WikiLeaks' Julian Assange has proved to be a formidable opponent for businesses and governments around the world. But is he tough enough to beat a psychopath with telekinetic powers? The odds say no, and that's bad news for Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) investors hoping for yet another box-office win.
Actor Benedict Cumberbatch plays Assange in The Fifth Estate, a DreamWorks Studios film distributed by Walt Disney. Subsidiary Touchstone Pictures also played a role in producing the film, which faces off against a modern-day remake of Stephen King's Carrie from Sony's (NYSE:SNE) Screen Gems and Escape Plan, a popcorn actioner from Lions Gate starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Google's Trends data says to expect Carrie to dozn next weekend's box office crown:
Critics, too, are largely dismissive of The Fifth Estate. Only 43% of the 40 reviews counted at Rotten Tomatoes came in "fresh." Not a good sign when the closest comparable is The Social Network, a 2010 blockbuster that won three Oscars and which rates 96% "fresh" at Rotten Tomatoes.
Add it all up, and October is starting to look like Sony's comeback month at the box office, especially when you factor in the gate success of Captain Phillips. The Tom Hanks-led drama appears on track to earn $26 million in its U.S. debut this weekend, a strong start for a film that cost just $55 million to make and a welcome change for Sony. The studio's 2013 struggles at the box office precipitated an executive shake-up last month.
Should Walt Disney investors be concerned? No. Disappointed, sure, but not concerned. Disney's role in The Fifth Estate is limited to distributor and co-producer. But even if the film were a big-budget bust along the lines of The Lone Ranger, the Marvel movie machine is still ringing the cash register with the DVD and Blu-ray release of Iron Man 3. The studio is producing more than enough sales elsewhere to absorb a few year-end box office busts.
Now it's your turn to weigh in. Do you think Walt Disney will continue to rule the box office? How do you rate Sony's resurgence? Leave your thoughts in the comments box below.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Google and Walt Disney at the time of publication. Check out Tim's Web home and portfolio holdings, or connect with him on Google+, Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.
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