OKAY, so it's Holiday Movie Season: Take Two. Last weekend's hoped hits flopped to Earth, for the most part. Coming to the rescue, actual superheroes!
Weekend Forecast for November 8-10, 2013
By Reagen Sulewski
November 7, 2013
The next entry in the Marvel Universe is Thor: The Dark World, as Disney continues its march towards The Avengers 2 in 2015. It's a strange notion these ambitious projects have become, with hundred-plus million films serving as lead-ins. Such is the nature of things when you can earn $1.5 billion with the right plan.
Thor was one of the more questionable films of Phase 1, as the character is less well known as a comic hero to the regular world, and the faux-Shakespearian dialogue raised eyebrows among people who do find this out. However, the first film wisely embraced the natural ridiculousness of the subject, with Kenneth Branagh filming the thing like a super-powered adaptation of King Lear. After a slower start, it proved to be one of the better performers of the Great Super Hero year of 2011, with about $450 million worldwide. The Dark World has already debuted outside North America, and has $110 million in its coffers – it's safe to say that $450 million may be dwarfed by just the international figures.
But on to the movie. After the events of The Avengers, Thor returned to Asgard with Loki in tow, but now faces an even more dangerous enemy (played by Christopher Eccelston) with incomprehensible motivations. Better send Loki after him then, right? Natalie Portman's character returns also as Contractually Obligated Love Interest and to also be put in peril. The effects look as terrific as ever and the plot looks a little more understandable but also more epic (Thor was curiously contained in scope once it got to Earth – here's it's being set free to roam).
So after the success of Phase 1, what do we expect from the followups? Iron Man 3 lept up from an already high mark to $174 million earlier this year and is 2013's clubhouse leader for box office with $408 million. Clearly, the Marvel movies have found their audience. The biggest challenge for the first Thor film was getting people to understand what to expect – now, with foreknowledge that there'll be a little humor, a lot of bashing things with hammers and a touch of beefcake, Thor: The Dark World should be an easy sell. Opening at a very summery 3,800 venues, this should be in line for about $82 million this weekend.
Two major expansions round out the rest of the new slate for most people this weekend – 12 Years a Slave and About Time, which both jump to around 1,200 venues. The former has already made several entries into the top 10 in its limited run and has a little over $10 million at this point. A major Oscar contender and the Feel Bad movie of the fall, it stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as a free black man in the 1800s abducted back into slavery, and his subsequent treatment and escape. It's also notable for its inclusion of Brad Pitt in a smaller role, which has received an inordinate amount of attention relative to his appearance in it, because marketing. At any rate, with the praise it's been getting and this expansion, expect it to bump up a bit to around $6 million this weekend.
About Time adds another item to the file of “romantic Rachel McAdams movies about time-travel” ... I have a rather specific filing system. Don't ask. In about 175 venues last weekend it earned just a little over $1 million, which is not a blow-the-doors-off per screen average, but isn't flop material either. This might be the kind of film that could break the typical “one-third” rule when it comes to expansions because of its lead actress, although there hasn't been a tremendous amount of buzz and critical acclaim about this film, which is a bit like a romantic comedy take on The Butterfly Effect. Give it about $4 million this weekend.
Returning films include last weekend's number one, Ender's Game, which did... okay with $27 million, but will not make enough to justify making more Ender's movies. Whether it's anti-homophobia boycotts or just plain uninspiring commercials, this was not a film that captured people's attention to any great degree. I'd look for a drop to around $14 million.
The shock of the weekend might have been the relative legs of Bad Grandpa, which managed $20 million after an opening weekend of $32 million. For stunt comedy films, this is practically Avatar behavior. I'd give it around $13 million this weekend, but it seems headed for over $100 million now, which is not a thing I would have guaranteed last weekend.
Last Vegas seems likely to stick around after its $16 million opening weekend, seeing how its target audience typically is a little slower to get to theaters. The geriatric Hangover should earn another $10 million this weekend.
Free Birds was a poor substitute for family entertainment last weekend, attracting only $15 million worth of business. Apparently the premise that kids want to see things about turkeys near Turkey Day was a flawed one. It should also earn about $10 million this frame.
Lastly, we have two more Oscar contenders that continue to stick around. Gravity and Captain Phillips have proven to have quite the staying power, about a month into their releases. The former is probably a $275 million film, while Hanks' drama is closing in on $100 million. Respectively, we should see about $8 and $6 million this weekend.