Friday, September 6, 2013

Movie Preview: September 2013

There wasn't a whole lot of huge flashy movies this past August, but there were eight movies that grossed over $50 million and that combined effort led this past August to a new August record, capping off an excellent Summer that set a new Summer box office record. With the Summer now over, the box office will take it's usual hibernation period as September is historically the worst month for the box office. With only nine new releases and only a few of those with high appeal to general audiences, this month looks no different than past Septembers.

September 6th - 8th -

The only release on this first weekend of September is Riddick. This is the third movie of the series that started with Pitch Black back in 2000 and continued with The Chronicles of Riddick in 2004. The two movies have quite a different feel. Pitch Black was a lower budget R-rated film that didn't make a ton of money, but ended up getting a good profit and also gained somewhat of a cult following. Chronicles actually earned more in the box office, but had a huge budget and ended up being a financial disappointment. It was also a lighter PG-13 rating and that different feel resulted in poorer reviews as well. Nine years later, Vin Diesel is back as his role of the title character Riddick and this time around they are going for the Pitch Black feel again, upping it to an R-rating and having a lower budget. Diesel has gained quite the popularity recently with the success of the last few Fast and Furious movies as well as his announced role in the upcoming Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy and that should help this movie a bit. Adjusted for ticket price inflation, Pitch Black and Chronicles earned $59 million and $75 million respectively and Riddick should end up around those numbers and thus be a decent September hit.

September 13th - 15th - 

With Halloween season around the corner, late August and September usually gives us a horror movie or two to get a jump on the season and this will be the case this weekend with Insidious Chapter 2, taking advantage of a Friday the 13th release date. It's been a great year for horror movies and Insidious Chapter 2 has the makings to continue that success. Back in April 2011, the first Insidious opened to a less than impressive $13 million, but held abnormally well for a horror movie and ended north of $50 million. With a PG-13 rating that leaves room for a more general audience and more promised terror, it should be able to take advantage of an empty September.

Riding along with Insidious Chapter 2 is Luc Besson's new film The Family. The advertising is pushing the Taken connection with Luc Besson, but with an R rating, it won't get anywhere near Taken numbers and it's a big question if audiences are in the mood for an R-rated action comedy in the middle of September. The strength of the movie is definitely the cast. It stars Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones, all of whom have Oscar wins under their belts, so that is what could help this movie. Although this is not the type of movie that typically gets Oscar attention, so that might not help that much.

September 20th - 22nd - 

Speaking of the Oscars, the third weekend of September is home of the first movie that is getting serious Oscar buzz based off pre-screenings and that is Prisoners. Starring Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Viola Davis, Prisoners is a kidnapping drama where a father takes matters into his own hands when police leads start going dry. Now crime dramas are a dime a dozen on TV and Prisoners does have the feel of a Criminal Minds episode, so it could potentially go that way and quickly drop off the map like The Call earlier in the year, but as stated earlier, it is getting a lot of Oscar buzz, so it looks like it is much more than just an average Criminal Minds episode. 

Second movie of this week, Battle of the Year, probably won't get much attention. The movie is a dance movie where dance teams from all over the year come to compete. Americans haven't won the competition in a long time and a basketball coach is hired to lead this team. What personally attracts me to this movie is the presence of Josh Holloway as a lead role. Josh Holloway played the character of Sawyer in the TV show Lost and did an excellent job in it. Since Lost has ended, he's only had a few minor roles when it comes to film and those would be Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and last month's major bomb Paranoia. This will be his first time since Lost to take a lead role in a movie and so it'll be fun to see him in action again.

September 27th - 29th - 

The final weekend of September is the busiest weekend of the month with four new releases, the first of which will be shooting for the September opening weekend record and that would be Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. Making a feature length film based on the kid's picture book was a risky venture back in 2009, but it worked out quite well and is generally a well liked movie. I personally liked it a lot, but despite that I'm a bit nervous about this second one. Yes, there is a second book called Pickles in Pittsburgh, but with how few words in the books there are that's not a full justification in making a sequel. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in my opinion is one of those movies that is best as a standalone movie. A sequel isn't really necessary. And yes, I've been proven wrong on that aspect before, but so far the previews haven't given me much to hope for. The food puns are fun, but if you watch the trailers that is all they focus on. Food pun after food pun after food pun. I don't know if this sequel can equal the charm of the first one, but I hope I am wrong. The first movie opened up to $30 million in September of 2009 and went on to gross $124 million. With the goodwill of the first one, this sequel should build on that and will most likely top that gross.

The other movies of the weekend may not be huge, but they are worth mentioning. The most notable of the remaining three is Don Jon. Don Jon sees Joseph Gordon-Levitt as writer, director, and star for the first time, so his talents will definitely be put to the test. The movie is an R-rated comedy, but the subject matter is a very serious one. It is about a man who is stellar in his personal life with his family, friends, and church, but in his private life he is addicted to pornography and the movie is about him working through that. Such a serious subject matter that the movie tackles will definitely be respected by people who see it, given that is done well, but it may be difficult to attract people to go see an R-rated comedy that deals with the subject of pornography.

Third movie of the week is the month's romance movie, Baggage Claim. The movie compares well to Think Like a Man, which was a surprise hit last in April 2012. Both movies are PG-13 rated romantic comedies that feature a mostly black cast. In Baggage Claim, the main character Montana Moore, played by Paula Patton, is on a mission to get engaged in 30 days so that she is not single by the time her younger sister's marriage rolls around. Now Think Like a Man ended up with more than $90 million at the end of it's run and Baggage Claim won't come close to touching that number, but female audiences will be happy to have a movie directed specifically towards them this month.

Finally, September usually is good at giving us a sports movie and if you count Battle of the Year, this month will have two as Rush expands nationwide in the final weekend of the month. Director Ron Howard does have a pretty good track record when it comes to the box office and that combined with a strong cast led by Chris Hemsworth and Olivia Wilde makes this movie look pretty good at first glance, but it will actually be a tough sell here in America. Outside the fact that it is an R-rated sports drama, Formula One racing really isn't that big here and not many Americans are too familiar with the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt from the 70's. So unless Chris Hemsworth can get some Oscar buzz surrounding him, most people will probably forget that he even did this by the time Thor 2 arrives in November.

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