Two New Movies Try to Rise Up Against Gravity at the Box Office

Scott looks at Gravity's competition, as the sci-fi thriller aims to nab the top spot two weeks in a row.


For a little while it was unclear as to if I would be able to get my predictions done this weekend (on account of the family engagements of Thanksgiving), but luck was on my side. I will waste no time at all in stating that I believe none of the newcomers to theatres this weekend will have what it takes to oust Gravity from its roost in the number one spot. There is some interesting material opening, but a film like Gravity does not face the same depreciation that Dude, Where’s My Car could encounter. It is a good sign for a movie when it suffers less than a fifty percent drop from week one to week two, and Alfonso Cuaron’s space thriller may end up only dropping around thirty percent. This is based off of the great word of mouth and the older audience that may be attracted to it, as older audiences don’t necessarily rush out opening weekend to see a movie. So if it is going to land in first place, what will be taking second?

My guess for that is Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks in this ‘based on true events’ movie about a container ship that is taken over by Somali pirates. My interest in this film was spiked when I saw a trailer that seemed to portray the pirates, and most notably their captain (played by first time actor, Barkhad Abdi, who was driving taxis prior to this role and is getting a bit of Oscar talk around him already) as complex people who may be the victims of their circumstances, and not just caricatures of baddies. The movie is directed by Paul Greengrass, who was nominated for directing United 93 back in 2006. There is a great deal of buzz around this movie, as it has just come off a showing at the New York Film Festival and is currently sitting at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.

While Tom Hanks used to be a great draw at the box office, recent movies like Cloud Atlas and Larry Crowne have shown he is not invincible. His role in Captain Phillips seems like the perfect one to remind audiences that he is an all-time great and well worth the money. There is already a lot of appreciation shown towards his performance, as well as that of the performance of Barkhad Abdi who is able to show in the trailers alone an ability to command attention. There is currently news around the real life Captain Phillips, as the crew of the Maersk Alabama are filing a lawsuit claiming the captain ignored warnings about the pirate activity and sailed too close to shore in order to save the company money (they were warned not to sail within 600kms, and I have heard different numbers that state it could have been between 200kms 300kms from shore). Regardless of how the court case turns out, it is just another way to educate the public of the movie and is some great free advertising.

Captain Phillips Opening Weekend Prediction - $20 million

Also in the mix this weekend is Machete Kills, a sequel to 2010’s Machete. It stars actor Danny Trejo, who has been building a bit of a cult following, and is directed by Robert Rodriguez. The original movie was based on a fake trailer for the 2007 work Rodriguez did with Quentin Tarantino, Grindhouse.  Machete Kills features a large cast of notables, some of them carry overs from the first movie and some of them are new additions. The main factor that will limit the ceiling of this movie is the fact that it is targeted towards a niche audience, and while the critical reviews of the first movie were fairly positive, it is not looking like the sequel is carrying the same appeal. In some cases, it is the novelty of a concept that makes it intriguing, and that may mean a sequel starts to lose steam. The Expendables 2 opened to a weekend roughly 18% less than the first, and finished approximately 17% less in the domestic market.  I figure that Machete Kills may follow the same route and end up with a depreciation of around 20% from the original, which had an opening weekend of $11 million.

Machete Kills Opening Weekend Prediction - $8.5 million

And, because of all of the talk I did at the beginning of the power of Gravity, I may as well make a prediction on how it will do this weekend. After opening to an October all-time record of $55 million, it has shown there is a lot of interest towards this film. During its opening weekend, it suffered only a very small drop from Friday to Sunday (approximately only 12%), which is an oddity and would suggest this movie will not be dropping significantly any time soon. Even with the emergence of a quality film like Captain Phillips, a lot of talk still centres on Gravity, which is most likely going to steal some ticket sales from Tom Hanks this weekend. I predict it will only face a loss of thirty five percent, and that will keep it strongly in the lead.

Gravity Second Weekend Prediction - $35 million