Hope everyone figured out what to do with themselves during the Weekend Warrior’s week “off”–which just by coincidence was one of the worst weekends at the box office in recent memory (sorry!)–but now I’m back (kind of) and right into September and the fall movie season, so try not to fall asleep while reading the next few . Zzzzzzzzzzz. Unfortunately, our complicated schedule at the Toronto International Film Festival makes it hard to write a full column this week, but hopefully I’ll be back at full strength by next week.
Yeah, September is rarely the best time for movies, even worse than August, although there have been a few surprises in there and even a couple of movies that opened over $40 million exactly two. As you might imagine, this is where the box office tends to calm down as festival season starts introducing some of the awards-worthy movies, but there’s a lot of stuff being dumped including a couple of older festival releases.
This week sees the sequel to a substantial family sleeper hit from two years ago as well as a new thriller from one of the most successful black film producers not named “Tyler Perry.” (Yeah, I have a really good feeling we’ve seen the last of Perry for a while or at least until next month when he appears in David Fincher’s Gone Girl.)
The sequel of the weekend is Dolphin Tale 2 (Warner Bros.), a movie that follows on the success of the original 2011 movie that grossed $72.3 million after a $19.2 million opening weekend in late September. (It made a negligible $23 million overseas, in case you were wondering, because apparently the rest of the world hates dolphins.) Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman are returning for a new story involving Winter the dolphin and a new baby dolphin named Hope, and they’re joined by Harry Connick Jr. and Kris Kristofferson, two musician-turned-actors who haven’t been on screen that much in recent years.
Morgan Freeman has had such an interesting year between The LEGO Movie and his roles in Transcendence and Lucy, the latter doing better than the former, although some might already be getting the feeling that the Oscar-winning actor will do just about anything for a quick buck at this point. It certainly doesn’t seem like he (or any of the other human actors) will be as much of a draw for the sequel over the original movie as the dolphins themselves, and people who liked dolphins three years ago probably still like dolphins and will probably be just as interested in the sequel.
There are fairly well documented accounts of family sequels not doing as well as the original movies (maybe because younger kids grow up and lose interest). That doesn’t seem like it will be the case here, and this seems like a no-brainer to make somewhere between $22 and 26 million opening weekend, because there’s so little family fare in theaters other than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which has been playing for a month. It should do well opening weekend as more of the people who liked the original go to see it, although it probably will end up grossing somewhere in the $70 million or slightly lower than the original.
Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson star in the new thriller No Good Deed (Screen Gems/Sony) from mega-producer William Packer, this one about an ex-convict (Elba) who charms himself into the life of a single mother with two children before terrorizing them. (So it’s kind of like Labor Day without the pies.)
In the past, I’ve underestimated the power of Packer to bring in audiences and this is his first straight thriller since 2009’s Obsessed, which opened with a huge $28 million in late April and ended up grossing $68.3 million domestic. This one is about as hard to gauge as his other movies, mainly because it’s once again opening in a moderate number of theaters, about 2,000, but it’s also opening in a market where there just aren’t that many choices and after a number of dead weekends with no new movies delivering. Moviegoing audiences generally enjoy exciting thrillers like this one and the African-American fans of Elba and Henson and couples could see this as a better alternative to the more kid-friendly dolphin movie (although that could theoretically cut into the business since adult women like dolphins as much as kids.)
Screen Gems’ Lakeview Terrace with Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson opened in September 2008 to roughly $15 million in about 500 more theaters on its way to $39 million, but taking inflation into account, we can see this one doing slightly better, probably $16 to 18 million opening weekend on its way to around $40 million.
On top of that, the crime-drama The Drop (Fox Searchlight), adapted by Dennis Lehane from his own short story “Animal Kingdom,” brings together Tom Hardy and the late James Gandolfini with Noomi Rapace (Prometheus) and the director and star of the Belgian Oscar nominee Bullhead, Michael Roskam and Matthias Schoenaerts. While this is not being overly-marketed by Fox Searchlight–there was a ton of press out of the Toronto International Film Festival over the weekend to help–the film’s genre and being Gandolfini’s last performance, in this case playing a role more like one fans of “The Sopranos” will appreciate, should help it, as will the fact that the two other movies won’t do much for guys who have very little else to see. (The title is pretty bad though since it’s not particularly descriptive.) It should still be able to bring in between $2 and 2.5 million and be able to get into the Top 10 by virtue of there being so few movies that will make more than $3 million this weekend.
Interview with Dennis Lehane (Coming Soon!)
This weekend last year saw a similar release of one sequel and one new movie, the former being the horror sequel Insidious Chapter 2 (FilmDistrict), which became another huge hit for director James Wan following July’s The Conjuring as it opened huge with $40.3 million in 3,049 theaters, almost 93% what the previous installment made in total when it opened a year earlier. This one would end up with around $83.6 million, another success for Blumhouse Pictures when you consider that it only cost $5 million to produce. Coming in a distant second was the Luc Besson action-comedy The Family (Relativity Media), starring Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer, which brought in $14 million in 3,091 theaters. The Top 10 grossed $86.5 million but this weekend doesn’t seem like it can even come close even if Dolphin Tale 2 does way better than we predicted.
This Week’s Updated Predictions –
1. Dolphin Tale 2 (Warner Bros.) – $24.8 million N/A (no change)
2. No Good Deed (Screen Gems/Sony) – $17.5 million N/A (Up 1 million)
3. Guardians of the Galaxy (Disney/Marvel) – $6.5 million -38%
4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount) – $3.8 million -45% (Up .2 million)
5. Let’s Be Cops (20th Century Fox) – $3.5 million -38% (up .1 million)
6. If I Stay (Warner Bros.) – $3.3 million -41% (up .1 million)
7. The Drop (Fox Searchlight) – $2.7 million N/A (up .5 million and one spot)
8. The November Man (Relativity) – $2.4 million -45% (up .1 million but down one spot)
9. The Hundred-Foot Journey (DreamWorks) – $2.2 million -33%
10. The Giver (The Weinstein Company) – $2.0 million -39% (down .1 million)
This Week’s Limited Releases:
Again, this is going to be a stripped-down section from usual, but one of my favorite movies opening this weekend is Ned Benson’s drama The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (The Weinstein Company), starring Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy as a married couple who become separated after a tragic incident in their life. They’re consoled by friends and family which includes the likes of Bill Hader, Ciaran Hinds, Viola Davis and William Hurt. Originally planned as two separate feature films from two different perspectives, subtitled “Him” and “Her,” the combined film “Them” opens this coming Friday in New York and Los Angeles before expanding and then on October 3, you can see the two original feature films back-to-back in New York and Los Angeles.
Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader star in The Skeleton Twins (Roadside Attractions), Craig Johnson’s dramedy about twin siblings Maggie and Milo that reunite in order to deal with situations that are driving them both to suicidal thoughts. While this is far more dramatic a film than we generally see from either normally comic actor, there are a few moments and laughs, but it couldn’t be more of a Sundance film if it had “Sundance Film Festival” burnt into every print.
The Green Prince (Music Box Films) is a documentary from Nadav Schirman set against the backdrop of the Middle East as it tells the story of the Palestinian son of a Hamas leader who became an informant for the Shin Bet agent who protected him. Based on Moab Hassan Yousef’s bestselling memoir “Son of Hamas,” it opens in New York and L.A. on Friday.
Another doc worth checking out is Martin Shore’s Take Me to the River (Abramorama), a celebration of the Memphis and Mississippi Delta music scenes via collaborations between hip-hop artists like Snoop Dogg and Memphis soul and R&B artists such as Mavis Staples, Bobby “Blue” Bland and Booker T. Jones, all backed by the legendary Stax and Hi Records session musicians. Terrence Howard is the walk-through “host” of this unprecedented musical gathering.
Kevin Kline, Maggie Smith and Kristin Scott Thomas star in Israel Horvitz’s My Old Lady (Cohen Media Group) with Kline playing Mathias Gold, a New Yorker who inherits an apartment in Paris from his father, but before he can sell it, he needs to figure out what to do with its current resident Mathilde, played by Maggie Smith, and her daughter (Kristin Scott Thomas). Unable to figure out how to get rid of them, Mathias moves in and the laughs and (a possible romance?) begin. It opens in New York on Wednesday.
Speaking of bad real estate investments, Nicholas (The Pact) McCarthy’s horror flick At the Devil’s Door (IFC Films) has a real estate agent played by Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace) who crosses path with a disturbed girl (Ave Aras), the runaway daughter of the couple selling a house with a checkered past, as they become entangled with a sinister supernatural force.
Lastly, we have Sharon Greytak’s drama Archaeology of a Woman, starring Sally Kirkland as a newspaper columnist fighting against dementia, forcing her chef daughter Kate (Victoria Clark) back to their upstate home.
For more limited releases opening on Friday, please check out our release database.
Next week, the month of September motors along with four new movies including the first new Young Adult novel adaption in what seems like weeks (sigh) with The Maze Runner (20th Century Fox) plus the adaptation of an older adult novel with Liam Neeson starring A Walk Among the Tombstones (Universal). Next, there’s an adaptation of a novel for people aged somewhere in between, Shawn Levy’s ensemble dramedy This is Where I Leave You (Warner Bros.). Kevin Smith doesn’t need no stinkin’ novel to come up with the crazy idea for his new horror flick Tusk (A24).
You can read stuff like this and regular box office, awards and festival coverage on the Weekend Warrior Blog and to keep up with the latest articles and posts, you can follow us on Twitter.
Copyright 2014 Edward Douglas