By Chris Kavan - 09/24/12 at 05:42 AM CT
It's anyone's call at this point who will come out on top after the final numbers are tallied on Monday. It could be a cop drama, a horror film or a baseball drama.
As it stands now, both End of Watch and House at the End of the Street both have $13 million, while the Clint Eastwood-led Trouble with the Curve is very close behind with $12.7 million. Depending on how the final numbers play out, any one of them could easily take the top spot.
Yet despite the battle for #1, compared to last year the box office was off a heavy 28%, meaning Hollywood's disappointing fall continues. Who benefits the most from these somewhat modest opening numbers? End of Watch is the clear winner, at just a $7 million budget Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña look to be sitting pretty no matter where the film ultimately winds up. For director David Ayers, it falls right in between Street Kings ($12.5 million) and 2010's Brooklyn's Finest ($13.4 million) - bot of which wound up with around $28 million. Considering the strong A- cinemascore, End of Watch should be able to top that number.
House at the End of the Street also had a low budget of $10 million. While the debut couldn't top Last House on the Left ($14.1 million) it was better than Dream House ($8.1 million). Jennifer Lawrence continued to draw in her target demographic: young (70% under 25) and female (61%), who gave it a so-so B cinemascore.
Trouble with the Curve may end up sneaking past both those movies. Baseball films are notoriously hard sells, even Curve's somewhat disappointing debut ranks it sixth on the all-time list for baseball movies. Though it couldn't match the opening of Moneyball's $19.5 million, for Eastwood, the opening was better than both J. Edgar ($11.2 million) and Hereafter ($12 million). Still, one has to wonder if Eastwood's rambling, bizarre empty-chair speech had any ill effects on the box office. The B+ cinemascore means it won't get much of boost form word-of-mouth.
The week's other new release, Dredd, continued the trend of under-performing reboots as it managed just a sixth place showing with $6.3 million. Despite good critical reaction and fan interest, there just wasn't enough interest to propel it into the top five. I can only hope that this string of flops has some effect on the powers that be and maybe we won't get too many more of these (but who am I kidding?).
Coming in 4th place, Finding Nemo 3D dropped over 43% with $9.4 million. So far, the re-release has brought in $30 million. It's not a bad number, but is trailing pretty much every other recent 3D re-release. At one time this type of strategy seemed a sure lock but even with the relative ease and cost-effective way to convert these films, this strategy appears to be wearing out its welcome with audiences.
Dropping to fifth place, Resident Evil: Retribution took in $6.7 million, taking a massive 68.2% drop in its second weekend. That drop is the steepest yet for the franchise and its $33.5 million total is trailing the worst film in the series by $10 million. It's looking like making back its $65 million is a forgone conclusion and it may be the nail in the coffin for this zombie series.
After opening to record-breaking limited numbers, The Master expanded to 788 theaters and bounced up to seventh place with $5 million, bringing its total up to just over $6 million. Broader audiences didn't seem to warm up to this as much the specialized market, but it should continue to find enough people to keep it going relatively strong.
Speaking of limited releases, The Perks of Being a Wallflower managed a nifty $61,000-per-theater average in four theaters, the fifth-highest average for 2011. It's also a personal best for Summit Entertainment, and the studio will expand its theater count in the coming weekends.
Next week sees the release of a film I've been anticipating for quite awhile, the time-travel/action film Looper (with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt). There is also the animated Hotel Transylvania and the drama Won't Back Down, which should draw in a hefty female audience. I've been saying this for weeks, but hopefully we'll finally have something to truly call a winning film next weekend.