Weekend Forecast for November 7-9, 2014

By Reagen Sulewski

November 7, 2014

We're sending Matthew McConaughey into space. All is lost.

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In the words of a Christopher Nolan antagonist, “And here. We. Go!” The fall season kicks off in style with two of the biggest profile and most-anticipated films of the year, although both have factors that may limit their opening box office slightly.

Let's start with the film that's getting a small jump on the weekend, Interstellar. Directed by Christopher Nolan (who after Insomnia and Inception, appears to be trying to monopolize the 'In-' portion of your movie library), it's a science-fiction story set in Earth's near future, with environmental damage wreaking havoc on society. After the discovery of a nearby wormhole, an ambitious project is launched to send a spaceship through it to find a new habitable world and ensure the survival of the human race.

Pilot Matthew McConaughey is tasked to lead the mission, at the cost of abandoning his young family. Save the human race or be true to your family: this sounds like the ultimate Christopher Nolan dilemma, perfectly calculated for his “all head, little heart” filmmaking style. It's also as epic a story as it gets, filled with notions of what makes us human, why our drive to explore is crucial to survival, and how we can also be our own worst enemies. The hope is that this is a Contact for this generation, full of the wonder of space travel and discovery.


The cast isn't limited to just McConaughery, with Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, (a not publicized) Matt Damon, and several others, but I won't go on. In some ways, this is a high-budget “guys on a mission to get the thing” movie but the director/cast combo plus the science-fiction aspect pushes it to another level. The ads themselves have been spectacular, hitting all the right notes of prestige plus wow factor. Reviews have not been quite as strong as one might think, hinting at some potential weakness in the long run, but it wouldn't be the first time a film like this caught the world by storm without strong critical support. Possibly more worrying is the near three hour run time, although that may be made up for by an IMAX boost. Playing in that format as well as in 70mm film for a grander scope, it's selling the experience of being in a theater as well as the movie itself.

Indeed, in a limited run in just 249 of those venues, it's already claimed a daily #1 spot with $1.5 million on Wednesday. This is likely the lowest screen count to win a day in decades (the Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana movie claimed top spot with two and a half times more screens), and certainly bodes well for the anticipation of the film. I'd look for this to open in about the same range as Nolan's previous sci-fi film Inception, with about $57 million.

When Disney bought Marvel, most people were looking at the high-profile properties like Captain America and Iron Man as the important parts of the deal. What makes Disney Disney is that they looked at the Marvel roster of titles and saw hidden gems that they, with their marketing savvy and power, could turn into found money. We saw evidence of that just this summer with Guardians of the Galaxy, a property that likely not 1 in 1000 moviegoers knew was a thing prior to 2014 (even then I'm probably being generous) and made it into the year's highest grossing film. They're trying this again (though one assumes without quite as high of expectations) with Big Hero 6, the first animated film they've produced based on a comic.

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