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Hey, Movie Lovers – What New Films Will Pack A One-Two Punch This Weekend?

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Box Office Brasserie: Movie News For Movie Lovers

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The September slumber stops here. Last weekend we saw three new films–“Bridget Jones’s Baby,” “Snowden,” and “Blair Witch”–which failed to wake up audiences as they all debuted with less than $10M.

This Friday, fortunes will rise and justice shall be served to ticket buyers as Sony’s western remake, “The Magnificent Seven,” and WB’s animated flick, “Storks,” look to deliver a one-two punch the likes we haven’t seen since the halcyon heydays of midsummer.

Sure, reboots are still a very dirty word in Hollywood at the moment; however, “The Magnificent Seven” remount, might be the reboot that is made for walkin’, as the source material is significantly outside the pop culture lexicon, arriving 56 years after the original, and it didn’t win Best Picture like, oh, say, “Ben-Hur” did.

No, the original, while boot to boot, spur to spur, still stands tall in the western revenge genre, has never really been deemed much more than an original take on Stallone’s “The Expendables,” as it featured a veritable who’s who of 50s talent including Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Robert Vaughn.

It’s a great film, no doubt, directed with a steady hand by John Sturges (“Gunfight at the O.K. Coral,” The Great Escape”), and features a virtuoso performance by Brynner.  But even that film was more or less a remake, as Sturges credited legendary Japanese director Akria Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai,” as his inspiration.

As it stands in today’s current marketplace, westerns, as a genre, are a welcome lot, provided they don’t arrive too often, nor stay past their welcome. Same should be said of reboots.

The Coen Brothers have had success on this exact same hitching post, as 2010’s western reboot, “True Grit,” scored $252M on a $38M budget.  Sony spent a bit more on their latest–upwards of $100M–but it should pay off, as tracking has “Magnificent Seven” debuting upwards of $40M in 3,600+ theaters.

This isn’t the first time director Antoine Fuqua and star Denzel Washington have teamed up on a movie featuring pre-existing source material, as Fuqua hit a career-high debut with his TV series adaptation, “The Equalizer,” taking out $34M in its late-September 2014 debut and hitting $101M domestic–his only film to pass the $100M+ mark domestically.,,,

With Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke,  and Peter Sarsgaard front and center, expect star wattage to outshine middling reviews–62% on Rotten Tomatoes–and ride away to the #1 spot. And, if this posse shoots through demographic barriers as expected, we might be looking at the top September opener of all time, set last year by Sony’s “Hotel Transylvania 2” with $48M.

That said, let’s not let Sony off the hook that easy, as the studio is responsible, more than any other, for a constant barrage of big-budget reboots that nobody really asked for including: “Robocop,” “Total Recall,” and this past summer’s “Ghostbusters.”

And, with “Jumanji” and “Flatliners” on tap next summer, it’s clear high-profile reboots are still an aggressive part of their master plan. Still, the right redo project certainly can work like “The Magnificent Seven” and “Annie.” However, much more thought, time, and energy is required than I think anyone expects for these projects.

Warner Bros. tore the roof off the sucker with the success of “The Lego Movie” ($469M worldwide),  but before that never really had prime real estate on Animation Blvd. in Hollywood. Now that they have a huge franchise in their back pocket, and some cash to flaunt, it’s easy to try new things like “Storks,” which at $70M seems like a bargain.

Nicholas Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Neighbors”) and long time Disney animator Doug Sweetland co-direct, and should find families packing theaters as there hasn’t been a toon making much noise in multiplexes since late in the summer.

In 3,800+ theaters expect upwards of $30M. Right film, right time.

In limited release, Disney is up to their old tricks with “Queen of Katwe.” Remember, back in the day, when Disney’s inspirational sports movies were a staple of their release schedule? These days, with Star Wars, Pixar, and Marvel overshadowing everything in the Magic Kingdom, they’re far and few between now…not even seeing a wide opening.

Wait…chess is a sport? Parlor sport. A lot of films have already explored chess as a metaphor for life, and personally, I’m waiting for that one great checkers movie. Hell, I’d even settle for backgammon or Uno…or let’s get really crazy and greenlight that Twister movie.

At two hours, “Queen of Katwe” is probably too long to keep a kid’s attention and the PG rating is likely too bland for adults, so that leaves this “based on a true story” film in no man’s land. It has decent enough reviews as it opens in 52 theaters, with Disney hoping to ramp up interest for its wide expansion in 1,500+ venues next weekend.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

  1. Magnificent Seven – $37M
  2. Storks – $30M
  3. Sully – $14M
  4. Bridget Jones’s Baby – $5.5M
  5. Snowden – $4M

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Sony’s “Passengers” (Dec. 21, 2016)

You know what’s a disturbing trend? Teasers in front of trailers that tease that EXACT SAME FRICKIN’ trailer. I don’t know who’s behind this, but it must stop. Now. And forever. Probably has something to do with click ads and money and hedonism…it always does.

Let’s hope the new regime at Sony keeps investing in more films like the latest from director Morten Tyldum (“The Imitation Game”) and writer Jon Spaihts (“Prometheus,”) which hopes to re enact the box office supernova of “Gravity” and “The Martian”–two big-budget sci-fi flicks that shot the moon, grossing $732M and $630M respectively.

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STREAMING HEAP OF THE WEEK: Amazon’s “Crisis in Six Scenes” (Sept. 30, 2016)

Woody Allen is nothing if not prolific, creating a new movie nearly every year of his career…and he does this…without Roman Numerals! Love him or loathe him, he’s part of the the current online revolution, bringing his complete set of talents to the world wide web.

Although he’s saying he’s one and done, who knows, if Donald Trump can be president, The Woodman could become archbishop of Amazon. I’m not exactly sure what an archbishop does, but it certainly sounds impressive.

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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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Lead-In Image Courtesy of Everett Collection