Box Office, Awards, Festivals and More


It's hard to get excited about the last few weekends of October especially in a week when it's doubtful I'll have a chance to see either new movie in wide release before they open, but basically we have the latest movie based on a Hasbro game (of sorts), crossing into the found footage horror genre, while Keanu Reeves stars in a new revenge-thriller. November can't come soon enough.

This week's "CHOSEN ONE" is Laura Poitras' "Edward Snowden doc" Laura Poitras' CITIZENFOUR (RADiUS-TWC).

We all heard the big news yesterday as Warner Bros. announced a huge slate of movies for the next few years, including an entire array of DC Comics movies going right through 2020 (and that doesn't include the possibilities for more solo Batman or Superman movies either.)

Some might remember a few years back when I gave Warner Bros. a few tips on catching up to Marvel Studios in terms of capitalizing on their huge library of characters to work with. Unlike Marvel Comics, they still have all their characters in one place, which means they can create a shared universe just like in the comics.

Over two years after my article, Warner Bros. finally made their biggest announcement since last year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice reveal at Comic-Con, and it had a similar effect on those who have been hoping that Warner Bros. would stop cowering in the corner and being reactive in the ongoing Marvel vs. DC wars. Man of Steel was such a huge hit for them after Christopher Nolan wrapped up his "Dark Knight" trilogy and DC fans needed to be given some sort of message of hope that Warner Bros. knew what they were doing in terms of continuing on with their plans.

Welcome back to's weekly movie preview and predictions column now entering its 14th year of existence. It would be nice if there was a more exciting way to kick things off then this week's offerings, but if nothing else, we have a new WWII movie starring Brad Pitt for the guys, a new Nicholas Sparks movie for the ladies and a new animated film for the kids. Oh, and we also have lots of movie for those audiences already in theaters, so who knows what anyone is going to want to see this weekend? Oh, wait, that's what I'm here for, so read on!

This week's "CHOSEN ONE" is Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Fox Searchlight), starring Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone and more, with an Honorable Mention to Isao Takahata and Studio Ghibli's animated The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (GKIDS).

After three weeks of movies openings over $30 million, this is the weekend where it can go terribly, horribly wrong at least for a guy named Alexander, but also for some of the other wide releases, a mixed bag of family films, adult dramas, action movies and something called Addicted. Any of these new movies could break out and open big but with so much stronger fare in theaters, business will probably be spread out with none of the new movies really doing very huge business. (Oh and before I forget, this week's column also marks the 13th Anniversary of the Weekend Warrior if you include the few year I wrote it under a different name at another site.)

This week's "CHOSEN ONE" is Damien Chazelle's Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics), starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons.

Go ahead and say it: "It's October already?" 2014 seems to be flying by and the fall movie season is already into its second month where we're likely to get a bunch of strong awards contenders going by previous years. In the past, October has also been a month where the box office would tend to slow down even more, or at least that used to be the case. Before 2000, not a single movie opened over $30 million and since 2010, we've had three movies open over $50 million. With that in mind, October is no longer the dumping ground it used to be, although six of the top 10 opening movies were sequels, something to bear in mind.

We don't have a sequel this weekend, as much as a spin-off movie from one of 2013's biggest hits, but we also have an adaptation of one of 2012's biggest bestselling novels. One's a horror movie and one's more of a thriller, but they're both going to be shooting for much of the same audience essentially cannibalizing each other's potential box office. Which one will prevail? Read on.

This week's "CHOSEN ONE" is the new ensemble dramedy from Jason Reitman, Men, Women & Children (Paramount), starring Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Rosemarie DeWitt and more.

Festival season continues unabated and we jumped right from the 39th Toronto International Film Festival into the 52nd New York Film Festival (NYFF), the latter an annual presentation by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which features some of the best of other festivals as well as a few big gala premieres and more than a few surprises. (Work in progress screenings of Martin Scorsese's Hugo and Steven Spielberg's Lincoln in past years got the ball rolling on their Oscar runs.)

While there's quite a bit of repeat from Toronto and other festivals, we have yet to see any of the film festival's "big movies" including the World Premiere of David Fincher's Gone Girl--which seems to be screening for everyone except us before the film's actual premiere on Friday night, September 26, despite opening in just one week. Another big draw is sure to be Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Inherent Vice (Warner Bros. - Dec. 12), the festival's Centerpiece premiering on October 4, as well as the Closing Night Gala of Alejandro Innaritu's Birdman, which has already played at Venice and Telluride but will start picking up steam before its limited release on October 17.

There used to be a time when releasing a movie in September was the kiss of death because everyone was back at work or school and no studio wanted to release movies with any potential for box office success during the slower fall months. Those times have changed and that should be proven this weekend with the return of Denzel Washington in what could potentially be his first franchise, as well as the newest film from LAIKA Studios, the stop-motion animation studio responsible for Coraline and ParaNorman.

This week's "CHOSEN ONE" is John Ridley's Jimi Hendrix flick Jimi: All is By My Side (XLrator Media), starring Outkast frontman Andre Benjamin, Imogen Poots and Hayley Atwell.

Back from Toronto with a lot of stuff to run and share, but hopefully you checked out some of my updates and my wrap-up earlier this week. Now it's time to get back to our regularly scheduled movie preview column with the second-to-last weekend of September bringing us four new movies in wide release.

This week's "CHOSEN TWO" are two films about journeys, John Curran's Tracks (The Weinstein Company) starring Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver, and Hector and the Search for Happiness (Relativity), starring Simon Pegg.

The 39th Annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) came to a close over the weekend and many are declaring it the best TIFF in many years, which is quite something when you realize how many great movies, including many Oscar winners, have played at the annual celebration of cinema.

I've used the term "an abundance of wealths" a few times while talking about this year's festival, and it turned out to be one of my rare predictions that was entirely spot on. Seeing somewhre between 33 and 35 movies during my ten days in Toronto for the festival and of the movies seen, there was only one of them that I felt was completely terrible and unwatchable. There were a few other movies that just didn't work but there was only one movie that I physically loathed and was angry that I wasted my time seeing it. And of course, it was by one of my favorite filmmakers, no less, which is nothing that new considering past duds like Blindness and Tideland.

Now that interviews are done with and we still have a few more days at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), it's all about seeing movies and I jampacked my schedule to do some catching up in my last few days here, partially in hopes of catching some of the movies that received distribution. I've only managed to do one five-movie day so far, but here's ten of the movies I saw during the latter half of the festival. What I like about some of the movies I've been catching over the last part of TIFF is that few of these had distribution in place before the festival, and some still don't have distributors.

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