Thursday, November 29, 2012

In Theaters This Weekend: November 30, 2012


Just as quickly as it got here, it's hard to believe that tomorrow is already the last day of November (or, more dramatically, Saturday is already the first day of December). We've seen a handful of films with awards potential hit screens this month, including "Flight", "Wreck-It Ralph", "Skyfall", "Lincoln", "Anna Karenina", "Silver Linings Playbook", "Life of Pi", "Rise of the Guardians", and more. All of the titles above (sans maybe "Skyfall") seem like most of the biggest players for the top awards in this year's race (I'm already looking forward to a post come January 1 breaking down my thoughts on this awards season).

This week, two films will hit in wide release, though only one seems to have any kind of a shot at any major awards. "Killing Them Softly" will hit 2,000 theaters this weekend, and depending on its reception, we might see a push for an acting award for Brad Pitt (though that field is already incredibly competitive this year). Also opening nation-wide is "The Collection", a Saw-like horror film that feels very much out of place releasing in (basically) December.

Hit the jump for a rundown on each of the titles above, as well as some box office predictions for the weekend!

I'll start with "Killing Them Softly", as this is the only title I have much interest in. Written and directed by Andrew Dominik ("The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"), the film stars Brad Pitt as Jackie Cogan, an enforcer hired to restore order after three dumb guys rob a Mob protected card game, causing the local criminal economy to collapse. Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, and Sam Shepard round out the cast.

So far, feedback has been positive on the film, with it currently at a strong 88% already amongst more than 75 reviews. Overall, it's obvious that people are enjoying the film, but it appears to be a more mild reception than the 88% might lead on. From most accounts, the acting all-around is quite good, and where this one shines is with its script and dialogue interactions between characters. But ultimately, I get the feeling that many critics feel the film is trying too hard to convince viewers it has a deeper message when really it should have just presented itself as the fun, stylized mobster genre film that it is. I believe there's enjoyment to be had, but I think much is lost with the repetitive themes it tries to convey.

Not that anyone is talking much about it, but since I always love discussing such, in terms of awards potential, I'm guessing this one ends up with a big goose egg come nomination night. With as strong as the acting fields are this year, I don't see any room for Pitt in there, regardless of what he's able to do in this film. If anything, my guess is that a writing nomination is most possible here, even though that's a crowded field this year too and this has to be considered a long-shot at best.

Ultimately, I'm not expecting any type of awards recognition for this film, but I do plan on checking it out in theaters this weekend. I generally enjoy Brad Pitt's work - let alone most of the other actors in the film - and mob movies are pretty enjoyable if done right (and it sounds like the violence is pretty superb). Depending on what you've already seen in theaters, this seems like a solid bet if you're into gangster movies. If not, there are so many other great films in theaters right now that it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world catching up on some earlier films.

The other film opening wide this weekend is "The Collection". The horror/thriller centers around a man, Arkin, who previously escaped from the vicious grips of the serial killer known as "The Collector", only to be blackmailed into rescuing an innocent girl from the killer's booby-trapped warehouse. If that sounds like similar themes to what was presented in the Saw movies, you're probably closer than you think (though, I would guess the trailer probably makes you well aware of this fact - I haven't yet seen it). It is written and directed by Marcus Dunstan, the man who wrote Saw IV-VI (on the plus side, he did write "Feast" as well; on the negative, he wrote "Piranha 3DD"...). Dunstan also wrote and directed the 2009 film, "The Collector", a film in which this a sequel to.

As mentioned above, it feels so weird to me that this is just now releasing. I know it's been a pretty busy last couple of weeks, so I understand not wanting to release then, but right in the middle of awards season, and between Thanksgiving and Christmas, feels awkward. But who knows, maybe a film like this will be perfect for the right audience amid so many "academy" films releasing. Surprisingly, the film does hold a 73% currently on Rotten Tomatoes, though that's only amongst a little more than ten reviews so far. It seems a near certainty that this one will eventually drop quite a bit, but the fact that it hasn't bombed already should be encouraging enough for most young horror fans (as reference, the first installment, "The Collector", didn't do so hot with critics). It does sound like the gore and schemes have been amped-up this time around though, so much like the Saw fans have grown accustomed to, if you're in it for that and aren't overly concerned about character development, plot, or general writing, this could be the film for you.

Don't expect anything more than what I just detailed above, but if you're looking for a fun gore-fest this holiday season, this film could appease. I never saw "The Collector" and I can't say I have any intentions to see this film. I don't put much recommendation into this film, but genre fans might find enough to enjoy here.

As for some box office predictions, this looks to be another weekend like last that's all over the place. It's a shame I wasn't able to touch on last weekend's box office numbers much, because they really were quite erratic. I expect more of the same this time around, though on a smaller scale. As far as new releases go, neither figure to play much of a part in the overall numbers. "Killing Them Softly" is easily the bigger draw here, even though it will be appearing in less theaters. Brad Pitt is always a hot ticket though, and mob films tend to play pretty well. With a hard-R rating though, I don't expect much more than $10MM-$12MM overall. And as for "The Collection", it will probably fare much worse, I'd imagine topping out around $3MM or so. The first film made $3.5MM in its opening weekend in 2009, though it was at the end of July. Similar numbers seem expected though.

In terms of hold-overs from older films, I could really see any of the films that clung to the top five last weekend make a play for the top spot this weekend. "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" made $43MM, but will probably suffer similar declines as last weekend (69%), making the possibility of $20MM very slim. I expect something more in the $15MM range. "Skyfall" made $35MM and has been experiencing great declines over three previous weeks. With a 30%-40% drop (which would still be high for what we've seen previously), something right around $20MM-$22MM seems entirely possible. "Lincoln" finished in the third spot and actually upped its percentage by 22% in its third weekend, pulling in $25MM. It seems completely irresponsible to assume the film can increase its numbers yet again, but a small dip in the 10%-15% range feels comfortable, which means that this one could flirt with another weekend of $20MM+. "Rise of the Guardians" and "Life of Pi", both new releases last week, made $23MM and $22MM, respectively. Both have good chances at small dips this week, especially considering that reviews for both films were positive, and word-of-mouth should be strong. I don't expect either to hold on to the $20MM line, but $15MM or so for each seems reasonable, and if either did do better than that, it wouldn't be at all surprising. I'll go with "Skyfall" on top this weekend, but I expect the top five to be crowded yet again. Neither of the new releases should contend, though "Killing Them Softly" should make its way into the top ten with ease, while "The Collection" is sure to miss.

That's what we can look forward to this weekend. Which film(s) will you be checking out?