fury-feature

Box Office Brasserie:
Movie News For Movie Lovers

Brad Pitt is a rarity in Hollywood—one of the last few actors who can actually carry a movie himself. Any movie. As “World War Z” proved a couple years ago, not only does he have mass appeal, but also a knack for picking projects that are extremely mainstream. And plus, let’s face it, Pitt’s a lightning rod for social media. In fact, if he wasn’t doing this big-screen gig, I have no doubt he could be a pretty big YouTube star.

Check out his latest viral plug with Jimmy Fallon:

Nothing beats their original duet, though…the yodel.

His latest, “Fury,” highlights Pitt perched atop a tank as its poster. That’s truth in advertising: He’s front and center on this box office mission. In fact, even with a group of young cadets including Michael Pena, Logan Lerman, Scott Eastwood and the once-bankable Shia LaBeouf, he’s the main attraction.

Good thing director David Ayer (“End of Watch”) aligned himself with Pitt, because backing Arnold Schwarzenegger with his last film, “Sabotage,” was a big-time bust. The action flick carried a modest $35M budget but grossed just $17M worldwide. Yikes. This isn’t 1989 apparently.

“Fury” cost $68M, but Sony should have no trouble recouping that investment as the R-rated WWII flick is on track to hit #1 with upwards of $25M and have a nice run into the holiday season.

The other new releases this weekend probably won’t be so lucky.

Fox’s animated entry, “The Book of Life,” would seem to have a leg up, however as “The Boxtrolls” proved, opening a kiddie-flick in the fall is often a tough task. It’s more of a long-distance run than a sprint. That said, in over 3,000+ theaters, it should debut with at least $17M.

“The Book of Life” arrives via Jorge Gutierrez (“El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera”) and carries a $50M budget, which should easily be recouped overseas as the “Day of the Dead” themed toon should play extremely well in Latin countries. It should be noted that this is really more of a musical, with a soundtrack featuring 18 tracks.

And then we have the latest Nicolas Sparks adaptation, Relativity’s “The Best of Me.” Listen, I’ve been forced to watch them just like everyone else, but at least with “The Notebook,” “Dear John,” and “Message in a Bottle” we had Ryan Gosling/Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum/Amanda Seyfried and Kevin Costner/Robin Wright headlining respectively.

“The Best of Me” features a serious downgrade with James Marsden/Michelle Monaghan? No offense to those lovebirds, but they’re not quite in the same league as those other guys and gals. Sort of like the Hallmark Channel version. Not good if you’re giving it the big-screen push. Plus, when the younger version (Luke Bracey) that you flashback to actually looks older than you…you’ve got serious, serious issues. Check it out in the trailer below. Pretty sure it won’t get past $12M this weekend, even in nearly 3,000 theaters.

The most exciting film that comes out this weekend is—wouldn’t you know it—a superhero film. Well, an arthouse superhero film to be more specific. I mean, when you subtitle it “The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” you know it probably isn’t anything like “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

It’s a bird. It’s a plane…wait, it is a bird. Michael Keaton stars in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Birdman” playing an actor who once portrayed a superhero. Hmm. That sure sounds a lot like…real life.

Having Keaton take a starring turn is a treat in itself. We’ve seen flashes of his brilliance in “The Other Guys,” “Robocop,” and “Need for Speed” (Yes, the ONLY semi-brilliant thing in that film) but haven’t really seen him in something that matches his talents until now. In fact, many are talking Oscars for Keaton, and that isn’t far-fetched. It debuts in just 4 theaters this weekend, and should blow the doors off the indie box office.

Also creating some palpable buzz is Roadside Attractions’ “Dear White People”—a social satire about race relations from newcomer Justin Simien. The R-rated dramedy has been cleaning up on the college circuit but it remains to be seen if it can crossover to the mainstream. Critics have given it 100% on Rotten Tomatoes right now, with 26 reviews…so that’s pretty positive.

Not as polarizing or angry as a Spike Lee joint, “Dear White People” could pull off some impressive numbers this weekend as it debuts in 11 theaters. Will be interesting to see how quickly it expands.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

1. FURY – $28M

2. GONE GIRL – $18M

3. THE BOOK OF LIFE – $17M

4.  DRACULA UNTOLD – $12M

5. THE BEST OF ME – $11M

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IRON MAN ENLISTS FOR “CAPTAIN AMERICA 3”

Robert Downey Jr. will suit up for duty with Cap, apparently reenacting the “Civil War” arc that was a wildly popular crossover arc in the Marvel universe circa 2006-07.

Yes, a true Marvel team-up is actually happening and that announcemtn will easily push the kickoff film for summer 2016 past $1B. “Captain America” grossed $370M worldwide, while the sequel “The Winter Soldier” pulled in a mighty $714M.

Just goes to show you how strong the Marvel brand still is, and reconfirms the move by “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice” as a smart one for Warner Bros. Before moving to March 25, 2016 the Marvel and DC were set to go codpiece-to-codpiece.

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DC NOT TO BE OUTDONE BY MARVEL, SETS MASSIVE SLATE

It was just a matter of time. Well, that time is now. Here’s a breakdown of Warner’s new list of big-time superhero flicks set for theaters.

– “Suicide Squad” has been set for August 5, 2016.
– “The LEGO Batman Movie” will go forth May 26, 2017.
– “Wonder Woman” has lassoed June 23, 2017 starring Gal Gadot.
– “Justice League: Part One” will drop November 10, 2017 with Zack Snyder directing and Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams returning to the fold.
– “The Flash” strikes March 23, 2018 with Ezra Miller in the title role—No, not the same guy from the current TV series. Weird, I know.
-“Aquaman” swims into theaters July 27, 2018 with Jason Momoa as the lead.
-“Shazam” will drop April 5, 2019 starring Dwayne Johnston as the supervillian, Black Adam.
-“Justice League: Part Two” will go forth June 14, 2019, once again with Zack Snyder.
-“Cyborg” launches April 3, 2020 starring Ray Fisher.
-“Green Lantern” gets a reboot on June 19, 2020—nine years after the Ryan Reynolds debacle.

Pretty aggressive slate, as it should be, and by all means WB isn’t done. They also announced the Harry Potter spin-off, “Magical Beasts and Where to Find Them” will be a trilogy.

Gotta wonder though, after 2020, will superhero films still be hot? I mean, talk about burn-out, with Marvel and DC pumping these out, we’ll start to have nearly a dozen every year. Can the audience sustain? We’ll see.

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HATE ALL THOSE LAME, CHEAP-O VIDEO GAME ADAPTATIONS OF HIT MOVIES? COOL, YOU’LL LOVE THIS ONE

Yes, “Dumb and Dumber To” arrives this fall 20 years after the original, but that doesn’t mean anything has changed…especially the video game adaptation. Check out Universal’s classic 8-bit game based on the sequel. Amazing to think people were still playing NES games back in ’94, and not in a hipster way. For real. Ah, good times.

DUMB & DUMBER TO: THE 8-BIT EXPERIENCE

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Paramount’s “Top Five” (12/5/14)

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Roadside Attractions’ “Dear White People”

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Relativity’s “The Best of Me”

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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Image Courtesy of Sony; Poster Design by BLT Communications