By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
September 30, 2011
As September gives way to October, four new movies will attempt to dethrone the Lion King’s reign atop the box office charts (Disney fibbed when they called this a two week run, apparently). We’ve got comedy, dramedy, religious inspiration and horror. There’s something for everyone amongst the new releases… except for the kiddies, but they seem to be well covered.
Seth Rogen, who co-starred with Faris in Observe and Report, is the biggest name in 50/50, a cancer drama/comedy written by his friend Will Reiser, who based the screenplay on his own life experiences. The great Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception) takes on the primary role of a 27-year-old who learns that he has cancer and has only a 50% chance to survive. Rogen plays his friend, and the remainder of the stellar cast includes Anjelica Huston, Anna Kendrick and Bryce Dallas Howard.
The movie looks pretty darned good, and the movie's 93% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes would certainly seem to bear that out. Trouble is, cancer is a touchy subject even at the best of times, and there has to be some question whether people are willing to see it played out on the big screen, even if critics and word-of-mouth are indicating the treatment is top-notch. Some might be unfavorably reminded of Rogen's previous film that seems to have very similar content, Funny People, which was directed by Judd Apatow. Although that flick started off fine with a $22.7 million opening, a lot of that number can likely be attributed to star Adam Sandler. Rogen definitely can open a film, as we've seen with Green Hornet and The Pineapple Express, but we also know that Observe and Report and Zack and Miri Make a Porno fared poorly overall. Distributor Summit Entertainment has been great with the Twilight series and a couple of other films, but this one is a tough, tough sell. Give it $12 million for the weekend, and hopefully fantastic legs.
The outsider release of the weekend is also the one generating the most confusion. Courageous is the fourth release from Sherwood Church. The Georgia institution took it upon themselves to create faith-based movies rather than simply complain about the product in Hollywood. Their second title, Facing the Giants, was created for a pittance of $100,000 yet it earned $10.2 million domestically and another $20 million on home video.
The third release is the one that changed the nature of the discourse about Sherwood Pictures from nice story to box office factor when Fireproof, the firefighter movie featuring Mr. and Mrs. Kirk Cameron, debuted to $6.8 million. That result was good enough for fourth place and caused a lot of box office analysts to google a lot, thereby sheepishly admitting that they had no idea what the fourth place film for the weekend of September 26, 2008, was about. Fireproof earned almost $33.5 million in theaters and has made a staggering $65 million when we factor in home video revenue. For a production with a $500,000 budget, this is a staggering return on investment.