For those that read all the way to the bottom of last week’s column, I pulled a bit of an early April Fools’ joke because “Box Office Preview” is indeed over, but “The Weekend Warrior” is back! Of course, anyone who has been reading this weekly column regularly will probably have already noticed I’ve been slowly transforming this column back into what I used to do with The Weekend Warrior in terms of longer write-ups for the new movies in wide release.
So you may be wondering: Why change the title back? Well, I’m glad you wondered.
There are a lot of people to thank on this milestone and while first and foremost I want to thank all of the faithful readers, especially those of you who leave (nice) comments or post your own predictions, more than that, I have to thank the one guy who is responsible for The Weekend Warrior going on for so long and eventually evolving into a full-on blog and that’s ComingSoon.net editor-in-chief Mirko Parlevliet, easily one of the most patient men alive for putting up with my moody temperament every day and calmly reading this column every week and letting me know when I forgot to finish a sentence or made an obvious mistake. So thanks, boss, you’re the best!
And we start off our tenth year with only two movies in wide release, one a remake and one a rerelease, so The Weekend Warrior gets to celebrate his anniversary by taking things a little easier. Hurray! They’re both strong releases although they’ll also both be taking on the March Madness college basketball semi-finals on Saturday.
Evil Dead (Sony/TriStar Pictures/FilmDistrict)
Way back in 1981, director Sam Raimi and actor Bruce Campbell came together to create a low-budget horror movie called “The Evil Dead,” which had a group of kids going to a cabin in the woods, finding a book that brought forth a demonic entity and killing off most of them. It became a huge underground hit and the surviving character, Campbell’s “Ash” Williams would go on to star in two sequels, 1987’s Evil Dead 2 and 1992’s Army of Darkness. The character went on to star in comics and video games while Raimi went onto other things such as the blockbuster “Spider-Man” trilogy and this year’s biggest hit to date, Oz The Great and Powerful.
With all the horror remakes being produced in recent years, it was only a matter of time before Raimi, Campbell and Raimi’s producing partner Rob Tapert would get around to relaunching the series and they’re doing so with a remake, reboot, whatever you want to call it, but it basically reintroduces the premise to a new and younger audience. To help reintroduce the franchise, they discovered Uruguyan filmmaker Fede Alvarez who figured out the perfect formula for an “Evil Dead” remake, bringing together five young actors, including Jane Levy from ABC’s “Suburgatory,” Shiloh Fernandez and Lou Taylor Pucci, the latter who has been on the indie circuit for many years. This is a similar approach to many horror remakes where there are no real big names although we think Levy could really break out big time after the movie, similar to Campbell in fact.
Horror remakes have been up and down like a see-saw in the past ten years, the trend kicking off with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 2003, which opened with $28 million and grossed $80.5 million total. Since then, horror remakes have shown diminishing returns with some doing better than others. In January, Lionsgate rebooted that franchise with Texas Chainsaw 3D, which opened with $21.7 million but only grossed $34.3 million, showing a lot of frontloading, but it was clearly a movie that benefitted from its early January release date as school was back in session and the 15-to-22 crowd were looking for something to see together. For the most part, true horror fans prefer getting their horror as gory and R-rated as possible, but many studios have felt that watering them down with a PG-13 rating insures a larger audience.
There’s no question that there is room for a horror movie to do big business, just going by the success of the “Saw” movies, many of which opened with more than $33 million, and Evil Dead promises even gorier R-rated horrors – even boasting of having gotten an NC-17 rating at one point. While this may limit the audience to those over 16 or 17 who can get into R-rated movies, it also may leave out the easily squeamish who tend to prefer tamer PG-13 rated horror like the recent hit Mama.
Sony and TriStar Pictures have taken a very different approach from normal horror remakes, which rarely screen for critics in advance, actually showing this to people including its premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival last month, which was received with huge accolades. Combining the huge amount of buzz the movie has generated with a strong marketing campaign by Sony, we think this will be an enormous hit since it will not only bring in the millions of older male “Evil Dead” fans from the original series, but it also should bring in a good amount of high school and college age students back from school and looking for an experience they can share and remember.
The movie does have some competition this weekend from the PG-13 rated Jurassic Park 3D rerelease, although that being a movie that’s already available on DVD and Blu-ray already seen by millions of people, those looking for something new will probably go with this.
Weekend Est.: $26 to 29 million; Est. Total Gross: $75 million
Jurassic Park 3D (Universal)
Back in 1993–a year after Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness for comparison’s sake–Steven Spielberg had come off a couple of smaller movies and four years after Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, he decided to return to summer blockbuster fare with an adaptation of Michael Crichton’s best-selling book. It was hugely groundbreaking for its time due to the use of CG animation to create realistic dinosaurs and after opening with $50 million in June 1993–which was huge for those times–it went on to gross $350 million domestically and another $566 internationally, putting it right behind Spielberg’s 1982 hit E.T. the Extraterrestrial. Its sequel, The Lost World set an opening record with $72 million four years later over Memorial Day weekend, although it only grossed $230 million domestically.
Either way, Spielberg successfully created another legacy franchise for himself and 12 years after the last installment Jurassic Park 3 and with Spielberg and Universal gearing up for a fourth movie in 2014, they are rereleasing the original movie that’s been converted into 3D. It’s not that odd a decision considering how many 3D rereleases came out last year with classic movies being converted in hopes they can bring in new and old fans alike. Enough of them are being considered profitable enough to continue the tradition although it’s slowed down slightly as moviegoing audiences have become dubious of the 3D format.
Last February, Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace was given a 3D rerelease into 2,655 theaters where it opened with $22 million (putting it in fourth place for that busy weekend), but it went on to gross $43.4 million, barely twice that amount. A couple of weeks later–and exactly a year ago this week, in fact–James Cameron’s Titanic was able to bring in $17.3 million in 2,674 theaters before grossing $58 million total, showing much stronger legs than the “Star Wars” movie.
What makes these movies significant for a 3D rerelease is that they all grossed over $300 million domestically in their original runs. Although Jurassic Park‘s $357 million may seem somewhat skimpy compared to the original domestic take for Cameron’s Titanic, the movie has enough fans that it should get many of them back into theaters even though it’s been available on DVD and Blu-ray for years.
Jurassic Park 3D is getting a high profile release into IMAX theaters which should make it even more of a draw for fans of the original movie and those who never had a chance to see it on the big screen. There should also be enough younger teens looking for something to see this weekend, as well as parents wanting to share it with their kids for this one to do decent business this weekend although it will probably be fighting for third place against DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods.
Weekend Est.: $16 to 18 million; Est. Total Gross: $42 million
This weekend last year, two new movies opened, but like the previous week, neither was able to dethrone the reigning champion The Hunger Games, which crossed the $300 million mark with $33 million in its third weekend. Second place went to the return of the “American Pie” gang in American Reunion (Universal), which opened relatively softly with $21.5 million. Last year also saw its own 3D rerelease with James Cameron’s Titanic 3D (Paramount), which took third place with $17.3 million. The Top 10 grossed $115 million and this weekend is going to be close, but if the new movies do better than we predicted than we may have an up or even week.
This Week’s Updated Predictions –
1. Evil Dead (Sony/TriStar Pictures/FilmDistrict) – $30.5 million N/A (up 2.8 million)
2. G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Paramount) – $20.3 million -49%
3. Jurassic Park 3D (Universal) – $17.8 million N/A (up .3 million)
4. The Croods (DreamWorks Animation/20th Century Fox) – $16.5 million -38%
5. Tyler Perry’s Temptation (Lionsgate) – $10.0 million -54%
6. Olympus Has Fallen (FilmDistrict) – $7.2 million -49%
7. Oz The Great and Powerful (Walt Disney Pictures) – $6.5 million -45%
8. The Host (Open Road Entertainment) – $4.8 million -55%
9. The Call (TriStar Pictures) – $2.6 million -47%
10. Admission (Focus Features) – $1.9 million -40%
Even though “The Weekend Warrior” is back, I’m still wimping out on “The Chosen One” this week although there are two or three movies that I enjoyed, which I’ve reviewed below.
Primer director Shane Carruth returns with Upstream Color (erbp), a film that looks at the relationship between two people who meet on a train and discover they have a deep connection from a shared traumatic experience. It opens in New York at the IFC Center and in other cities starting April 11. You can find out when it’s playing near you on the Official Site.
Afterschool director Antonio Campos returns with Simon Killer (IFC Films) starring Brady Corbet as Simon, an American student abroad in Paris to get over breaking up with his girlfriend who becomes involves with a prostitute (Mati Diop), a relationship that gets darker as he drags her into a scheme to make money off her johns. It also opens at the IFC Center on Friday.
Video Interview with Antonio Campos & Brady Corbet (Later this week)
Mini-Review: Antonio Campos’ follow-up to “Afterschool” continues the run of enigmatic films produced by Brooklyn art-hipster project Borderline Productions, this one starring frequent collaborator Brady Corbett as Simon, a recent college grad spending time in Paris to get over the end of a five-year relationship with his girlfriend. He’s clearly lonely and anyone who has spent time alone in a foreign country by themselves should be able to relate to his situation. By chance, he ends up in a men’s club with a prostitute named Victoria (Mati Diop), and when he’s robbed, he turns to Victoria who cautiously allows him to stay with her. Their relationship turns more amorous when Simon gets the bright idea to blackmail Victoria’s johns for more money, though he soon learns he’s in over his head.
“Simon Killer” is a slow and subdued film, taking a fly on the wall approach to the storytelling, and while there isn’t much in terms of plot developments, at least at first, it’s a terrific showcase for the talents of actor Brady Corbetsome may remember him from Haneke’s “Funny Games” and Borderline’s previous production “Martha Marcy May Marlene.” With the entire focus of the film on his character, he’s put in enough different situations to allow us to really see his range as an actor and we were equally impressive by French actress Mati Diop as the prostitute who takes Simon in.
As things progress, this guy we like so much as the film opens starts doing things that make us question our trust in him. While still living with Victoria, he starts going after another pretty woman he met earlier, and we start seeing that he’s kind of a sleazebag, possibly bordering on a sociopath. The question is whether this was always his nature or if it was something about his time in Paris that brought that out of him. The passage of time is not something easy to determine because you assume it takes place over a few days, but then later we’re informed that he’s been in Paris for nearly three months. Either way, things just get darker and darker as the movie goes along and the hardest obstacle the movie faces in finding its audience is the amount of graphic sex that almost guarantees the film will have to either be released unrated or get the dreaded NC-17, which is likely to put off some viewers.
Campos is clearly a filmmaker able to create a distinct tone and vision and in the case of “Simon Killer,” that tone is a bit like Stanley Kubrick’s divisive “Eyes Wide Shut” which isn’t always a good thing because it means some will enjoy the movie while others will likely hate it. The cinematography is fairly stark, the images embellished with ambient sound design mixed with tunes from Simon’s iPod like LCD Soundsystem and a cover of Miike Snow that acts as the score.
“Simon Killer” is not a movie everyone who sees it will immediately love, something it has in common with “Eyes Wide Shut,” but it’s the type of film that makes you ponder long and hard afterwards to appreciate what Campos was trying to achieve.
Robert Redford directs and stars in The Company You Keep (Sony Pictures Classics), a conspiracy thriller involving the members of the Weather Underground, the youth terrorist group who fought against America’s involvement in Vietnam War during the 70s. Decades later, the FBI has caught one of their members (Susan Sarandon), and an Albany reporter named Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf) during his investigations discovers that another member (Robert Redford) has been in hiding as a lawyer in upstate New York. Realizing that he’s been outed, the latter goes on the run across the country trying to find other members of the organization who can vouch for his innocence. With a huge star-studded cast that includes many Oscar nominees including Terrence Howard, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliot, Julie Christie, Brendan Gleeson, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Brit Marling and Anna Kendrick, it opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday.
Stephen Dorff, Willem Dafoe and Michelle Monaghan star in David Jacobson’s Tomorrow You’re Gone (Image Entertainment), Dorff playing Charlie Rankin, a former convict who must murder someone as compensation to the man who saved him in prison (Dafoe), although he has a change of heart when he meets the mysterious Florence (Monaghan).
Mini-Review: Probably the best thing going for David Jacobson’s gritty low-budget crime noir movie is the higher caliber cast he was able to entice to star in his movie, though it’s hard to tell what either Stephen Dorff or Michelle Monaghan, both producers on the project, would have seen in the rather bland script.
Dorff has generally gotten better as an actor in recent years to the point where he can carry a character-driven piece like this, but the real standout of the movie is the ultra-sexy performance by Michelle Monaghan as an ex-porn actress–we get a brief sample of her work–but even that’s taken too far at times. Most of their scenes involve her character Florence trying to seduce Dorff, who is going by the name “Samson,” but things start to get weird, entering into David Lynch territory at times, and other times it’s hard to figure out exactly what is going on.
That brings us back to the lackluster script that jumps around between the relationship between Charlie and Florence and Charlie’s original mission, which is to murder someone for a fellow convict named “Buddha.” It’s nearly an hour before Willem Dafoe shows up as that character, having only heard his voice up until that point, and then he’s gone just as quickly.
Jacobson does a fine job creating a moody noir tone, although the low budget hurts the movie’s production values with many scenes being too dark to tell what is happening. On top of that, his movie never really figures out whether it wants to be a crime thriller or a romantic drama so much of it comes across like it’s trying to be some sort of acting exercise. When it comes down to it, the movie tries to achieve something we’ve seen done so much better in the past without the level of writing necessary to make it work.
Thure Lindhardt, the Indie Spirit-nominated actor from last year’s Keep the Lights On stars in Boris Rodriguez’s horror-comedy Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal (Doppelgänger Releasing), an artist who moves out of the big city into a small town, taking up a teaching job where he encounters a giant mute individual named Eddie (Dylan Smith) and ends up taking care of him only to learn that he suffers from a rare form of sleepwalking that has him eating anyone he encounters. It opens in select cities and on VOD on Friday.
Janet Tobias’ documentary No Place on Earth (Magnolia) takes a look at the lives of the Stermer family, who hid underground in Ukraine caverns to escape the Nazis during 1942. It opens in New York at the Angelika and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.
I haven’t had a chance to see the next few movies but hope to sometime soon
Oscar-winning filmmaker Danny Boyle returns with the crime-thriller Trance (Fox Searchlight) starring James McAvoy as an art dealer who gets involved in a major art heist masterminded by Vincent Cassel, but when he knocks McAvoy unconscious, he loses his memory of where he stored the artwork, so he turns to a hypnotist, played by Rosario Dawson, to help him recover it.
There’s also Ramaa Mosley’s dramedy The Brass Teapot (Magnolia), which stars Juno Temple and Michael Angarano, Alexandra McGuinness’ London-based drama Lotus Eaters (Phase 4 Films) and 6 Souls (RadiusTWC), an earlier thriller from Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein, the Swedish directors of last year’s Underworld: Awakening, starring Nicole Kidman and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
And these ones I’m not sure I’ll have a chance to see so just click on the link to learn more
Andre Gregory: Before and After Dinner (Cinema Guild)
Down the Shore (Anchor Bay Films)
Free Angela and All Political Prisoners (CODEBLACK Films/Lionsgate)
The Story of Luke (Gravitas Ventures)
Thale (XLrator Media)
Next week, the month of April motors along with two very different movies, the baseball drama 42 (Warner Bros.), co-starring Harrison Ford, and the fifth installment of the horror spoof series that JUST… WON’T… DIE… Scary Movie 5 (Dimension Films).
You can read stuff like this and regular box office, awards and festival coverage on the Weekend Warrior Blog and to keep up with the latest articles and posts, you can follow us on Twitter.
Copyright 2013 Edward Douglas