Hollywood starts the holiday movie season with three new wide releases even with the eastern seaboard reeling from the devastation of hurricane Sandy. The weekend box office will definitely suffer a negative effect, though how much remains to be seen. Disney leads off with the CG animated Wreck-It Ralph [RALPH] featuring John C. Reilly [JCREI] as a video game villain who wants to be the hero for a change. Although the film doesn’t carry the Pixar brand, Wreck-It Ralph has been called the Toy Story of video games for incorporating many well-known video game characters. The PG-rated film has been generating fantastic buzz from gamers young and old. Wreck-It Ralph should attract a broad audience from parents who grew up with Atari in the ‘80s to older teenagers playing the latest 'Call of Duty' to children of all ages. Starting in 3752 theaters, Wreck-It Ralph could score $45 million in its debut.
Denzel Washington [DWASH] teams up with director Robert Zemeckis [RZEME] for the R-rated drama Flight [FLIGH]. After a string of action thrillers, Washington takes a serious turn playing an alcoholic pilot who is heralded as a hero for landing a distressed plane. Meanwhile, Zemeckis returns to live action for the first time since 2000’s Cast Away. While Paramount plays up the special effects in its marketing, the film is actually about a man dealing with his alcoholism. Flight will need good reviews to bring out its older adult target audience. Washington has consistently opened his movies in the mid-$20 million range. However, with a theater count of just 1900, Flight is unlikely to reach that height and remained more grounded at $18 million.
RZA [RZA] indulges his martial arts fantasy as The Man With Iron Fists [TMWIF], a martial arts fantasy the former rapper also wrote and directed. Russell Crowe [RCROW] and Lucy Liu [LLIU] co-star in support roles, but they don’t pack much box office draw. The R-rated film looks to attract primarily to an older male audience. Universal has not been screening the film in advance, never a good sign for their confidence in the film’s quality. Breaking into 1868 theaters, The Man With Iron Fists may punch out $8.5 million.
The ambitious sci-fi epic Cloud Atlas [CLATL] failed to connect with moviegoers. The sophmore holdover could tumble more than 50% to around $4 million.
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That’s the whisper from the virtual trading floor.
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