After a decade away from behind the camera, Hacksaw Ridge marks Mel Gibson’s directorial return. The World War II true-life tale casts Andrew Garfield as a conscientious objector who nevertheless ended up being awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic exploits on the battlefield. Costars include Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Hugo Weaving, Teresa Palmer, and Rachel Griffiths.
The reported $45 million production debuted at Venice Film Festival in September to very positive word of mouth. Its Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 94% and it seems to be gaining some traction as a potential awards contender. Ridge is the first war drama of November, but will be followed up quickly just a week later with Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.
Gibson, of course, is an Oscar winner for his direction of 1995’s Braveheart and struck box office gold in 2004 with his follow-up, The Passion of the Christ. 2006’s Apocalypto was his last job as director and it grossed $50M domestic. The last decade has been an interesting one for Mr. Gibson – notable more for tabloid fodder than anything on the silver screen. His acting jobs have ranged from supporting roles in Machete Kills and The Expendables 3 to direct to On Demand action flicks like Get the Gringo and Blood Father.
It’s a legitimate question whether or not his name adds anything here. None of its stars carry much box office potency either (though Garfield will also soon headline this fall’s eagerly awaited Martin Scorsese drama Silence). What might help is the encouraging critical buzz swirling around it. I don’t expect an opening above $15 million, yet this could be a slow burner that experiences small declines in subsequent weekends. I’ll predict the most likely scenario is a low double digits opening and potential for growth as the season wears on.
Hacksaw Ridge opening weekend prediction: $12.1 million
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