by: Madelyn Glymour | Contributor
After several weeks of busy hectic box offices, this weekend’s new release slate is relatively lean. Only two movies are up for wide release: John Wick and Ouija. (St. Vincent is expanding nationwide, as well, but is unlikely to make a significant impact on the box office.) Obviously, this makes predictions simpler than they were last week (and particularly the week before that), but the future is a tricky thing to talk about, and every week has its complications.
This week’s case in point: John Wick. The tracking for Keanu Reeves’ latest action film is so lukewarm you could bathe a baby in it; it’s not even doing all that well among men over 25, its obvious target audience. Its social media stats aren’t that great either (though older men aren’t really an audience that flocks to Facebook), and plenty of projections have put it somewhere in the $12 million territory.
But the reviews have been phenomenal. You can actually watch its rating go up on Rotten Tomatoes; it was at 90 percent when I checked this morning, 91 percent when I glimpsed it two hours ago while checking the stats for Gone Girl, and 92 percent as I write these words. It has the highest Metacritic score of any movie this week save Gone Girl. They’re calling it Reeves’ best movie in years — and they don’t seem to be trying to damn it with faint praise.
The question then becomes whether the late-blooming buzz will be enough to overcome several weeks of poor awareness. Reeves’ star power alone won’t be enough — surely Liam Neeson’s A Walk Among the Tombstones taught us that — but the last movie that had both this kind of critical appeal and a throwback action star in the lead was Edge of Tomorrow, which pulled in $28 million on its opening weekend, despite heavy competition from The Fault in Our Stars ($48 million) and the second week of Maleficent ($34 million). The two situations don’t fully align — those were both heavily female-skewing movies, and it was the summer, and Edge of Tomorrow actually underperformed its initial tracking — but it’s some reason for optimism. John Wick has also seen a heavy marketing push in recent weeks, and its only competition anywhere close to its genre is Fury, which has a tinge of cinema that John Wick doesn’t. This is the first proper action movie to hit theaters since The Equalizer. So I’m cautiously giving it the #2 spot, in the hopes that it’s in the right place at the right time to overcome its tracking.
|Opening Weekend||Current Gross||Facebook Likes||Tweets|
|FURY||$23.702 million||$23.702 million||377,159||27,599|
|THE BOOK OF LIFE||$17.005 million||$17.005 million||138,269||49,511|
|GONE GIRL||$37.513 million||$106.78 million||275,149||87,083|
It seems unlikely, though, that John Wick can overtake this weekend’s frontrunner, Ouija. While Wick is the first action movie since The Equalizer, Ouija is only the second horror movie in an October that has been seriously scare-deprived. Annabelle has come and gone, and if tracking numbers (or Twitter numbers, or the truly astonishing Facebook numbers) are anything to go on, audiences — especially young audiences — are more than ready for a replacement. Somewhat unusually, for a horror movie, Ouija is being marketed heavily towards young women (it even had a marketing arrangement with Pretty Little Liars), and that is the audience among whom it’s tracking the best. But I imagine some horror fans of all ages will see it out of desperation, if for no other reason.
That leaves us with three spots for this weekend’s returning champions. If John Wick takes second, then Fury is the obvious pick for third, coming off of a healthy $23.7 million opening weekend. The reviews were good, so I suspect it’ll hang onto a respectable amount of its audience. A 33 percent drop puts it in the $16 million range.
Then there’s Gone Girl and The Book of Life. (Last week’s #4 movie, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, seems unlikely to hold on to a spot.) Gone Girl has been this fall’s box office bad penny, but it’s heading into its fourth week. Meanwhile The Book of Life got good word of mouth, and it’s only in its second week. The two movies were within half a million of each other, last week, and I imagine that they’ll be pretty close this week as well, but I think that Book of Life‘s freshness, and its lack of popular family-friendly competition, will give it the edge.
|Critics||Users||# of Ratings||Stars||# of Ratings|
|THE BOOK OF LIFE||79||84||23,316||7.7||2,090||67|
(Sources: boxoffice.com, rottentomatoes.com, imdb.com, metacritic.com. Starred figures are estimates. Tweets represent figures for this week only. Figures represent numbers at time of writing, and may have changed. Tracking Board does not report Rotten Tomatoes user ratings for movies that have not yet seen wide release.)