Weekend Forecast for December 20-22, 2013

By Reagen Sulewski

December 20, 2013

That's *not* Catwoman?

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And now starts the deluge. Three new movies hit wide release this weekend in advance of the Christmas holidays, just ahead of when, let me check my records here... all. All the movies are opening on Christmas.

First things first – a quick update on Wednesday's opening of Anchorman 2. On its first day of release, it grabbed $8.1 million, which is a solid, if unspectacular figure. Comparing to some previous releases in this spot, this puts it on pace for an opening in a (admittedly large) range of $35-45 million. Narrowing this down a little, I'd make an educated guess of $41 million, with $66 million over five days.

The prestige release this weekend is American Hustle, which jumps from a handful of screens to over 2,500. The movie is directed by David O. Russell, and stars Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence and Christian Bale (as Robert De Niro) in a sort of cursory overlook of the Abscam scandals of the late '70s and early '80s, sting operations involving bribery of public officials. However, you might be forgiven for thinking it just looks like Something Something '70s, what with all the focus on the look of the characters, and their obviously dated fashions and hairstyles. It's a less organized version of organized crime, and plays a bit like his version of Goodfellas. Here, the story is about the audacity of con men as they started to think big, as well as how the extent of corruption in American politics was revealed.


As one might expect given the cast and crew (every principal has either won or been nominated for an Oscar), it's gotten a lot of attention from guilds and awards shows, and reviews are about as good as they possibly can be. Not only is it well made, it's what seems like a throwback to an era of “cool, badass” cinema that hasn't been seen since maybe Boogie Nights or maybe Fight Club. There's likely a pent-up audience for this “genre” of crime film that's been looking for a cultural touchstone to obsess about for a long time. Get ready to see the posters for this film on every dorm room in North America next year.

Last weekend, it earned $740,000 on six screens for a ludicrous $123,000 per screen average. Going from six screens to 2,400 kind of breaks the traditional models for expansion, but it's safe to say that there's a bit of demand for the film. Of course, with Christmas on the horizon, to say nothing of increased awareness once award nominations really start piling in, opening weekend won't really tell the whole story of this film's box office. However, between the attractive cast, who are more than the sum of their parts, and ecstatic reviews, we should be looking at a solid weekend of around $24 million.

Saving Mr. Banks also jumps to around 2,100 venues after a comparatively ho-hum $413,000 on 15 screens. Starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, it's a somewhat white-washed tale of the adaptation process of Mary Poppins, and the clashes between Walt Disney (Hanks, in what seems like a colossal case of miscasting), and the Poppins author P. L. Travers (Thompson). The main thrust of the film pitches back and forth between the fights at the studio as Travers reluctantly allowed Disney to adapt the film, and the troubled and tragic youth of Travers that inspired her to become an author. It seems a little bit condescending that all she needed was Disney to make her a more well-rounded and happier person. Why, this movie is produced by Disney, you say?

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