You knew it couldn't last forever. Two weeks of Oscar contenders is followed this week by... a horror film and an action team-up that we'd probably have been really excited about 20 years ago. And, okay, a film that might be throwing in for some Oscar potential, but not, like, as a major one. Look, I told you not to get used to it last week.
Weekend Forecast for October 18-20, 2013
By Reagen Sulewski
October 18, 2013
Leading the way is Carrie, the update of the 1976 adaptation (feel free to smack anyone who says “they finally made a movie out of that?”) of Stephen King's first novel, about a young girl with telekinetic powers who is pushed past her brink and just decides to kill everyone (look, if the film's own commercials can't respect spoilers, you can't expect me to). Chloe Grace Moretz steps into the title role initially played by Sissy Spacek (and which earned her her first Oscar nomination) looking ages younger than Spacek did – which is for good reason, since Spacek was 27 compared to Moretz's 16. Now, Julianne Moore as the psychotic hyper-religious abusive mother – that's aces casting.
While remakes of horror films are often quite pointless affairs meant to simply ramp up the gore to today's standards, Carrie is a story that might actually have more resonance today, thanks to the greater attention paid to bullying, particularly by girls to other girls. While I won't go so far as to paint this as some kind of PSA or After School Special (don't bully or you might get telekinetically killed! A lesson for us all), but it does seem to be a least aware of the issue. Director Kimberly Peirce – most famous for Boys Don't Cry – would seem to be the best possible director to put onto this project if you were aiming for that kind of approach. Of course, the film is ultimately going to be judged on its horror creds, although by the nature of the story, that's limited to the frenetic end. Will today's horror fans have the patience to sit through 90 minutes of teen drama to get to the destruction? That's more of a question for what the word-of-mouth will be, but looking at it from the perspective of how it's being sold, this should capture a lot of those fans, and use its female-focused story to pull in an audience that can sometimes be reluctant to see horror. With this in mind, I'd give it a good chance at a minor breakout to around $26 million this weekend.
Escape Plan features the pairing of two of the hottest actors of yesteryear, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Stallone plays a security expert who has himself placed within facilities he's designed in order to find their weak points. Only *this* time, the prison he's dropped into might really be unescapable what with its fancy electronics and eerie identically masked guards and whatnot. And with no one having a record that he's really not a hardened criminal, he may be utterly screwed. And yet! Why not team up with an actual criminal in the form of Arnold - looking rather cootish in this role, though the artificial (?) grey hair certainly goes some way towards that.
The result seems to be a bit of a reverse caper film with a high dose of comedy (Arnold in particular seems to be having a lot of fun with this role). While not quite The Expendables, the cast is a bit deeper than the top two names, with Jim Caviezel, Sam Neill, Vincent D'Onofrio, Vinnie Jones and 50 Cent, among others rounding out the list of villains and/or inmates in the plan. The main thing we're expected to pay attention to, however, is the Stallone/Schwarzenegger pairing, which feels a bit like DeNiro and Pacino finally appearing together many years too late.
While Stallone can directly point to The Expendables as a success of late, Schwarzenegger has found the transition back to acting a little more difficult. January's The Last Stand was a massive flop and has sent him reeling back to previous franchises (including Twins!) for safety. Reviews for this aren't great, but it's a fairly review-proof property. More concerning is how irrelevant the film looks, and I'd expect this to open to around $9 million.
The WikiLeaks scandal gets its own movie this week in The Fifth Estate, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange. Director Bill Condon takes the events surrounding the release of volumes and volumes of secret international documents and attempts to turn it into a potboiling spy thriller. That's probably dressing the story up by a fair margin, although there's certainly some intrigue in how Assange's organization received these documents and how and why they decided to release them. It also focuses in large part on the relationships between the people involved in WikiLeaks, and how they were strained by those activities.
The Fifth Estate debuted at the Toronto Film Festival to middling reception, saving perhaps Cumberbatch's performance. While the book the film is based on is largely negative towards WikiLeaks, and Condon himself has indicated he considers the organization dangerous, Cumberbatch's acting has been praised for complexity and ambiguity. These are not the things that make a box office hit, even as Cumberbatch's fame grows. I'd look for a very modest $5 million this weekend.
Gravity looks poised to win a third straight weekend after its second weekend showed that it has significantly positive word-of-mouth. Dropping less than 25% gave it one of the largest non-franchise second weekends in history, and helped it scream past the $100 million milestone. It appears to be the rare film that demands to be seen on the big screen, and that is driving its business as the weeks proceed. I'd expect $32 million this weekend, and a close approach to $175 million.
Captain Phillips made a solid debut in second place with $26 million, and the Tom Hanks high seas drama makes a good case for legs itself. It's going to need it to become a serious Oscar contender as has been suggested, and about $18 million this weekend should suffice.
The fourth weekend of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 sees it inching towards $100 million, and struggling to match the figures of the first film in the series. It hasn't performed badly by any stretch, but many had hoped for a bit more from a popular sequel. Give it about $9 million this weekend.