Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck were crushed by "Gravity" at the box office last week. New movies from A-list Hollywood titan Tom Hanks and longtime b-movie badass Danny Trejo are likely to suffer the same fate as "Runner Runner" this weekend.
Based on the true story of an American cargo ship captain abducted by Somali pirates, "Captain Phillips" should debut with a very respectable $20 million or so, according to box-office analysts. However, "Gravity," last weekend's #1 film could earn as much as double that.
"Captain Phillips" was helmed by "The Bourne Identity" director Paul Greengrass. Two-time Oscar winner Hanks could earn another nomination for his performance as the title character, though he hasn't had a major live-action hit since 2009's "Angels and Demons."
The film that broke the October opening weekend record and provided career-best debuts for Sandra Bullock and George Clooney should top the box office again with between $35 and $45 million in its second weekend. The sci-fi tale is a hit with critics and audiences. As we pointed out, big studios could learn a lot of lessons from the success of "Gravity," whose $100 million budget was still less than half "The Lone Ranger."
Speaking of science fiction, audiences will have to wait for "Machete Kills Again ... In Space." The trailer for the sequel plays before "Machete Kills," itself a sequel to the self-aware b-movie action film "Machete" that began as a fake trailer in Robert Rodriguez's half of "Grindhouse." The original somehow managed a 72 percent on the Tomatometer, but critics have soured on the concept in 2013. Danny Trejo's blade-wielding character originated in Robert Rodriguez's family friendly "Spy Kids" franchise. "Machete Kills" likely won't chop down more than $8 million this weekend.
The only other new film in theaters this weekend is "Romeo & Juliet" in limited release. English actor Douglas Booth (seen in last year's Miley Cyrus bomb "LOL") plays Romeo while Oscar-winning actress Hailee Steinfeld ("True Grit") plays Juliet. The film was adapted by "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes. It also features Ed Westwick, who played Chuck Bass on "Gossip Girl" for six seasons.
Families looking to take their kids to something that doesn't involve Independent Spirit Award-winning director Alfonso Cuaron, Somali pirates or Charlie Sheen playing the President of the United States will still be able to take in "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2." The film is likely to stay in the top 5 this weekend, landing at #3 with two- or three times the weekend haul of "Machete Kills."
"Runner Runner" could stay in the top 5, if only barely, as the $30 million drama heads toward a very disappointing finish.