Friday, October 11, 2013

Can anyone free herself from 'Gravity's' orbit?

For the past week, Gravity has dominated the box-office discussion – and it doesn’t look as if anyone else will be sneaking a word in edgewise any time soon. The blockbuster thriller managed to compound its record-breaking opening weekend by earning roughly an additional $18 million over the last several days. That brings the movie’s total domestic earnings up to around $73 million.  Interestingly, however,  it seems Gravity’s word-of-mouth buzz hasn’t been quite as effusive as its critical reception, leaving some industry experts to predict a (small) financial dropoff this coming weekend.

Given the general trendiness of #Gravity though, not to mention the success the movie has enjoyed (and one can imagine will continue to enjoy) from pricey 3D ticket sales, we think it'll be just fine. Odds are Gravity will pull in another $35-$40 mil this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Less certain is the opening weekend fate of Tom Hanks’ Captain Phillips. Hanks has been generating the expected Oscar buzz for his turn as sea-captain-turned-pirate-hostage Richard Phillips, and the film has a 94% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Giving the movie a timely if perhaps unnecessary publicity boost is news that the real-life crew of the Maersk Alabama is suing Captain Richard Phillips for allegedly ignoring maritime warnings and putting all their lives in danger. (Tom Hanks would never.) Far from keeping audiences away, however, it’s likely the scandal will only help drive sales. According to Deadline, the movie has already raked in $600,000 in late-show tickets.

But even with this seemingly fortuitous alignment of stars, does Captain Phillips really have what it takes to outshine Gravity? Many believe Phillips’ core demographic is a 25+ crowd, which doesn’t bode well; consensus has Millennials opting for director Alfonso Cuaron’s more visually innovative work, eschewing Paul Greengrass’ “traditional” suspense flick. We’ll see how the generation wars play out when the receipts are tallied come Monday.

While these two Oscar giants battle it out this weekend, a few other releases will vie for the rest of the country’s eyeballs. Machete Kills is another major release bowing tonight. The sequel to 2010’s Machete, itself a spinoff of Grindhouse, Machete Kills includes an eclectic mélange of cameos: Charlie Sheen (using his real name, Carlos Estevez) as the POTUS, as well as Mel Gibson, Lady Gaga, and Sofia Vergara. The Hollywood Reporter critic Justin Lowe wasn’t a fan, but if nothing else, the film’s rollout of wacky should provide just what the movies ought: entertainment.

Our David Noh wishes the same could be said of the latest film to tackle Bill Shakespeare’s greatest (or at least his most famous/oft-adapted) love story, Romeo & Juliet. The talented Hailee Steinfeld of True Grit fame has nabbed the starring role of poor dopey (er, doomed) Juliet, reciting Julian Fellowes’ (“Downtown Abbey”) odd mix of Elizabethean/modern-English lines with great and unfortunately stultifying care. This is no Baz Luhrmnan reimagining. The film opens in 461 theatres tonight.


The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete will also open tonight, in 147 theatres. Though the film revolves around the hard-luck life of two impoverished Brooklyn kids (Skylan Brooks and Ethan Dizon, both newcomers, both critically lauded for their ability to tug on the viewer’s heartstrings) Lionsgate’s newest release has two famous adult draws to its name: Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson and her fellow “American Idol” alumna Jordin Sparks. Film pundits see the movie earning around $1 million. Escape From Tomorrow, a black-and-white dramedy whose claim to fame includes a “guerrilla-style” shoot on location in Disney World, will also most likely reap a smaller haul.

And then there are those still holding strong: the tenacious Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, and Enough Said, which expands nationwide to 606 theatres this weekend.

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