The Weekend Warrior: The Longest Ride

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With such a fantastic April opening record set last weekend, the only way for things to go is down and the rest of the month is likely going to be very hit or miss as Furious 7 continues to dominate. As it were, we only have one new movie in wide release, one based on a Nicholas Sparks novel no less, as well as a couple of movies expanding into more theaters hoping that the low cost to get into the Top 10 (less than a million) will help score them some box office love.

The Longest Ride

The Longest RideDistributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: George Tillman Jr. (Notorious, Faster)
Writer: Craig Bolotin
Cast: Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Alan Alda, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin
What It’s About: Following the love affair between bull rider Luke (Eastwood) and college student Sophia (Robertson) who is about to go to New York for her dream job, as they make a connecton with Ira Levinson (Alda) whose romance with his late wife inspires the young couple to try to make their relationship work. 

Benefits:

Based on Nicholas Sparks’ 2013 bestselling romance novel, The Longest Ride hopes to continue the trend of an author who is turning into one of the more successful ones to have their work adapted. Starting with 1999’s Message in a Bottle, six movies based on Sparks’ work have grossed over $50 million. Two others have grossed over $40 million, while 2004’s The Notebook is still the highest grossing one with $81 million and Dear John just below it. Three of the Sparks adaptations have grossed over $100 million worldwide while three others have come close, but these are still very much an American phenomenon.

This is the first Nicholas Sparks adaptation to be distributed by Fox, which has a much stronger marketing department than Relativity and Screen Gems (but on par with Warner Bros. who have released four of the lesser-grossing movies).

Scott Eastwood is a rising actor (son of Clint) who most recently starred in Dave Ayer’s Fury but has established a role as a dreamboat due to his modeling career, and he’s been getting higher profile roles in the past few years.

The film also stars Britt Robertson, who is set to become a huge star once Disney releases Tomorrowland this summer, in which she stars opposite George Clooney, but so far, her biggest role has been in CBS’ “Under the Dome,” so she’s not as well known as, say, Amanda Seyfried, when she starred with Channing Tatum in the hit Dear John.

Another second-generation actor, Jack Huston (playing the younger Alan Alda) has grown a fan-base from his appearance on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and he has two high-profile comic movies on the way—not that they’ll make much of a difference with the female audience.

The couple movies in theaters that are currently catering to female audiences—Insurgent and Cinderella—are already starting to drop away, having been in theaters for over a month, which creates a good opening for this drama which will cater to older women than those two movies.

Drawbacks:

Sparks’ most recent adaptation The Best of Me has done worse than any previous movie, grossing just $27 million after a $10 million opening weekend, which barely covered its budget. This seems to be showing the signs of diminishing returns on movies based on Sparks’ novels, similar to what happened with Tyler Perry’s Madea movies after having a string of hits.

Adaptations of Sparks’ novels notoriously get bad reviews with the last two, The Best of Me and Safe Haven, getting the worst reviews so far. The Longest Ride is Sparks’ most recent novel, as they’re now being adapted almost as quickly as they hit the shelves, and that could be a detriment to those who like his books who may be disappointed with the recent adaptations.

The audience will be limited to the older women that read Sparks’ books and this probably won’t hold much interest for younger women even with its hunky male star.

Prediction:

While this may not perform as badly as the last Sparks adaptation, The Best of Me, there doesn’t seem to be much upside to his latest and it will likely to open up somewhere below $15 million on its way to less than $40 million total.

A couple limited releases are expanding wider including Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young (A24), starring Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, and Bleecker Street’s first release, the musical comedy Danny Collins, starring Al Pacino, Annette Benning, Christopher Plummer and more. The former stands the better chance at breaking into the Top 10, probably with around $3 million since it’s been doing better in limited release than the latter, but the entrance fee to the Top 10 is low enough that Danny Collins could surprise. The Helen Mirren-Ryan Reynolds drama Woman in Gold (The Weinstein Company) will also expand into over 1,200 theaters on Friday, which should allow it to move up the Top 10 with between $4 and 5 million.


 This Weekend Last Year

file_104283_0_rio2logoSince Captain America: The Winter Soldier remained #1 for a second week in a row with $41.3 million, it meant that the animated sequel Rio 2 (20th Century Fox) had to settle for second place with $39.33 million, which is almost exactly what the previous movie opened with three years earlier. Mike Flanagan’s independent horror film, the festival favorite Oculus (Relativity), took third place with $12 million in 2,648 theaters or $4,534 per theater, while Kevin Costner’s latest sports movie, Draft Day (Summit), directed by Ivan Reitman, took fourth with $9.8 million in 2,781 theaters. The Top 10 grossed $131 million, which might be hard to attain with Furious 7 still having to carry much of the weight.

This Week’s Updated Predictions

UPDATE: Since While We’re Young isn’t expanding into nearly as many theaters as originally projected and Danny Collins is getting significantly more–neither of these numbers having been confirmed by their respective distributors, we’re shifting things around a little bit although both could break into the Top 10. On the other hand, Woman in Gold will expand into over 1,500 theaters and should make a play for sixth place with a nice bump from last weekend.

1. Furious 7 (Universal) – $60 million -59%
2. Home (DreamWorks Animation/Fox) – $15.7 million -42%
3. The Longest Ride (20th Century Fox) – $14.5 million N/A (up .4 million)
4. Get Hard (Warner Bros.) – $6.5 million -50%
5. Cinderella (Disney) – $6.0 million -40% (down .3 million)
6. Woman in Gold (The Weinstein Company) – $5.1 million +119%
7. The Divergent Series: Insurgent (Summit/Lionsgate) – $5.0 million -48% (down .2 million)
8. While We’re Young (A24) – $1.5 million (down 1.3 million)
9. It Follows (RADiUS-TWC) – $1.5 million -40%
11. Danny Collins (Bleecker Street) – $1.2 million (up .2 million)
10. Kingsman: The Secret Service (20th Century Fox) – $1.2 million -35%

Next Week:

The April dumping ground goes into high gear with four new movies including Kevin James’ long-awaited (?) comedy sequel Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (Sony), Blumhouse’s latest low-budget horror flick Unfriended (Universal), the nature film Monkey Kingdom (Disney) and the crime thriller Child 44 (Lionsgate/Summit), starring Tom Hardy.


This Week’s Must-Sees

Ex-Machina-by-Alex-GarlandEx Machina (A24)
Writer/Director: Alex Garland
Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander 
Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller
What It’s About: A young programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) travels to the remote estate of an eccentric tech billionaire named Nathan (Oscar Isaac) where he has been given the task to test his latest A.I. nicknamed Ava (Alicia Vikander), but as Caleb spends more time with Ava, he realizes that nothing is as it seems and Nathan is hiding a dark secret. 

Ex-Machina Review

Interview with Alex Garland (Coming Soon!)

Interview with Oscar Isaac (Coming Soon!)

cloudswwClouds of Sils Maria (IFC Films)
Writer/Director: Olivier Assayas
Stars: Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloe Grace Moretz, Angela Winkler, Lars Eidinger, Johnny Flynn
Genre: Drama

What It’s About: Actress Maria Enders (Binoche) has been asked to star in a play based on a movie she appeared in early in her career, but after the death of the film director, Maria finds herself struggling to get into the role as she holes up with her assistant (Stewart) in a remote region of the Alps. 

Interview with Olivier Assayas (Coming Soon!)

Other Limited Releases This Weekend

Lost River (Warner Bros.)
Writer/Director: Ryan Gosling
Stars: Eva Mendes, Saoirse Ronan, Christina Hendricks, Ben Mendelsohn, Matt Smith, Reda Kateb, Iain De Caestecker, Barbara Steele
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Fantasy
What It’s About: Christina Hendricks plays Billy, a single mother of two, who has to try to save her childhood home in Lost River and keep her family together as her teen son (De Caestecker) discovers the origins of Lost River that will send him on an unexpected journey. 

Kill Me Three Times (Magnet Releasing)
Director: Kriv Stenders
Stars: Simon Pegg, Teresa Palmer, Alice Braga, Sullivan Stapleton, Bryan Brown, Callan Mulvey, Luke Hemsworth
Genre: Crime, Thriller
What It’s About: Hired assassin Charlie Wolfe (Pegg) has been hired to kill a woman (Alice Braga) but as he tries to fulfill the contract, he finds himself caught up in a web of treachery, jealousy and revenge as there are others, non-professionals, trying to kill her as well. Already on iTunes and On Demand, it opens in select cities on Friday. You can find out where here

Desert Dancer (Relativity Media)
Director: Richard Raymond
Stars: Nazanin Boniadi, Makram J. Khoury, Reece Ritchie, Freida Pinto, Tom Cullen
Genre: Drama
What It’s About: Set during the times of the 2009 Presidential elections in Iran, a young man named Afshin and his friends (including one played by Freida Pinto) try to start an underground dance company, learning their movies from banned videos of Michael Jackson, Gene Kelly and more. 

About Elly (Cinema Guild)
Director: Asghar Farhadi (A Separation)
Stars: Golshifteh Farahani, Shahab Hosseini, Taraneh Alidousti, Merila Zarei, Mani Haghighi, Peyman Moadi
Genre: Drama, Thriller
What It’s About: A group of college friends from Iran visit the Caspian Sea for a holiday weekend, but when a young woman named Elly joins them and then promptly disappears without a trace, it causes some concern about what happened to her. After its premiere at the Berlin and Tribeca Film Festivals way back in 2009 where it won Silver Bear and Best Picture, Asghar Farhadi’s precursor to the Oscar-winning A Separation will get an exclusive release at New York’s Film Forum on Wednesday.

Dior and I (eOne Films)
Director:
Frederic Cheng
Stars: Raf Simons
Genre: Documentary
What It’s About: The director of Valentino: The Last Emperor and Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel tackles another fashion icon as it goes inside the House of Christian Dior to follow its new Artistic Director Raf Simons’ new colletion.

Broken Horses (Reliance Entertainment)
Director:
Vidhu Vinod Chopra
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Vincent D’Onofrio, Sean Patrick Flanery, Thomas Jane, Chris Marquette, Maria Valverde
Genre: Crime, Drama
What It’s About: Set on the border of U.S. and Mexico, two brothers (Anton Yelchin, Chris Marquette) find themselves at odds with a local crime boss (D’Onofrio) when the former, a writer from New York returns home.

The Harvest (IFC Midnight)
Director: John McNaughton
Stars: Samantha Morton, Michael Shannon, Leslie Lyles, Natasha Calis, Charlie Tahan, Meadow Williams
Genre: Drama
What It’s About: Katherine and Richard Young (Morton, Shannon) are a successful heart surgeon and her husband who have retired to care for their sick teenage son Andy (Tahan) with all of his medical needs taken care of at home, as he’s kept in a controlled world until a 13-year-old neighbor (Calis) shows up to help expose Andy to the outside world.

Sisterhood of the Night (Freestyle Releasing)
Director: Caryn Waechter
Stars: Kal Penn, Georgie Henley, Laura Fraser, Kara Hayward
Genre: Thriller
What It’s About: A modern take on the Salem witch trials involving a group of teenage girls (including Georgie from the “Narnia” movies!) in a small New York town that form “The Sisterhood of the Night” a group that congregates in the woods and is accused by one girl of wrong-doing. 

You can post any comments or questions below, or you can get in touch with the Weekend Warrior on Twitter.

Copyright 2015 Edward Douglas

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Weekend: Aug. 22, 2019, Aug. 25, 2019

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