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Box Office: "CLOUD"-Y OUTLOOK
Source: Jeff Bock
Date: Oct 25, 2012
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Typically, movies that are released on the final weekend of October bring the same reactions as when someone plops an apple or that dreadful peanut butter taffy (the ones in the black and orange wrappers) into your trick-or-trick bag. More often than not, these monstrosities are greeted with an audible gag reflex and thrown with gusto directly into street gutters. That or you give them to your little brother.

This weekend’s mixed bag of four films shouldn’t bring such harsh reactions as the collective films are actually a goodie-bag, with niche films to satisfy everyone.  That said, good luck trying to decipher exactly which demographic will skip the Halloween festivities and partake in multiplex marauding, instead.

Which is why there are a few different candidates for #1 this Halloween weekend, with “Silent Hill: Revelation,” “Cloud Atlas,” “Fun Size,” and “Argo” all with legitimate shots at looting the top spot.

“Cloud Atlas” is the most intriguing release of the fall, but for a $100 million film to be released the last weekend before the holiday season begins, is basically a vote of no confidence from the studio. It’s akin to dumping a film on the final weekend of April before the summer session kicks off.  And, when’s the last time you’ve seen so few ads for a film so costly.

Warner Bros. may be the distributor, but it certainly didn’t pony up the big bucks for The Wachowski’s magical mystery movie. It really is an epic independent film, and sadly it will likely be classified with 2012’s biggest misfires like “Battleship,” “Total Recall,” and “John Carter” when domestic distribution dries up.  Still, the filmmakers may have the last laugh, as it’s entirely possible “Cloud Atlas” will be an Oscar winner in the visual effects and editing realms…and maybe even a nod for Tom Hanks, as he proves once again he is a national treasure.

As good as “Cloud Atlas” is, it also has a couple of other factors working against it: it’s R-rated, doesn’t have a traditional narrative, is only in 2,008 theaters and has a plump running time of nearly 3 hours. Those that take the chance on the epic journey will be rewarded with love, mystery, and grand adventure, but unfortunately, this isn’t a film for the multiplex masses, it’s a film for cinephiles, vegans, and those who meditate while harnessing the power of crystals.

But in all honesty, it’s more of an art film masquerading as a blockbuster, and that’s never a good sign for box office prospects…at least not domestically. Overseas, it will perform much better, as challenging films and non-traditional narratives are more widely accepted and where Tom Hanks is still a huge draw. IMAX will certainly help, as international audiences will be impressed with the spectacle, and let’s face it, more in touch with the aura of spirituality that “Cloud Atlas” possesses.  If we are truly all connected, “Cloud Atlas” will take #1 this weekend with $15+ million. As it stands, my trusty Magic 8-Ball believes there is a huge disconnect: $12 million…maybe less.   

While it’s very rare that a troika of horror films turn enough tricks to all be hits over the Halloween season, we may just see “Silent Hill: Revelation” follow “Sinister” and “Paranormal Activity 4” as it attempts to suck down some more box office blood. No doubt “Silent Hill 2” is the most expensive of the three, as the other two chill pills this season both cost under $5 million.

Open Road takes over distribution from Sony which released the original six years ago, scoring a debut of $20 million and finishing with nearly $100 million worldwide. Question: Has interest waned? Answer (in the form of a question): Is the “Great Pumpkin” coming to a pumpkin patch this year? I wouldn’t be so sure, as the video game series is still going strong, and the line up at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights’ “Silent Hill” maze was second only to AMC’s “The Walking Dead” adventure.   

If Open Road can squeeze out $13-$14 million in 2,911 haunted houses, it has a strong shot at #1, since that’s about where “Argo” is likely to end up if it continues to have a stranglehold on audiences and monopolize the awards chatter. Hey, horror on Halloween is always a good bet…

 Nickelodeon Pictures has always had pretty decent success getting fickle teens to attend their flicks. Their latest, “Fun Size,” in scope and feel, looks very similar to “Snow Day,” a tween pic that debuted with $14 million and went on to gross a surprising $60 million over winter of 2000.  

Amping up the edginess with the Halloween-themed “Fun Size,” Nickelodeon goes for their first PG-13 rating in North America, and should be able to find a niche audience looking for kooky spooks. “Fun Size” might bag $9 million, which isn’t a bad haul, although because of its subject matter, will likely be one and just about done. That said it probably should have been released last week to fully imbibe the limited Halloween vibe…especially with Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” lurking around the corner next weekend.  

“Chasing Mavericks” may be the odd man out this weekend, as Fox’s teen surfing drama is crashing theaters during the biggest cinema swell of the fall.  It definitely has pedigree with Curtis Hanson (“8 Mile,” “L.A. Confidential”) and Michael Apted (“Gorillas in the Mist,” “The World is Not Enough”) at the helm and Gerard Butler front and center, but the studio seems to have let it drift to sea, giving it a very weak push as it rides into just 2,002 theaters. When all the foam settles, don’t expect more than $7 million to wash ashore.

 

WEEKEND ESTIMATES

1.       Silent Hill: Revelation - $14M

2.       Argo - $13M

3.       Cloud Atlas - $12M

4.       Paranormal Activity 4 - $10.5M

5.       Hotel Transylvania - $9.5M

 


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