By Ben Fritz and Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES — The horror film “House at the End of the Street” should top a crowded but rather lackluster weekend at the box office.
Other new movies likely to fall short of the top spots include the baseball film “Trouble With the Curve,” starring Clint Eastwood; the British science-fiction action flick “Dredd 3D” and the police drama “End of Watch.”
All of the new movies are expected to have openings of less than $20 million, people who have seen pre-release audience surveys said.
In addition, director Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” will expand nationwide after a record-breaking debut at five theaters last weekend.
“House at the End of the Street,” starring Jennifer Lawrence, marks the first release for Relativity Media since “The Raven” in April. The financially troubled independent studio in May received a cash infusion from financier Ron Burkle and is now gearing up for several significant releases. The new picture should open to around $18 million.
About a mother and a daughter who move into a home in a mysterious town, “House at the End of the Street” is the first major commercial release starring Lawrence since “The Hunger Games” made her a household name in March. The 22-year-old, who broke out in 2010 after receiving an Oscar nomination for her turn in “Winter’s Bone,” shot her new horror film that same year. The release of “House” was delayed twice, from February to April and then again to this weekend.
Relativity Media acquired U.S. rights to the film — which was produced by FilmNation Entertainment and A Bigger Boat — last year for $10 million. The film has not been screened for critics, typically a sign that a studio is pessimistic about how it will be received.
In “Trouble With the Curve,” which is headed for an opening of about $15 million, Eastwood plays an aging baseball scout whose estranged daughter, played by Amy Adams, must help him with his job when his eyesight begins to fail. It’s the first movie that Eastwood has starred in but not directed since 1993’s “In the Line of Fire.”
Eastwood, 82, has had better luck recently when he doesn’t just stay behind the camera. Last year, the filmmaker’s “J. Edgar,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the famous FBI head, only sold $37.3 million worth of tickets domestically. But when Eastwood appeared as a curmudgeonly old man in 2008’s “Gran Torino,” the film was a hit, raking in $148.1 million.
Such a huge final gross is unlikely for “Curve,” but with adults over 35 interested in the picture, executives at Warner Bros. hope good word of mouth will keep it in theaters for several weeks.
“Dredd 3D,” based on the same British comic as 1995 flop “Judge Dredd,” starring Sylvester Stallone, is looking at a modest opening of around $12 million. Produced by IM Global, owned by India’s Reliance Entertainment, for around $40 million, “Dredd” is being released domestically by Lionsgate. The Santa Monica, Calif., studio contributed a small amount to the production cost but is spending around $25 million on advertising and prints.
The story of a one-man law enforcer in a dystopian future, “Dredd” opened two weeks ago in Britain, where it has so far grossed $4.4 million, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.
“End of Watch,” which stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as Los Angeles Police Department officers patrolling South Central L.A., has received mostly positive reviews. The film was written and directed by David Ayer, who has specialized in cop dramas, including 2001’s “Training Day” and 2008’s “Street Kings.”
The new picture was financed by Emmett/Furla Films and Exclusive Media for around $15 million, according to a person close to the production not authorized to discuss the budget publicly. However, a spokeswoman for Open Road Films, which is releasing “End of Watch” in the U.S. and Canada, said the actual cost was only $7 million and that her studio acquired distribution rights for about $2 million. “End of Watch” is expected to open to around $12 million.
Playing at 788 theaters this weekend, “The Master” will be within driving distance of most moviegoers nationwide, while it was only in Los Angeles and New York last weekend. The film, about a religious movement in the 1950s that resembles Scientology, had the highest per-theater average of any new release this year when it opened to $736,311 last weekend.