Box Office Preview: 7 New Films to Check Out this Weekend

Source: Sony Pictures

This weekend’s box office is likely to be a battle between three new releases and last week’s The Butler. However, one of those new films, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, is already running into problems.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is based on the best-selling young adult book series written by Cassandra Clare about a girl, played by Lili Collins, who discovers that she’s part of a secret order of half-angel warriors. With five books released so far and a sixth and final book set to be released in 2014, the series has sold an estimated 24 million copies worldwide including spin-offs and prequels.

City of Bones, which was produced by Germany’s Constantin Films and distributed in the U.S. by Sony (NYSE:SNE), opened Wednesday with a $3 million box office take, putting it on course for about $15 million through the end of the weekend. While the film scored a CinemaScore rating of B-plus, it already looks as if the $60 million dollar film will have to hope for overseas success to make up the difference.

Many onlookers have noted that the series has many uncanny resemblances to the Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, highlighting movie studios’ desire to find a young adult property that can be as lucrative as Twilight. So far, however, Hollywood’s attempts at mining the genre have not proven fruitful, according to The Hollywood Reporter – even the film adaptation of Meyer’s other novel, The Host, fell flat in its opening weekend, making only $10.6 million.

Source: Universal Pictures

Of the other two big openers, Universal Pictures’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Edgar Wright-directed film, The World’s End, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, seems most likely to compete for the top spot. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers-inspired comedy tells the story a group of friends who discover an alien invasion during an epic pub crawl in their hometown.

The World’s End is the third film in the so-called Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, which includes films Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. And while Wright’s films haven’t necessarily translated to box office success in the past, he has a huge following as well as notable critical acclaim.

As of this writing, the film holds a 96 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and David Edelstein of New York Magazine wrote: “This is by light-years the most entertaining movie of the year. How many apocalyptic sci-fi action extravaganzas leave you feeling as if the world is just beginning?”

Source: Lionsgate

The third of the big three openers is the horror-thriller You’re Next, directed by Adam Wingard and distributed by Lionsgate (NYSE:LGF). The film tells the story of the Davison family, who come under attack at their wedding anniversary getaway by a gang of mysterious killers. However, one of the killers’ victims has a secret talent for fighting back.

While the plot doesn’t exactly sound groundbreaking, all the buzz surrounding the film indicates that You’re Next is a surprisingly original take on the horror genre. As of this writing, the film holds an 87 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Robert Abele of the Los Angeles Times wrote in his review, “The surprisingly adept mixture of tones … is offbeat enough to keep even hardened connoisseurs of body-count entertainment on their toes.”

Source: Magnolia Pictures

Going down the list, we also have the comedy Drinking Buddies, which tells the story of two co-workers at a craft brewery who struggle with their feelings for one another. Starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston, the film premiered earlier this year at the South by Southwest Film Festival and currently holds an 80 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film, distributed by Magnolia Pictures, has been well received overall.

Then, we have Frozen Ground from Lionsgate, which stars Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, and Vanessa Hudgens. The film is based on the real-life Alaskan hunt for serial killer Robert Hansen, who stalked and murdered between 17 and 21 people in the 1980s. Reviews so far have been nearly split, but the consensus seems to be that Cage gives a solid performance despite a conventional police procedural plot.

The last two new films to take note of this weekend are The Grandmaster and Short Term 12, which you’ll likely be able to find at your local art-house theaters.

Source: Annapurna Pictures

The Grandmaster is the newest and first martial arts film directed by famed Chinese director Wong Kar Wai. Distributed by Annapurna Pictures at home in Hong Kong and The Weinstein Company in the U.S. and in English-speaking Canadian territories, the martial arts epic is inspired by the life of legendary kung fu master Ip Man and features choreography from Yuen Woo Ping, the the fight choreographer of the Matrix series.

Short Term 12 is distributed by Cinedigm and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, starring Brie Larson. Based on Cretton’s Sundance award-winning short several years ago, Short Term 12 tells the story of Grace, who works as a supervisor at a foster care for at-risk youths. The film premiered at the 2013 South by Southwest Film Festival, where it won both the Grand Jury Narrative Feature Award and the Narrative Audience Award. To date, the critical response for the film has been nearly unanimous in praise.

As for films already in theaters, look for Weistein Co.-distributed The Butler to continue its strong run this weekend due to word of mouth while Warner Bros.’s (NYSE:TWXWe’re the Millers continues its surprising run as one of the only real comedy options in theaters besides this week’s The World’s End. Universal’s Elysium and Disney’s (NYSE:DISPlanes are likely to be neck and neck right behind those options.

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