With the box office down for a solid month, the marketplace will get a much needed boost with the debut of a couple of very strong newcomers from Sony Pictures.
First up with an expected number one debut is Columbia Pictures Animation’s PG-rated Hotel Transylvania in 3-D featuring the voice talents of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry co-stars Adam Sandler and Kevin James. The two reunite in this spooky and fun tale of a high-end resort operated by Count Dracula (Sandler) that is discovered by a human boy who falls in love with the Count’s daughter. Featuring an amazing ensemble voice cast including Andy Samberg, Steve Buscemi, CeeLo Green, David Spade and Molly Shannon among others, the film is set to take a nice $30 million (or even higher) bite out of the box office in 3,349 theaters this weekend. The film is a TriStar, FilmDistrict and Endgame Entertainment production
With the family audience taken care of, Sony will offer adults a completely different experience with the very R-rated time travel hitman movie Looper starring the ubiquitous and red hot Joseph Gordon-Levitt and action mainstay Bruce Willis. The super-stylized, hyper-kinetic and visually stunning film is the vision of Rian Johnson who also directed Levitt in the modern crime noir story Brick and also the unique caper-comedy The Brother’s Bloom. Sort of like The Terminator with the mind-bending qualities of Inception, the film has enough gunplay and ass-whuppin’s to satisfy the die-hard action fans and enough pathos and rabbit hole logic to satiate the intellectuals in the audience. A probable high teen to low 20’s gross in 2,992 theaters will land this kick ass action flick in a strong second place finish and a long run in theaters bolstered by the expected terrific ongoing word-of-mouth.
Open Road’s End of Watch debuted last weekend at number one after a hotly contested race for the top spot with Relativity’s horror entry House at the End of the Street and will likely land in third this weekend on the heels of midweek domination of the box office chart. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michel Pena as two cops targeted for elimination after busting some seriously bad members of a drug cartel. David Ayer who is the king of the intense cop movie having written the classic Training Day starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke and as the writer/director of Harsh Times and Street Kings, delivers big time with this arresting R-rated drama. A second weekend in the $8 million range should give it a third place finish and around $25 million in bail money by Sunday night.
This should put Clint Eastwood in the baseball drama Trouble With the Curve from Warner Bros. in fourth place with around $7 million. The film opened in third place last weekend with everyone analyzing what effect Eastwood’s highly debated empty chair RNC speech may have had on the film’s box office performance. No matter since the PG-13 rated film should have over $20 million by the end of this, its second weekend at bat. Twentieth Century Fox’s PG-rated drama Won’t Back Down stars Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal as two mothers who are determined to make a change for the better at their kid’s inner city school. A debut of around $5 million will have it in a race for fifth place with Relativity’s PG-13 horror flick House at the End of the Street starring The Hunger Games Jennifer Lawrence.
The box office has been hurting for weeks and this will be the weekend that turns that around with the expected strong debuts of the top two films. Let’s hope the momentum continues beyond this weekend and leads us into a solid late Fall/Holiday period at the nation’s theaters. Next up to carry on this strength will be Liam Neeson in the follow up to the hugely popular action drama Taken in Twentieth Century Fox’s Taken 2 and the first wide expansion of Universal’s musical comedy Pitch Perfect which opens this weekend in just 335 theaters.