Weekend Forecast for December 27-29, 2013
By Reagen Sulewski
December 24, 2013
A life-affirming story with a touch of Forrest Gump, it seemed well placed to grab family audiences. That was until the reviews started pouring in with a decidedly meh bent. Not so much saccharine as trite, the film reaches for heights it can't achieve, per a lot of the reviews. That's not always going to matter, but the lack of amazing reviews does likely prevent it from reaching blockbuster status. Christmas week should be good to the film, and I'd expect about $38 million over five days, with $18 million in three.
A number of actors seem stuck in the idea of giving their audiences exactly what they used to want, years after their box office prime has passed them. None seems to have embraced this idea more than Sylvester Stallone, who has gone back to the well for multiple characters, and then invented new similar characters to those to double up on the idea. In Grudge Match, he does it again, and brings Robert DeNiro along for the ride to do the same thing. The two actors play aging (aging, aging) boxers (named “Billy The Kid” and “Razor Sharp” proving Stallone hasn't lost his affinity for horrible, obviously after-the-fact nicknames) who after a long rivalry that saw them lose only one fight – to each other – are enticed back into the ring after a scrap between the two goes viral. So it's Rocky vs. Raging Bull, meets On Golden Pond.
I'm sort of torn between this being kind of fun and kind of sad – maybe it's both – but it's telling to me that the best parts of the ads is the interplay between Alan Arkin and Kevin Hart. Like, are you truly interested in who the movie thinks will win this hypothetical boxing match? Never has the central conceit of a movie mattered so little. However, as The Expendables and Last Vegas show, these two lead actors still have a little gas in the tank. Not a lot, I'm saying, but a little. Despite bad reviews, Grudge Match should manage $25 million in five days, and $14 million in three.
Action is handled by 47 Ronin, a fantastical take on the real-life event of a group of master-less samurai who took revenge in 18th century Japan. This version has dragons and witches and such, which I'm pretty sure we'd have heard about if it happened that way. Just sayin'. But hey, it's a martial arts movie so let's all just relax.
The biggest (and, really, only) name you'll recognize from the cast of avenging samurai is Keanu Reeves – who to be fair, does have Asian ancestry – with Rinko Kikuchi playing a main antagonist. On this, and a wide array of special effects, was a mind-boggling $225 million budget wagered. I know, I don't get it either. I suppose the bet was really about international box office, but that appears to be failing as well, as an early opening in Japan was thoroughly underwhelming. Reviews are abysmal, and the ads are less than clear about the plot of the film. There seems to be a hope that you'll be so dazzled by the eye candy that you'll just wander in, but there's little chance of that. This looks like a major bomb in the making, with about $17 million in five days, and $10 million in three.