Box Office Preview: Cloudy with a Chance of Silence

There was a point when the last weekend of October was looking like a tight race for #1 between two new movies and a returning one but yeah, that’s probably not going to happen, and that’s because the studio releasing the movie with the biggest buzz decided to give it a fairly moderate release into less than 2,000 theaters, so things are looking very different than we expected.

Because of that, it’s more likely that Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (Open Road Entertainment), the sequel to the 2006 Konami video game-inspired horror movie by the producers of “Resident Evil,” will win the weekend with less than $15 million. Directed by Michael J. Bassett (Solomon Kane), the horror film starring Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harington and Sean Bean–the latter two who played father and half-son on HBO’s “Game of Thrones”–is following up the $20 million opening of the original Silent Hill in April 2006. It only ended up grossing $46 million, but it showed that the fanbase for the video games was strong enough to at least sustain an opening weekend. The sequel will have the benefit of being a horror movie on the weekend before Halloween which will make it a choice for early celebrators looking for something scary, although they have plenty of other choices including last week’s Paranormal Activity 4–which we expect to have a huge drop–and Summit’s Sinister. Like so many movies this month, it’s opening early on Thursday night at 10 p.m., which means that it will probably be heavily frontloaded as the fans rush out to see it, though it should still be able to scrape together enough to make $15 million or so its opening weekend but probably will end up below $40 million total.

Video Interview with Director Michael J. Bassett

“The Matrix” creators Andy and Lana Wachowski are back, collaborating with German filmmaker Thomas Tykwer (Run Lola Run) for their ambitious adaptation of David Mitchell’s complex fiction novel Cloud Atlas (Warner Bros.), which mixes science fiction with historical bits and may be helped by getting big name stars like Tom Hanks and Halle Berry to headline an ensemble cast that includes Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Hugo Weaving and others. Despite having huge success in the early half of the 2000s with “The Matrix Trilogy,” the Wachowskis’ last movie as directors was a live action version of the cartoon Speed Racer, which opened in the summer of ’08 with a disappointing $18.5 million before topping out at $44 million. Cloud Atlas is likely to get better reviews although it’s not as accessible to mainstream audiences since it’s an odd film that takes place across six segments in different time periods, not something that’s easy to market. It’s also over two-and-a-half hours long, which means that it will get less screenings per theater. While critics have generally been favorable towards the movie since its debut at the Toronto International–it’s currently holding up an 80% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this writing–it’s still going to be a tough sell to mainstream audiences even with a popular actor like Tom Hanks involved. That said, we think this one should wind up with the best per-theater average in the Top 10 but with so few theaters, it probably won’t bring in more than $15 million, which means it will probably fall just behind “Silent Hill” for second place even if it’s fairly close.

8/10 Review

On the other hand, we’re not sure the girlie teen comedy Fun Size (Paramount), starring Victoria Justice from the Nickelodeon Channel show “Victorious” and Jane Levy from ABC’s “Suburgatory,” has very much potential this weekend. Directed by Josh Schwartz, producer of shows like “Gossip Girl” and “Chuck,” it’s mainly being targeted to teen and ‘tween girls who tend to be on the fickle side, and as we’ve seen many times, just because they like an actor on TV doesn’t mean they’ll go to their movie, which may be why Selena Gomez’s early movies Ramona and Beezus and Monte Carlo barely made a dent and who could forget Hilary Duff? Okay, for everyone reading this who has forgotten Hilary Duff, she was the Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire and she had a hit with the movie, but then her subsequent movies bombed left and right and unlike Lindsay Lohan, she can barely get arrested these days. Since we don’t think there’s much interest for this movie beyond a handful of 10-year-old girls and they might not make enough babysitting to afford a movie ticket, we don’t think this stands much of a chance of making more than $10 million this weekend despite being released into the most theaters of the new movies. We’ll peg it for between $8 and 9 million on its way to $26 million tops.

And then there’s Chasing Mavericks (20th Century Fox), the surfing movie starring Gerard Butler, Jonny Weston and Elizabeth Shue, that seemed to have come from out of nowhere. One thing that set our alarms off was noting that the movie had TWO DIRECTORS, and no, we’re not talking like in the Neveldine/Taylor or Andy and Lana Wachowski way either – the movie lists both Michael Apted and Curtis Hanson as director. There’s actually a reasonable explanation for this, because Apted took over the filming when Hanson became ill, but it’s more surprising that Fox wouldn’t advertise the movie as being directed by the

Oscar-winning filmmaker behind movies like L.A. Confidential and Eminem’s 8 Mile, since those are known movies. It’s probably less surprising the surfing movie (which probably would fare better in the summer, no?) is being released into 2,000 theaters than Warner Bros.’ decision to release Cloud Atlas into even less theaters, since Fox seems to care less about this movie than they did the recent Won’t Back Down, and yet, this probably won’t bomb nearly as badly. Go figure. We think that if this makes $5 million over the weekend, it will be a minor miracle; if it makes more than $12 million total, even moreso.

This weekend last year, DreamWorks Animation opened their animated spin-off adventure-comedy Puss in Boots (DreamWorks Animation), starring Antonio Banderas’s popular feline swashbuckler from the “Shrek” movies. Despite his blockbuster roots, the movie opened with a disappointing $34 million in nearly 4,000 theaters, possibly hurt by the Halloween weekend and a last minute move forward a week. Even so, it made the same amount in its second weekend in early November, when it was originally going to be released and it went on to gross nearly $150 million. Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried were paired for the sci-fi action-thriller In Time (20th Century Fox), which took third place with $12 million. Johnny Depp starred in the Hunter S. Thompson adaptation The Rum Diary (FilmDistrict), which took in just $5 million in 2,272 theaters to take fifth place. The Top 10 grossed $90.2 million and because this is going to be a slower weekend with less big movies, it’s probably going to be fairly level with the same weekend last year.

This Week’s Updated Predictions

1. Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (Open Road Entertainment) – $14.4 million N/A

2. Cloud Atlas (Warner Bros.) – $13.5 million N/A (up .3 million)

3. Argo (Warner Bros.) – $12.0 million -27% (down .3 million)

4. Fun Size (Paramount) – $9.4 million N/A (up .6 million and two places)

5. Hotel Transylvania (Sony Pictures) – $9.3 million -30% (Up .2 million)

6. Paranormal Activity 4 (Paramount) – $9.0 million -69%

7. Taken 2 (20th Century Fox) – $7.5 million – 43% (down .1 million)

8. Alex Cross (Summit) – $6.2 million -46%

9. Here Comes the Boom (Sony) – $5.1 million -40%

10. Sinister (Summit Entertainment) $4.7 million -58%

Chasing Mavericks (20th Century Fox) – $4.3 million N/A

This week’s THE CHOSEN ONE is The Zen of Bennett (Abramorama), the new doc about legendary singer Tony Bennett, conceived and produced by his son Danny Bennett and directed by Unjoo Moon.

I have never been that big a fan of the crooner and his songs, although I could generally understand his appeal, so for me to be able to watch an entire movie about him and really come out of it appreciating and respecting what he does (and what he’s done over his long career) is quite an achievement. Much of the film follows Bennett as he travels around the world collaborating with various artists for his “Duets II” album, and probably the most chilling sequence and one that gave me goosebumps was the one that showed Bennett recording with the late Amy Winehouse, her first time in the studio since going through rehab. At one point, she’s talking about a legendary jazz singer Bennett collaborated with and she says “She died young, didn’t she?” and your jaw just drops, knowing that Winehouse will die shortly afterwards. Just having the cameras rolling and being able to capture that moment is part of what makes this doc so surprising. Oh, yeah, and it’s shot by Oscar-winning cinematographer Dion Beebe, so of course the entire movie looks fantastic.

The Zen of Bennett opens exclusively at the IFC Center on Wednesday and in L.A. and other cities on Friday, November 2, plus it will be available on Netflix in November.

This weekend also sees the release of two more limited releases that we’ve enjoyed and can recommend:

Day Night Day Night director Julia Loktev returns with The Loneliest Planet (Sundance Selects), starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg (Yossi & Jagger) as an engaged couple who travel to the Carpathian Mountains in Georgia but an incident drives a wedge between them as they drift apart over their journey. It also opens at the IFC Center, but on Friday. This is a beautiful film that I first saw at the New York Film Festival last year, and while it seems like such a different movie for Loktev, possibly due to the vast landscape in which the drama takes place, it’s also very much in line with the tone of Day Night Day Night with strong performances by Bernal and Furstenberg that often requires absolutely no dialogue to tell the story.

Interview with Julia Loktev (Coming Soon!)

Lorraine Lévy’s The Other Son (Cohen Media Group) looks at Israeli parents, played by Emmanuelle Devos and Pascal Elbé, who learn that their 18-year-old musician son Joseph (Jules Struck) was switched at birth with another baby, and they learn that their actual son has been raised for 18 years by a Palestinian couple living in the West Bank. This is an interesting and unique look at the conflict in Israel and a surprisingly solid film that doesn’t go for the most obvious dramatic route in allowing the story to unfold. At first, you may think the movie is just about Joseph and his parents, but it in fact spends just as much time with the Arab family and their son Yacine (Medhi Dehbi) who are just as affected by the revelation and what it signifies. While I wasn’t that crazy about Jules Struck as Joseph, the film doesn’t stay with him long enough once it gets to the central premise that his performance ruined my enjoyment, and it definitely sets things up in a way that leaves things open for discussion. For anyone who needed to have a more personal insight into the Israeli and Palestinian viewpoint towards this age-old conflict, Lévy’s unique approach to the material is worth checking out.

[REC] director Jaume Balagueró returns with Sleep Tight (MPI / Dark Sky Films) a suspense thriller starring Luis Tosar as Cesar, the doorman at an apartment building in Barcelona, who decides to stalk the building’s beautiful and cheerful tenant Clara (Marta Clara). It opens in select cities on Friday, and while we did like the look and tone of the film, there were aspects of the movie that just creeped us out beyond any point that we could get past as the film goes to places that you’re hoping it won’t. There’s enough chills and gore to keep most horror fans appeased but it’s clear that Balagueró was going for something a little closer to Hitchcock, probably too close. If nothing else, this is another fine example of the great horror coming from out of Spain these days as well as the fine actors, and Marta Clara is easy to look at for long periods of time so you can see where Cesar is coming from.

Nicolas Winding Refn’s debut film gets the remake treatment with Pusher (Radius – TWC) directed by Luis Prieto and starring Agyness Deyn as drugdealer Richard Coyle who becomes desperate when a drug deal goes wrong putting him into trouble with a vicious crimelord. After playing on VOD for the last month, it opens in select cities Friday.

Sonia Nassery Cole’s Afghanistan-based drama The Black Tulip (SnagFilms) is about a family who tries to create an open mic restaurant called “The Poet’s Corner” that allows artists to tell stories and perform music after the Taliban falls apart, but ends up getting opposition from some of the remaining Taliban.

Franklin Martin’s doc Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story (Dutchmen Films) takes a look at the teenager who looked for the approval of his father by becoming the first one-armed basketball player in NCAA Division One history. It opens in New York at the Quad Cinemas on Friday.

Next week, the month of November kicks off with Disney’s video game animated adventure Wreck-It Ralph, featuring the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman and Jane Lynch, Denzel Washington stars in Robert Zemeckis’ live action drama Flight (Paramount) while Wutang rapper RZA, Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu team up for the martial arts action movie The Man with the Iron Fists (Universal).

You can read stuff like this and regular box office, awards and festival coverage on the new Weekend Warrior Blog and to keep up with the latest articles and posts, you can follow us on Twitter.

Copyright 2012 Edward Douglas


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