Scott Martin's The Analysis of the Box Office

Scott looks at a weekend that is full of a wide variety of pictures, and analyzes which ones may be worth your time and also which pictures will reign on top of the box office.


For the second week in a row, we will have four new wide release movies debuting in theatres, which at first may sound like a big selection, but in a lot of markets that will not be the case.  Because theatres generally keep movies for a minimum of two weeks, and because there are a lot of movies from previous weeks that are still profitable, most theatres will not have the screens available for all new releases this weekend.  Some may offer all four, but a lot will end up carrying only a few of them.  Each of the movies coming out will be released into less than three thousand theatres, which will ultimately affect their chances of success.

The critics have not been too kind to this week’s offerings except for Lee Daniels’ The Butler, which prior to release had some whisperings of Oscars floating around it.  Before you get a little frustrated at the nerve of Lee Daniels having the arrogance to put his name in the title (which I must confess was my first thought) I must note that the original title was The Butler, but there were some court room shenanigans around that because Warner Bros didn’t want us to confuse it with a silent movie of the same name from 1916.

The movie follows Forest Whitaker who plays a butler in the White House during the terms of eight different presidents, and has quite a deep ensemble cast starring names such as Cuba Gooding Jr and Robin Williams.  The reception to the movie has been mostly positive so far, but there has been some criticism around the cast being more about name value than selecting the proper people for the role.  What Lee Daniels’s The Butler has going for it (curse you Warner Bros for making me type that lengthy name!) is that we are an audience bloated and overly satiated from action and comedy movies, desiring a little more substance.  It has also been a long while since we have had a docudrama in wide release (I believe it has been since 42 back in April) so it does not have to worry about genre over-saturation.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler Opening Weekend Prediction - $21 million

If you are a listener to The Breakdown podcast that Chris and I do, you may know that I had unfair hatred towards the movie Kick-Ass prior to seeing it, and then sung its praises afterwards and gave it four out of four stars.  Perhaps that may give you the feeling that I am anticipating the sequel.  Perhaps I should be… but I am not.  Kick-Ass was a brilliant movie that had a self-contained story that left some aspects open ended but gave a good sense of closure.  It had such a style and personality that even attempting to replicate it would ruin the very thing that made it special as you cannot re-capture the magic of the first one.  As well, there is a new helmsman this time around in the director’s chair, so that should send a little bit of worry into the hearts of purist fans of the now franchise.  Critical reception has been fairly brutal to this movie, claiming it has now become exactly what the first movie was a satire of.  I doubt this will keep curious audience members away, as this is my pick to be first place in the box office.  I, however, will wait until it is on Netflix.

Kick-Ass 2 Opening Weekend Prediction - $23 million

Next on the docket is Paranoia, a thriller starring Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman, and Harrison Ford.  That is a great looking line-up on paper, with the only curiosity being the drawing power of Hemsworth.  For a second, let’s also look at the drawing power of Indiana Jones himself.  It would be wrong of us to assume quickly that money is attached to Ford’s name, as it was just three years ago that he had two movies that had opening weekends that fell under $10 million dollars.  He is not the gold that people can so often believe, and I do not think he will be enough to save Paranoia.  The online buzz around this movie is dismal, and the reviews are now just starting to roll in with it currently having a Rotten Tomato rating of only 4%, a number that has been continually dropping.  The best thing I can say about my prediction for this movie is that it should be able to make it into the top ten.

Paranoia Opening Weekend Prediction - $7 million

The last of the new wide release movies is another drama based on real life, giving us some good head to head competition as Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher will battle it out with Lee Daniels’ The Butler.  While the character that Whitaker plays in Lee Daniels’ The Butler suffers from little to no prior public awareness, Kutcher will be playing Steve Jobs, a name and a face that a large portion of the population are familiar with.  The first worry I had when I heard about the film was the speed in which it has come out following the death of Jobs, the kind of turnaround that is more suitable for made-for-TV movies.  My fears have been confirmed in the consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, that the vibe is not that of a deep, well-scripted movie.  The names of Kutcher and Jobs are the best things going for it, as they are both well recognized by audiences.

Jobs Opening Weekend Prediction - $10 million

In the realm of limited release movies we have Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, which stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara and appears to be styled towards being a semi-modern western with a love story between the leads.  The trailers make the movie look enthralling, and Mara is sure to bring a dynamic performance as she is one of the great up-and-coming talents in Hollywood.  Sadly, it is only being screened in three theatres this weekend, so colour me jealous of those who get to see what could possibly be a very fun and deep film.