Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 09-03-13

“Riddick” – In theaters September 6th

“Riddick” – In theaters September 6th

Katee Sackhoff as Dahl in “Riddick”

Katee Sackhoff as Dahl in “Riddick”

Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro

Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro

September Strength: Hollywood’s heading in the right direction with “One Direction: This is Us” opening to $18 million over Labor Day.

“Direction’s” lively launch plus the continuing power of The Weinstein Company’s PG-13 rated drama “The Butler” with $20 million helped make this the biggest Labor Day weekend ever. Ticket sales hit a record setting $157 million — and that’s a good indication of September’s likely boxoffice strength.

The 3D music documentary “Direction,” from Sony’s TriStar Pictures and director Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”), tracked best and in double digits with under-25 females, the worldwide pop group’s core audience. Moreover, the film’s PG rating made it easily accessible to younger “tween-age” girls, who are among the group’s biggest fans.

Because “Direction” actually went into theatres Fri., Aug. 30, you also can consider it to be an August hold-over. If so, that would make Universal’s highly anticipated R rated sci-fi action thriller “Riddick,” opening Friday, September’s first official wide release.

“Riddick’s” been tracking in solid double digits and doing best with 25-plus males and nearly as well with under-25 males. It’s also tracking decently with 25-plus females.

The Story: This new chapter in the series going back to 2000’s “Pitch Black” and 2004’s “The Chronicles of Riddick” reunites writer-director David Twohy with Vin Diesel as the antihero Riddick. Left for dead on a seemingly lifeless sun-scorched planet, Riddick soon finds himself fighting for survival against lethal alien predators.

“Chronicles” opened June 11, 2004 to $24.3 million and wound up grossing $57.8 million domestically.

The fact that nothing else is opening wide against “Riddick” is a good indication that Hollywood expects it to hit big and wants to stay out of its way. But that won’t be the case a week later when Sept. 13 will see two new wide releases competing for moviegoers’ time and money.

Relativity Media and Europa’s R rated action crime comedy “The Family,” is directed by Luc Besson (producer of the hit “Taken” franchise) and executive produced by Oscar winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese. It’s already showing tracking strength, doing best with 25-plus men and nearly as well with 25-plus women.

The Story: After snitching on the mob, Mafia boss Fred Manzoni (Robert De Niro), his wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and their kids wind up in a quiet town in France in the witness protection program where CIA Agent Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones) tries his best to keep them undercover. Soon, however, they’re back handling problems the “family” way and, before long, their old mob friends have tracked them down.

Also hitting the megaplexes in hopes of a lucky Friday the 13th is FilmDistrict and Blumhouse Productions’ PG-13 horror thriller “Insidious Chapter 2,” directed by James Wan (“The Conjuring”) and starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey. It’s already tracking in double digits and doing best with under-25 females and almost as well with under-25 males, the perfect demo combo for a horror genre episode.

The original “Insidious” opened Apr. 1, 2011 via FilmDistrict to $13.3 million and did $54 million domestically. It reportedly cost only $1.5 million to produce.

The Story: The Lambert Family’s in danger because they’re linked to the spirit world through a dark childhood secret they’re desperate to unlock.

Sept. 20 will see boxoffice competition heat up with three new wide releases going head-to-head.

Warner Bros. and Alcon Entertainment’s R rated crime thriller “Prisoners” is directed by Denis Villeneuve (“Incendies”) and stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis.

“Prisoners” is tracking best with men under and over 25 and with women under 25. Moreover, it’s tracking almost as well with women over 25. That four demo appeal typically translates into big boxoffice business.

What also should help “Prisoners” is its potential critical and awards strength. The film was very well received when it screened in late August at the 40th annual Telluride Film Festival and that’s already got Oscar pundits calling it a contender. On the other hand, they’re also worrying that its dark intense storyline could be difficult for Academy members to handle. Of course, that’s where great Oscar marketing comes in and Warners has had plenty of success in that arena over the years.

The Story: Keller Dover (Jackman) faces every parent’s worst nightmare when his six year old daughter and a friend go missing. The only lead is a dilapidated RV parked on their street. Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) arrests the driver, but lack of evidence forces his release, making Keller take matters into his own hands.

Screen Gems’ 3D drama “Battle of the Year” is directed by Benson Lee (“Planet B-Boy”) and stars Josh Holloway, Laz Alonzo and Posh Peck. It’s tracking best and equally well with women under and over 25.

The Story: It’s the Olympics of break dancing, an annual tournament attracting the world’s best teams, but Americans haven’t won in 15 years. Now hip hop mogul and former B-Boy Dante (Alonso) wants to put the country that started the sport back on top.

Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment’s R rated biographical action drama “Rush” is from Academy Award winning director Ron Howard (“A Beautiful Mind”) and stars Daniel Bruhl, Chris Hemsworth and Olivia Wilde.

Among the film’s producers are Howard’s longtime producer partner Brian Grazer and screenwriter Peter Morgan. Morgan was Oscar nominated in 2009 for best adapted screenplay for Howard’s “Frost/Nixon” and in 2007 for best original screenplay for Stephen Frears’ “The Queen.”

Howard’s boxoffice and Oscar success over the years automatically puts the spotlight on any new film he makes. His past movies as a director have grossed nearly $2 billion in domestic theatres. Among Howard’s biggest hits are 2000’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” ($260 million), 2006’s “The Da Vinci Code” ($217.5 million), 1995’s “Apollo 13” ($173.8 million) and 2001’s “A Beautiful Mind” ($170.7 million).

The Story: Set in the glamorous world of 1970s Formula One racing, the film’s based on the true story of two rival race car drivers — English playboy James Hunt (Hemsworth) and his methodical, brilliant Austrian opponent Niki Lauda (Bruhl). It’s the story of two drivers willing to risk everything in a sport with no margin for error.

Sept. 20 will also see Warner Bros. open its PG rated 1939 classic fantasy adventure “Wizard of Oz,” which has been meticulously restored for presentation in 3D for a special one week wide release. Although audiences have been able to see “Wizard” on television and DVD for many years, this 3D release on IMAX screens is a first.

Directed by Victor Fleming, it stars Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charley Grapewin, Clara Blandick and Pat Walsh.

The Story: A young farm girl (Garland) and her little dog are magically transported into the enchanted land of Oz via a Kansas tornado. As they travel down Oz’s Yellow Brick Road to find the Wizard and ask him to send them home, they encounter a wonderful, funny, terrifying and, ultimately, enlightening group of characters, human and otherwise.

September will end with a busy boxoffice as four new wide releases hit theatres Sept. 27.

Columbia and Sony Pictures Animation’s 3D comedy “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2” picks up where the franchise’s 2009 original left off. Directed by Cody Cameron (“Open Season 3”) & Kris Pearn (animation department story head on the first “Cloudy”), it stars the voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris and Will Forte.

The Story: Inventor Flint Lockwood thought he saved the world by destroying his infamous invention that turned water into food, causing cheeseburger rain and spaghetti tornadoes. When Flint learns his invention's survived and is now creating food-animals, he and his friends take on hungry taco-diles, shrimp-panzees and other food-imals to save the world – again!

Picturehouse Entertainment’s R rated action musical “Metallica Through the Never” is directed by Nimrod Antal (“Predators”) and stars Dane DeHaan, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich.

The Story: Trip (DeHaan), a young roadie for Metallica, is sent on an urgent mission during the band's show, but his simple assignment turns into a surreal adventure.

Relativity Media’s R rated comedy drama “Don Jon” is written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (his feature directing debut), who also stars opposite Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore.

The Story: Jon Martello’s (Gordon-Levitt) friends call him Don Jon because he always dates women who are “10s.” Nonetheless, none of them ever match up to how Jon feels on his own watching Internet porn. When he sets out to find real happiness, Jon learns some larger lessons about life and love through his relationships with two very different women.

Fox Searchlight Pictures’ PG-13 comedy “Baggage Claim” is directed by David E. Talbert (“First Sunday”) and stars Paula Patton, Taye Diggs and Jill Scott.

The Story: Determined to get engaged before her youngest sister’s wedding, flight attendant Montana Moore (Patton) realizes she’s only got 30 days left to find her Mr. Right. Using her airline connections to “accidentally” meet eligible ex-boyfriends and scour the skies for possibilities, she racks up over 30,000 miles and suffers her share of comedic encounters while seeking the perfect guy.

Bottom line: September got off on the right foot over Labor Day thanks to “One Direction: This Is Us” and “The Butler” and it looks like the boxoffice should continue to sizzle in the weeks ahead.