Weekend Forecast for October 31-November 2, 2014

By Reagen Sulewski

October 31, 2014

He's going for the Academy Award for Creepiest Actor.

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With the worst possible calendar configuration for Halloween, the studios deliver very little in the way of scares this weekend. Instead,our new releases are a couple of thrillers that will hope to capture a slightly older audience that isn't partying as much.

The most promising of the two new films is Nightcrawler, directed by Dan Gilroy and starring Jake Gyllenhaal as an amoral freelance news camera man, hustling around the streets of Los Angeles at night for footage of crime scenes to sell to news stations with slightly looser ethical standards. The closer to them happening the better, and even better is as it happens. Gyllenhaal, cutting a gaunt, creepily-unblinking figure for this film, decides that when business is thin, it might help to drum up some business independently by creating some gore of his own.

Playing just this side of satire, like Network, Nightcrawler aims to be a thriller exposing the seedier side of TV news production, which isn't exactly the kind of thing that screams blockbuster. However, the film's take on the material, with a gritty, you-are-there (irony alert!) style and a chilling, widely hailed performance from Gyllenhaal that borders on sociopathy could bring in a wide audience on a quality basis. Reviews, in fact, have been tremendous, and Gyllenhaal has been stealthily building a reputation as a small box office draw over the past few years.


While his attempt at big budget stardom, Prince of Persia, did not really connect, his more modest efforts have hit their targets, including Source Code, End of Watch and especially last fall's Prisoners. While some of that latter film's $20 million opening weekend could be attributed to Hugh Jackman, that's still a sizable number of people who paid for a Gyllenhaal-starring thriller and may very well be interested in this one, which is being looked at by some as his breakout acting role. With Halloween Friday sucking away some of the film's opening weekend, Nightcrawler likely won't match his figures from last fall, but a decent $16 million weekend could be in the cards.

Opening on a not quite full slate of around 1,900 venues, Before I Go To Sleep sees Nicole Kidman return to multiplexes for the first time on any grand scale since 2011, and just the second time since 2008. While she hasn't been retired by any means (she has a half dozen or so indie films on her resume), she's stayed away from films that have had a lot of commercial appeal, either deliberately or through studio indifference to her. This more straightforward take on Memento probably isn't the way back to big box office bucks, but that may not even be her real priority.

In this film, she plays a woman with retrograde amnesia suffered after a brutal beating, and who forgets everything she learned the previous day. Her husband, Colin Firth, is apparently trying to help her through her issues, but his anger seems to mask something else. Her therapist (maybe?), Mark Strong is also working to help her recover her memory, but there may be some other motives behind his actions. Add in that Kidman's past behavior might not have been all that fantastic, and we have a thriller in which no one may be quite what they seem.

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