Laura Colella’s Breakfast with Curtis is about an “eccentric bookseller” named Syd who turns to the introverted boy next door (named Curtis) to help him make videos for his online book business. Yeah, that does sound pretty boring.
Charles de Lauzirika’s thriller Crave (Phase 4 Films) is about a photographer who retreats into a world of dark fantasies which eventually explodes into reality when a relationship with a young woman goes bad. It’s not to be confused with .
Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty and Emma Booth star in Craig Lahiff’s crime drama Swerve (Cohen Media Group) playing a crooked local cop and his wife who go after a young man who finds a suitcase full of money near a car crash in the Australian outback. I guess you’ll have to see the movie to find out what on earth a car might crash into in the Australian outback.
Josh and Benny Safdie doc Lenny Cooke (Shopkorn/Brigade) looks at the highly sought after high school basketball player of the title who was ranked above the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire but never played a minute in the NBA.
Anna Condo’s ensemble satire Merry Christmas (Fern Films), the first part of a trilogy, focuses on nine New Yorkers who after the fall of the stock market skip their Christmas in Aspen to spend time together at a bed and breakfast in Pennsylvania. Donning elaborate costumes, they decide to stage a disco-themed murder-mystery game. All the disco-themed murder mystery games I’ve been involved with have never gone well, so I can’t imagine this one will end much differently.
Next week, December starts to get real with the release of two very different movies, the second part of Peter Jackson’s latest Tolkien trilogy The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (New Line/WB) and the 500th installment of Tyler Perry’s crossdressing epic Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas (Lionsgate). Yeah, completely takes you right back out of the Christmas spirit, doesn’t it?
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Copyright 2013 Edward Douglas