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article imageLabor Day: Newcomers not likely to unseat 'Guardians'

By Tim O'Brien     Aug 28, 2014 in Entertainment
The summer movie season is about to end for Hollywood and it seems like they are taking Labor Day off as well. Not to mention, most of September, too.
For Hollywood, the summer begins the first weekend in May and ends Labor Day. "The November Man" got off to an early start on Wednesday with $865,000, and that will not help launch it through the weekend.
Meanwhile, "Guardians of the Galaxy" doing so well was the perfect remedy for the overall box office blues this summer, but it cannot possibly emerge victorious again, can it? Yes, it can and most likely will win again.
The new wider release "As Above/So Below" is touted as a thriller and a "documentary," mystery and suspense film. All that means is it is a mess and may get some people out Friday but word-of-mouth will kill it from there. It is not in as many theaters either, as "The November Man," so it is up for grabs right now.
"As Above/So Below" takes the audience beneath the streets of Paris to uncover secrets of the dead. There isn't any star power to drive this either, and that doesn't matter all the time. But here, it would help get it off the ground. The demographic this is aimed for is back at school now and may not take the two hours to stop in to check it out.
Aug. 27
"The November Man" - 2,774 theaters
1. "As Above/So Below" - 2,637 theaters
2. "Ghostbusters" (30th Anniversary re-release) - 775 theaters
3. "Cantinflas" - 350 theaters
4. "The Congress" - Limited
5. "The Notebook (2014)" - Limited
6. "Life of Crime" - Limited
The film that has the higher theater count is "The November Man," starring Pierce Brosnan. But, since they did not release it in November, that may tell the tale. "The November Man" opens in August and will be forgotten by November. No, make that when September arrives. Again, it opened to a sleepy Wednesday with $865,000, noted Variety. It will strike nicely with its intended demographic, however, which skews older. They do not need to see it the first day of release.
The projections are for "Guardians" to win again with "Turtles" and the two newcomers figuring out the rest.
It is the smaller, hard to get films that start making a splash, at least in the eyes of award season voters. It is that time to launch those campaigns and get the films noticed. And they do not need to get noticed throughout the entire country. All that is needed are the film festival circuits (early in the year and now) and L.A. and New York, for the most part. For buzz, that is.
A film needs to make that qualifying run for Oscar by the end of the year only in L.A. Here is the rule: To be eligible for Academy Awards consideration, feature films must open in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County by midnight, Dec. 31, and begin a minimum run of seven consecutive days.
These smaller films are often confusing, drama-filled films that can be a tough sell for the smaller towns across the country, but play well in the bigger cities. Come January when the awards start getting handed out, the cry of "but, I haven't seen any of the nominated films" can be heard by many. Some films are not designed to play wide and all over, even if there is a group that would love it in their hometown.
Why? It is not worth the studio's time and effort to get them to every theater in the country. No, not even if it is requested. If that film explodes with a huge per screen average or is planned for that small roll out to gain buzz and then go wide, then the tale is different.
Taking a look at the other films out this weekend, and that may be happening now. "Life of Crime" stars Jennifer Aniston and has a limited opening. Even she noted the limited aspect on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." They bantered about it and he quipped about how the decision is made about it being limited or in "select" theaters. They didn't have an answer. The drama, laced with comedy, is a perfect example of a film that is not in wide release yet but could do well - in limited release, that is. It also stars John Hawkes, Will Forte and Tim Robbins.
Likewise with "Starred Up" and "The Congress." The latter stars Robin Wright and the buzz has begun around her performance in this science fiction drama about the digital age. "Starred Up" is a prison drama starring Jack O'Connell, whose name will become widely known as "Unbroken" is released. "Unbroken" will surely get Oscar buzz as it was directed by Angelina Jolie.
"Ghostbusters is being re-released as part of its 30th anniversary and a limited release of "Cantinflas" will be aimed at the sought-after Hispanic audience.
One last item, Lionsgate announced that it will re-release "Saw" in October. The start date is October 31. OK, the last day in October.
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