Although we've entered awards season, theaters were dominated by new releases that haven't got a prayer in the world to make a dent on any Oscar race. (This might sound unusual for a November weekend, but history tells us it really isn't. Two years ago, this very weekend brought us such unforgettable gems as Tower Heist and A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.) It was also the first weekend since early August where three different films were released on more than 3000 screens. This can usually be taken as a sign that studios don't believe there's much overlap between the target audiences of those films, and who can blame them. I imagine few people were in a quandary about which of Free Birds, Last Vegas and Ender's Game to watch -- excluding those who were in their 40s when they read Ender's Game, have waited 28 years for an adaptation but now find themselves more attuned to the beat of Last Vegas, but I digress.
01 ENDER'S GAME $28 *new* Previous Discussions
02 JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA $20.5 (cum. $62)
03 LAST VEGAS $16.5 *new*
04 FREE BIRDS $16.2 *new*
05 GRAVITY $13.1 (cum. $219.1) Many Previous Posts
06 CAPTAIN PHILLIPS $8.5 (cum. $82.5) Podcast & Hanks For All Ages
07 12 YEARS A SLAVE $4.6 (cum. $8.7) Slavery in Cinema & Previous Discussions
08 CLOUDY WITH CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 $4.2 (cum. $106.1)
09 CARRIE $3.4 (cum. $31.9) Previous Discussions
10 THE COUNSELOR $3.2 (cum. $13.3) Previous Discussions
11 ESCAPE PLAN $2.2 (cum. $21.6)
12 ABOUT TIME $1.5 *new* Review
Ender's Game won the weekend with a mild 28 million. This one never looked likely to be a sensation, which is strange given the decades long wait for its arrival. Is the marketing to blame, or are YA fans too young to remember/connect to the source material? Worse yet, things are only going south when Thor drops from Asgard next week. Bad Grandpa beat competition from the new old men on the block and clinched second, one place above Last Vegas. The near universally panned Free Birds (which was originally called Turkeys -- too easy) had a disastrous opening and will be very lucky if it can recoup its 55 million dollar budget. The usual suspects occupied the rest of the top ten, with 12 Years a Slave expanding particularly well. Next weekend sees the film take on more than 1000 screens. Any question regarding the box office potential of McQueen's grueling, but brilliant, film can definitively be answered then.
Meanwhile, in limited release, Dallas Buyers Club opened to a strong reception on only 9 screens. Is the Oscar potential of this film dependent on its box office performance? Two acting nominations appear almost certain at this point, but if the public responds well, can we expect more? That's a question that certainly doesn't apply to Oliver Hirschbiegel's Diana. (Remember when we thought Naomi Watts might be a best actress contender? lulz!) Handicapped by aggressively negative critical response and advance word of mouth from overseas audiences, Diana barely exceeded 1k per screen and will surely fizzle away before long. And while we're on the subject of awards players in limited release, Belgium's foreign film contender, Broken Circle Breakdown, also opened this week. I fall in the range between a thumb up and a shrug, but it's charming.
Anyway, I haven't yet seen any of these new releases. Instead, I made a trip to TIFF Bell Lightbox, where a major exhibition on David Cronenberg's work is taking place and watched Naked Lunch and The Fly, and listened to David Cronenberg, Jeremy Thomas and Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor Stephan Dupuis discuss their work. I also caught up with Hong Sang Soo's Nobody Daughter Haewon and rewatched Iran's non-submission to the Oscars, A Cube of Sugar. A good weekend, I'd say. What did you watch?