Weekend Forecast for September 21-23, 2012
By Reagen Sulewski
September 21, 2012
The blockbuster fairy hasn't quite deigned to return yet, but the last couple of weeks have begun to repopulate theaters with films after a late summer and early fall that we'd probably rather forget. Four new films hit wide release, along with one major expansion, and better yet, you can make a case for why people would actually want to see each one.
In fact, the four new films are kind of a toss-up as far as which is one of them is likely to be the top earning among them, and possibly the weekend itself. I give a slight edge to the horror film out of the bunch, House at the End of the Street, in part because of genre, and in part because of its star, Jennifer Lawrence. After this spring's The Hunger Games, Lawrence vaulted into the public consciousness as a star, although she'd been well known to cinephiles thanks to her amazing performance in Winter's Bone. It's not entirely fair to call this the first test of her star power after that, since while few horror movies fail, few break out on the power of their leads, either.
Like it says on the tin, House on the End of the Street seems to be one of your standard “haunted spooky house” stories, this time with a murder mystery twist. Lawrence and her mother (played by Elisabeth Shue – you now have my permission to feel old) move into a new house and find that the neighboring residence was the site of a grisly murder of the family that lived there. Lawrence becomes friends with the sole surviving member of the family and discovers that the true horror might not be finished. Pretty generic stuff, I admit. But generic horror sells, and with a likable lead this has a shot at success. What's not encouraging is that it hasn't been given to critics to review, and its director is no one you're familiar with. But with a big ad push and the top line talent, this may find its way to the top of the new films with around $13 million.
The pairing that people have been clamoring for forever, Clint Eastwood and Justin Timberlake, headlines the next film, Trouble With the Curve. Being described in many circles as the anti-Moneyball, Eastwood stars as an aging baseball scout with failing eyesight. Of course, he knows baseball so well he can just listen to a game and understand it better than anyone else, and you whipper-snappers with your statistics and your computers and interwebs just need to shut up, okay? After being assigned to scout the top prospect in America against the wishes of his bosses with the Atlanta Braves, he's joined on the road by his estranged daughter, played by Amy Adams. Timberlake plays an rival scout who starts up a tentative romance with Adams and nimbly avoids being torn into tiny pieces by Eastwood.
Basically an amiable melodrama with equal parts sports and daddy issues, Curve isn't likely to break any new ground or shock the world with its quality, but these leads have a surplus of charisma – and it never hurts to have a romantic comedy out that guys will actually let themselves be taken to. I think the “Clint Eastwood mopes about being old” shtick got tired three movies ago, but I expect that doesn't bother too many of his fans. Eastwood has of course been in the news lately for non-movie related issues, but I don't put much stock in that affecting the box office. People who didn't like his speech aren't likely to hold it against him (and probably feel a bit sorry for him) and those that liked it don't really go to the movies too much anyway. This looks like a modest performer at around $12 million.