Weekend Forecast for August 31-September 2, 2012
By Reagen Sulewski
August 31, 2012
Labor Day Weekend is the land that interest forgot, and studios typically treat it like the proverbial red-headed stepchild. With kids going back to school and summer wrapping to a close, whatever Hollywood has left lying around gets thrown into theaters without thought to marketability. That's true of this week more than ever, and we're due for one of the lowest grossing weekends in ages.
Likely to lead this turtle race is The Possession, by virtue of being the only new film not to open on Wednesday. Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick and a 12-year-old who had the misfortune to star on the TV version of the The Firm, it's a horror film (natch) about a girl who buys a mysterious engraved box that unleashes a demon from the underworld which proceeds to take control of her for nefarious purposes. When are people going to learn that yard sales are a tool of the devil?
Directed by a Danish guy who you've never heard of and was responsible for one of the lower grossing films in memory about a decade ago with Nightwatch (the Ewan McGregor one, not the Russian vampire thingy), it's relying more on the fact that Sam Raimi is one of the producers of the film. When horror films start promoting that far down into the credits, you know there's some issues with marketability and quality. Morgan is a solid actor but no draw, and his biggest shot, with The Losers, managed just $9 million in its opening weekend.
There would have been some reasons for optimism – the effects aren't too bad, and possession/exorcism movies have done pretty well in the last few years, although I think that might have finally been killed by The Devil Inside. The release date more or less seals the lack of faith in this film by the studio, and I'd look for around $8 million this weekend.
That's probably enough to beat Lawless, the only other serious contender of the new films this weekend. Set during the days of Prohibition in Virginia, it posits a gang of bootleggers led by Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf facing off against a hard-nosed sheriff played by a very plastic looking Guy Pearce. It's sort of like Public Enemies, but on a much smaller scale and with people you're way less interested in seeing than Johnny Depp.
LaBeouf is being positioned as the lead here, which makes sense in some way, since he's by far the best known name in the cast. However, it's tough to think of anyone less respected as a box office figure who's been in movies that have grossed $5 billion worldwide. I don't think anyone is under any illusions that he had anything whatsoever to do with those successes, and yet, Hollywood keeps trying to push him out there as a thing that people want to see. It's a nice hypothesis, but I don't think it really holds up. Meanwhile, Tom Hardy might actually be a bigger name at this point, but his largest exposure to this point was in a film where he spends the entire film with his face covered. Whoops. It's the greatest career move since James Marsden decided no one needed to see his eyes.