Weekend Forecast for October 3-5, 2014
By Reagen Sulewski
October 3, 2014
While some of this year's Oscar-nominated Best Pictures have in all probability already been released, this is the weekend when the first real shot across Oscar's bow is made. No, don't get excited, Nicolas Cage.
Gone Girl is director David Fincher's second straight film based on a buzzy bestseller (that Dragon Tattoo sequel is coming, right? Right? I'll just wait here), this one based on a novel that covers the aftermath of a police investigation into a woman's disappearance, and how it becomes a media frenzy as it drags on. Ben Affleck plays the husband of the missing Rosamund Pike, who has left a diary that seems to place some suspicion on him, leading the narrative of the media story to shift from concerned husband to menacing suspect. Although nothing definitively points to Affleck as the murderer, or even that a murder has taken place, that doesn't stop the feeding frenzy. Everyone has something to hide, and under the worst circumstances, everything can look suspicious. But did he actually kill his wife?
In addition to Affleck and Pike, the cast also includes Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens, It Girl Emily Ratajkowski and (sigh) Tyler Perry, but the real indication of quality here is Fincher's involvement. His stylish directorial vision should bring this story, which could tend towards the pulpy, to life and elevate it to something with grander social meaning, as well as just being a cracker-jack procedural film.
As successful a director as Fincher has been, he's never really been one for big opening weekends, with the $30 million of Panic Room being his high water mark. Of course, his two biggest films were released at Christmas time, which depresses opening weekends, and it's entirely that both Dragon Tattoo and Benjamin Button would have opened to significantly larger numbers on other weekends. That Gone Girl was a hugely popular book ought to make a difference, but then that was the theory on Dragon Tattoo as well. I think we've reached a tipping point, however, and with sky high reviews, heavy advertising that holds back just enough and a solid, attractive cast, this should be an easy winner for the weekend with about $37 million.
Horror would be nothing without the month of October, and the genre jumps on it as soon as it can this weekend with Annabelle, a spinoff of the Conjuring series. Apparently there's some spooky doll mentioned in the film, and it's given its own film to star in here, serving as a focus point for jump scares. This honestly feels more like a parody of a horror film than an actual commercial product, but then I've long since lost faith with the mainstream horror crowd about what looks like quality in the genre. While it shares no leads with The Conjuring, the connection has been marketed heavily, and this quasi-franchization seems to be what works in horror these days. A link, however tenuous, will make all the difference. This will undoubtedly be the crowning glory of cinematographer-turned-director John Leonetti, who has Mortal Lkombat: Annhiliation and The Butterfly Effect 2 to look back on. Score one for the Producer Theory of Horror, as this opens to $26 million this weekend.