Hit the jump for my expanded thoughts on each film, as well as some predictions for the box office numbers, where "Cloud Atlas" gave me some huge fits.
I'll start with "Cloud Atlas" because, spoiler alert, this is really the only film I have any interest in seeing this weekend. You can reference Derek's In Anticipation post for most of the details on the film; he offers up plenty of great facts and thoughts on what we can expect. I'll simply state that I'm looking forward to the picture. The word everyone wants to use to describe the film right now is "ambitious". Doesn't mean good, doesn't mean bad, just that we're aware of the huge gamble everyone's taking with this picture, and how extravagant it looks it scale. And with the Wachowskis' track record, it's much too early to assume what we'll get. Is this "The Matrix" or will it be "Speed Racer"? Personally, I'm expecting somewhere in the middle, but definitely more toward the Matrix side of things.
The film has an estimated $100MM budget, which doesn't seem nearly as high as it could be, but with a release at the end of October, the film will have to be an experience (a la "Avatar") for people to need to see this film in theaters. Regardless of the first week totals, week two will tell us much about the word-of-mouth for the film and if it even stands a fighting chance. I'm given slight pause due to the mixed reviews so far from critics, currently at a 66% on Rotten Tomatoes. It looks pretty polarizing too - either you love it or you hate it. It cools down a bit of my excitement for the film, but I still think there's enough positive things critics are saying to keep me focused and anticipated.
Bottom line: I say go see this. What else is going to be more intriguing or offer more mystery? The scale is epic, and who isn't looking forward to Tom Hanks taking on a truly sci-fi role (roles?). Even if the film sucks, nothing else that will be in theaters holds a flame to what originality is and might be present here. I think you can check this one out with relative ease (and an open mind), and we'll just see what happens.
Next up is "Chasing Mavericks", a surfing coming-of-age drama with Gerard Butler, Elisabeth Shue, and Jonny Weston. The film is based on a true story, and centers around the young Jay Moriarty (Weston) who discovers that the mythic Mavericks surf break, the biggest waves on Earth, exists just miles from his Santa Cruz home. He then enlists the help of local surfing legend, Frosty Hesson (Butler), to train him to survive it.
There are no reviews in for this film yet, but I get the idea that this one will play out pretty much like you'd expect. I think if you're into sports movies, or even more specifically, surfing, this will be an enjoyable watch. The character arcs all seem pretty basic to a sports drama here, but hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The same formula has been player well for decades! I don't have anything against this film, and I think as long as it doesn't get destroyed by critics, I'll probably be open to a rental sometime; I just can't really see what would pull me into theaters for this though. Even if "Cloud Atlas" wasn't releasing, I just don't have many feelings about this one way or the other.
I think if you were intrigued enough by the trailers, go for it in theaters. It doesn't appear to be terrible. I'm sure the emotional drama will be fairly contrived, but there's nothing wrong with that. If the film can pull off some decent-looking action (surfing) scenes, that would be a plus - regardless of the sport, it's always difficult to portray it realistically on camera. Surfing is a bit different, but you're still hoping it doesn't end up looking like the surfing scene in "Escape from L.A." (or maybe you are!).
This is a fringe rental for me, and until I see some reviews, I'm not comfortable recommending it any more strongly than that. I think for proper audiences this will be a perfectly fine film, just nothing too incredibly new.
The last film I'll talk about this week is "Silent Hill: Revelation". We discussed this film some on this week's CinemaCast, and overall, I see the trailer for this film and just can't believe it's getting a wide theater release. The film has a similar storyline to the first film, but instead of the mom chasing after the daughter, this time it's years later and it's the daughter chasing after the father. So, a big change this time around. I don't think the actual plot is too important with this franchise though; it seems more just a vehicle to introduce really creepy imagery and art design. And that is something that I do give this franchise - it's hard for me to think of another film that excels as well as this in terms of laying out such an unwelcoming environment, with hoards of creatures that no one wants to deal with.
No budget information has been released, but the first film got a $50MM budget, so I'd expect something similar here. There also aren't any reviews in for this one yet, but anyone who's reading this probably could have guessed as much. The first film received a 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, and I don't expect anything more here - if anything, probably a lower score. The first film banked almost $100MM worldwide though, so if this film can replicate that stat as well, the reviews won't much matter. The fact that this installment will be presented in 3D helps its box office take, both in the boost of admission but also in the sect of people that will attend simply for the 3D fun of a horror movie. Plus it's right before Halloween, another factor that should provide a small bump, at least for the first week.
If you're into the original video game at all, and are a fan of the franchise, maybe you're into films like this and will enjoy it regardless of critical reception. Speaking only for myself though, I can't recommend this film in theaters. Unless there's a surprising uproar from critics on its amazing quality and story-telling abilities, this won't even ever be a rental for me. I barely cared about the first film, and can only find praises in its art direction. While there appears to be plenty of new creatures for us to get to know, the overall production qualities appear to be even a step down from the last film. I'm sure die-hard fans will be attending regardless of my opinions, but if you're anyone else, I'd recommend checking something else out; I really get the feeling this will disappoint. There are plenty of other decent horror films still hanging around theaters if that's something you're looking for (and even John Carpenter's "Halloween" will be making its return this week as well, so give that one a shot!).
As for some box office predictions, I have really been pondering what "Cloud Atlas" can make. I've scoured for comparables, but it's hard to find a $100MM independent sci-fi film that has released at the end of October. It just doesn't happen. Judging from the money flowing into to box office in recent weeks though, and amounting for generalized drops from all previous films, we'll look at "Chasing Mavericks" and "Silent Hill: Revelation"" first and work backwards.
"Chasing Mavericks" seems too out of season to pull in a very large audience, and surfing already has a very limited base as it is. Five years ago, Gerard Butler maybe adds a bit more to what this picture can make, but coming off some films like "The Bounty Hunter" and "The Ugly Truth", I'm not sure his stock is nearly as high as it once was. I would say $10MM will be a stretch for this film in its first weekend. I expect something closer to the $8MM range that you see with these independent-feeling dramedies. "Silent Hill" made $20MM in its first weekend, and while I don't expect Revelation to come anywhere near that, breaking the $10MM barrier seems plausible. Like I said, the fact that it's showing in 3D will help, and there's definitely a built-in audience there that should show up. I don't expect much more than $10MM, but I think if it doesn't crack that mark it will be a disappointment.
Last week's big winners were "Paranormal Activity 4" with $30MM, and "Argo" in its second weekend with $16MM. Installments two and three of the Paranormal Activity series (you can't count the first because it opened in limited release and kept expanding for the first few weeks) both dropped more than 60% in their second weekend. I expect similar results here, which would amount to something near $12MM. That's pretty low, but historically accurate with this franchise. And while "Argo" probably won't maintain its record holds, still, somewhere around $10MM is a possibility.
So that just leaves "Cloud Atlas". We've accounted for about $40MM of what will be four of the top five grossing films this weekend, and over the past month, every weekend has featured total grosses for the top five films in a range from $80MM to $100MM. That's still a big gap, but it tells me that there is a lot of space between our $40MM so far and the $80MM bottom line. Unfortunately, I just can't see this film making $40MM, and I think what is more likely is a drop-off in box office performance from the top spots. There are still plenty of decent titles around that will grab up some of the remainder, but this harkens back to our early September days when there wasn't much dominance and the top and everything just kind of muddled together. I feel like this will be low (and I hope it is), but I'm simply going to cut the difference and say "Cloud Atlas" hits the $20MM mark with a potential for a bit more. I really want to predict more, but I'd rather be excited if it makes more than that, than bummed if it doesn't make what I think it can. Regardless, expect this film to take the top spot with relative ease. I don't see anything else that really could compete.
Anyway, sorry for the lengthy details there, but I'm glad we worked through it all together. Those are the films we can all look forward to this weekend. Which will you be heading to theaters for?