Friday, January 4, 2013

'Texas Chainsaw 3D' revs into box office against strong holiday releases

There hasn't been a wide horror release since Halloween, and now that the holiday movie season is over, Texas Chainsaw 3D (2,654 theatres) will try to quench any pent-up demand for a good scare-fest. There have been two recent Texas Chainsaw movies, one in 2003 that earned $80 million, and another in 2006 that earned considerably less, $40 million. Still, horror flicks tend to
Texas chainsaw 3D shotgunopen high, and there's a good chance that Texas Chainsaw 3D could land at the top of the pack if it opens around $20 million.

A few other movies are expanding their theatrical imprint now that must-see releases like Django Unchained and Les Miserables have had some time to run through viewers. Repeat moviegoers may come back for another holiday offering, like The Impossible, which is expanding into 572 theatres. Yes, the tale of a tsunami tearing a family apart is heart-wrenching, but it appears that any initial reluctance to watch a weepie is being quelled by good word-of-mouth. The drama's per-screen average went up from $9,000 per screen to $12,000 per screen in its second weekend, an excellent sign. It's also earned an impressive $80 million abroad, including $53 million in Spain. Director Juan Antonio Bayona is from Spain, and the story is based on that of a Spanish family (though the end film features a couple from English-speaking territories), which explains the interest in that country.

Promised Land will make the biggest expansion, into 1,675 theatres. While there are some great stars, like Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, and "The Office's" John Krasinski, this movie has been a failure with critics and had a tepid debut in theatre. It will probably end up with a few million and not much else. FJI critic David Noh found the "intelligent, sincere diatribe against
Promised land matt damonvenal corporate interests" "highly watchable," but I couldn't disagree more. It's uncomfortably simple, pat, and unchallenging--liberal baby food. This message drama may resonate with some, but many others will be alienated, either by virtue of their political views or the movie's reductive nature.

Not Fade Away will also be expanding into 565 theatres. Directed by David Chase, creator of "The Sopranos," the tale of New Jersey teens starting a band in the 1960s is an "engaging time capsule," according to New Jersey native and film critic Kevin Lally, and "serves as a vivid reminder of how thoroughly the ’60s shook up the
culture." Unlike The Impossible, this movie has already expanded once, from three to nineteen theatres, and saw its per-screen average drop by two-thirds. But there's still hope for this coming-of-age tale yet, and a thoughtful expansion (with more New Jersey theatres than normal) may be the trick.

Viewers in New York City can catch 56 UP, the once-every-seven-years series following a group of British children, now 56. "What's striking is how many of the children express displeasure
with the series," critic Daniel Eagan observes, their lives shaped in certain respects by how people view them through the lens of the documentary.

On Monday, we'll see if Texas Chainsaw 3D sawed through the competition and which holiday releases are still playing strong.



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