What started out as a fairly strong month winds up with a whimper, as January's last weekend features two also-rans in the movie box office sweepstakes. But hey, movies with terrible commercial prospects have to be released at *some* point of the year, right? Super Bowl weekend seems a pretty natural choice, then.
Weekend Forecast for January 31-February 2, 2014
By Reagen Sulewski
January 31, 2014
There's a lot going on in the plot of That Awkward Moment, which seems to have enough for at least two movies. Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan star as roommates, and when Jordan goes through a bad divorce, the other two make a bro vow, to stay out of any relationships (one-night stands are still okay though – such gentlemen) until Jordan gets back on a winning streak. This becomes difficult as Jordan both grows mopier, and as both of the roommates find women they actually want to spend time with. What's a very modern man supposed to do?
Essentially then, it's “Bros Before Hos” the movie, and manages to be both a bit misogynistic and make men look bad at the same time. We're not all scared little manchildren! While Jordan is working at trying to get his marriage back together, his friends are futzing over what a third date means and if they're ready to go steady. It's a bit all over the place tonally.
All three of the male leads have charm to spare, however, so the film may work in spite of the film requiring them to all be idiots. Efron is, of course, Efron, and is growing out of his awkward phase, while Jordan had a bit of a breakthrough last year with Fruitvale Station, which got him some awards attention. Teller is probably the least known of the three, but may be the most talented, impressing last year in the little seen The Specatcular Now (go watch it, right away. Go!). Banking on these three isn't the worst decision ever and could make this into a decent rom-com option for teens and 20 somethings.
It's been almost two years since Efron has been in a widely released film, the despicably maudlin The Lucky Ones, based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. That probably skewed more adult than this will despite the two extra years – call it The Notebook Effect – and those 30s and 40s aren't as likely to find these dating hijinks as amusing or attractive. Jordan has Chronicle under his belt, but I'm reluctant to transfer the success of a found footage super-hero film to a romantic comedy. And of course Teller is a bit of a wildcard, but should be more of a star after this. I'd look for a modest $11 million this weekend.
It's romance all around this weekend, with Labor Day rounding out the slate of new films. Directed by Jason Reitman and based on a Sparksian novel, it stars Josh Brolin as an escaped convict who worms his way by force into the household of a widow (played by Kate Winslet) and her young son. Slowly, the two of them fall in love in an attempt to make Stockholm Syndrome look reasonable.
The story is mostly told from the perspective of the young son or “That Wacky Summer Where My Mom Fell In Love With a Convict." Hopefully this explains some of the ridiculousness like the pie scene from the trailers, which it's difficult to believe a modern filmmaker intended as a serious metaphor and not parody. It's the stuff of Harlequin novels, which might explain why a film with a top-notch director and an acclaimed cast has been shunted away from awards season and essentially dumped. And as acclaimed as most of the people involved in this film are, they've never been proven to be slam dunk box office draws, always needing lots of help from critics or genre hooks. This certainly isn't there for Labor Day, and it should lead to a dismal $6 million opening weekend.
This means Ride Along has a pretty good path to a third straight weekend win, barring a surprise breakout. The Kevin Hart update of 48 HRS buddy-cop styled films should be awfully close to $100 million after this weekend, and is in all senses the resounding success story of the early year. Perhaps the biggest problem for the film will come in a couple of weeks when Kevin Hart competes with himself. I'd give the film about $12 million this weekend.
Not much less of an early-year success is Lone Survivor, which will definitely cross the $100 million mark in its fourth weekend of wide release. Those two Oscar nominations certainly don't hurt either. And with a 2014 that also includes a Transformers movie, Mark Wahlberg may be setting himself up as a box office king. Give this $8 million this weekend.
Two family films are next, in The Nut Job, and Frozen. That's about all these two films have in common, particularly in terms of quality. The animated squirrel film is tracking in a fairly typical way for family films, which tend to run long. Give it about $8 million. Frozen is a bit more of a wildcard this weekend, with the Sing-Along event happening at most of its theaters for a couple of showings. I don't believe this has ever been done for a first run film. It's an interesting experiment, but I don't believe there's all that many people itching to take part in this over and above the number of people that were already going to see the film. It's likely just a fun little bonus for repeat viewers. Frozen should come in with about $6 million this weekend.