By Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES — On what is traditionally the slowest moviegoing weekend of the year, only one film has a shot at crossing the lowly $10 million mark at the box office.
“The Possession,” the horror picture that was No. 1 in ticket sales over the Labor Day holiday, will probably claim the top spot again this weekend. The movie, which has so far collected a healthy $23 million since its premiere, is expected to gross about $10 million more this round, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys.
Two poorly reviewed films opening in theaters, meanwhile, will barely make a dent in ticket sales. “The Words,” a romance thriller starring Bradley Cooper, is projected to start with a modest $7 million. And “The Cold Light of Day,” an action film featuring Bruce Willis and the next big-screen “Superman” star, Henry Cavill, may not even take in $5 million.
“The Words” received mixed response at the Sundance Film Festival in January, where it was acquired by CBS Films for $2 million. The film stars Cooper as a struggling writer whose fiancee (Zoe Saldana) buys him a 1940s briefcase. When the aspiring novelist finds an old manuscript hidden inside the valise, he begins to question whether he should pass it off as his own.
The movie marks the continued effort by Cooper to be taken seriously as a leading man. After rising to fame as part of the ensemble cast in “The Hangover” comedy franchise, the actor has slowly begun to star in low- to mid-budget films. Last year, his first legitimate solo effort, “Limitless,” was a hit, as the thriller collected $80 million stateside.
The new movie is the third release this year from CBS Films, which in 2012 has changed creative directions after a rough start in 2010. The small film unit of television giant CBS Corp. now more closely resembles an independent studio rather than one that releases mid-budget commercial fare. The studio’s biggest success this year was “The Woman in Black,” a horror film starring “Harry Potter” veteran Daniel Radcliffe that grossed $54 million domestically.
“The Cold Light of Day” may tank at the box office this weekend, but at least Lionsgate’s label Summit Entertainment didn’t spend much on the movie. The studio co-financed the film for about $20 million with Intrepid Pictures. After a weak international run, Summit realized the picture would also probably not perform well in the U.S. and consequently spent modestly on its advertising.
The film, about a Wall Street trader whose family is kidnapped during a vacation in Spain, was originally slated to open in April — a week before Lionsgate’s “Cabin in the Woods” hit theaters. But after Lionsgate acquired Summit, the movie’s release date changed to Sept. 7.