Happy New Year and welcome back to our weekly look at the movies being released into theaters and how they might fare at the box office. Because it’s a new year, you may notice a slightly different look to our Box Office Preview – nothing too different from what we’ve been doing for the last ten years or so, just a change to keep things interesting. There’s really only one new movie being released this weekend plus a couple others expanding wider, and that one new movie is going to have to take on a lot of strong returning movies including Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, and the Christmas hits Les Misérables and Django Unchained. (Note: Due to the holidays we have nowhere near proper estimates for the theater counts for either the new movie or the two expansions so these numbers may change by Friday once we do.)
Texas Chainsaw 3D (Lionsgate)
The horror remake genre has had its ups and downs, but the summer and fall of 2011 seemed to put the final nail in the coffin as both Fright Night 3D and The Thing prequel bombed. It’s only logical that the movie trying to resuscitate the horror remake as a viable box office genre is a movie that harks back to the first big horror remake of 2003, which started the ball rolling down a very steep hill. Marcus Nispel was the first filmmaker to tackle Tobe Hooper’s 1974 B-movie slasher The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which opened to $28 million on its way to $80.6 million in a plum October release. The prequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning opened three years later when the horror genre was already tailing but still opened with $18 million on its way to $39.5 million – so it made half as much while costing twice as much as its predecessor. This 3D re-remake is being set up as a direct sequel to Hooper’s horror classic in another attempt to revive the franchise at another studio known for horror, Lionsgate, and they’ve decided to use it to kick off their year, knowing how well the horror genre has done after the holidays and once it’s too cold out to do much else. Lionsgate’s marketing has been decent and quite pervasive, playing up the fact this is the first movie of the year, and there should be enough 15- to 22-year-old horror buffs that will give it a chance, most of them having been too young to suffered through Nispel’s remake to know better. We expect it to be #1 on Friday but be overtaken by The Hobbit and possibly others by Sunday.
Weekend Est.: $18 to 20 million; Est. Total Gross: $38 to 40 million
Promised Land (Focus Features)
Expanding nationwide following a platform release to have awards consideration is the first collaboration between Matt Damon and John Krasinski as writers and the third collaboration between Damon and director Gus Van Sant, going back to their Oscar-winning hit Good Will Hunting in 1997. This is an odd movie for Damon because it’s a smaller and more intimate film, more of an indie then the high-profile blockbusters he’s been associated with, but Focus Features have taken a bit of an unconventional route with it by giving it a platform release during the busy last weekend of December but then going wide almost immediately a week later. This isn’t that uncommon as it’s something we’ve seen from more high profile movies like Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and some of Clint Eastwood’s films and sometimes doing a small release before going nationwide can work. It did pretty bad in its opening weekend in 25 theaters, averaging roughly $6,000 per site, and the mixed reviews haven’t helped, but we think the ads selling it more as a romantic drama and Damon’s popularity might help it get into the low end of the Top 10 depending on how many theaters it gets.
Weekend Est.: $2 to 4 million; Est. Total Gross: $15 million
The Impossible (Summit)
An even odder nationwide expansion (into around 400-500 theaters at the time of this writing) is this disaster flick-cum-drama about a family caught in the 2004 tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia, directed by Spanish filmmaker Juan Bayona, who first made waves (ha ha) with his horror flick The Orphanage, which was produced by Guillermo del Toro. This one stars Naomi Watts, who has already gotten award nominations for her performance, and Ewan McGregor, both of whom have generally been doing the talk show rounds to support the movie. It opened in limited release on December 21 and has grossed less than $485,000 in 15 theaters, which isn’t great when you compare it to something like Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, which made three times that in a third the theaters – and that’s expanding nationwide next week. Reviews have been relatively decent except for those who criticize the movie for focusing on the Europeans rather than the Asian locals. I personally loved the movie (see review below) and even placed it in my Top 3 for the year, but sadly, we don’t think the promotion and marketing for the movie has really been on point while Summit focused on the higher profile “Twilight” finale. With that in mind, we don’t expect it do fare that well in its first weekend of wide release but maybe pick up speed with Watt’s inevitable second Oscar nomination.
Weekend Est.: $1.5 to 2 million; Est. Total Gross: $12 million
This weekend last year saw just one new wide release, Paramount’s ultra low-budget horror film The Devil Inside (Paramount Insurge), which opened big with $33.7 million the first weekend of 2012 in less than 2,300 theaters, becoming the third-biggest opener for the month of January. The Top 10 grossed just under $121 million, and it’s hard to say whether this weekend will fare as well unless Texas Chainsaw 3D does far better than we’ve predicted.
This Week’s Updated Predictions –
UPDATE: Well, we finally got some actual theater counts for Promised Land and The Impossible so we update those accordingly and the returning movies should fare very well with only Texas Chainsaw 3D aiming for younger moviegoers from 15 to 20.
1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (New Line/WB) – $19.5 million -40% (down .5 million)
2. Texas Chainsaw 3D (Lionsgate) – $18.0 million N/A (down .4 million)
3. Django Unchained (The Weinstein Company) – $17.5 million -42% (up 1 million)
4. Les Misérables (Universal) – $15.0 million -45% (up .6 million)
5. Parental Guidance (20th Century Fox) – $9.5 million -35% (same)
6. Jack Reacher (Paramount) – $8.0 million -47% (up .2 million)
7. This Is 40 (Universal) – $7.3 million -45%
8. Lincoln (DreamWorks) – $5.4 million -26% (up .2 million)
9. Promised Land (Focus Features) – $4.5 million +520 % (up 1.5 million and placed in the Top 10)
10. The Guilt Trip (Paramount) – $4.3 million -36% (down one spot)
— The Impossible (Summit) – $2.0 million (up .5 million)
The first “CHOSEN ONE” for 2013 is Michael Apted’s 56 Up (First Run Features), his documentary following the lives of British students who he has revisited every seven years to document the progress of their lives. As one might expect from the film’s title, Apted’s subjects are now in their mid-50s, many of them with kids, some of them with grandkids and it brings an entirely new dynamic to the series. You can read our thoughts on the movie from last year’s DOC-NYC here. It opens at the IFC Center in New York on Friday.
If you’re in New York City this weekend and a fan of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’ Raiders the Lost Ark, the famed backyard adaptation of the movie by teenagers Eric Zala and Chris Strompolos that took them six years to complete will be screening on Saturday night at the 92Y Tribeca in conjunction with the release of Alan Eisenstock’s book “Raiders!” about the making of the DIY movie. You can read an interview I did with Eric Zala a few year back here to learn more or our newer…
Also opening at the IFC Center on Friday is Justin Dix’s action thriller Crawlspace (IFC Films) about a group of soldiers sent to infiltrate a secret underground military compound in Australia to extra one of their top scientists.
Andy Garcia stars in Damian Lee’s A Dark Truth (Magnolia) as an ex-CIA man who has been the host of a political radio talk show and is hired by a corporate whistleblower (Deborah Kara Unger) to uncover her company’s massacre in a South American village over the region’s depleting water resource. Also starring Forrest Whitaker and Eva Longoria, it opens Friday in Miami and a week later in Lake Worth, Florida, following its month-long run on VOD. In other words, it’s being dumped theatrically.
Jason Trost’s All Superheroes Must Die (Image Entertainment) stars himself and three others as a group of four masked superheroes who are stripped of their powers by their arch-nemesis, who puts them through a series of challenges in a race against time that will lead to their ultimate demise. It opens in select cities.
Next week, the month of January starts getting busier as Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer tackles the gangster genre with Gangster Squad (Warner Bros.), starring Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Sean Penn and Emma Stone, while the Wayan Brothers go back to spoofing scary movies with A Haunted House (Open Road Films) and Kathryn Bigelow’s controversial political thriller Zero Dark Thirty (Sony) expands nationwide, just in time for the Oscar nominations!
Copyright 2012 Edward Douglas