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New in Theaters October 24: John Wick, Ouija, St. Vincent

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By Chris Kavan - 10/23/14 at 06:44 AM CT

It has been an outstanding October for the box office. With Gone Girl leading the charge, each weekend has seen the overall box office up 20% or more compared to the same weekend in 2013. It's all the more impressive given most of the films that have shone have been targeted squarely at adults - R-rated dramas, war and crime. Throw in a few family films to balance the mood - and things are looking up. This weekend we get yet another R-rated film - this time in the action genre, along with the expansion of the latest comedy from Bill Murray and, since we're nearly Halloweeen, the requisite horror film. Hopefully the box office can keep its upward trend going.

JOHN WICK Let's not mince words, Keanu Reeves isn't exactly the box office king he was when The Matrix hit in 1999. His last foray into action, the troubled 47 Ronin, topped out at just $38.36 million - and even with foreign grosses factored in, couldn't even reach its $175 million budget. That being said, Ronin was a hard sell whereas John Wick seems much more straight-forward - its action, revenge and a thriller and (thus far) has a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Reeves actually teamed up with his stunt double, Chad Stahelski, who is a co-director on the film. Reeves plays a one-time hitman who, of course, is double-crossed and in short order decides to hunt down the people responsible. Reports are this is a very visceral thriller - and sure to please at least male audiences. One this is for certain, Reeves needs another strong film and from early reports, John Wick could certainly be the push he needs to get back into the spotlight. It still faces strong competition from Gone Girl and Fury, but should fit in nicely with those two.

OUIJA It just wouldn't be October without a standard horror offering. Ouija is our 2014 horror film - about a group of friends who decide to play around with the popular parlor trick/board game only to unleash a horrid evil that comes after them one by one. Fun fact: despite being advertised as an "ancient evil" the Ouijia Board was invented in 1890 and wasn't even associated with the occult until WWI. Anyway, history lesson aside, this looks like a fairly typical horror offering - evil spirits, possession, stupid people getting killed in a variety of ways - depending on how horror fans feel this will either be a modest hit or will be forgotten within a week. I might consider streaming it if I'm bored, but nothing more.

ST. VINCENT Having been in limited release for the last two weekend, Bill Murray's St. Vincent is finally going nationwide (2000 plus theaters) this weekend in a rather aggressive expansion. Murray plays the titular character, a rather grumpy and misanthropic man. Melissa McCarthy is his recently-divorced next-door neighbor whose young son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) forms a bond with their neighbor when she is forced to take Vincent on as her babysitter. Vincent's only friend seems to be the pregnant stripper Daka (Naomi Watts) but even as Oliver is given a taste of the "real world", Vincent is also shown to have a softer heart than what is on the surface. I took this to be kind of a "Bad Santa" lite - but with Murray, you know you're going to be getting something good and McCarthy has proven herself to be a box office draw as well. While I don't see this movie doing outstanding business, it has enough star appeal that it should draw in a decent crowd.

Given the strength of the box office this month, I don't see things slowing down even if the movies this weekend may not have as strong a draw as the previous two. There should be enough for everyone to at least keep the box office ahead of last year. I'll be back on Sunday with the final results.


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