Opinion Brief

Is the box office too crowded for Killing Them Softly?

The new Brad Pitt thriller faces stiff competition from blockbusters like Skyfall and Oscar hopefuls like Lincoln

Brad Pitt's new film Killing Them Softly, in theaters today, sounds like a huge hit on paper: A critically-acclaimed mob thriller about a poker-game heist gone wrong, starring Pitt with supporting turns from The Sopranos' James Gandolfini and Goodfellas' Ray Liotta. (Watch a trailer for Killing Them Softly below.) But the film was originally bumped from a planned September release out of fear that The Master would overshadow it — and now that Pitt's movie is finally here, many analysts are predicting it will be out-grossed by films that have been in theaters for weeks. Is the box-office simply too crowded for Killing Them Softly to find an audience?

It doesn't stand a chance against James Bond and Bella Swan: "Killing Them Softly won't make a killing at the box office this weekend," says Amy Kaufman at the Los Angeles Times. Analysts who have conducted pre-release audience surveys are projecting the film will "debut softly with about $10 million domestically," behind the three-week-old Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II, the four-week-old Skyfall, and last week's new release Rise of the Guardians.
"Brad Pitt's Killing Them Softly poised for soft box office debut"

Actually, its real competition comes from other Oscar hopefuls: Skyfall and Twilight were always going to be monster hits, says Tim O'Brien at Examiner, but Killing Them Softly's real competition is other Oscar hopefuls like Lincoln and Life of Pi, which many theatergoers still haven't had time to see. Softly's prospects this weekend depend on how many moviegoers think it has a chance this awards season. And with highly-anticipated releases like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Les Miserables less than a month away, a lower-profile film like Softly has its work cut out for it.
"Killing Them Softly tries to shoot itself into crowded movie scene"

But Pitt's star power may give it a boost: The projections may not be promising, but "Pitt has a knack for pushing challenging movies to solid grosses," says Ray Subers at Box-Office Mojo. Last year's Pitt-starring Moneyball, a film about applying mathematical analysis to baseball, "scored one of the best openings ever for a baseball movie" — a notoriously soft genre. In many ways, Killing Them Softly most resembles last year's Ryan Gosling-starring Drive — an R-rated crime flick starring "an attractive leading man playing a bit against type." If Softly follows Drive's arc, it may at least turn out to be a bona fide cult hit, if not a massive box-office draw.
"Forecast: Holdovers to lead Soft post-Thanksgiving weekend"

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