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'Trouble With The Curve,' 'End Of Watch' Battle In Wide Open Weekend


After several very slow weekends, the box office should break out in a big way this weekend, with a bevy of new titles aiming for the top of the charts. Clint Eastwood-starring drama "Trouble with the Curve" is the widest release of the weekend at more than 3,100 venues, though it will have competition for adult audiences from cop drama "End of Watch" and action-thriller "Dredd." Also hitting theaters will be thriller "House at the End of the Street" and highly anticipated art house flick "The Master" will see a wide expansion after a record-breaking limited release last weekend.

Following his polarizing turn at the Republican National Convention, Clint Eastwood is still a very well-known actor capable of drawing in big crowds in the right movie. With baseball drama "Trouble with the Curve," Eastwood stars as a gruff, aging baseball scout who has to rely on his daughter (Amy Adams) for support as he nears the end of his career. "Trouble with the Curve" also stars Justin Timberlake, giving audiences a popular cast that could make a significant difference at the box office.

The main problem for "Trouble with the Curve" is the intense competition for adult audiences. While the last few weekends have been a barren wasteland of releases with limited commercial appeal, this weekend is chock full of adult-geared films with strong critical support, which will make it hard for any one title to have a big weekend. Unlike Eastwood's last acting performance in R-rated smash hit "Gran Torino," "Trouble with the Curve" also carries a PG-13 rating, which could actually minimize the overall box office impact with adult audiences. Look for "Trouble with the Curve" to finish near the top of the box office with somewhere around $15-$16 million.

Also vying for adult audiences this weekend will be "End of Watch," a gritty, R-rated cop drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena. Backed by plenty of critical support, "End of Watch" seems to be in a decent position to reach its intended demographic this weekend as it reaches roughly 2,700 theaters. But even though "End of Watch" could benefit from positive word-of-mouth and put together an overall strong box office run, there are simply too many other new options for it to have a big opening. Expect "End of Watch" to finish with a decent opening in the neighborhood of $15 million this weekend for distributor Open Road Films.

Another new release carrying an R-rating this weekend is "Dredd," a sci-fi action film based on the Judge Dredd character from the British science fiction anthology 2000 AD. While Sylvester Stallone's version of the Judge Dredd story released in the mid-1990s was universally panned by critics, "Dredd" has been met with a surprising level of critical support so far, which could give it somewhat of a boost at the box office. Opening at an estimated 2,400 venues, "Dredd" is the smallest wide release of the weekend and probably doesn't have enough appeal to finish atop the charts, though a steady opening in the $13-$15 million range seems likely.

While "Dredd" appeals to fans of the comic book character as well as those familiar with the Stallone version, director Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" takes aim at art house crowds coming off of a very impressive limited release a week ago. "The Master" hauled in record-breaking per venue average of more than $147,000 last weekend at five total theaters, setting it up for a wide expansion this weekend. Though "The Master" doesn't have the type of appeal to mainstream audiences that could make it a major box office hit, it looks like Anderson has enough supporters for "The Master" to be a major player in the art house circuit.

Aiming at a much different demographic this weekend will be thriller "The House at the End of the Street," which stars Jennifer Lawrence and Elisabeth Shue. With a PG-13 rating, "The House at the End of the Street" should provide an outlet for younger teenage audiences, though it also doesn't seem to be in line for a big weekend with so many other options to choose from. Look for "The House at the End of the Street" to finish in the middle of the pack this weekend at an estimated 2,600 total theaters.

Next weekend, highly buzzed about thriller "Looper" will hit theaters hoping to find a combination of art house and mainstream audiences, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis starring in the mind-bending film about a time-traveling hitman. Also reaching theaters will be animated "Hotel Transylvania," starring the voices of Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Steve Buscemi. Maggie Gyllenhaal-starring PG drama "Never Back Down" will also get a wide release next weekend for distributor Fox.

RTT Box Office Predictions for 9/21/12 - 9/23/12 (in millions):

1. Trouble with the Curve (Warner Bros.): $16

2. End of Watch (Open Road Films): $15

3. Dredd (Lionsgate): $14

4. The Master (Weinstein): $13

5. House at the End of the Street (Relativity): $12

6. Resident Evil: Retribution (Sony/Screen Gems): $10

7. Finding Nemo 3D (Disney): $9

8. The Possession (Lionsgate): $2.9

9. Lawless (Weinstein): $2.6

10. ParaNorman (Focus): $1.7

by RTTNews Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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