Friday, November 29, 2013

This Weekend, Same as the Last Weekend

Which is to say that I'm going to essentially be off social media and the blog again.  We're one week away from moving, and I've been informed that Packing Trolls are just a thing I've wishfully made up.  It looks like we need to do our own putting of things in boxes, unless Summit has a trick he hasn't showed me yet.  Luckily, Emily has done a great deal of it already, but I have my own "valuables" that need a transportation holder device to be inserted into for safe keeping on the travels.  On top of that, we also have a social event to attend, and also much like most weekends, I've got some pay copy that needs to be written and sent off to editors (so I can benefit from the pay part of the term).  It is enough to keep me busy and away from here.

In order to keep you occupied until I return on Monday, let me know all about your weekend plans.

Hunger Games Battles Musicals and Aging Action Stars

It is a very diverse weekend at the box office as there is an animated fairy tale musical and a Christmas musical for those hankering for catchy tunes, but also Jason Statham battling a crazy James Franco as well as Jennifer Lawrence still kicking ass in the wilderness.  I should also mention that we were very close to getting an old fashioned and very violent adult picture in wide release, but it seems like studio execs quickly remembered they don't do that anymore, but much kudos from Spike Lee bringing something less mainstream to many theatres.  Anyway, here is Scott with his analysis of the box office weekend.

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After scoring a weekend tally that set a new record for the month of November, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will be seeking to repeat as the number one movie this weekend. Standing in its path are Frozen, Black Nativity, and Homefront, all of whom are out for your dollars this weekend. As well, there are some expansions like Philomena, and The Book Thief. If this is not a busy enough weekend, we also have in limited release Spike Lee’s adaptation of the Korean cult classic Oldboy, and the release of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom from The Weinstein Company. I will try to keep my head together and my wits about me as I navigate this very intricate weekend of predictions.

Catching Fire was an incredible success this past weekend as it came within around fifteen million dollars of catching Iron Man 3’s 2013 leading opening weekend. However, when one considers the fact that Tony Stark had the advantage of higher ticket prices thanks to 3D showings, something Catching Fire did without, they are probably in the same ball park as far as number of tickets sold. When The Hunger Games entered its second weekend back in March of 2012 it saw a drop of 62%, but considering how well Catching Fire did maintaining throughout the weekend (grabbing the third highest grossing Saturday in box office history), I believe it will manage better. I predict it will drop around 57%.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Second Weekend Prediction - $68 million

After having a great opening weekend last week in Disney’s El Capitan theatre where it brought in $243 thousand, it is expanding nationwide to over 3,700 theatres. While the previous animated family feature Free Birds didn’t take the world by storm, Frozen is looking to cash in on a five day opening weekend around the American Thanksgiving holiday. It had a great day on Wednesday, bringing in $15 million. It should be able to hold up well over the holiday as there is next to no competition for it. Two years ago, Disney released Tangled on Thanksgiving with a five day opening weekend, and it pulled in $68 million over the five days, with an $11 million opening day. I believe that with Frozen easily outperforming Tangled’s opening day, it should be safe to believe that the trend will continue throughout the course of the weekend. While the opening day increase is around 33% to that of Tangled, I think it will end up outperforming it by around 25% over the course of the five days.

Frozen Five Day Opening Weekend Prediction - $85 million

Opening this weekend is Jason Statham’s action movie, Homefront. Well, while it is starring Statham, it is more like Sylvester Stallone’s movie who wrote and produced it. I even heard a rumour in some dark corner of the internet that it was intended at one time to be part of the Rambo story line. If that is the case, wiser heads prevailed and the aging man who only wanted a meal (and subsequently destroyed a small, harmless town) is left out of the script. Statham’s last action movie, Parker, did not fare very well as it only took in $7 million over its opening weekend and had a domestic total of $17 million on a budget of $35 million. I cannot see Homefront doing any better, especially since there are two behemoth movies with lots of action running amuck in theatres right now in Thor: The Dark World and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Homefront Five Day Opening Weekend Prediction – $8 Million

From an action movie, we now move to a musical in Black Nativity, which has a decent cast including Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett. My initial instinct was that this film was going to perform very well, based on the recent success of The Best Man Holiday, which showed the African American demographic was more than willing to head to the theatres and spend their money for the right film. After reading about its meager Wednesday performance of only $440 thousand, my expectations for this film are changing rapidly. Where once I believed it could easily pass ten million dollars, I am now wondering if it will reach half of that.

Black Nativity Five Day Opening Weekend Prediction - $5 million

Opening this weekend in limited release is the Spike Lee directed Oldboy, which is a remake of a 2003 South Korean film which has become a cult classic. I had held a great deal of anticipation for this film, but I find that now wavering as the reviews for it are looking rather weak at the moment. Also, and more worryingly, this is a movie that was originally supposed to be a wide release film and has now been cut back to only 583 theatres. This makes me wonder if the studio is giving up on it before it even hits the theatres. While they may get some interest from fans of the original, the vast majority of people have never heard of it and may let this movie pass them by in favour of one of the other films congregating in theatres right now.

Oldboy Five Day Opening Weekend Prediction - $1.4 million

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is now the third movie that I have mentioned today that has a colon in the title, and is a film starring Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela. It is the type of movie that has ‘Oscar bait’ written all over it, and the early reviews are possibly indicating that it may not quite be of the caliber that everyone had hoped as it has 68% on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment. It is opening in four theatres this weekend and may be able to prosper off of the traction for black culture movies that 12 Years a Slave and Lee Daniel’s The Butler have been able to generate within the last few months.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Limited Release Opening Weekend Prediction - $25,000 per theatre

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Are You Wondering What Canadians Do On the Last Thursday of November?

Well, this of course.

So, the above link is to a post that I wrote in 2010, so it is a little less fresh than the cranberry sauce that mom keeps forgetting to put out.  It is still a good indication of how Canadians spend this oh-so-important-day.  Or it could have just been a fictional tale I threw together because I had way too much time on my hands.

Either way, hope you enjoy it before you feast on Salisbury steak or turkey or however you decide to stuff your mouth this day.

As for my American readers and friends, have yourself a wonderful Thanksgiving, though you're really over a month late, just so you know.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Review: A Dystopian Future Has Never Been so Fun

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is an event movie, and one that is flying high with buzz and excitement.  This doesn't actually mean it is a worthwhile movie to see, because some would claim the Transformers movies are major events too.  My latest film review over at Collective Publishing will let you know if this is one event worth attending.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Hunger Games Gobbles Up the Competition at the Box Office

Scott breaks down the success of the Hunger Games: Catching Fire while also reviewing how the limited release films fared.  Speaking of limited releases, 12 Years a Slave has expanded itself all the way to Brantford, so if you live in my hometown then you owe it to yourself to go see this great movie.  If you don't live in Brantford, there is a great chance it has expanded somewhere close to your home.

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire came out of the gates very strong this past weekend and set an all-time record for the best November opening weekend by taking in $161 million. The follow up to the 2012 franchise opener, The Hunger Games, also set a record for the best opening weekend on a holiday, as well as becoming the fourth best opening weekend of all time and having the fourth best per theatre average for a wide release ($38,698).

While it saw an increase of only 6% over the opening weekend of the first movie, the real improvement is in how it is faring overseas. The Hunger Games brought in a tremendous $408 million domestically, but only $276 million from international markets. While I said, ‘only $276 million’ I mean that in comparison to the domestic tally, which is usually lower than the international for blockbusters. This will not be the case with Catching Fire, which has already brought in $146.6 million from 63 international markets. The numbers from these markets are showing massive increases over the performance of the first movie, including a $19 million UK opening where the original opened to $7.7 million. In Russia, the opening weekend of $11 million has almost caught the cumulative total of $13 million for the first film. These are the important numbers that the studios will be watching, as the international market is what has the power to take this franchise to billion dollar status.

When it opened on Thursday night, it did an incredible $25 million, a number that is especially impressive when compared to Iron Man 3’s $15 million Thursday night numbers. While it started out very strongly, it was followed by a Friday that had some outlets predicting that it would not end up making as much as the opening of the first film. However, that all turned around when it had the third best Saturday gross in history, taking in $53 million. The audience breakdown of this film is an even split in the age demographic, so it will be interesting to see if the presence of the older audience (who do not always rush out first week) will help it from suffering a massive drop next week.

As well, Vince Vaughn had a film coming out in Delivery Man, which made $8.1 million and landed in fourth place in the box office. This debut shows that audiences are not finding Vaughn to be the draw that he perhaps once was, as his opening weekend numbers for his last three movies have seen two $17 million openings and a $12 million opening. While movies with Vaughn as a lead actor have made over one billion dollars domestically, it appears that he may have a hard time front-manning a film to success. Luckily for the film, it has a very modest budget of $26 million.

Opening in one theatre this weekend was Disney’s Frozen, a film that has some Oscar talk around it for best animated picture. In the one theatre it pulled in $238 thousand, which lands it in seventh place for all-time best per theatre average openings. Next weekend it will be expanding nationwide, and it should see great success based off of the terrific opening and the great critical reception it is gaining.

Also opening this weekend in limited release was Philomena, a movie about a woman who searches for the child she had to abandon as a teenager. It stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, and has become an Oscar hopeful for The Weinstein Company. If Dench’s performance throughout the film is as good as it is in the trailers, she is sure to be in serious contention for a nomination. It opened in four theatres this weekend and took in a per theatre average of $33,000.

Meanwhile, there were some other interesting numbers of note that have caught my attention. The Best Man Holiday, which suffered a large decline of 58% from its opening weekend, was still able to stay relevant as it landed in third place, bringing in $12 million and having a very strong per theatre average of $6,120. Dallas Buyers Club landed in tenth spot in the box office by bringing in $2.7 million from 666 locations as it tries to make its case for further expansion.

Unfortunately for Nebraska (the comedy directed by Alexander Payne and starring Bruce Dern), this weekend was not so good for it. After having a successful opening weekend which saw a per theatre average of $35,100, it expanded from four theatres to 28 and saw its average drop a tremendous 66% down to $12,571. This decrease is similar to that suffered by All is Lost starring Robert Redford (with much Oscar talk around his performance), which now looks like it will not expand past where it presently sits at 483 theatres. However a drop like that is not necessarily a death sentence, as 12 Years a Slave dropped 64% after its opening weekend but was able to sustain better once it began expanding.

Monday, November 25, 2013

First Encounter with Santa

Yesterday, Emily's school board threw a Christmas party for the teachers' children.  It had all the necessary fun things like make-your-own-stocking, fishing-for-the-toy-ducky, pick-a-lollipop-to-see-if-you-won-a-prize, and say-your-name-so-the-guy-checks-the-list-to-find-out-what-present-your-child-gets.  All must haves for any party mostly filled with strangers and one's former history teacher.  But the main attraction of a Christmas party for kids is the ol' sitting-on-the-lap-of-Santa-and-get-a-photo-quickly-taken-when-the-child-is-looking-sort-of-in-the-direction-of-the-camera.  Obviously, we didn't want to walk away from a Christmas party without being able to claim that we've mastered the main event.

Everett sort of is aware of the character known as Santa.  He has the jolly plump fellow in a few of his books.  Except before the party, he referred to him as "Pa Pa."  This is his word for grandpa.  It appears the fact both like to sport white beards was enough to earn them the same name.  Though Santa's beard is much closer to something Everett's "Pa Pa" would have after the country banned razors and scissors for 6 months or so.  I'm also unaware of my father's hobby of riding wild life around town in his red pajamas.  The fact is that Everett lumping the two into the same category meant he was a fan of Santa.

It was my goal before he confronted the over-sized elf that he'd actually get the name right.  I kept reassuring Everett that this man prefers the title Santa.  Now, Everett seemed to believe it was just more fun to declare himself yet another grandparent.  Maybe he was unaware that this guy bestowed Christmas gifts without the title of being a relative.  I decided to change my strategy, and went with the faithful route of making sounds.  Anything Everett holds truly dear has a sound attached to it, so he can point and say "Dog Ruff Ruff" or "Cow Moo."  It appears that the sound a thing makes works as a solid surname.  I alerted Everett to the fact the fat man in his books was "Santa Ho Ho."  Suddenly Everett realized this was exactly the kind of cool guy who deserves his own name, and more importantly, has a sound that must be said frequently.

Everett was truly pumped and rocking to meet Santa.  We arrived at the hall, and pointed him out on the stage.  I asked him who the man in red was, and Everett informed me, "Danta Ho Ho."  A massive smile overtook his face, and he happily watched as child after child sat on his lap.  There were many activities to do in the hall, but Everett preferred pointing towards Santa and letting me know what sound he was supposed to make.  It was clear Everett was ready for his first encounter, and he would be brave enough to take one of the first major coming of age events in one's life: sit on Santa's knee.

We were now in line, and Everett had his "this is the most exciting thing since I chased a squirrel with Summit" face.  It looked like we'd successfully steered clear of the "our kid cried bloody murder with Santa" stories that so many parents are forced to tell.  Everett wanted to hang out with Santa and make "Ho Ho" noises, and this line was the only obstacle in his road to destiny.

Then the girl right before use burst into tears and desperately clung to her mom, and squirmed away from Santa like he was a jostled wasp nest.  I then looked over at Everett, and his face did a sudden browser refresh.  The smile evaporated.  He now had a face of worry.  He wasn't so sure of this Santa fellow anymore.  After all, "Pa Pa" didn't make it a habit of making little girls scream and thrash their limbs.  Could a man who bellowed "Ho Ho" really be trusted?  Everett was no longer so sure.

I tried getting Everett to make the noise again, but this was no longer the time for such merriment.  He was staring at Santa, but it was now a look of dread.  He was trying to see if there were any easy escape routes.  He was trying to figure out if Santa slipped a crab into the poor girl's shirt, which caused the outburst.  He was trying to sort out if this was about to be his final act on Earth.  Santa was dangerous.

I continued trying to talk up Santa, and promise him it was going to be magical.  Everett was now convinced it would only be magical if the definition of the word was "something really scary and awful." 

"Do you still want to see Santa?"

"NO"

"What does Santa say?"

"No"

Now, Santa probably does say that.  I didn't think Everett adding to Santa's vocabulary was a good sign for this turning out well.  His face was stuck on one of worry, and he had stopped any singing or talking.  For Everett, silence often wasn't a good sign, since it either meant he got into the cleaning supplies again or was terrified.  I didn't see a bottle of dishwasher soap in his hands.

I took Everett up the stage, and was ready to pass him to Santa.  Everett was ready to get me prepared for a life as a Chippendale dancer by almost tearing off my shirt by clinging to me so hard.  He then did something that was really rare when in my presence, which was beg for his mommy.  It was now clear he didn't trust his dad to be able to defeat Santa if he turned out to the evil crab peddler that Everett was now suspecting. 

I passed him off to mommy, and then, Emily tried to pass Everett off to Santa.  Everett learned we were all in on this nasty conspiracy, and he burst into tears.  We were now those parents that had to share those stories.  Our kid was a Santa Crier.

We decided to go for a family picture rather than just an Everett and Santa picture.  Everett calmed down since he was right beside his mommy.  After the picture, we kept Everett on Santa's lap, and let them talk for a bit.  Everett quickly learned there weren't any crabs hidden in the coat or beard.  This Santa fellow may have been the fun and jolly man that was advertised.  Of course, it was a little inconvenient Everett came to this conclusion after we took the picture.  Then again, in about 10 years, he won't want to be anywhere near his dad and a camera, so I should probably treasure it while it lasts.

After his little visit with Santa, we went off to do some crafts.  During the entire assembly of his stocking, he would turn around and show me, "Danta Ho Ho." He trusted Santa again, and he was once again allowed to have a sound as his last name.

We turned out to have a Santa Crier, but at least, they seem to have quickly moved on to being buds.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

And Now Watch Me Go Invisible This Weekend. . .

I'm going to throw on the invisibility cloak this weekend and disappear from the internet until Monday.  But feel free to poke around here and tell me all about your big weekend plans. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Odds Are Ever in Hunger Games Favor This Weekend at the Box Office

Scott looks at the chances for the new releases at the box office this weekend that includes a little picture called The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  Have you ever heard of it?

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Two weeks ago Thor: The Dark World came into theatres and brought with it box office tallies that are reminiscent of summer blockbuster season. Right now, however, we are about to see a weekend with a movie that may be able to double Thor’s impressive $85 million dollar opening weekend. We also have a Vince Vaughn movie… and silence. Unfortunately for Mr. Vaughn, this weekend’s hype is all about the sequel to The Hunger Games, which may mean he gets completely lost in the shuffle.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is looking to surpass the success of the first movie, which came out in March of 2012 and made an impressive $152 million its opening weekend. It then went on to earn over $400 million domestically and almost $700 million world-wide. The franchise's start was also incredibly popular on DVD and Blu-Ray sales and sits in the number nine spot on best-selling Blu-Rays of all time.  Unfortunately I do not have similar statistics on where it sits on the all-time DVD list, but I can tell you that it has made a whopping $129 million in DVD sales alone. This sort of home video popularity, along with the fact that it has over 11 million Facebook likes and is getting upwards of 60,000 tweets in a day, I believe that it will do better than the first movie.

Back in early May, Iron Man 3 set the record for highest box office opening of the year with $174 million, and this is the first movie of the year to be in a position to challenge it. On one hand, I do not believe it has reached the status of Iron Man, which has had the benefit of two previous films as well as The Avengers to build its brand. On the other hand, there is an incredible buzz around this movie and it should be accepted that the opening weekend will probably be an easy ten to fifteen percent stronger than the first film’s. There is a lot about my prediction here that I do not feel certain of, but one thing I am confident in is that this movie should fare better overseas than the first movie. The Hunger Games brought in $276 million internationally, and I could see this film beating that quite easily. We will get a quick indication of how well it is catching on globally as it opens in China this weekend as well, and has already posted a $5 million opening week in Brazil.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Opening Weekend Prediction - $172 million

As mentioned, Vince Vaughn has a film out this weekend, and it is about a man who has donated many-a-sperm and finds out he has many-a-children. The trailer for Delivery Man makes the film appear as a comedy with a dramatic and heartwarming element, and it will be interesting to see how that sits with the Vince Vaughn crowd. His last really solid opening weekend was for Couples Retreat in 2009 which made $31 million its opening weekend, but that does not say much about Vaughn’s appeal as it was an ensemble movie. His latest film, The Internship, opened to an underwhelming $17 million weekend. Before that, The Watch (2012, and also an ensemble film), did even worse its opening weekend making only $12 million. I think this one will probably land somewhere below those numbers. The success of The Best Man Holiday may steal some would-be audience members away from Delivery Man, and The Hunger Games is going to be pulling in possible ticket buyers as well.

Delivery Man Opening Weekend Prediction - $10 million

In limited release this weekend are two Oscar hopefuls in Disney’s family animated film Frozen, and The Weinstein Company’s Philomena. Frozen will be playing in one theatre this weekend before it expands nation-wide next weekend. There is some solid talk around it gaining a nomination for best animated feature. Philomena stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan and will be opening in four theatres this weekend. There is some talk that it could be a mild contender for best picture, and there is talk as well around Judi Dench being nominated for her role. The film’s chances at success were recently put in jeopardy as it was to be given an R rating on account of two F-words, but the Weinsteins were able to lobby for the film, which will be released as PG-13.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday is a Great Day to Express Your Individuality

Or at least a great day to check out Everett's keen fashion sense.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Importance of the Brantford Film Festival

In my latest Collective Publishing article, I provide coverage of this past weekend's Brantford Film Festival, but also explain why such events are crucial to both cinema and the culture of a city. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Scott Conquers Thor, But It Still Hammers Away to the Top Box Office Spot

Scott relishes a sweet prediction victory with Thor: The Dark World, but then hopes you don't notice what he predicted for The Best Man Holiday.

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Having been out in theatres for two weeks now, Thor: The Dark World managed to land in first place both weekends domestically, and has been tearing it up in the overseas box office as well. The sequel to the 2011 Thor has already pulled in $146 million domestically and $387 million across the globe. It has been getting all of the attention lately, and only has a few more days before the much anticipated sequel to The Hunger Games comes out.

If you have been following my Thor predictions so far, you may know that I was way off with my first week prediction and have made it my personal mission to vanquish the foe that is Thor. I am proud to announce that after being off by an absurd $20 million for its opening weekend prediction, I nailed its second weekend haul of $36 million, as it suffered a drop of 57%. While it is not the worst drop in the world, it is not a great depreciation, especially considering the competition it is about to face. Still, it is proving to be a franchise that can stand on its own feet outside of The Avengers.

Debuting this weekend was The Best Man Holiday, the sequel to the 1999 movie The Best Man. That is a long time to wait for a sequel, and the choice to do the follow up proved wise as it came in second place this weekend with $30 million. This is a great number, considering many projections had it topping out at $25 million at the most. The majority of the audience were females, and African-Americans represented approximately 87% of viewers, which shows that there are audiences hungry for quality movies that don’t consist of predominantly white casts.

Nebraska, a movie directed by Alexander Payne and starring Bruce Dern, opened in four theatres this weekend and did an impressive average of $35,000 per theatre. There is some Oscar buzz around this film, which has helped it out, as well as being a product of Payne who has a slew of quality movies under his belt as well as two Oscars. Because of its black and white format, it is hard to predict how it will do with audiences if it expands into mainstream theatres.

Also on the limited release front, Dallas Buyers Club landed in twelfth spot this weekend after it expanded from 35 to 184 theatres. In its expansion its theatre averages became quite diluted, as they fell 50% from $18,249 per theatre last week to $9,518 this weekend. It is possible that this film may never make it to nationwide expansion as it looks like audiences may not be as into it as the critics are.

Monday, November 18, 2013

What Could This Mysterious Sign on My Property Possibly Mean?

Let the raging debate begin over this possibly unsolvable mystery.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Scott Battles for Redemption in his War Over Thor's Box Office Chances

This weekend offers up the answer to, "Is there only depressing and serious movies with a majority African American cast?" with a highly anticipated sequel to a comedy hit from the '90s.  Scott predicts its chances for success while also resuming his little war with Thor.

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For the second weekend in a row we are seeing only one debuting wide release film. Last weekend’s movie was Thor: The Dark Work, and it made sense that films would not want to open up against this blockbuster. So why is there only one movie scheduled this weekend considering this is usually a very busy time in theatres? The answer to that comes next weekend in the form of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which could be chasing Iron Man 3 for the best opening weekend of 2013. When two huge movies are released two weeks apart, it becomes obvious why not many studios were rushing to squeeze a film in between them.

Stepping up to the challenge this weekend is The Best Man Holiday, the sequel to the 1999 movie The Best Man. Director Malcolm D. Lee’s first movie was The Best Man, and he is back with the cast 14 years later to try and recapture the magic. The Best Man debuted at number one with $9 million and had a decent average of $6,710 per theatre. While Lee’s last movie is the seldom talked about Scary MoVie, I would like to make a personal note that he is responsible for directing one of my favourite comedies in Undercover Brother. This is a man who does know how to catch a charm for a film and integrate characters and humour in pleasant ways.

The advantage that it has in opening this particular weekend is that there is absolutely no competition to go against it. Thor will still be rocking and rolling in theatres, but The Best Man Holiday will be targeting towards older audiences, and most likely the African-American demographic. Nostalgia is a great motivator in getting people out to theatres (when used sparingly, and not the way The Expendables are going about it) so I definitely think there will be a good opening weekend in store for this film.

The Best Man Holiday Opening Weekend Prediction - $19 Million

Since I spent so much time talking about Thor: The Dark World last weekend, I may as well step forward and try to redeem my awful opening weekend prediction for the film and either redeem myself or make myself look even more out to lunch on predicting the Norse god. One thing that makes me wonder about this film is just how front loaded the performance is. It took in $7 million from Thursday night showings, which is a super number, but the rest of the weekend just did not seem to reflect to me the sort of numbers that would be consistent with such a start. This leaves me believing that the week two drop off will be a little harsh for the sequel, especially compared to the ‘none too shabby’ second week drop the original had at 47%. I am predicting a loss of an additional 10% on top of that, putting it in the high 50% range (for the sake of my calculator, I will say 58%).

Thor: The Dark World Second Weekend Prediction - $36 Million

This is make or break it time. Up until this movie, I was doing quite well with my predictions, and ended up four for four the weekend before Thor came along. It is now my white whale, and I want to catch it. The down side is that it could sink me, as there seems to be some good confidence in some that it will hold up really well. Even Iron Man 3 suffered a similar percentage drop, so I am holding fast and sticking to my gut feelings on this one.

As well, there are two movies in limited release that are debuting which deserve a bit of conversation. First, we have Charlie Countryman, a movie starring Transformer’s Shia LaBeouf who is in the process of expanding his portfolio with films like this one and Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac. Charlie Countryman also has narration by John Hurt, which does lead to a little disappointment as it is the type of role where he cannot expand his on screen death tally (I think he has died over forty times on screen). The reviews for the movie are not going well at all, so it will be up to the erotic Nymphomania to add that new level of depth to Labeouf’s resume.

The second limited release movie worth talking about is Nebraska, a film which is directed by two time Oscar winner Alexander Payne (The Descendants) and stars Bruce Dern, who has been acting since 1960 and has one Oscar nomination to his credit. This is a movie where there seems to be some talk of Oscar nominations, and it could work that the heartstrings will be pulling for a man who has had a long career and never won the big award. The movie seems to have a quirky sense of humour to it, and is shot in black and white, both aspects which seem to have the power to keep mainstream audiences at bay.

Nebraska Limited Release Opening Weekend Prediction - $27,000 per theatre

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Why I'll Miss the Video Store

DISH Network has closed down their remaining Blockbusters, and it signals the end of the major video store franchise in North America.  About 20 years ago, Blockbuster did a pretty dandy job of wiping out most of the locally owned stores.  We don't have much left of the video store, and with streaming and Netflix and all the other different ways to watch movies at home, it is easy to believe there is no reason to miss the video store.  But I'll definitely mourn its loss.  I positively stroll down memory lane reflecting on all the good things the video store offered that current technology can't do in my latest Collective Publishing article.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

36 Years Old

Today marks the 36th year that I've wandered around in this place called life.  When one has done that much bumping and bouncing off the wonders that the world provides then one is prone to do a little reflection upon how far one has traveled and how many valuable things have been picked up on the way.  The things I've learned in my 36 years about this reflection process is almost no matter who you are and what you've actually achieved, you have the choice to look through a filthy, mud-stained, slightly cracked window that makes everything appear more depressing and soul-crushing or you look through that spotless window that is giving off a lemony fresh scent along with having a pretty border that makes you smile.  The value of one's life comes down to perspective, because there will always be things that one wished they could have already done or hit one's self hard in the forehead for doing, but that proper window will hopefully make it clear how many good things are dancing about as well.

So, at 36 I apparently have become a philosopher.  But then isn't that what most writers are, along with being a storyteller, an informer, an entertainer, a critic, a liar, a dreamer, an analyzer, a keyboard-smasher.  One thing I can definitely say I am at 36 is a writer.  Now, if I call myself a successful writer depends on my mood that day and how many cheques for my work arrived in the mail that week.  I am happy where my career is, and I'm excited to see where it will be when I'm writing my "37 Years Old" blog post.

I'm more than a writer.  I am a husband.  I am a father.  I am a dog walker.  I am a friend.  Those things are all pretty important, and much easier to always point to as a success.  I have a beautiful, intelligent, funny, and compassionate wife that has played a huge part in most of my greatest successes of the past decade.  I have a son that reminds me every day that life is something you must embrace and love, and the amount of joy he injects into my heart with his morning smile is indescribable.  Summit looks up at me as if I may be the most important person in the world, and along with my wife, I am to him, and that is good enough for me.  The friendships I've made these past 36 years have been valuable treasures that have rewarded me with memories that I'll cling to for the next 36 plus years.  I also should have included that I'm a son, because these past 36 years have also taught me how priceless it can be to have good parents, and I have amazing ones, and I am not just saying that because my mom looks after Everett about once a week.

My reflections show me a rather great life.  One that I plan on only getting better and better over the next many years.  A lot of that comes from the amazing people I have to share it with.  Any of my successes in my writing career won't amount to much if I don't have my family and friends to do the celebrating with.  It is these relationships that have made it a rich 36 years.

I'm always amazed by how much happens in a year.  The years seem shorter and shorter the older I get, yet more seems to get packed into them.  I seem to get older much faster, and my body is getting much better at reminding me that I'm nowhere near as young as my son (something I learn when playing with him).  Every years is brimming with new knowledge and transformative events that I grow from but also give me a new outlook on life.  I look forward to what surprises will be in store for year 37.

For now, I'm just going to spend this day trying out this brand new 36.  So far, it is pretty darn spiffy.

Edit before publish:  I wrote this piece early in the morning, but before I could publish it, a little voice was calling out to "daddy."  Instead of proofreading and posting this piece, I got my precious little buddy ready for the day.  During our routine, a magical little card floated into my hand, and I soon realized it was Everett's homemade masterpiece that he created with grandma.  This has now not only made my first day as 36 even grander and more magnificent than I expected, but I already have one of my highlights of what will be year 37.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thor Hurtles to the Top of the Box Office

Scott hammers out his thoughts on Thor: The Dark World's success at the box office this weekend.  Get it?  I said hammers, and Scott probably owns a hammer. 

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One lesson that I had thought I learned back in the summer when I first started doing box office predictions was that you should never drink the magic Kool-Aid that is the last minute hype around a film. Whether it be a surge in social media awareness, large overseas grosses starting to file in, or an exceptional late Thursday night gross, it is usually best to stick with your gut. Perhaps one time in ten these factors will go against your original analysis, but most often they do not amount to what we can interpret them to mean. In the case of Thor: The Dark World, it had all three of those factors mentioned, and against better judgement, I deviated from what I was originally going to predict and ended up over shooting by about $20 million.

The sequel to the 2011 movie, Thor, did have a great opening weekend of $86 million dollars. That is a very decent increase from Thor’s $65 million opening weekend, and a big win for Disney who gets to revel in the success of the Marvel universe. On late Thursday night showings, Thor: The Dark World brought in $7 million dollars, which indicated a very strong start to the weekend. Saturday’s gross was almost exactly the same as Friday’s, with Sunday seeing a decline of 32%. That is actually a more consistent weekend than Iron Man 3 had back in May, but Tony Stark has the last laugh as Iron Man 3 opened to a year leading $174 million.

This was a very hard movie to predict, because of the reasons mentioned in my Friday write up, and there seemed to be a very large window of possibilities that this film could have landed in. Ultimately, I believe it was held down to the lower end of the predictions because of a few things. First, Chris Hemsworth is not a huge draw at the moment, although this role is really helping his career. Secondly, it is Thor, a super hero that is exciting and interesting to watch, but lacks the depth of character that other characters have, such as Tony Stark and Wolverine. Thirdly, perhaps it is the fact that it was yet another big budget movie with the same ‘end of the world’ consequences that every other movie brings to the table these days. What made Iron Man 3 stand out so much was the fact that it went such a different direction and made a movie that was actually more about Tony Stark as the hero than Iron Man. Sometimes even the masses like something that is different.

What is unfortunate for the longevity of this film is the near arrival of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which comes to theatres in two weeks. This is the movie that Thor should be most afraid of, as it is poised to offer some viable competition to the title of largest opening weekend of 2013. There is a good chance that The Dark World will see a natural drop of around 50% next weekend, and after that, it could become almost forgotten. Luckily, the overseas haul is already top notch as it has made an estimated worldwide tally of $327 million.

Expanding to nationwide release this past weekend was the Oscar contender, 12 Years a Slave, which stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and is directed by Steve McQueen. While it had been working its way towards nationwide release, it had been able to maintain fairly reasonable decreases in its per theatre averages. Because the movie focuses on not only racism, but a harsh look at the brutal existence of slavery, it is not the type of movie that is going to be for all audiences. The more a movie like that expands, the more it gets away from showing only in art-house style theatres and ends up in a lot of main stream franchise cinemas. It is in these locales that deep, disturbing, and provocative films may get completely overlooked, as the cliental is more suited towards lighter fare. 12 Years a Slave, while expanding from 410 theatres to 1,144 theatres was not able to gain its rank in the box office, finishing seventh place, the same as it did the week prior. It also saw a per theatre drop of 50%, and ended up making $6.6 million over the course of the weekend.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Retro Thoughts on Remembrance Day

My stance on war outside the realm of '80s' action pictures tends to slide slightly in the direction of pacifism.  I definitely believe there have been unnecessary wars, and feel that the majority of nations' strategies to resolve conflict since the dawn of man haven't been the most advantageous towards the goal of worldwide peace.  Despite saying all that,  I have an amazing amount of respect and thankfulness not only towards our veterans but the men and woman that have recently risked their lives for their country.  Any opposition to a war never has anything to do with them, and I know their jobs comes from loyalty, duty and patriotism, which I have much respect.  I've got some pretty strong feeling towards Remembrance Day, and these views shape how I reflect upon the day and the troops/veterans.  A few years ago I wrote a not-quite-a-poem that summed up exactly what these feelings and beliefs are, and they're essentially exactly the same today.  I invite you to go check out this piece from blog's past.

I should mention that one line now not only should include being a husband but also a father, which possibly even adds a new power to the emotion of that particular bit. 

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Taking the Weekend Off

I've got Mr. Flu under control now, and it isn't much more than just sniffles and the occasional cough now.  This means that I've got a small fleet of pay copy that needs to be battled, plus there are a few other obligations that need to be filled this weekend.  In order to be the one who achieves his tasks and dances with glee on Sunday night over all that has been accomplished, I'm taking this weekend off from the blog.  I'll most definitely be back on Monday though.

Until then, tell me your plans for the weekend.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Thor Hammering Away at the Box Office this Weekend

Scott provides some really insightful and in-depth thoughts when analyzing the chances of Thor: The Dark World at the box office this weekend.

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While in the past number of weeks have seen a lot of competition in theatres, with many movies of many genres opening each week, this upcoming weekend is fairly plain Jane, with not a lot of action.  Well, when I say that there is not a lot of action, there is. It is just that all of the action is coming from the hammer-wielding Norse deity, Thor. There is a reason why it is the only scheduled wide release debut this weekend, and that is because all of the other films know to give this one a wide birth, and not attempt to go up against it for consumer dollars.

The first movie of this Marvel Comics superhero, Thor, managed to sit well with both audiences and critics, hitting an opening weekend of $65 million and finishing with a worldwide total of $449 million. That is how you do a solo movie for a super hero whom you wish to build a franchise around. Take note, Green Lantern, take note. Since the first movie in 2011, The Avengers (2012) was a global phenomenon, and that is going to have a big impact on Thor: The Dark World.

The Avengers effect could be felt very heavily with Iron Man 3, which was the first of the Marvel movies following The Avengers. The second Iron Man movie saw a natural increase of 25% from the first movie on its opening weekend, while Iron Man 3 (which came out a year after The Avengers) saw an incredible 36% increase from the second film (putting Iron Man 3’s opening weekend 70% higher than the first movie). It is reasonable to assume that a second Thor movie would see a natural increase from the first movie, but we need to add onto that natural progression the accelerated popularity that The Avengers has brought.

Now, before we start believing that Thor: The Dark World will see an increase of 70% (the same overall increase in the Iron Man franchise post The Avengers), there are a few things that we need to do to temper our predictions. First of all, Chris Hemsworth’s star is rising right now, but he is nowhere near Robert Downey Jr. Hemsworth’s name has not grown enough to add a huge drawing factor to this film.  His last film, Rush (which was evidence that not only does he have the look, but he can act the heck out of a script as well), made only $10 million its wide release weekend. Secondly, Thor is no Iron Man.

While the long-haired god brings the pain, it was Tony Stark who was front and centre in The Avengers.  Because of these factors, I do not believe it will be proportional to the post Avengers franchise increase of Iron Man. It is still possible, though. If it hits $110 million, then it has gotten the 70% increase, and there are some sites seeing this movie as having the potential to get to $100 million.

* A pre-publish edit. I have just read some interesting numbers on the Facebook and Twitter popularity of Thor: The Dark World, and all bets are off. This movie very well could far exceed every expectation that people have. The rumoured prediction from Disney is that they were expecting $80 million, a number that now seems way too low. According to Boxoffice.com, the film is ahead of where Iron Man 3 was just prior to release in Twitter activity. As well, Thor had just over 400,000 likes on Facebook on the day before opening, while The Dark World has over 8 million. If we combine that with the fact that it has already started smashing the international box office, all of my previous calculations could be thrown out the window.

Thor: The Dark World Opening Weekend Prediction – $105 million

Another movie that needs mentioning is 12 Years a Slave, the movie about a free African American man who gets abducted and sold into slavery. It has spent the past three weeks in limited release, and now it will be spreading across North American as it will be screened in 1,144 theatres. It has performed really well thus far, but the content of the movie may seem a bit too ‘downer’ or may rub people the wrong way. It looks like it packs emotion, turmoil, and a message, and sometimes films like that fizzle once they exceed the art house theatres. This movie has the benefit of the critical acclaim and the Oscar buzz, so it should be able to maintain a strong performance.

12 Years a Slave Nationwide Expansion Weekend Prediction - $9 million

Thursday, November 07, 2013

A Bug Named Flu Has Visited the Spicer House

The anxiety and stress rocking out in my life has decided it would be a far better party if they invited a nasty cold to the proceedings.  It become very fond of Everett and me.  The plan for the day has now been to convince it to leave early and spend time at a University dorm instead, since they likely have at least one person begging for an excuse to skip their finals.  So, this means you'll likely not see me for the rest of today, and probably not until I'm feeling much better (since my non-Everett time will be filled with either sleeping or trying to get pay copy done).

Hope your Thursday is far more cough and nose blowing free.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly About Product Placement in Movies

I've heard many people complain about how it now feels like 10 minutes of commercials before we get to the movie at the cinema.  The much more annoying thing is the minute long Pepsi or Subway commercials that are posing as plot points in the middle of your movie.  It is easy to declare product placement as pure evil.  There are times that it can actually be relevant and important to a picture, and it can even enhance a story.  I analyze the art of the product placement in movies in my latest Collective Publishing article. 

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Ender's Game Bakes Some Old Turkeys at the Box Office

Scott looks at the aftermath of the battle between the chosen one, old guys, and turkeys.

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Another franchise attempt has debuted in theatres on Friday, and studio executives waited nervously for the numbers to start rolling in for a possible billion dollar franchise. There have been many attempts at this over the course of 2013, with movies trying to gain a foothold strong enough to launch a series. We also saw a sequel to a second attempt at the Percy Jackson franchise try but fail to seriously establish the series. It is a noble task attempted by many, so let us see how Ender’s Game, the movie based on the book by Orson Scott Card, was able to make out this weekend.

When Ender’s Game was entering the weekend, there was much hope that it would be able to hit the $35 million dollar mark, and at one point on Friday the indicators were pointing to this being extremely feasible. However, as the numbers started to filter in it looked less and less likely that it would be able to even hit the $30 million mark. There could be a number of reasons for the performance. Firstly, it is possible that audiences just were not clamoring for this to be made into a movie, or knew nothing about the source material at all. Secondly, there is a lack of marquee talent to bring out the fence sitters. This is not needed for extremely popular source material (Twilight and Hunger Games) but could have been very helpful in this case. Thirdly, perhaps the boycotts against the movie actually had an effect. A number of people have taken exception to the views that Orson Scott Card has on homosexuality and made sure that was remembered when this film came out. While many may be able to separate the views of the author from the story (which does not advocate his views) it could be that a number of movie goers felt otherwise. Still, it did manage to take first place this weekend with an estimated $28 million, and will most likely suffer a massive drop next weekend when Thor brings his hammer down on the box office.

Coming in third place this weekend was newcomer Last Vegas, a film about a group of older friends heading off to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. This concept is a fairly safe one as audiences do like movies about ‘one last time with the boys,’ such as Grown Ups and The Hangover. Also, there is a crowd for movies with older ensemble casts, and this cast is a very intriguing one, with Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, and Michael Douglas. It was able to take in $16 million its opening weekend, which is not bad considering it had a modest budget of $28 million. While it did not score well with critics (45% on Rotten Tomatoes), audiences showed a greater appreciation for the film and gave it 73% on Rotten Tomatoes and a CinemaScore of A-. This will be one movie that should be safe from the destruction of Thor, as it will be serving an older crowd that may not be as giddy about hammer smashing Norsemen.

Squeaking in behind Last Vegas was Free Birds, an animated film about turkeys who have the benefit of cashing in on the upcoming bird-consuming holiday. It also had the benefit of being released over a month since the previous family animated film, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, and that would keep the competition level fairly low. However, it was not able to make the most of the positive circumstances and ended up taking in only $16 million. While that number is good for Last Vegas, it is not good for Free Birds who has about twice the budget of the gentlemanly ensemble film. It has until November 27th when the next family animated movie, Frozen, comes along to diminish its gains. As well, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is still in a decent amount of theatres and may over time filter a bit of money away from Free Birds.

The big story on the limited release front is the continuing success of 12 Years a Slave, which expanded to 410 theatres this weekend and made an average of $11,000 per theatre. This is very encouraging for the movie whose content around the harsh reality of slavery may not attract the average theatre goer. It was able to pull in $4.7 million this weekend, placing it in seventh in the box office, and bringing its domestic total to $8.9 million.

The debuting Dallas Buyer’s Club opened in 9 theatres and was able to bring in the highest theatre average this weekend of $29,333 per theatre. While this number is great, I did read somewhere that the Canadian screenings really held that average down, and that if it was just based on the American theatres the average would be $35,000 per theatre. Personally, I hope that bit of financial information does not drastically shape how they expand the movie, because I am dying to see it, as it boasts Oscar worthy performances from both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. If all goes well, it should be making some decent expansions as it tries to solidify itself as an Oscar contender.

Monday, November 04, 2013

A Pictorial Revelation of Everett's Second Ever Halloween

Last year, Everett gallivanted around town as a ventriloquist's puppet.  Okay fine, I walked to a few friends and family's homes with Everett in my arms.  He didn't do much gallivanting on his own.  But this year, Everett was most definitely on the move and was ready for a marvelous adventure.  And as we all know, adventures require one to take on a disguise.  We decided to adhere to the provincial law that all children need to dress up as a popular cartoon character for at least one of their Halloween jaunts, and squeezed him into a Pooh Pumpkin costume.

But you didn't come here for my words.  Here is the evidence of our little man's second foray with Halloween.















Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Breakdown Podcast Going on Hiatus Until 2014

I'd say that title sort of says it all.

But then it wouldn't be me if I didn't attempt to reiterate and explain things to the point of a redundancy that leaves a horse carcass pounded into a fine paste.

Hmm, that analogy may have been better suited before Halloween passed us all by.

Anyway, Scott and I have been seriously discussing the current state of the podcast, and more specifically, the current state of ourselves and how the podcast fits into our lives.  The Breakdown is incredibly important to us, and I do think it is a key part for where I want to go with my writing career.  It is also very time consuming, and as I've written about many times in the past few months, things have been hectic and stressful for me.

We've decide to put the Breakdown on the shelf.  Luckily, it isn't a very high shelf.  We can easily grab it and play with it again when we're ready.  We definitely plan to bring the Breakdown back very soon.

We also want the Breakdown to be in its best possible form.  The goal is to return with really high quality and professional shows that are entertaining and valuable for the movie lover.  It will be back when we've decide the podcasts are ready to reach our high expectations.

A two month hiatus should be enough time to retool the podcasts, but also give me time to focus on other aspects of my writing career.  I don't want to just be a film critic.  I feel some of the other aspects of my writing goals have suffered recently.  The next two months I can focus on them, while also regaining my love for film criticism.  I definitely plan to write several films review for this site and Collective Publishing over the next few months.  I'm not completely pushing that aspect of my writing away, and actually may even have more reviews in the next bit along with other articles about film.  I just feel the Breakdown needs a retooling phase and I also just need a break from it.

The plan is to relaunch the next season of the Breakdown on Monday January 6th.  This is a tentative launch date.  I'm currently working with the idea that is when it will return, and I'll let you know if it starts looking like that won't be able to happen.  I'm definitely looking forward to the return, but I am also excited about being able to work on some new things over these next two months.

During this break, I'd love any feedback you'd have on the current format, and any changes you'd like to see.  My other request is that you also have yourself a wonderful Sunday.  You should probably work on that right after your feedback.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Ender's Game Battles for Rule Over the Box Office this Weekend

To help you recover from a night of candy binging and Halloween partying, here is Scott's nutritious look at the new releases at the box office this weekend.

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Well, I have been away for a bit due to a nasty little illness that laid me out in bed for the majority of last weekend, but I am back now to take a look at what will be happening in this, the first weekend of November. We have three wide release movies opening up, all of them hoping to have a great opening weekend before Thor arrives from Asgard next weekend to take all of the box office spoils for himself.  There is also a limited release movie that needs mentioning, so let’s throw ourselves right in.

The goal of every studio right now seems to be to find the next hot property and turn it into a billion dollar franchise. The key word is ‘franchise’ because just having one successful movie seems to be a waste of time. With Ender’s Game, that is exactly what Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate are aiming for. They are trying to find that franchise starring young talent that can follow the paths of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, and this weekend will tell us if they have a success or not. The movie has a fairly decent cast with talent like Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, and Ben Kingsley, but no names that are guaranteed draws at the box office. This movie is going to be heavily relying on public awareness of the source material (the books by Orson Scott Card) and the marketing campaign.  Currently, it is doing worse on both Twitter and Facebook than John Carter was just prior to its release, so it is a sign that this film may not be the billion dollar franchise they were hoping for.

Ender’s Game Opening Weekend Prediction - $25 million

For the last month, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 has had the pleasure of ruling the roost when it comes to family animations, but now it may get pushed aside by some unruly birds in Free Birds. This is the eighth movie of the year for distributor Relativity, who has had a very hard time getting traction with its films, and suffering some massive flops (Movie 43, Paranoia), so there is a lot of hope for this film to do well. The biggest positive that it has going for it is that there have been no recent animated movies released that will be detracting from it. As well, it will have until November 27th before another animated movie comes out, which should give it a huge boost. It has a very modest budget for an animation, so it does not need to shoot for the moon; it just needs a solid opening with a few semi-consistent weeks afterwards.

Free Birds Opening Weekend Prediction - $18 million

Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau proved to us that you can stick a few older actors in a comedy and they can create some very memorable magic. This is the same attempt that seems to be happening with Last Vegas, friends in their 60s who end up going to Los Vegas for a bachelor party. It stars some pretty recognizable talent in Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Kevin Kline, and Morgan Freeman, so it does have the potential to make movie goers curious about what those four can do in an elder gent’s version of The Hangover. Back in the summer Red 2 was able to open up to $18 million, and I see Last Vegas landing somewhere in that realm as well.

Last Vegas Opening Weekend Prediction - $16 million

Opening in limited release this weekend is Dallas Buyers Club, which has Oscar nomination talk aplenty for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. It is opening in 9 theatres this weekend, and could be seeing expansion based off of how it performs. This time of year is a shark’s tank for quality dramas, so just how well this film does is an unknown.  Limited release films are very hard to predict, and I regret not posting my thoughts last weekend, because I was very close on one. When I post my predictions on limited release movies, I seem to be off by a large margin. Because of the Oscar anticipation of this film, I think it will do a lot better than Mud, McConaughey’s limited release gem back in April which opened to a theatre average of $6,000.

Dallas Buyer’s Club Opening Weekend Prediction - $30,000 per theatre