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'The Words' Shoots For Top Of Weak Box Office Weekend


After the August box office put up the worst totals in six years, it's unlikely September will get off to an auspicious start this weekend either. Hitting roughly 2,800 total venues, drama "The Words" is easily the widest new title reaching theaters, though it could be a tough sell for CBS Films and it may not even be able to knock "The Possession" out of the top box office spot. Another title getting launched this weekend is "The Cold Light of Day," a PG-13 action-thriller slated to hit an estimated 1,500 theaters for distributor Summit. Steven Spielberg's heralded action film "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is also getting a special rerelease on IMAX, though its box office impact will be minimal at just 267 theaters.

Starring Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid and Bradley Cooper, drama "The Words" takes aim at adult audiences interested in the mystique of Ernest Hemingway, the great American novelist who had a substantial portion of his writing lost early in his career. Though literature buffs might find it to be an interesting premise, CBS Films has a whole new challenge trying to find appeal with a concept that might alienate mainstream audiences. While "The Words" is typically the type of movie that would start in limited release and gear towards more indie/art house crowds, CBS Films is giving it an aggressive 2,800-theater release that could prove to be one of the worst wide releases of the year.

Also not helping are mixed critical reviews, which could make a big impact for a release like "The Words." Though Bradley Cooper and Dennis Quaid are well-known actors, they are also far from major box office draws and "The Words" doesn't seem to have much commercial appeal. "The Words" should be able to earn somewhere in the $7-$9 million range, which may not even be enough to overtake "The Possession" to be the top box office draw in a very slow weekend.

In even worse position this weekend is action-thriller "The Cold Light of Day." Though Henry Cavill could become a major star with his role as Superman in next summer's highly anticipated "Man of Steel," he's still a relative unknown, making for a tough sell this weekend to mainstream audiences. With a limited release of only 1,511 theaters, "The Cold Light of Day" probably won't make more than $4-$5 million this weekend, likely placing it in the bottom portion of the top 10.

Also hitting theaters this weekend is a new special edition version of Steven Spielberg's action classic "Raiders of the Lost Ark," which made Indiana Jones a household name in the early 1980s. Hitting 267 IMAX theaters across the country, "Raiders" should put up some decent per venue totals and help pave the way for an "Indiana Jones" marathon, which AMC theaters will be presenting in select theaters next weekend.

While mainstream audiences have mainly stayed away from the theaters during a slow August, comedy/drama "Hope Springs" has been quietly putting together a very impressive box office run. Benefitting from very good reviews and the appeal of stars Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep and Steve Carell, "Hope Springs" has made a big dent with older adult audiences, enough for it to earn more than $50 million in the U.S. despite a release of just 2,361 total theaters. "Hope Springs" should continue to do well with its intended demographic for the next few weekends and end up as a solid success for distributor Sony/Columbia.

After a dismal stretch for the box office, next weekend's release schedule should help pick up the pace. "Resident Evil: Retribution" is in good position to take over the top box office slot and family audiences will likely turn to a 3D version of Pixar's immensely popular "Finding Nemo," one of the animation studio's most commercially and critically successful films. Director Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" will also get an extremely limited release, leading to a wide expansion to most theaters the following weekend.

RTT Box Office Predictions for 9/7/12 - 9/9/12 (in millions):

1. The Words (CBS Films): $8.6

2. The Possession (Lionsgate): $8.5

3. Lawless (Weinstein): $5.5

4. The Cold Light of Day (Summit): $4.8

5. The Expendables 2 (Lionsgate): $4.9

6. The Bourne Legacy (Universal): $3.8

7. ParaNorman (Focus): $3.8

8. The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Brother): $3.7

9. The Campaign (Warner Brothers): $3.2

10. The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Disney): $3.1

by RTTNews Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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