Box Office Preview: Can 'Carrie' Scare 'Gravity' Off Top Spot?

6:37 PM PST 10/17/2013 by Pamela McClintock
Screen Gems

Prospects are dim for big-budget action pic "Escape Plan," starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and modestly budgeted WikiLeaks pic "The Fifth Estate."

Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity has a strong shot of staying at No. 1 in its third weekend, but with the horror genre thriving, newcomer Carrie has the potential to unseat the blockbuster space epic.

Director Kimberly Pierce's Carrie remake, starring Chloe Grace Moretz in the title role opposite Julianne Moore, opens nearly four decades after Brian De Palma's big screen adaptation of Stephen King's novel Carrie turned into a sensation, helping to launch the careers of Sissy Spacek and John Travolta.

MGM and Sony's Screen Gems produced the updated Carrie for under $30 million. The horror pic has a chance of hitting $30 million in its debut, although Sony is being far more conservative, suggesting it could open in the $18 million to $20 million range.

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Gravity is a formidable opponent, and could easily earn $30 million or more. The Warner Bros. film has earned $204 million globally through Wednesday and could approach $300 million by the end of the weekend.

Prospects are grim for the weekend's two other wide releases, DreamWorks' WikiLeaks movie The Fifth Estate and action pic Escape Plan, which teams Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Directed by Bill Condon and distributed in North America by Disney, Fifth Estate may only open in the $5 million to $6 million range, a blow for the filmmakers. The movie, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has received decidedly mixed reviews and faces fierce competition for adults from Gravity and Tom Hanks-starrer Captain Phillips. (Sony's Captain Phillips opened to a better than expected $25.7 million last weekend.)

DreamWorks has limited financial exposure, since Fifth Estate was made for $26 million. Participant Media co-financed the film.

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Summit Entertainment and Emmett/Furla films have much more at stake financially with Escape Plan, which cost at least $70 million to produce and may not cross $10 million in its opening. The male-skewing film is another critical test for Schwarzenegger as he tries to resurrect his acting career after his film The Last Stand bombed.

High-profile films opening at the specialty box office include Fox Searchlight's 12 Years a Slave and Roadside Attraction's All Is Lost, starring Robert Redford. Both movies are critical hits and considered award contenders. (Ditto for Gravity and Captain Phillips).

From filmmaker Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave opens in 18 theaters in select top cities, including New York and Los Angeles. New Regency partnered with Brad Pitt and Dede Gardner's Plan B Entertainment in producing the harrowing slavery drama.

The ocean-set All Is Lost, directed by Margin Call filmmaker J.C. Chandor, opens in six theaters in Los Angeles and New York.

Sony Pictures Classics also launches biographical drama Kill Your Darlings in New York and Los Angeles (the film opened mid-week). Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan and Michael C. Hall, the film, set against a murder, brings together beat poets Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.

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