Weekend Forecast for August 22-24, 2014
By Reagen Sulewski
August 22, 2014
If there was any question about the box office season having turned, this results from this weekend should settle that completely, with a distinct step down from even this summer's modest results into a a typical fall-like picture. No one's firing their best shots into the pre-Labor Day period, so it's in large part self-inflicted, but gaudy box office figures will be absent for a couple of months.
Not quite a decade ago, a trio of directors collected together on a passion project, adapting Frank Miller's hyper-violent and hyper-stylized graphic novel Sin City. A revolution in digital filmmaking, it was like nothing else that had even been seen on the big screen, and even with a cast distinctly low on wattage (the whole thing was anchored by Mickey freaking Rourke), it managed a solid $29 million opening weekend (a fortune for an ostensibly independent film at the time) and $75 million total. Because it's based on a comic, there's never just one story to adapt, and the concept is back with A Dame To Kill For.
Again an anthology of loosely connected stories that revel in the muck and the mire of a thoroughly corrupt and corrupted city's underworld, A Dame To Kill For works hard to earn its R rating, both with violence and nudity. The stylized look of the film, once a revelation, now feels stale and gimmicky and it remains to be seen if audiences have soured on the notion of ultra-violence in film, or at least in a non-sanitized way. Directed by Robert Rodriguez and now, officially, Frank Miller, they're likely hoping for a similar effect as to 300: Rise of an Empire, a “wait, what?” sequel that still managed to perform well at the box office. It even has Eva Green in common with this film! However, this sequel feels like a dreary affair, even with the addition of a couple of legitimate draws in Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Josh Brolin. And as The Spirit showed, stylized means nothing if the surrounding material is crap. That's probably too harsh an assessment here, but without the benefit of novelty, Sin City 2 has a much harder road to travel. A major drop from the first will leave at around $17 million to start.
A movie that seems like it should come with insulin-flavored popcorn, If I Stay stars Chloe Grace Moretz as a girl sent into a coma following a car accident, who then “wakes up” in an out-of-body experience. A talented cellist, she was previously torn between following her dream of going to Julliard, or following around her budding rock-star boyfriend on tour. So, you know, relatable situations. Anyway, while floating around between words, Moretz's character must decide whether life is worth coming back to, because that's a normal perspective on things.
A three-hanky weepie, it's shooting for the same demographic as The Fault in Our Stars, though it was obviously not made with that film's breakout in mind, temporality being what it is. While they're both adapted from books, we're talking sort of a Divergent vs. Hunger Games situation here – one is the subject of a phenomenon, the other is just well known enough to get discussed. I'm actually thinking of something closer to 2011's Beastly for the performance here – a tragic romance with supernatural elements. The problem with this demographic is that it is quite fickle, and often their films are very alienating to all other demos – viewers over the age of say, 19, are going to be quite rare this weekend. Look for a start of around $11 million this frame.