Friday, November 15, 2013

Even ‘The Best’ can’t beat ‘Thor’

As the only new movie opening in wide release this weekend, The Best Man Holiday is expected to make a strong debut. But one’s “strength” is, of course, relative when compared to that of a towheaded Norse god. If the Taye Diggs romantic dramedy is in fact the cinema’s best man, then Thor: The Dark World is the bridegroom, the main attraction. The two sequels (The Best Man opened back in 1999) will go head-to-head over the next several days, though it won’t be much of a bout. The Dark World is poised to reap $35 million or so, while Holiday is tracking in the mid $20-million range. Still, the latter is expected to out-perform the brand’s first installment. The Best Man opened to a modest $9 million 14 years ago, accumulating $34 million by the end of its run. (Adjusted for inflation, that number is roughly $54 million.) Holiday is also trending strong among African American women, the same demographic that helped last spring’s Think Like A Man debut to over $33 million. Perhaps they’ll ensure Thor wins the weekend by a smaller margin than predicted.

The Best Man Holiday wasn’t always the lone wide release scheduled to open over the weekend of November 15th, however. As of early October, The Book Thief and Scorsese’s eagerly anticipated The Wolf of Wall Street were also slated to bow tonight. But Fox soon changed its mind about the best Book Thief release strategy, and opted for a platform approach beginning last weekend instead. And Wolf of Wall Street was running a little long for its studio’s comfort. Rumors had been circulating for some time that Scorsese wouldn’t have a suitable cut finished in time for tonight. By the end of the month it was clear that he wouldn’t, and now Wolf has been pushed back to Christmas Day. If others had been pondering an 11/15 rollout, they (wisely) thought better of sandwiching themselves between blockbuster Thor and international phenom The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which opens next Friday. Hence, The Best Man’s single status.

The specialty market will offer up its own version of a major release in the form of Alexander Payne’s (The Descendants) Nebraska, opening in four locations tonight. Bruce Dern won the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for his turn as an aging alcoholic convinced he’s won a million dollars. Between the director’s clout, the Cannes buzz, and the film’s generally favorable reviews (89% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), Nebraska is expected to average $40,000 per theatre.

Dallas Buyers Club expands again, this time to 184 locations. Most likely, it’ll earn over $1 million.

And then next weekend, nothing else going on anywhere or doing anything will matter, because The Hunger Games will have arrived. Simply put, the odds are in no one else’s favor.

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