THE WEEKEND WARRIOR
Box Office, Awards, Festivals and More

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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.

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 we're 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 we'll be back at full strength by next week.

Yeah, September is rarely the best time for movies, even worse than August, although there've been a few surprises in there and even a couple 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 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."

I would love to say that Days 3 through 5 of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) were a breeze. Even just seeing seven movies over the course of two days ended up being so tiring that I had to take a day off from seeing movies to allow my brain to rest. Not that I didn't do anything, though, and Saturday began a series of interviews with a number of different actors and filmmakers including Simon Pegg, Antoine Fuqua, Noomi Rapace, Benedict Cumberbach and more.

Friday, September 5 is over, which means I have successfully made it through my first two days of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Besides seeing eight films since arriving on Wednesday, I've also seen a couple of films beforehand, some of which I can talk about, some of which I still need to bite my tongue for a little while longer. I will say that as I expected from the line-up, this may be one of the best TIFFs ever, not only due to the quantity and quality of the world premieres but also due to the abundance of some of the greatest festival films that I missed earlier this year.

Fortunately, two of the best movies I've seen so far are coming out in October so you won't have to wait too long to see them, although you will have to wait a little longer for my full reviews.

Now that summer's over--and hopefully you've already perused and commented on my personal Top 11 of the summer--it's time to look at the movies of the summer in terms of box office.

there were few people who thought for a second that Marvel Studios' sole movie of the summer--sorry I'm not counting their early April release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier as "summer"--and supposedly their biggest risk, James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy would score big with nearly $280 million grossed since opening on August 1. It's still #1 movie as of this writing, having jumped back there a week back, but even opening so late in the summer, it effortlessly passed "Transformers" and some of the other odds-on-favorites to win the summer i.e. all of them.

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