Summer is over and we’re heading into the fall with two of the slower months at the box office though also a time when a lot of prestige and awards-worthy films will be released to start generating buzz before Oscar season kicks into high gear in November and December. Since we’re heading off to the Toronto International Film Festival this week to see some of those movies for ourselves, we’re going to be giving you a condensed double dose of box office predictions this week.
With Reuben Fleischer’s Gangster Squad moving to 2013, that left the weekend with only one major wide release, which is the drama The Words (CBS Films), starring Bradley Cooper, Dennis Quaid, Zoe Saldana, Olivia Wilde and Jeremy Irons. Having premiered and been picked up for distribution at the Sundance Film Festival, The Words is not your typical studio release, being a decent movie with a solid cast but an awful title and not a particularly marketable concept. A movie like that would normally be released by an indie subsidiary like Sony Pictures Classics or Fox Searchlight as a platform release, expanding wider based on strong reviews and word-of-mouth. (We’ve also heard rumors that the plot for The Hangover 3 has Bradley Cooper waking up in a hotel room trying to figure out what happened in The Words.) All kidding aside, there’s no denying that Cooper is a bonafide star who has become quite popular thanks to his appearances in the “Hangover” movies as well as in the 2011 sci-fi hit Limitless and with CBS Films opening the move in over 2,700 theaters with very little strong competition, it has a good chance at bringing in moviegoers with its intriguing premise. The movie has the potential to bring in roughly $8 to 10 million this weekend which should be just enough to pull just ahead of Lionsgate’s The Possession, which should have a significant drop from its Labor Day opening. Regardless, it’s going to be a close race between the movies and general reviews for The Words may make the biggest difference on whether it hits or fails.
Another movie that’s going to try to take advantage of the slow weekend is The Cold Light of Day (Summit), starring Bruce Willis and future Man of Steel Henry Cavill. We know little to nothing about this action thriller from director Mabrouk El Mechri (who directed the odd Jean-Claude Van Damme starrer JCVD) except that it opened internationally in 24 countries and grossed $13 million, which as you may imagine is not good. Summit was going to release this wide earlier in the year and then decided for a limited release in this normally slow post-Labor Day weekend. Out of the blue, they decided to go moderately wide into 1,500 theaters, except that we haven’t seen a single advertisement for the movie nor do we know if it’s going to screen for critics. Honestly, this will be lucky if it grosses $2 million this weekend and probably will end up outside the Top 10, which is what happens when you dump a movie without any advertising.
This weekend last year saw the release of Steven Soderbergh’s viral thriller Contagion (Warner Bros.), starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law and many more and it became one of the rare movies to open in the weekend after Labor Day to success, scoring $22.4 million in 3,222 theaters. The MMA drama Warrior (Lionsgate), starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, failed to find success despite rave reviews, opening in third place with just $5.2 million. It fared better than Nick Swardson’s R-rated comedy Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star (Sony) which opened outside the Top 10 with $1.4 million in roughly 1,500 theaters. The Top 10 grossed $60 million, but since we don’t think any movie will gross more than $10 million, that’s likely to be more than this weekend’s box office by quite a bit.
Updated Predictions for September 7, 2012 –
UPDATE: Despite the high theater count and the lack of competition, the reviews for The Words have been appalling and that’s not going to help its fight against The Possession, which may be a closer race than we first thought. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if The Possession pulls ahead over the weekend after The Words winning Friday.
1. The Words (CBS Films) $8.2 million N/A (down .6 million)
2. The Possession (Lionsgate) – $8.0 million -55%
3. Lawless (The Weinstein Co.) – $5.2 million -48%
4. The Expendables 2 (Lionsgate) – $4.6 million -52%
5. The Bourne Legacy (Universal) – $4 million -45%
6. ParaNorman (Focus Features) – $3.3 million -50%
7. The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros.) – $3.2 million -46%
8. The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Disney) – $3.0 million -52%
9. The Campaign (Warner Bros.) – $2.9 million -48%
10. Hope Springs (Sony) – $2.7 million -43%
— The Cold Light of Day (Summit Entertainment) – $2.3 million
Next week, Paul W.S. Anderson returns with the fifth installment of the “Resident Evil” franchise, Resident Evil: Retribution (Screen Gems/Sony), starring his wife Milla Jovovich. This is a franchise that’s been around for ten years and growing with each successive film with Anderson’s return to the directing chair with 2010’s Resident Evil: Afterlife, the first installment released in 3D which opened with $26.6 million and took in $60 million total, roughly $10 million more than the previous installments. The fifth installment promises the return of many characters from previous installments, including ones played by Michelle Rodriguez and Colin Salmon from the first movie, while introducing popular characters from the games who haven’t appeared on screen yet like Ada Wong (played by Bingbing Li) and Leon Kennedy (Johann Urb). These things plus the film’s promised global scope should do enough to bring back rabid fans of the games and previous movies and that will help the movie to have a #1 victory next week as it roughly matches the opening of its predecessor with between $25 and 28 million on its way to another $65 million or more.
Its main competition is another 3D rerelease with Finding Nemo 3D (Disney), the third Pixar movie to be given the 3D rerelease treatment. After Toy Story 3 (which was initially released in 3D), Finding Nemo is the most successful movie from the animation studio, so it makes sense Disney would choose it as the next Pixar movie to be rereleased in 3D (ala Toy Story and Toy Story 2 a couple years back) with Monsters, Inc. scheduled to hit theaters on December 19. The success of The Lion King 3D last year, opening in first place with $30 million, is a good sign for Finding Nemo 3D to have similar success although we expect it to open closer to the $20 million range give or take, settling for second place.
Having had recent success with the documentary 2016 Obama’s America, Rocky Mountain Pictures are releasing the drama Last Ounce of Courage into roughly 1,200 theaters on Friday, September 14 and even though we know nothing about the movie, we could see it bringing in roughly $3 million with a groundswell of Church support.
Another Sundance movie, the R-rated sex comedy For a Good Time, Call (Focus Features) starring Lauren Miller, Ari Graynor and Justin Long, is scheduled to expand wider both this weekend and next although it’s hard to throw out numbers without knowing actual theater counts.
Limited Releases for September 7
Paul Dano stars in For Ellen (Tribeca Film), the new movie from So Yong Kim (Treeless Mountain), playing rocker Joby Taylor who has been skirting with fame in recent years but who has to return to sign divorce papers from his estranged wife, but he gets cold feet when he realizes it will mean losing custody of their six-year-old daughter Ellen who Joby has never really met. It opens at New York’s Film Forum on Wednesday.
Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fischer and Lizzy Caplan star in Leslye Headland’s Bachelorette (Radius/TWC), based on her off-Broadway play about three high school friends who reunite for the wedding of their friend Becky (Rebel Wilson from Bridesmaids) but their hard partying ways leads to a night full of trouble. Also starring Adam Scott and James Marsden, it opens in select cities after its run on VOD.
Based on the Nobel Prize winning novel by Patrick White, Fred Scheipsi’s The Eye of the Storm (Sycamore Entertainment Group) stars Charlotte Rampling as Elizabeth Hunter, an aging woman dying just outside Sydney, Australia who calls for her son (Geoffrey Rush) and daughter (Hope Davis) to come to her bedside to make amends before her death.
Melanie Lynskey stars in Todd Louiso’s Hello I Must Be Going (Oscilloscope Studios) playing Amy, a divorced woman who moves back home to Connecticut with her parents (Blythe Danner, John Rubinstein) where she starts an affair with a 19 year old (Christopher Abbott from HBO’s “Girls”). The opening night film from the 2012 Sundance Film Festival opens in New York (at the Angelika) and Los Angeles (at the Landmark) Friday.
Ira Sachs’ Keep the Lights On (Music Box Films) follows ten years in the relationship between documentary filmmaker Erik Rothman (Thure Lindhardt) and Paul Lucy (Zachary Booth), a lawyer living in the closet whose drug-fueled lifestyle constantly comes between them. It also opens in New York and L.A. before expanding.
Directed by Paco Plaza, [REC] 3: Genesis (Magnolia) is the third installment in the hit Spanish horror franchise, this one involving a couple whose wedding is disrupted by a hellish nightmare similar to the first two movies. After playing on VOD for the last month, it opens in select cities Friday.
Opening in New York at the IFC Center, Jesus Camp filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady return with Detropia, a look at the changing face of the major American city that’s faced with hard times and so many people trying to make ends meet. It opens at the IFC Center on Friday.
Iain Morris’ hit British television show The Inbetweeners (Wrekin’ Hill Entertainment) (which has been adapted into an MTV series) comes to American theaters as the four unpopular high school friends Will, Jay, Simon and Neil go on their first vacation together in Greece without parents or teachers looking to have wild sex and drunken fun.
Jamie Bradshaw and Alexander Doulerain’s sci-fi thriller Branded (Roadside Attractions) stars Ed Stoppard as Misha, a man trying to navigate a dystopian society where corporate branding has taken over the minds of the population. It opens in select cities.
Chris Silverton’s Brawler (ARC Entertainment) is about two brothers involved in the underground “fight club” scene on mob-run New Orleans riverboats, but Charlie Fontaine challenges his younger brother to a fight to the death when he catches him in bed with his new wife. Brawler opens in New Orleans on Friday then in L.A. on Thursday, September 13.
Just in time for Fashion Week in New York, David Redmon and Ashley Sabin’s Girl Model (First Run Features) looks at a thriving fashion industry that tries to find new faces in unlikely places such as Siberia to send to Tokyo for the thriving Japanese supermodel market as seen through the journey of 13-year-old Nadya after being discovered in Russia by former model Ashley who is getting more jaded about the industry.
From the Czech Republic comes Jiri Barta’s stop-motion animated Toys in the Attic (Hannover House), inspired by the Cold War and set in an attic where toys are divided into the lands of the West and East with the latter a Land of Evil ruled by a tyrant and his minions who kidnap the lovely Buttercup. Featuring the voices of Vivian Schilling, Forest Whitaker, Joan Cusack and Cary Elwes, it opens in select cities.
One week later, we’ll get .
Limited Releases for September 14
Next week’s “Chosen One” is Liberal Arts (IFC Films), the second film written and directed by Josh Radnor (HappyThankYouMorePlease, “How I Met Your Mother”), in which he plays Jesse Fisher, a 35-year-old guy who returns to his alma mater to see a favorite college professor off only to get into a relationship with Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), the 19-year-old daughter of friends of his. Also starring Richard Jenkins and Allison Janney, it opens in select cities next Friday, September 14.
Nicholas Jarecki (The Outsider) wrote and directed Arbitrage (Roadside Attractions), a drama starring Richard Gere as Robert Miller, a hedge fun manager who has had to fudge some numbers while selling his business, leading to difficulties with his wife and daughter (Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling), and even more problems when he gets in trouble with the law and uses a young man from Harlem (Nate Parker) as his alibi. It opens in select cities on Friday, September 14.
Interview with Nicolas Jarecki (Check back next week)
Review (Coming Soon!)
Paul Thomas Anderson returns with The Master (The Weinstein Co.), his first film since the Oscar-nominated There Will Be Blood, this one starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as a charismatic man who starts a faith-based organization along with a young drifter as his right-hand man, played by Joaquin Phoenix. Also starring Amy Adams, it opens in select cities on Friday. (Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the movie yet but we will be seeing at the Toronto Film Festival.)
Paul LaCoste’s latest foodie documentary Step Up to the Plate (Cinema Guild) looks at legendary French chef Michel Bras, considered one of the most influential chefs in the world and his decision to pass his 3-Michelin-starred restaurant in the South of France onto his less-experienced son Sébastien. It opens in New York at the Lincoln Plaza and Quad Cinemas on Friday.
Jamie Linden’s 10 Years (Anchor Bay Films) features an all-star cast of Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Chris Pratt, Rosario Dawson, Justin Long, Oscar Isaac, Kate Mara, Ron Livingston, Lynn Collins, Ari Graynor, Anthony Mackie, Max Minghella, Aubrey Plaza, Scott Porter, Brian Geraghty and Aaron Yoo.
Oscar winner Melissa Leo (The Fighter) stars in Brian Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky’s dramaFrancine (Factory 25) playing a woman released from prison who settles down in a small town as she tries to return to society and when humans fail her, she turns to animals for support. It opens in New York on Wednesday, September 12.
Nicolas Cage stars in the New Orleans-based action-thriller Stolen (Millennium Films), reuniting him with Con Air (and Expendables 2) director Simon West, playing master thief Will Montgomery who after spending eight years in prison tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter Allison, who his former partner Vince (Josh Lucas), now a taxi driver among the throngs during Mardi Gras, kidnaps in order to get his share of the $10 million they stole years earlier. Will teams with his other partner Riley (Malin Ackerman) to try to steal the money to save his daughter. It opens in select cities on the 14th.
John Shea and Lea Thompson star in Jim Hemphill’s The Trouble with the Truth (Winning Edge Partners) playing divorced couple Robert and Emily, he a jazz pianist, she a successful novelist, who reunite for dinner and dredge up old memories and feelings. It opens at the Quad Cinemas on Friday, September 14.
As mentioned above, the Weekend Warrior is taking a very rare week off next week to cover the Toronto International Film Festival, but we’ll be back in two weeks with business as usual.
Copyright 2012 Edward Douglas