gonegrilfeature

Box Office Brasserie:
Movie News For Movie Lovers

A year ago, holiday films, as well as the awards season, kicked into high gear a bit early as Warner Bros. dropped “Gravity” onto unsuspecting audiences. Alfonso Cuaron’s sci-fi game-changer ended up opening with $55M and grossing $700M+ worldwide and suddenly made October releases not only relevant at the box office but shook up the Oscar landscape.

Typically, November is the agreed upon stomping grounds for films looking to collect laurels and awards hardware, but the right high profile film can do both and that’s exactly what Fox is hoping with David Fincher’s $61M “Gone Girl.” which is expected to debut with upwards of $30M.

Presales have it higher than any other film right now, and a majority of those ticket-buyers are women. Not sure if they heard about Ben Affleck’s full-frontal or not, but that might actually be a deterrent. Regardless, if it debuts with $30.1M or higher it would be Fincher’s best opener of all-time.

Problem is, the thriller is going up against a sequel-of-sorts, Warner’s “Annabelle.” The offshoot of “The Conjuring” is tracking big numbers, and will likely be the first horror flick of 2014 to dig up more than $20M+ in its debut. Oh, and it’s pricetag? A mere $6.5M. Should be profitable in a matter of hours and also get close to $30M.

Now let’s not forget Nicolas Cage also has a new movie arriving in theatres. You read that correctly…IN THEATERS. Despite most of his work going straight-to-kiosks lately, Cage returns to cinemas with god-almighty on his side, in Freestyle’s faith-based “Left Behind.”

Wait. Wasn’t this film already made this century with Kirk Cameron? Yes. But don’t be such a non-believer. Like the bible itself, there can be many interpretations of Tim LaHaye’s tome, and in 1,820 theaters, the PG-13 faith flick may surprise with $6M. Hey, you gotta take a leap of faith every now and then.

When a studio throws out two films on the very same weekend, even if the genres are completely different, they’re definitely burying one of them. Let us all bow our heads and have a moment of silence for Warner’s other film this weekend, “The Good Lie,” starring Reese Witherspoon.

In just 461 theaters, it’s actually getting decent ratings on Rotten Tomatoes (71% Fresh), but with little to no advertising support behind it, the PG-13 drama will undoubtedly be as lost as a leaf in a big ol’ leaf pile–$2M.

In limited release, the king of comedy so droll its drama—Jason Reitman—returns to the land of sardonic cinema with “Men, Woman & Children.” Unfortunately, much like his last two offerings, “Labor Day” and “Young Adult,” both of which misfired at the box office with $13M and $16M respectively, he isn’t garnering much buzz with his latest R-rated ensemble drama.

It’s quite possible that through searching for meaning, all the while stomping on grapes like mad but turning out less-than-vintage product. His box office success seems to have dried up, even though his films are usually under $20M, but hasn’t found that plateau  he achieved so easily with his first three outings—“Thank you For Smoking,” “Juno,” and “Up in the Air.”

Can’t remember the last time a new director broke onto the scene with a triumphant trio of moving films, all of which were critical and box office successes. Reitman is such a fresh voice that it probably made repeating the feat that much harder.

As a writer/director, Reitman has always found the inner core of outcasts and made them easy to relate to and love. With “Labor Day” and “Young Adult” he definitely crossed the line of what people could relate to.

Hopefully he’ll find more material that gravitates towards that intimate connection that so many film fans found endearing. He is a fascinating and sensitive director, one that will no doubt find his way once again.  And if not, he still makes interesting, character-driven films within the studio system…which is damn hard to.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

1. Gone Girl – $33M

2. Annabelle – $28M

3. The Equalizer – $17M

4. The Boxtrolls – $10M

5. The Maze Runner – $9.5M

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SPLICE OF LIFE: CUTS & CLIPS & BLIPS & RIFFS

CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice” (Dec. 12, 2014)

There is much merit in PT’s last two films, “The Master” and “There Will Be Blood,”  but quite honestly “Inherent Vice” looks to be the film most of us have been anxiously awaiting since “Boogie Nights.” Not only does this feel like a companion piece, but Anderson seems to be having immense fun again, with a tone reminiscent of “The Big Lebowski.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m splurging and getting the big-ass bucket of popcorn with extra butter for this one. “Boogie Nights” + “The Big Lebowski.”  Merry Christmas, cinephiles, this one looks like it was worth the wait.

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CHINZY CUT OF THE WEEK: Fox’s “Taken 3” (Jan. 9, 2015)

The poster promises: IT ENDS HERE

Jesus Christ, let’s hope so. The last time I felt this beaten down by a threequel was “House Party 3.” Ah hell, you don’t need to see a trailer, you know exactly what “Taken 3” is about…they STILL can’t frickin’ kill Liam Neeson. Let’s watch Kid N’ Play’s clip instead.

You know what…”House Party 3″ has aged well. That’s some quality film-making right there, folks!

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GAME OVER: TETRIS MOVIE ON TAP

Mike Ayers of The Wall Street Journal has reported that there’s a Tetris movie is in the works from Threshold Entertainment and Larry Kasanoff, one of the producers of “Mortal Kombat” and its sequel, “Annihilation.”

No. NO. Egads, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Still convinced that movies are all about brand and not about heart anymore? You might be on to something. The success of “The Lego Movie” is already haunting us all. I mean, “Peeps: The Movie,” “Angry Birds: The Movie,” hell, why not start making “Pet Rock: The Movie” right now. Say, that’s not a bad idea…

Boy, I can’t wait to block out 88 minutes for “Tetris: The Movie”…on IMAX 3D!

On the positive tip, the trailer is already up on YouTube and is recommended for mature audiences only, in fact, consider this the red band…something the Kremlin would no doubt appreciate.

Careful comrade, secret police are listening.

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GONE GIRL (FOX)

ANNABELLE (WB)

LEFT BEHIND (FREESTYLE)

THE GOOD LIE (WB)

MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN (Paramount)

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FREE MOVIES BABY, YEAAAAAAAH!

Talk about breaking release barriers left and right, with all the “Crouching Tiger” hoopla going on, it almost went unnoticed that Weinstein is releasing their film “One Chance” for free before the movie opens traditionally Oct. 10.

Wait? So I can watch an entire movie online before it’s out in theaters? That’s certainly one way to beat pirates to the punch. We’ll see what theatrical chains boycott “One Chance” and possibly other Weinstein films in the near future.

Yes, Yahoo! is letting people watch Weinstein’s “One Chance” gratis for 10 days before it opens in theaters. And all you have to do is watch a trailer first. Free is always such a good deal.

WATCH “ONE CHANCE” FOR FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

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ADAM SANDLER IS A COMPANY MAN, MR. NETFLIX

In case you missed the uproar caused by Neflix’s announcement that they would release the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” sequel day-and-date streaming and on IMAX screens, they dropped another whopper this week, informing the masses that  Adam Sandler would be making four movies exclusively for Netfilx and their customers. Let’s just hope Sandler and Happy Madison own the rights to “Happy Gilmore” and “Billy Madison.”

Boom. That’s the big one. Sure, Sandler isn’t the box office slam dunk he once was, but he’s still more than capable of dishing up $100M hits in theaters like “Grown Ups 2” every now and then. So to forego cinemas is a pretty big deal, and a career move that puts Sandler squarely in the driver’s seat. I’m pretty sure he’ll have carte blanche on content, so it will be interesting to see where he goes with it.

I wonder if that means his buddy, Rob Schneider, is working on a deal with Blockbuster On Demand?

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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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Gone Girl Poster Courtesy of 20th Century Fox