Friday, January 31, 2014

New buddy comedy could make things ‘Awkward’ for ‘Ride Along’

Super Bowl weekend is a notoriously slow period at the box office, and expectations for each of the two films opening wide today – That Awkward Moment and Labor Day – are muted.  Both movies target a female audience, with the one following a trio of Manhattan pals as they individually succumb to the women they had sworn off, and the other being an unapologetic and seemingly old-fashioned weepie romance. Distributors are surely figuring women are more likely than their male counterparts to go to the movies this weekend, though it remains to be seen whether either of the aforementioned conceits will prove appealing enough to lure even the most disinterested of female sports fans away from her TV and, really, Sunday’s main attraction: the commercials.

That Awkward Moment
, opening in 2,809 theatres, is poised to do the better business of the two. As of this morning the comedy was tracking around $10-$15 million, which means it could finally displace Ride Along as king of the box office – or, just as plausibly, fall in line behind Ice Cube and Kevin Hart’s likable flick. It’ll be a tight race between the two bro-centric offerings.

With a slightly smaller release platform of 2,584 locations, Labor Day will likely land at the lower end of the fiscal spectrum. The film has failed to impress critics, whose accumulated pans have earned Jason Reitman’s latest offering a poor 32% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Pundits foresee a total weekend haul of around $6 million.

That leaves The Nut Job, Frozen and Lone Survivor to fall somewhere in between That Awkward Moment and Ride Along at the top, and Labor Day at the bottom of the list of the weekend’s highest-grossing films. The Nut Job managed to beat out b.o. darling Frozen last weekend, but Disney is going all-out diva – or rather, encouraging that mindset in its fan base – as of today: The studio is releasing a sing-along version of their animated hit. Considering Frozen’s soundtrack is the first since High School Musical 2 to spend at least three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, we’d call that a pretty savvy move. In which case, look for Lone Survivor to comfortably occupy the weekend box office’s No. 5 spot.

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