Will all the controversy and all the press awarded the controversy reap dividends at the box office this weekend? That’s the question facing Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. The director’s Biblical epic (action movie? Disaster flick? Faith-based offering? The latter seems the most unlikely…) opens in 3,500 theatres today. The familiar story of a man, a flood, and a host of animals boasts a trio of recognizable names: Jennifer Connelly, who is aces at playing crazy Russell Crowe’s supportive wife; Emma Watson; and of course, Crowe himself. Aronofsky, who directed 2010’s Academy Award-winning Black Swan, also brings a formidable fanbase to the table. All told, Paramount is expecting returns to tally out to between $30 and $33 million. Noah is already performing well overseas, in South Korea and Mexico specifically, where it bowed last week. Even if the movie fails to gain traction in the United States, international sales should help keep it out of the red.
Cesar Chavez, about the life and work of the iconic Mexican civil-rights activist, and Sabotage, starring the iconic (of a different sort) Arnold Schwarzenegger, also open this weekend, though neither is expected to do boffo business. Playing in 2,486 locations, the latter is Schwarzenegger’s most recent attempt at a big-screen comeback. His last two efforts, 2013's The Last Stand and Escape Plan, barely made a splash at the box office and didn’t do much to revive his acting career. With poor reviews (21 percent rotten on Rotten Tomatoes) and a rote drug-cartel-and-kidnapping plotline, it would be surprising if Sabotage proved the hit Arnold has been waiting for. Expect an opening weekend gross of under $10 million.
Cesar Chavez has also received poor reviews (37 percent rotten), however, a strong Hispanic turnout could propel the film to modest success. Opening in 644 locations, Chavez could pull in as much as, or even more than, $5 million.
Building momentum like a snowball racing down one of those mountains framing The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson’s specialty hit expands yet again this weekend, to 1,000 theatres. Jason Bateman’s Bad Words finally gets its wide release (800 theatres) today, but having disappointed in limited release the past two weekends, expectations for the movie’s broader national performance are low.