Weekend Forecast for January 30 - February 1, 2015
By Reagen Sulewski
January 30, 2015
Super Bowl weekend is often one of counter-programming, but that's sort of an irrelevant concept when there's a box office titan in the mix and isn't that a strange sentence to read. Studios are still trying this weekend, but honestly, not very hard.
Project Almanac is the only one of the four new wide releases with much commercial promise, doing so by straight-up copying a format of a movie that did well in the same release slot. Chronicle was one of the few recent films to succeed while taking the “found footage” genre outside the horror genre and giving us a super-hero version of that style. Opening to $22 million three years ago, two of its leading actors have since gone on to bigger and better things (i.e. summer tentpoles), as well as its director. Only time will tell (oh you'll see what I did there) whether the principals in this sci-fi found footage film can copy that result (I'm not betting on it).
In Project Almanac, five teenagers discover plans for a time machine, and like anyone with an ounce of curiosity, they proceed to build it and mess around with the timeline. Of course, as anyone who's seen any time travel movie knows, this is often a recipe for disaster, with the possibility of changing reality such that you or someone you care about never existed. Playing a bit like a teenage version of Primer with a bit of The Butterfly Effect thrown in for good measure, just realize that for some people The Butterfly Effect now qualifies as a classic film to be emulated and then weep into your hands. Now, while Chronicle looked exciting and fresh, Project Almanac looks rather stilted and over-produced and oh there you are, Michael Bay. That certainly explains some things.
Chronicle had a particular element of quality that Project Almanac seems to lack, and managed to show itself off as a film adult audiences might have a tiny interest in. Project Almanac is looking to draw teens only, with the cast in particular being a sticking point. I won't bother going through their names, but you've maybe seen them in passing, and none have really stood out to this point. While that isn't a death knell for either their careers or this movie, adults typically don't come out to movies starring kids they've never heard of. I'd expect a weekend of about $13 million.
Another recent January denizen, Kevin Costner, returns with Black or White, a heavy-handed race-based family drama. He plays the grandfather of a young mixed-race child who is placed in his solo care after the death of his wife (his daughter having been long gone). That he appears to be an alcoholic should really be enough to see custody go over to the Octavia Spencer (the child's other grandmother, and you can probably see where this is going now), but no, we get to have an argument about-but-not-about race as far as who's the best to raise a mixed-race child.