The period between blockbusters and awards hopefuls has been typically tepid
With the superheroes and sequels of summer long gone and prestige projects yet to come, the box office is in trough.
And it's a pretty deep one.
Other than Universal's Vin Diesel sci-fi action movie “Riddick,” which led with $18 million this past weekend, not a single film broke $10 million. The total gross of all the films in release was $83 million, according to Box Office Mojo. To put that in perspective, that's roughly what another Universal release, “Despicable Me 2,” did by itself in its first three days back in July.
It's not shocking, or even a surprise. The box office, like most businesses, has rhythms and cycles — and September is typically the slowest month of the year. With schools in session and the NFL back, movies aren't foremost in people's minds.
But the moribund box office could use a shot of adrenaline, and Film District's Jason Blum-produced horror sequel “Insidious 2,” which opens Friday – Friday the 13th no less — should provide one.
Director James Wan returns from the original film, as do stars Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne. Wan and Patrick are coming off this summer's hit “The Conjuring,” which this weekend passed “The Blair Witch Project” on the list of supernatural horror movies at the box office for Warner Bros. And Wan has plenty of heat: he's directing next summer's “Fast and Furious 7.”
The first “Insidious” was a sleeper hit, and Film District appears to be harnessing the anticipation for the sequel, at least on social media. It's been among the leading movies in terms of Twitter mentions for weeks, with 194,000 mentions last week, according to BoxOffice.com.
The crowded summer was very front-loaded; there hasn't been an opening over $30 million since “The Wolverine” debuted to $53 million in the last week of July. “Insidious 2” may not do it, but it could come close.
Nothing else over the next two weeks looks likely to do so. Relativity is releasing the Robert DeNiro-Michelle Pfeiffer mob comedy “The Family” on Friday. The next week, Warner Bros. has the thriller “Prisoners,’ starring Hugh Jackman, Jake Gylenhaal and Viola Davis, and Sony Screen Gems has “Battle of the Year.”
The indies are trying to take advantage, with a staggering 23 smaller movies released last weekend — and more to come.
IFC Sundance hit “Blue Caprice,” about the Beltway sniper attacks, is one of 10 indie films opening Friday. The following week, the late James Gandolfini's final film, “Enough Said,” opens on a Wednesday, and is one of 10 more indie debuts. Universal is also giving Ron Howard's racing thriller “Rush” a limited debut that week.
But there's hope on the horizon.
Sony's kids film “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2,” which opens on Sept 27, is tracking well and should break the drought. Relativity opens the Joseph Gordon-Levitt-Scarlett Johansson sex comedy “Don Jon” that same weekend.
That will bring us to October, which will see the critically acclaimed George Clooney-Sandra Bullock space adventure “Gravity” from Warner Bros., and Sony's Tom Hanks drama about Somali pirates, “Captain Phillips,” rolling out in the first two weeks.
In the meantime, you might want to hit the books. Or watch some football.