With a host of major releases bowing this weekend, moviegoers of every age, demographic and level of taste should have little trouble finding something to satisfy them. Sci-fi flick Ender’s Game has been generating the greatest amount of buzz as the first installment in a would-be franchise for Summit Entertainment (a company in need of another tentpole, now their Twilight series has faded). The adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s young adult novel has been tracking strong in pre-sales, with reviews just this-side of positive (63% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes). Odds are, Ender’s Game, which is opening in 3,407 theatres tonight, will likely score somewhere in the high $20 million range.
If Game is looking to draw a crowd of teenagers, Free Birds is after their younger brothers and sisters. It’s been all Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 all the time for the past few weeks, so far as kid features are concerned. Lacking any family friendly challengers the animated sequel has been doing solid business, consistently ranking among each weekend’s top five highest-grossing films. Although our critic Michael Sauter thought Birds was one mess of a turkey, parents who’ve already seen Cloudy 2 will most likely welcome the change of pace. Free Birds will debut very widely, in 3,736 locations. Look for earnings as low as $15 million and as high as $20+ million.
With brother in one theatre, and baby sister in another, you’ll most likely find grandpa down the hall in cinema 3 yucking it up at Last Vegas. You couldn’t ask for a better cast – Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, and Robert De Niro – though no one would fault you for wishing writer Dan Fogelman had invested his script with a little more wit or originality. Critics haven’t been falling for the comedy’s tried tropes and gags, but if you don’t mind a little derivativeness, watching the four leads throw self-seriousness to the wind is a hoot. In all likelihood Last Vegas won’t do banner business, but a respectable $14 million would be just that.
About Time will likely rank among the weaker of Friday’s major debuts, even with its director’s legions of faithful – young women capable of reciting every line of his beloved film Love, Actually – in attendance. Richard Curtis’ latest, about a young man with a nifty family gene that allows him to travel back in time, also boasts romance queen Rachel McAdams as the love interest. Between director and leading lady, About Time (175 theatres) is expected to draw a small, devoted crowd that may translate to roughly $2 million in sales.
Last but by no means least (quite the opposite, in fact) specialty release Dallas Buyers Club will open in nine theatres, and 12 Years A Slave will expand to 410 theatres. Each early Oscar contender has received strong reviews and is expected to do very strong art-house business.