This weekend will provide a heat check for Jennifer Lawrence, the young star of “House at the End of the Street," the thriller expected to challenge for the top spot at the box office.
If the low-budget PG-13 movie from Relativity delivers, and industry analysts say it will compete for the top spot with Clint Eastwood's “Trouble With the Curve,” it will surely increase the buzz surrounding Lawrence — and that’s saying something.
In January, Relativity shifted the original release from April 20, ostensibly to avoid a crowded schedule. But there will be plenty of competition this weekend, too. Besides Eastwood’s baseball film "Trouble With the Curve," Open Road Films is rolling out its police drama “End of Watch” and Lionsgate bows “Dredd 3D.”
The expansion of the Weinstein Company’s “The Master” — which was the No. 1 seller for online ticket broker Fandango Thursday — and the debut of Summit Entertainment’s “Perks of Being a Wallflower” highlight the specialty release lineup.
It’s a broad slate of movies but their target audiences are diverse, which bodes well for overall box office revenues.
Her turn as Katniss Everdeen in this spring’s blockbuster “The Hunger Games” made Lawrence the highest-grossing action heroine of all-time. She has been getting critical raves for her first film comedy role in “Silver Linings Playbook,” the David O. Russell film that won the audience award at the Toronto International Festival. And she already has the box-office hit “X-Men: First Class” and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for 2010’s “Winter’s Bone” under her belt.
Not bad for a 22-year-old. She even sings “All You’ve Got to Do is Fall in Love” by Benji Hughes in the new film.
Young women are the target audience for “House at the End of the Street,” which will be in 3,083 theaters. Elizabeth Shue and Max Theriot co-star, and Mark Tonderai directs. Relativity didn’t screen it for critics, but thriller and horror films tend to be review resistant.
Relativity sees it opening between $11 million and $12 million, but analysts have it doing considerably better, as high as $18 million.
“If ‘House’ does well, it will be seen as a big win for her,” Jeff Bock, senior analyst at Exhibitor Relations Company, told TheWrap. “But even if it doesn’t, no one’s going to hold it against her because this is a small film without a ton of traditional marketing behind it.”
Relativity has focused much of its effort on online and mobile phone promotions, including a partnership with Zynga, as it bids to expand the audience beyond the core young female demographic group with young males.
“Dredd 3D” is a remake of the 1995 movie starring Sylvester Stallone in the comic-based tale of a one-man judge, jury and executioner of the future.
Karl Urban straps on the helmet for the title role, as he fights to rid MegaCity of the menacing drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headley). Olivia Thirlby plays Judge Dredd’s mind-reading side-kick and Pete Travis (“Vantage Point”) directs.
The reviews has been strong for the film, rated R for its dark themes and lots of 3D violence. MetaCritic gives it a 68 rating, and 85 percent of the reviews are positive on Rotten Tomatoes, as are 72 percent of those on Movie Review Intelligence.
Lionsgate is trying to build on the fan boy buzz that began with a well-received Comic-Con screening in July. In addition to a robust online and social media campaign, the company has screened the film in the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness slot and the Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, and at a number of regional screenings that featured the film’s stars.
“Dredd” will be in 2,506 locations and on 2,700 screens, 2,200 of which are 3D. The studio sees the film doing between $8 million and $10 million over the three days, the analysts have it a bit higher.
The critics are also high on “End of Watch,” an R-rated cop drama written and directed by David Ayer, who wrote the screenplay for 2001’s “Training Day.”
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena star as young officers who are marked for death after confiscating money and firearms from cartel members during a routine traffic stop. Anna Kendrick, America Ferrera, Frank Grillo and Cody Horn co-star.
Eighty-two percent of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are positive, as are 69 percent on Movie Review Intelligence. MetaCritic gives it a 70 rating.
The analysts see it doing around $11 million for the three days, but Open Road acquired the $7 million film for much less than that and would be happy with a debut over $8 million.
The Weinstein Company is expanding Paul Thomas Anderson’s Scientology-inspired tale “The Master” into 788 theaters in 135 markets. Last week it posted the year's biggest specialty box office opening, taking in $729,745 from five theaters in New York and Los Angeles.
That was a $145,949 per-screen average, easily topping the year's previous highest, which belonged to "Moonrise Kingdom.” The analysts see “The Master” doing between $5 million and $6 million this weekend, which would land it in the top ten overall.
Summit Entertainment is debuting teen-targeting “Perks of Being a Wallflower,” which stars Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame, Logan Lerman (“Percy Jackson”) and Ezra Miller, in four theaters.
It’s based on a novel of the same name. Author Stephen Chbosky wrote and directs the film adaptation of the 1990s Pittsburgh-set tale, about an introverted high school freshman (Lerman) taken under the wings of two seniors (Miller and Watson).
Summit launched the trailer for “Perks” at the MTV Movie Awards in June and it became the most streamed piece of content from the show Following the premiere of the trailer, the novel jumped to No. 3 on the New York Times' list of best-selling paperback children’s books – 13 years after it was published.