Clint Eastwood, Jennifer Lawrence, Jake Gyllenhaal and Karl Urban will all vie for the box office crown this weekend.
After a record-smashing summer driven by flicks like "The Avengers," "The Dark Knight Rises" (and "The Hunger Games" back in March), September witnessed the worst weekends for theaters since 2011. The box office needs a boost.
Thankfully for moviegoers and cinema owners, there's a bevy of new releases this weekend, any number of which could nab the top spot. Gyllenhaal's "End of Watch," written and directed by "Training Day" writer David Ayer, arrives alongside Urban's dystopian action flick "Dredd 3D," Eastwood's "Trouble With the Curve" and Lawrence in "House at the End of the Street."
"It really is a crapshoot this weekend," Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock told MTV News. "What makes this weekend better from a financial perspective is that there are five new films going into wide release. Something for everyone."
"Trouble With the Curve" will be playing on the most screens of any of the new releases, providing Eastwood with a shot at #1. "Don't expect 'Dirty Harry' to be speaking to empty chairs this weekend," Bock quipped.
Jennifer Lawrence's latest was originally slated an April release just behind "The Hunger Games." The horror flick will be playing in 3,083 locations, and Lawrence's star power could be enough to best Eastwood.
There's one advantage the other films have over "Curve" and "House": the critics. Like a lot of horror flicks, Lawrence's movie has been mostly kept away from critics. Eastwood's had a 56 percent critical average on Rotten Tomatoes at press time.
Meanwhile "End of Watch" sat at 85 percent. " 'End of Watch' is my dark horse to win the weekend," Bock said. "Cop dramas don't come any grittier than from director David Ayer. Expect this to be well received in metropolitan markets."
Even the pulpy "Dredd 3D" has won favor with critics, despite being based on the same U.K. comic book hero as the 1995 turkey "Judge Dredd" starring Sylvester Stallone. However, its relatively low theater count (about 2,700) doesn't bode well.
"On the flip side, for a comic book movie, it came relatively cheap at $45 million," Bock noted. "So that will certainly be a saving grace if it lives up to its title and performs dreadfully. Even though genre fans are excited, the same mass audiences that saw 'The Avengers' just aren't sold. And with middle-America audiences watching 'Trouble With the Curve,' 'End of Watch' and 'House at the End of the Street,' there just may be too much product for audiences to disseminate."
Last weekend's top two films, "Resident Evil: Retribution" and "Finding Nemo 3D," will likely have to move over. "Nemo" doesn't have much competition from other children's movies, but Milla Jovovich's latest action flick should suffer a steep decline.
"The Master" had the year's best per-screen average last weekend, but that doesn't mean it will do gangbusters business when it expands to 788 theaters this weekend. "This is a very obtuse piece of filmmaking," said Bock. "Despite all the critical accolades, it's doubtful mainstream audiences will respond. This is really more of an art-house film than a multiplex one."
Speaking of limited releases, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" will open in just four theaters. "With such a fervent fanbase for the modern classic adaptation, expect this one to stand out in the crowd on opening weekend," Bock predicted.
What movie are you planning on seeing at the box office this weekend? Leave your comment below!