Originally slated to open last summer, the sci-fi alien invasion thriller CaptiveState touches down in theaters next weekend. Rupert Wyatt, best known for 2011’s RiseofthePlanetoftheApes, directs. John Goodman (no stranger to extraterrestrial beings as evidenced by 10CloverfieldLane) leads a cast that includes Ashton Sanders, Machine Gun Kelly, Alan Ruck, Kiki Layne, and Vera Farmiga.
The Focus Features release seems to be flying far under the radar. Many pics in this sub genre are high-profile releases with massive budgets. This comes with a price tag of only about $25 million. That was probably the catering receipt for WaroftheWorlds.
That said, I don’t see this recouping its minimal cost during the stateside domestic run. I’ll say this only reaches mid single digits (if it’s lucky) before it lifts off quickly to On Demand status. I’ll say it doesn’t even get there.
CaptiveState opening weekend prediction: $2.8 million
The latest iteration of the PlanetoftheApes saga that began nearly a half century ago concludes on a major franchise high note. What Rupert Wyatt began in satisfying fashion with 2011’s RiseofthePlanetoftheApes and Matt Reeves continued with success in 2014’s DawnofthePlanetoftheApes is elevated even more so with WarforthePlanetoftheApes. Mr. Reeves returns behind the camera with an epic and sorrowful tale of Caesar’s (Andy Serkis) constant battle between his species and the humans remaining to fight them.
The third installment also continues the perfection of the motion capture wizardry that brings the apes to life. It’s been enormously impressive in parts 1 and 2. It’s taken another leap forward in War. That said, we’re grown accustomed to legions of these characters being seen in our blockbusters. A compelling story must follow and it’s present.
When Dawn concluded, Caesar had dispensed of treacherous right-hand ape Koba but knew what was left of the human race’s army would hunt him. War opens two years later with Caesar, his family, and the other apes dwelling in the woods. Their nemesis here is a demented colonel (Woody Harrelson) and his devoted military men. Tragedy strikes and it pits Caesar on a revengeful mission against the Colonel, who isn’t too far removed from the character of Kurtz in ApocalypseNow. Harrelson is a great villain here with his own backstory in this dystopian world.
War introduces us to some new characters – both real and generated. There’s a mute young girl (Amiah Miller) who joins the apes on their joinrney. Series aficionados will reocognize her signifance quickly. Steve Zahn also brilliantly brings “Bad Ape” to life, a former zoo inhabitant who provides some much needed comic relief to the proceedings.
Yet this trilogy has focused mostly on Caesar and Serkis’s absolutely astonishing portrayal of him. The effects team goes even further in making him seem so very real. The writing and the actor’s commitment succeed in making his arch very emotional.
WarforthePlanetoftheApes is the best of the three and the other two were both quite solid. This is the end of this particular Apes chapter, but Reeves and his team leave us with the possibility of more and wanting it.
Paramount Pictures goes for a little Christmas counter programming with the crime drama The Gambler, a remake of a 1974 James Caan flick. Rupert Wyatt (who did Rise of the Planet of the Apes) directs with Mark Wahlberg headlining. John Goodman, Jessica Lange, and Brie Larson costar. Reviews have been mostly positive with a current ranking of 65% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The majority of holiday pictures out there are not catering directly to an adult audience (Unbroken is a notable exception) and it could allow The Gambler to post a decent debut. Wahlberg is hit or miss at the box office, however and I’m not sure the marketing campaign has been effective enough to bring older moviegoers out in droves.
It may be a wager that doesn’t quite work for the studio. I believe The Gambler could get somewhat lost in the shuffle among the higher profile releases. It could struggle to reach $15 million over the four day extended holiday frame and I’ll estimate that it will not.
The Gambler opening weekend prediction: $9.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $12.2 million (Thursday to Sunday)