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Box Office: NEESON SET TO SNUFF OUT 5 NEW FLICKS
Source: Jeff Bock
Date: Oct 11, 2012
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Let’s just get this out of the way: no one is gonna knock Liam “Lockdown” Neeson and “Taken 2” from the top spot at the box office this weekend. With a dynamo debut of $49 million last weekend, expect a second-weekend gross that is on par with the first weekend gross of “Expendables 2.” Probably won’t hit $28 million like that rolled out with, but $26 million certainly isn’t out of the question.

Remember, Neeson is just one man, while Sly’s Viagra-popping vigilantes included nearly every aging action star in existence. He’s got my vote for the biggest Action-Jackson of the year, and don’t bother with the urine sample folks, I guarantee he’s not on ‘roids. Rolaids, possibly…but not ‘roids.

So with that out of the way, and five new flicks in multiplexes, who will be taking the runner-up spot? I’m glad you asked. If critics have their way (which they haven’t lately) it will be Ben Affleck’s “Argo.” It currently sits at 90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and definitely has what all big-time fall films clamor for: Oscar allure.  

Warner’s is rolling out Affleck’s third directing assignment into 3,250+ theaters—the most ever for a film under his watch. Two years ago, “The Town,” hit hard with $23 million in a mid-September bow, and saw the film punch up close to $100 million.

While “Argo” may make critics salivate, it’s doubtful a dramatic thriller set in the 1970’s will have the same impact on audiences that “The Town” did, as that was more of a dramatic heist flick—one that definitely catered to a younger crowd with its gunplay and suburban gangster vibe. No doubt “Argo” will do well, but riding the coattails of “Taken 2” will certainly diminish its grosses: $18 million.

Here’s the deal: Kevin James has already worked with talking animals (“The Zookeeper”) and kids (“Grown Ups”)…and this is at the beginning of his career! The old taboo in Hollywood is that you don’t do either of these things…until your career is nearly kaput. Hopefully, that means that his best work still lies ahead for the former “King of Queens” star. Or, maybe that just means that one day he’ll come full circle and reboot the “Mr. Belvedere” TV series.  

Even at James’ worst as a headliner—the bro-mantic comedy “The Dilemna”—he’s never had a film debut lower than $17 million. So ponder that as Sony drops “Here Comes the Boom” onto 3,000+ multiplex mats this weekend.

I’m pretty sure everybody thinks the same thing when a new trailer for a Kevin James film appears: Why? Cruel God, why do you vex me?  Well, remember, the lowest common denominator is equal to the average IQ of the Americanus Idioticus.  Basically, that translates to the fact that there are a lot of people out there looking for something that reminds them of something they’ve watched before. “Dangerous Minds” meets “Raging Bull”…minus “Dead Poet’s Society,” divided by “Rocky III.” BOOM: $16 million.

Yes, it looks lame, but “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and “The Zookeeper”—both films should be beamed into space towards hostile alien races to trick them into believing we’re not worth the time or effort to conquer—were equally lackluster and also made over $350 million worldwide, combined.

Now while “Boom” may be the untrendy pick of the weekend, the darkest horse belongs to “Sinister.” Lionsgate’s R-rated chill pill will have a week long jump on “Paranormal Activity 4” so it better make its blood money this weekend.

Ethan Hawke stars, but the real star is director Scott Derrickson, who made his directorial debut with “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” which scared the bejesus out of Hollywood, debuting in September 2005 with an unbelievable $30 million.

Horror flicks with “Exorcism” in the title, or dealing with possession, have done quite well recently at the box office, but “Sinister” isn’t showcasing much more than the fact that “this film will f*@# you up.”  Maybe that will be enough, plus the advertising plugs reminding everyone that this comes from the producer of “Paranormal Activity” and “Insidious.” In 2,527 theaters, look for $15 million…but don’t be surprised if it gets a box office bump in the night.

1, 2, 3 films down…and then there’s “Seven Psychopaths.” CBS Films has done a great job marketing their quirky crime-caper film, however, when you dabble in the land of Quentin Tarantino and don’t actually have Quentin Tarantino you usually lose...and lose big. Combining guns, wannabe gangsters, and screenwriting into one film is like a recipe for a Molotov cocktail in the movie business and this flick has them all in spades.  

Despite the fact that “Seven Psychopaths” is actually 94% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes right now, don’t expect anyone but cinephile fanboys and the college crowd to turn up for the R-rated crime comedy. UK Director Martin McDonough also directed the critically acclaimed “In Bruges,” a film that everyone said they loved, but no one actually saw, as it grossed just $7.8 million.

The real problem is you’ve got Colin Farrell and Sam Rockwell in the same movie—it may be double the fun, but it’s also double the box office poison. And hey, we all know Christopher Walken is the most loveable psychopath in film history, but unfortunately, him parodying himself isn’t enough to get people into theaters anymore. In 1,480 theaters this one will be fortunate to find $4 million bones.    

Last spring an indie flick based on Ayn Rand’s epic tome, “Atlas Shugged: Part I,” bowed to $1.6 million from just 229 sites. It went on to earn a respectable $4.6 million, mostly from grassroots marketing.

With an aggressive push for the sequel, “Atlus Shrugged: Part II” is set to debut on 1,025 screens, and should see Objectivism triumph with $3.5 million. It is important to note, though, that as influential as Rand’s novel “Atlas Shugged” has been over the last 55 years, let’s just keep in mind that in box office terms, the picture-book, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” has been seen by infinitely more people, has more clout, and yes, more balls, too.   That’s just a little box office philosophy 101 there for ya…

 

WEEKEND ESTIMATES

1.       Taken 2 - $26M

2.       Argo - $18M

3.       Hotel Transylvania - $17M

4.       Here Comes the Boom - $16M

5.       Sinister - $15M

 


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