By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
September 23, 2012
End of Watch is the latest ethical law enforcement vehicle for writer/director David Ayer, who first gained acclaim for U-571 and Training Day. He also wrote the screenplay for the franchise-riffic The Fast and the Furious as well as a hidden gem of the 2000s, Dark Blue. End of Watch would be politely described as “more of the same,” which is just fine when you consider that “the same” has been really good so far. Critics have lined up to lavish praise upon the movie, which is currently 85% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, 88% fresh among top critics. It is a dark horse for end-of-year awards consideration.
In addition, End of Watch becomes the latest Open Road Films release that is a sound financial investment. Thus far in 2012, the Regal Entertainment Group/AMC Entertainment distribution arm has spent $49 million for titles that have earned roughly $130 million worldwide. And we should note that since the distributor is also the exhibitor, their revenue retention is almost total. End of Watch adds another $13 million to the pie and should prove to be the strongest earner of the weekend’s new releases by the time it exits theaters.
The difference between first and third place is only $300,000 in this weekend’s estimates. This means Clint Eastwood was only a few empty chairs away from winning the box office frame with Trouble with the Curve. The baseball yarn earned an estimated $12.7 million this weekend.
Trouble with the Curve is the latest 2012 release to cater to a much older crowd, following on the heels of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Hope Springs. This project is noteworthy in that it is the first time Eastwood has acted in a film that he did not direct since 1993’s In the Line of Fire. He has starred in and directed 16 projects in the interim. Long-time associate Robert Lorenz took the helm for Trouble with the Curve, probably a nod to the fact that at the age of 82, Eastwood cannot do everything on his own any longer.
Few teenagers are enthusiastic about the concept of an anti-Moneyball/anti-computers premise for a baseball movie. Keeping this in mind, a total that is roughly two thirds of what Moneyball earned on opening weekend is a decent result. Critics were mixed on the project as it is currently 53% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. Given the tremendous older adult skew to Trouble with the Curve, it should have an extended run in theaters with a result in excess of $40 million likely. This would be a solid result for a baseball movie as most of them gain their legend on home video.
Fourth place goes to one of last weekend’s “new” releases, but it’s not the one that finished in first place. Instead, Finding Nemo 3D takes advantage of its family-friendly nature to hold up with a 43% decline from its total last weekend. The Pixar/Disney new classic earned $9.4 million, and brings its overall tally (from original release) to $369.7 million domestically. As we mentioned last week, the financial outlay for these re-releases is minimal, so Disney is going to be very happy to take any money earned from theatrical exhibitions to the bank before selling the 3D Blu-ray on video just in time for the holiday season.