Four new releases contended for supremacy this weekend at the box office. It is certainly worth mentioning that each of these films were unique from the other three releases, making it anyone’s game. Unfortunately though, just like any over-crowded weekend, too many choices can lead to moviegoers staying home.
In a rare box office twist, two of the new entries — teen horror film House At the End of the Street and cop action/drama End of Watch — managed to tie at $13 million each. The official numbers won’t be known until Monday, so bragging rights will have to wait until then — even if the victory is a meager one for either film.
House at the End of the Street is Jennifer Lawrence’s first big-screen effort since her stunning turn in the record-breaking film The Hunger Games. Since the sequel Catching Fire will not be out until November 2013, and then she’ll be off shooting the X-Men: First Class sequel, Lawrence decided to make a film seemingly for her younger fans, which normally is a smart move. Though it fared better than other “house” titled-horrors (Dream House debuted at $8.1 million, Silent House at $6.7 million), with a weak ad campaign and a plot that screamed remake (the film is actually an original work), this House did not seem like a home.
End of Watch fared no better, but the modern market has been unkind to the cop drama for many years now, with other recent cop dramas Street Kings (which was also directed by Watch‘s David Ayer) and Brooklyn’s Finest, which made $12.5 million and $13.4 million respectively. To compare, 2001’s Training Day (which Ayer wrote), debuted at $22.6 million, which has been ingrained as the ultimate cop drama since it’s Oscar-winning run. From then on, many films have tried to recapture the film’s spirit to no avail. Even with End of Watch using the new fad of “found footage”, it still couldn’t rise to the ranks of originality.
Clint Eastwood’s Trouble With the Curve bunted itself $12.7 million for a third place debut. Baseball films are difficult to market to begin with, with many baseball fans opting to sit at home and watch the sport than go to see a movie about it. Last year’s hit Moneyball earned a respectable $19.5 million, while 2005’s Fever Pitch struck out with $12.4 million. And though Curve‘s opening total is better than the openings of Eastwood’s J. Edgar ($11.2 million) and Hereafter ($12 million), it still does not bode well for the film. It’s hard to say whether Curve‘s foul performance has to do with the crowded weekend, the baseball theme, or Eastwood’s controversial performance at the Republican National Convention. There still could be Oscar talk with Curve, so the performance of the film may not be a total loss.
Lack of originality really put the screws to comic book reboot Dredd 3D. Remaking Schwarzenegger films Conan the Barbarian and Total Recall proved to be box office poison with opening totals of $10 million and $25 million respectively, so it would make sense that remaking a Sylvester Stallone film would be equally poisonous. With Dredd‘s unjust $6.3 million turn, it may be more the fact that there isn’t any original fare at the box office.
Next week will see the long-awaited release of Looper, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, as well as the topical education drama Won’t Back Down starring Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Looper has been getting a lot of great word of mouth from critics and test audiences alike, and Won’t Back Down is more current than ever with the nation’s eyes being on education reform. Perhaps the box office is soon to take a turn for the better.