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Weekend Forecast for November 2-4, 2012

By Reagen Sulewski

November 2, 2012

Thanks, but we'd actually kind of like a cheeseburger.

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Washington stars as a pilot of a commercial airliner who makes a miraculous landing of a crashing airliner – including at one point flying it upside down for some reason, because that makes sense – although surviving the crash is just the start of the story. An alcoholic, Washington's character is found to have had alcohol in his system during the fateful flight, and his status as a hero immediately comes into question. Alcohol isn't his only demon either, and the film's primarily interested in just how flawed a man can be and still remain a hero for his actions.

Flight is also notable for the return to live-action filmmaking for Robert Zemeckis, who's been knee-deep in creepy motion-capture animation ever since 2000's Cast Away. He's picked a compelling project and star to come back to real life with, although for reasons that I'm sure will be explained at some point, the film is starting off in under 2,000 venues this weekend. It's a curious choice of strategy for a film starring one of the biggest draws out there, and with an amazing looking anchoring sequence (though, really, Zemeckis – a plane crash again?), particularly when its reviews are so solid. That limited number of screens will keep it from matching the mid $20s to low 40s opening weekend that Washington has earned in recent years, but around $16 million shouldn't be a surprise here.

Lastly in wide release this weekend is The Man With the Iron Fists, the directorial debut of RZA from Wu-Tang Clan... wait, what? No, I've got that right. The rapper, who isn't a complete stranger to film, and who's definitely made no secret of the influence of kung-fu on his music and style (I mean, “Wu-Tang Clan”...) is behind the camera for this somewhat Americanized take on a wuxia film, centered around a treasure hunt in feudal China, with a group of bandits and warlords hunting for it for their own reasons and with their own unique fighting styles.

He's managed to bring together a fairly solid cast for his debut, including Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Rick Yune, Jamie Chung and a number of other martial artists well known within the kung fu world. Perhaps more importantly, it's received the stamp of approval from Quentin Tarantino, who's listed as “presenter”, but didn't have much to do (if anything) with the actual making of the film. However, putting his name there probably adds a few million to the box office.




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Kung fu is a notoriously difficult genre to open well, although it's one with a swatch of dedicated fans. Iron Fists looks to be calibrated well to be crazy enough to appeal to that audience, but not so crazy that it alienates curious by-standers. Without a huge name for the kung-fu world like Jet Li or Jackie Chan, I see this as struggling to break out of single digits, and with an opening weekend release slate of under 2,000 venues, we're looking at more around $8 million.

Argo will yield top spot at the box office, after pulling the rare feat of claiming it in its third weekend of wide release, demonstrating both its legs and the weakness of October's competition. With around $65 million in the bank, it's proven to be a decent investment on its modest $45 million budget, and this popularity with audience should lead the Academy to recognize it in several categories at the end of the year. I think a $100 million or more total, notwithstanding Oscar nominations and a possible re-release, is plausible here. For this weekend, it should be about $9 million.

Perhaps not so lucky will be Cloud Atlas, the epic sci-fi/fantasy/drama/whatever-it-is film from the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, which opened to under $10 million after much fanfare and an over $100 million budget that it will be lucky to recoup half of. Despite a star-studded cast, the confusing premise simply couldn't bring in people to a film that really needed rapturous reviews to push it to success. I'd look for about $5 million for it this weekend.

Hotel Transylvania continues to chug along, over a month into its release, though the end of Halloween could cut into the back end of its run. However, that's after $130 million-plus, so complaining at this point about performance would seem churlish. Add another $6 million here.


Forecast: Weekend of November 2-4, 2012
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 Wreck-It Ralph 3,752 New 52.1
2 Flight 1,900 New 15.8
3 Argo 2,774 -81 9.6
4 The Man With the Iron Fists 1,868 New 6.8
5 Hotel Transylvania 2,922 -354 6.5
6 Cloud Atlas 2,013 +5 5.1
7 Taken 2 2,639 -356 4.6
8 Here Comes the Boom 2,314 -177 3.3
9 Paranormal Activity 4 3,006 -406 3.2
10 Silent Hill: Revelation 3D 2,933 0 3.2

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