This post has been updated. Please see bottom for details.
Will "Carrie" pull "Gravity" back down to earth this weekend?
Since making its debut two weeks ago, Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity" has proved to be a favorite at the box office, raking in $136 million. This weekend, say those who have seen pre-release audience surveys, the film starring Sandra Bullock will likely collect between $30 million and $35 million more.
That weekend sum would put the space epic in a tight race for No. 1 with a remake of the horror classic "Carrie," which is set to open at around $33 million. (Sony Pictures, which is releasing "Carrie," is predicting a far softer opening of under $20 million.)
The two other films hitting theaters nationwide this weekend are poised for disappointing debuts. "Escape Plan," a pricey action flick starring aging action heroes Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, will bomb with just $10 million. "The Fifth Estate," a less-expensive thriller about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, will also fare poorly, with just $4 million.
A film version of Stephen King's 1974 novel "Carrie" was first released on the big screen in 1976. Directed by Brian DePalma, the movie was a box-office success and earned star Sissy Spacek an Oscar nomination. This weekend's remake, directed by "Boys Don't Cry" filmmaker Kimberly Peirce, features 16-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz as the bullied social outcast who develops telekinetic powers.
Co-financed by MGM and Sony's Screen Gems label for about $30 million, "Carrie" is generating the most pre-release interest among young females. Though the original was beloved by critics, the remake has earned more middling reviews, notching a 54% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes on Thursday.
Meanwhile, there has been little buzz about "Escape Plan," which carries a major price tag. Lionsgate's Summit Entertainment and Emmett/Furla Films spent about $70 million to produce the film about two inmates trying to break out of a high-security prison.
Since returning to film following his stint as governor of California, Schwarzenegger has not proved to be a box-office draw. Although he has been a part of the ensemble cast in "The Expendables" franchise, his turn as a leading man earlier this year in "The Last Stand" didn't go over well. The latter film, another action movie released by Lionsgate, grossed just $12 million in the U.S. and Canada.
DreamWorks SKG had high hopes for "The Fifth Estate," premiering it at the Toronto Film Festival in September and distributing it during the heart of award season. But even though WikiLeaks continues to stay in the headlines, it appears few moviegoers are interested in the film, which has also been damaged by lackluster reviews.
Directed by Bill Condon and co-financed by DreamWorks and Participant Media for $26 million, "Estate" stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange. The film is being distributed by Walt Disney Studios.
In limited release, FilmDistrict's High Top Releasing will open the faith-based "I'm In Love with a Church Girl" in about 500 theaters. Starring rapper-turned-actor Ja Rule as a drug trafficker who falls for a Christian girl, the movie has been marketed via pastors and church groups over the last month.
Meanwhile, Fox Searchlight will debut its best-picture contender "12 Years a Slave" in 18 theaters this weekend. Based on the 1853 autobiography of a free black man who was sold into slavery in the South, the historical drama has received rave reviews since debuting at the Telluride Film Festival in August.
Despite the grave subject matter, Searchlight is hoping the Steve McQueen-directed picture will generate enough positive word-of-mouth to become a hit as it expands nationwide over the next month.
[Update, Oct. 18, 7:49 a.m.: An earlier version of this story referred to "Walt Disney Studio's DreamWorks SKG," which has been changed for clarity. Disney does not own DreamWorks, but has a distribution deal with the company.]