World Trade Center opens up the box office weekend a couple of days early, with the mass appeal of its extremely touchy subject matter serving as this frame's biggest question mark.
Weekend Forecast, Wednesday Preview
By Reagen Sulewski
August 9, 2006
The incidents of September 11th, 2001 linger strongly in the minds of well, basically everyone still around, making the entertainment prospects of a retelling of that day's events more than a little dubious. This spring's United 93, which covered the events of the only plane to miss the hijackers' target that day, was filmed in a quasi-documentary style. That was probably the best tactic for the first mass-marketed Hollywood produced film about the attacks. Oliver Stone, the director of World Trade Center, takes something of a sideways view of the day, focusing not so much on the attacks and their mechanics, but rather from the perspective of two of the rescue workers trapped under the buildings and eventually rescued (I'm really hoping that you're not shocked at this reveal).
Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena star as the two stranded Port Authority police officers, following them as they enter the buildings after they're hit, but unfortunately for them just before they collapse. The film then goes into the rescue efforts to look for survivors, as well as how families and loved ones dealt with the day's events. It positions itself as a portrayal of heroes on that day.
Stone could be viewed as an eyebrow-raising choice for the material, with his background in politically charged films, notably, his conspiracy-laden take on JFK's assassination. However, Stone is getting praise from numerous sources on his restraint and tastefulness, even if some knock the movie for straying into schmaltz. The more dramatic take on the subject matter, along with a few recognizable faces in the cast (in addition to Cage, there are also Maggie Gyllenhaal, Stephen Dorff and Maria Bello in the proceedings) make this a more likely success than United 93, which in a way, primed the pump for this film. People are becoming ready to deal with these events in a dramatic fashion, and World Trade Center has the potential to open that door. Look for a five day total of around $25 million for this film, with $19 million of that coming on the weekend.
Stay tuned for the full weekend forecast later this week.