Friday, September 20, 2013

Prisoners Tries to Abduct the Top Spot in the Box Office

 It's now time for the critically acclaim movie season, and it is kicked off with one movie that is garnering a lot of buzz.  Scott predicts how much that buzz will mean in the box office this weekend.

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The awards season is now officially upon us.  The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has come and gone, and this weekend starts the roll-out of movies that bring with them buzz and curiosity around possible awards nominations.  Fans of blockbusters had their four months in the sun, and now the next few months offer a great deal to those who appreciate movies that allow for an element of audience intelligence and that may cause movie goers to ponder philosophical, emotional, or social issues.  It is a time where storytelling, not primarily special effects, is on full display.  There still will be standard theatre fare, but adult audiences who crave mature content have been starved for the past few months and are lining up at the trough to begin their gorge.

Warner Bros. thriller Prisoners premiered at the Telluride Film Festival where it built up its buzz, and then ended up as a runner up for the People’s Choice Awards at TIFF.  While not everyone is in agreement that it is a shoe-in for some nominations, it seems to be widely accepted that it is a film in consideration.  It stars Hugh Jackman, Terrence Howard, and Jake Gyllenhaal (all three have an Oscar nomination under their belt) in a movie about the abduction of two young girls, with Jackman’s character taking the law into his own hands to find his missing daughter.  I have read articles comparing the quality of this thriller to that of Se7en, and that is very high praise to live up to.  Currently it has a rating of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a high rating will help this type of movie as its target demographics pay attention to how movies are being received.

One huge positive for Prisoners is the fact that fans of thrillers have been literally starved as of late.  The last three movies in wide release to declare themselves ‘thrillers’ (Paranoia, Closed Circuit, Getaway) were rejected by both audiences and critics and are most likely already forgotten just a few weeks after their release.  With no immediate competition in a genre that is overdue for a solid offering, Prisoners should have no issues at all taking first place in the box office this weekend as Insidious Chapter 2 will most likely take a drop of 65-70% in its weekend gross (that’s based off the front loaded opening weekend, but could be proven wrong if it repeats the consistent holding that the first Insidious was able to achieve… the smart money is on ‘heck no… heck no, it sure as shit will not do that’) .  With a much anticipated animation coming out next weekend, Prisoners time to shine is now and the only lingering question will be if it has what it takes to secure Oscar nominations in a few months.

Prisoners Opening Weekend Prediction - $18.5 million


Battle of the Year, at least based off the trailers, is about a washed up basketball coach who is out of the game, who is then brought back to instruct a dance team of un-coachable misfits not just about sports, but about life and how to be a man.  Also, let’s throw in the cliché that the reluctant coach will have his own demons to battle.   Stop me if you have heard this scenario before.  If you haven’t, please stop me anyways.  I don’t want to seem as though I am downer on dance movies, but this is just all the various tropes of an underdog movie repackaged and set to a beat.  We could guess easily how the movie will play out, and if you can’t then just watch Disney’s Mighty Ducks and you will get a solid idea.  Audience appreciation for dance movies does not seem as strong as when Step Up came out, and considering the exceptionally low amount of activity for this movie on Twitter I can easily imagine this movie will be quickly forgotten.

Battle of the Year Opening Weekend Prediction - $5.5 million

In limited theatres this weekend is Ron Howard’s Rush, which is based on the racing rivalry between Brit James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian driver Niki Lauda.  Rush has achieved great critical reception (91% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing this) and has a lot of interest around it.  For such a high profile movie it is hard to believe that this is actually an independent film, the first independent movie in decades for Ron Howard.  It opens in wide release next weekend (a release strategy that Metallica Through the Never will be employing next weekend), but for this weekend let’s play the guessing game that we sometimes do with anticipated limited release movies.

Rush Limited Release Weekend Prediction - $90,000 per theatre

Also in limited release is The Wizard of Oz, which is coming out for 3D IMAX screenings in 318 theatres.  The timeless classic will be a great treat for audiences of all ages, as the story has left an imprint on each generation since its creation.  Perhaps at this moment I am just going off the rails and getting carried away, but let’s do some predicting on this film as well.  This is territory that I have not yet tread on, so some grace would be greatly appreciated.  If we look at recent re-released fan favourites in 3D in Finding Nemo (opened to $5,700 per theatres) and Jurassic Park (opened to $6,700 per theatre) we are able to get a decent base line.  Because audiences of literally all ages were cramming theatres to see the recently released Oz the Great and Powerful it may be fair to say there could be a much more varied audience for The Wizard of Oz, which should put it at a higher average.

The Wizard of Oz 3D IMAX Opening Weekend Prediction - $9,000 per theatre


Lastly, it should be mentioned that Enough Said will be released in limited theatres this weekend.  Enough Said stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini and is a romantic comedy that is experiencing great critical reception.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus is best known as Elaine on Seinfeld and Gandolfini’s portrayal of mob boss Tony Soprano on The Sopranos is where he established his name.  The trailers look great, and this may be a tremendous way for us to remember an actor who has left an imprint on the changing landscape of television.

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