As the only new horror movie in October, the Carrie remake will easily beat fellow newcomers Escape Plan and The Fifth Estate this weekend. Still, it probably won't top Gravity, which should ride strong word-of-mouth to its third-straight win.
Last weekend, Gravity dipped just 23 percent, which is the best non-holiday hold ever for a movie that opened above $50 million. Another light drop would put Gravity at $30 million or more in its third outing.
Opening at 3,157 locations, Carrie seems poised to take advantage of the relative dearth of horror movies in the market ahead of Halloween. This is the first October since 2004 which is free of a Saw or Paranormal Activity movie—Paramount had Paranormal Activity 5 on the schedule up until recently, but that ultimately didn't pan out (it's now scheduled for October 2014). Without any other options, horror fans are likely to get their fix from Carrie.
In general, the horror genre has had a great year in 2013: Mama, Evil Dead, The Purge, The Conjuring and Insidious Chapter 2 all opened over $25 million and closed over $55 million. The most comparable movie here is Evil Dead, which is also a gory supernatural horror remake from Sony.
While Carrie has a better release date and an arguably stronger brand, it would be surprising if it opened on par with Evil Dead ($25.8 million). That movie had a much scarier campaign, and Sony also did a lot of outreach to diehard fans of the original. Carrie, on the other hand, seems more focused on the teen drama, and it's tough to imagine fans of Brian DePalma's 1976 original rushing out to see the remake. It's likely that Carrie's audience will skew younger, and it's therefore possible that the movie's R-rating will be a bit prohibitive.
Sony is anticipating a debut under $20 million, which would put it in a close race for second place with fellow Sony release Captain Phillips.
At 2,833 theaters, Escape Plan finds Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger teaming up to break out of a maximum security prison. If this had opened in the 1980s, there's a strong chance it would be one of the biggest movies of the year. Unfortunately it's 2013, and Stallone and Schwarzenegger are each coming off massive bombs—The Last Stand and Bullet to the Head earned $12.1 million and $9.5 million, respectively.
Bringing the two 80s action icons together should guarantee that Escape Plan performs better, though their synergy is watered down by the fact that their shared screen time was a noticeable part of the marketing for The Expendables and The Expendables 2. Escape Plan does at least have a much more intriguing premise than The Last Stand or Bullet to the Head, for whatever that's worth. Ultimately, it would be a surprise if the movie opened much higher than $10 million this weekend.
The big loser this weekend is likely going to be The Fifth Estate, which opens in 1,769 theaters. The movie tells the story of the start of WikiLeaks, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the controversial founder Julian Assange. Trailers make it movie seem like a hybrid of The Social Network and Zero Dark Thirty, both of which earned over $90 million at the domestic box office.
Those had fantastic reviews and legitimate awards aspirations, though, whereas The Fifth Estate currently has a poor 37 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That's not good enough to draw discerning adult audiences away from Gravity and Captain Phillips, and as a result it's unlikely that The Fifth Estate does much business.
In moderate release, I'm In Love With a Church Girl is attempting to woo urban Christian audiences at 457 locations. Unfortunately, the movie's drug and gang-related violence and amateur production value are likely to be a pretty serious turn off, and it would be surprising if this averaged above $1,000 per theater.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Fox Searchlight's 12 Years a Slave is poised to do fantastic business at 19 theaters this weekend. The slavery drama received endless praise and awards buzz out of the Toronto International Film Festival, and currently has a fantastic 97 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While it does have a reputation for being a tough movie to watch, that's not going to do too much to deter arthouse audiences, and it should average over $30,000 at each location.
Starring Robert Redford as a man lost at sea, All Is Lost is also targeting arthouse crowds at six theaters. The movie is receiving great reviews, though some might be averse to checking out an isolated survival story after recently seeing Gravity and Captain Phillips. Still, a per-theater average over $30,000 wouldn't be surprising. Forecast (Oct. 18-20) 1. Gravity - $29.8 million (-31%) 2. Carrie - $22.4 million 3. Captain Phillips - $17.7 million (-31%) 4. Cloudy 2 - $10.7 million (-22%) 5. Escape Plan - $10 million 6. The Fifth Estate - $5.1 million Bar for Success With Halloween on the horizon, Carrie will probably hold a bit better than standard horror fare; as a result, an opening over $20 million would put it in great shape. Escape Plan is okay if it gets past $10 million, while The Fifth Estate needs to make it in to the high single digits.