awkward-moment

Box Office Brasserie:
Movie News for Movie Lovers

Seahawks or Broncos? While most of America considers this the most important question heading into the Super Bowl weekend, there are, believe it or not, other storylines besides whether Richard Sherman or Peyton Manning will carry their respective teams to victory in the granddaddy of all football (not soccer) games.

You’d be hard pressed to know anything else was happening in our little world though, considering the media circus is camped out in New York (which doubles as New Jersey) in what is the sporting event of the year. When the biggest storyline to pop up midweek is a Skittles endorsement, you know there must be something else out there worthy of media consumption. Right?

Sure enough, there is another matchup, a not-so-super one, arriving in multiplexes this weekend, but oddsmakers have this showdown looking like a big-time blowout with Focus Features’ “That Awkward Moment” thumping Paramount’s “Labor Day.”

Yes, it’s a trio of up-and-coming Hollywood playmakers– Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller– starring in the bro-mantic comedy, “That Awkward Moment” vs. grisly veterans Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin in Jason Reitman’s dreary drama, “Labor Day.”

This should be a TKO for the trio of young men who have all made significant gains in stardom, with Efron transitioning from teen heartthrob to collegiate stud (as evident by what could be a big hit this summer with Seth Rogen in “Neighbors”), Jordan coming into his own as an actor with serious chops in “Chronicle” and “Fruitvale Station,” and Teller transforming into the new John Cusack with brilliantly refreshing coming-of-age roles in “Project X,” “21 and Over,” and “The Spectacular Now.” We haven’t seen a trifecta like that since “The Sure Thing,” “Better Off Dead,” and “One Crazy Summer.” Someone get Teller and Cusack in a father/son road comedy stat!

You couldn’t have asked for a better cast, which are all hitting their stride, and that should pay off at the box office this weekend.

Call it That Awkward Weekend for studios, since they know going in that whatever they toss into theaters will slide right under the pop culture radar. That said, they’ve actually had more success than one would think over this weekend, and with a variety of genres, no less.

Of course, counterprogramming was key with “Hannah Montana 3D”  and “Dear John,” as those two female-driven flicks are still the only entries to debut with $30+M over Super Bowl weekend.  Standard thrillers like “Taken,” “When a Stranger Calls,” and “A Woman in Black”  all proved worthy too, while breakout teen-centric flicks like last year’s “Warm Bodies” and “Chronicle” in 2012, also found footing with non-footballers.

“That Awkward Moment” was made for just $6M, so a victory dance is about as much as a sure thing as the Seahawks’ Sherman trash-talking Manning. In 2,800+ theaters expect $13M-$16M, depending on how many teeny-boppers can sneak past the R-rating.

Director Jason Reitman scored three insanely confident and polished films out of the gate with “Thank You for Smoking,” “Juno,” and “Up in the Air,” but slipped a bit with the ultra-dour “Young Adult” in 2011 and looks to continue to delve into wayward drama with “Labor Day,” which is getting middling reviews across the board. Adult dramas often work best when they receive stellar reviews.

And, c’mon, shouldn’t this have opened around, um, Memorial Day…or maybe whatever that holiday is at the end of summer. What’s it called?  It’s really the one extended weekend of the year where no good movies ever dare to open…and that should probably have been a sign. Oh well, it only cost $18M…and it’s just money.

No denying Reitman isn’t supremely talented, I just think he’s exploring some personal stories lately that wouldn’t have necessarily been greenlit were it not for the success of his earlier films. He’ll bounce back again soon, I just hope we don’t have to endure another stroll down dreary lane. In 2,500 theaters, if this hits $6M, it will be fortunate.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

1. THAT AWKWARD MOMENT – $14M
2. RIDE ALONG – $12M
3. FROZEN – $9M
4. LONE SURVIVOR – $7.5M
5. THE NUT JOB – $7M

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WEEKEND GUESSTIMATE

Seattle Seahawks 30, Denver Broncos 24

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SPLICE OF LIFE: BLURBS, BLIPS, CUTS & CLIPS

HOLLYWOOD DOES THE SUPER BOWL SHUFFLE

Although Hollywood is usually firmly entrenched on the sidelines, they buy their way into the Big Game during commercial time-outs, launching full scale blitzes on captive audiences with an array of flashy preview trailers.

This year’s lineup include the first spot from Michael Bay’s “Transformers 4: Age of Extinction,” as well as another Paramount film, Darren Aronofsky’s biblical epic “Noah.” Was hoping for a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” teaser, but looks like we’ll have to wait on the heroes in a half shell as they don’t drop until late summer anyway, and everyone knows attention spans don’t last that long these days.

Also hoping to gain some much-needed traction is Disney’s video game adaptation “Need for Speed” and “Muppets Most Wanted.” “Captain America: Winter Soldier” will also make an appearance, but according to rumors, it doesn’t need the hype as buzz on this flick is deafening. Marvel has even gone so far as to start locking down the Russo Brothers to direct the threequel, as big things are expected for Cap’s second tour of duty.

Sony will aim squarely at male testosterone with “Robocop” (ie “Rebootcop”) and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” No surprises there, although I thought they might sneak in “22 Jump Street.”

However, if football isn’t your thing, like everything else, most of these “exclusive” spots are already on YouTube. So much for the power of patience.

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THE MIGHTY THOR TAPPED FOR THREEQUEL

“Captain America 3” may have grabbed the initial headlines, but you knew it wouldn’t be long until the hammer dropped on this one. While Marvel announced that screenwriters have been tapped, they haven’t gone into details about the plot yet.

Word of advice: please make this a spin-off instead–“Loki Unleashed?” Hey, I’m not saying Thor can’t be in this, he certainly can have equal billing, but it’s time for Tom Hiddleston’s character to take the true lead.  He’s more than earned it.

In fact, Hiddleston actually auditioned for the role of Thor. Check it out here:

 

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Disney’s “Maleficent” (May 30)

Two weeks in a row? Angelina Jolie crush aside, The Mouse House released another trailer in conjunction with the Grammys, this time with Lana Del Rey singing a perfectly haunting little tune. Yes, this flick has it all, and the more I see of this “Sleeping Beauty” adaptation, the more it looks like a contender for the top grossing film of the summer. Is your spider-sense tingling yet, Spidey?

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RARE (RED BAND) CUT OF THE WEEK: Seth MacFarlane’s “A Million Ways to Die in the West” (May 30)

I’m one of the few that still doesn’t quite see the appeal of “Family Guy” but I did love “Ted,” so will definitely saddle up to this…I’m just not riding bareback. A raunchy R-rated western? Hey, when your flick (“Ted”) makes $549M worldwide…you get to do whatever the f*ck you want. That’s in the Official Hollywood Player’s Guide Manual, btw.

Not gonna lie…there is a certain amount of WTF going on in this trailer. Now, I’m not saying this will drop like a pine box, there are far too many MacFarlane fans for that, but it’s certainly no “Blazing Saddles.”  Mel Brook’s 1974 classic grossed $119M, and if you must pry, that calculates to $527M adjusted for inflation. I’ll bet my horse “A Million Ways to Die in the West” doesn’t sniff that amount.

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CHOICE SAMPLE OF THE WEEK, MAYBE THE YEAR, POSSIBLY THE DECADE

I don’t know who’s writing tunes for Samsung (that would require actual research), but it almost makes me want to buy one. I know, right? I do know this: if just a fraction of movie soundtracks released today had tracks as cool as Samsung products, the sonic landscape of film would be pretty phenomenal.

Sit back. Relax. Gyrate your jelly-like arms. Let yourself become one with this effervescent eargasm. Oh, and you might as well become the master of space and time, too.

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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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“That Awkward Moment” Poster Courtesy of Focus Features; Poster Design by WORKS ADV