Thursday, February 28, 2013

Movie Preview: March 2013

So far it's been a pretty bleak year for movies. January was dominated by December holdovers, but due to a huge slate of disappointing new releases it failed to make it to last year's average mark for a January. No big January holdovers and a big slate of average to disappointing February releases (Identity Thief turned out to be the only big hit of the month), led this February to be the worst grossing February since 2002. Not a good start to the year at all. Now there is no way this upcoming March breaks last year's record setting March due to the huge performance of The Hunger Games as well as other big hits in The Lorax and 21 Jump Street, but this upcoming month does have some good potential with some big titles being released to get this awful movie year on track. There are five weekends this March, so lets jump right into it.

March 1st - 3rd - 

The first weekend of March has recently been a great one. The Lorax, Rango, Alice in Wonderland, and Watchmen were the last four movies to open up in that spot and all four of them wound up with a total north of $100M, with all of those four except for Rango opening up north of $50M. This weekend should continue this successful trend with Jack the Giant Slayer. Originally scheduled for June 2012, this was going to be a part of the odd fairy tale movie craze of last year before it and Hansel and Gretel rescheduled for this year. Hansel and Gretel back in January had a decent opening of just under $20M at the end of January and has held well to now be over $50M. Jack the Giant Slayer appeals to a much broader audience and should be closer financially to Snow White and the Hunstman, which opened to $56M last June. In terms of the story, Jack the Giant Slayer is turning the classic tale of Jack and the Beanstalk into a action-packed fantasy adventure. While I'm positive it won't be as epic as Lord of the Rings, that's the style of movie and audience it is trying to attract and it is sure to gain a big paycheck. The movie cost nearly $200M to make, so any total south of that will be considered a disappointment. If its US totals don't get it to that number, oversea totals should pick up the slack. It stars Nicholas Hoult as Jack and it is looking like a good year for the actor as he already has the decent hit Warm Bodies on his resume this year. The biggest obstacle for Jack the Giant Slayer will be how well it holds with Oz The Great and Powerful coming out the following weekend.

 The second movie that could surprise people this weekend is the raunchy comedy 21 and Over. It is from the writers of the Hangover so it has that going well for it and from the looks of the plot it seems that those writers lost a bit of creativity because it sounds a lot like the Hangover as well, with different younger characters. The original Hangover opened to $45M and while 21 and Over won't get to that mark, it is of note that at a similar time last year, 21 Jump Street debuted to nearly $40M. Also, last month's big hit Identity Thief opened to $34M, so a total north of $30M is definitely a possibility. The other possibility is for it to be closer to last March's Project X, which debuted to $21M on it's way to just over $50M. 

As a third potential hit this weekend, we get another horror movie coming to the big screen in The Last Exorcism Part II. Now horror movies are a dime a dozen and always fizzle pretty fast if they even get going in the first place, but the exorcism style of movies for some reason always are pretty good at attracting an audience for at least the first weekend in theaters. The exorcism of Emily Rose opened to $30M in 2005 and this movie's predecessor The Last Exorcism opened to $20M in 2010. Also when horror movies decide to downgrade to a PG-13 rating instead of R they are sometimes able to grab a broader audience than normal just like January's top new release Mama, which opened up to $28M and has peaked at $70M. The best comparison for this movie would probably be the previously mentioned predecessor The Last Exorcism. If it doesn't top that movie's total, it should get pretty close. 

Finally, the last new release of the weekend is most likely going to be this weekend's loser in Phantom. Phantom is an R-rated submarine drama starring Ed Harris and is about a man who has to leave his family to be the Captain of a Soviet submarine on a classified mission. He is haunted by his past and learns quickly that he was chosen with the idea in mind that he was going to fail. With how crowded this weekend is, it's unlikely that this movie gets much attention.

March 8th - 10th - 

The second weekend of March only has two new releases, but one of them should be a pretty big in as Oz The Great and Powerful hits theaters this weekend. Outside typically forgotten 80's movie Return to Oz, the land of Oz is a place that Hollywood really has never traveled back to which is actually kind of odd considering The Wizard of Oz is easily considered to be one of the greatest movies of all time. Not just that, though, but a fact that not as many people know is that The Wizard of Oz is actually based on a book by L Frank Baum. And he didn't write just one book about Oz. He wrote 14 books. And after his death, his publishers published 26 additional Oz books that followed the original cannon written by a couple different authors. So with that in mind it seems that Hollywood is just now realizing that they have a gold mine with all these books that they could take advantage of. This current trip back to Oz via a Wizard of Oz prequel is being headed up by Sam Raimi, which has mixed reaction from people due to his Spider-Man trilogy. It is also being heavily advertised as being from the producers of Alice in Wonderland and whether it is a good or bad thing, it looks an awful lot like Alice in Wonderland as far as the visuals goes. Now if I were to pick just one movie that has the potential to be huge and bring this year close to last March's level, this would be the movie to do it. I don't think it will be as big as Hunger Games or even as big as Alice in Wonderland, but it has the potential to get close to that and it's PG rating will also draw in a broader family audience as well.

Opening up beside Oz is Dead Man Down. This movie is an R-rated action thriller starring Collin Farrell and Noomi Rapace. There's been a lot of these type of movies this year and the unfortunate thing about them is that they have all done awful. Broken City, The Last Stand, Parker, and Bullet to the Head were the four R-rated action thrillers that came out this year and all four opened below $10M. Snitch was another similar movie that came out this year and it actually opened above $10M, but not by much at $13M, but it had the advantage of being PG-13. Moral of the story is that Dead Man Down might not be in very good shape.

March 15th - 17th - 

This weekend will in all likelihood belong to Oz once again, but there are two newcomers that will try to make noise and may or may not fail. The first one is The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. Jim Carrey and Steve Carell star in this PG-13 rated comedy about a magician who is trying to come back into relevancy after another magician steals his spotlight. While Steve Carell has been around the movie scene quite a bit, Jim Carrey has been on a Hollywood vacation. Both actors seem to be a little up and down in terms of box office success, Jim Carrey specifically having his heydays in the 90's and early 2000's, but both are pretty popular comedy stars and having the two together you would think would be a pretty big draw. There have been two times in movie history where the two have been together, one being the animated hit Horton Hears a Who, but in non-animated movies, the other one is Bruce Almighty. I don't think Burt Wonderstone will hit those levels, but I am thinking that a realistic range for this comedy would be Jim Carrey's Yes Man, which opened up to $18M in December of 2008 and wound up with just under $100M.

The other movie of the weekend is Halle Berry's The Call. Halle Berry has also been non-existent recently outside of being in box office duds Cloud Atlas and New Year's Eve. The last time she starred in a significant box office hit was the X-Men trilogy, which ended in 2006. But nevertheless, she is back and it looks like she's in for another failed movie. The reason for that is that the premise of The Call sounds like it is just a glorified, extended episode of Criminal Minds or CSI. They are hunting down a serial killer who has just kidnapped another young girl. Why pay the money to go to the theater when you can turn on the TV and watch a criminal investigation show for free?

March 22nd - 24th - 

Dreamworks Animation is back on center stage in this fourth weekend of March with their latest attempt at an original animated movie in The Croods. Now there is actually a lot riding on this movie due to Dreamwork's recent disaster in The Rise of the Guardians. I'm not saying it was a bad movie, but what happened was they actually lost a lot of money on the project as it only opened to $24M and wound up with just over $100M. This caused a chain reaction where Dreamworks cancelled their 2014 project Me and My Shadow, rescheduled Mr. Peabody and Sherman for that spot in 2014 from November of this year, and fired 350 employees. So the pressure is one with this new movie The Croods, which is a movie about a cave dwelling family in the prehistoric era. They borrow the voices of Nicholas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, and Emma Stone to try to pull this off and they have the advantage that there really hasn't been many options this year in terms of animated movies, so they should be able to improve on the numbers of the Rise of the Guardians. 

Opening with The Croods is a completely opposite and thus non-conflicting movie in Olympus Has Fallen. No, it is not about a mythological ancient Greece. Olympus has fallen is code word for the White House has been taken over, which in this instance the cause is terrorists. This should be an interesting enough premise to avoid the recent trend of R-rated action thrillers completely bombing, but it probably won't be a huge breakout hit. It also stars Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, and Morgan Freeman among others, so that should be an interesting enough cast to get people's attention.

Finally, the loser of this week will be a second straight PG-13 comedy in Admission. Admission stars Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, which isn't a bad thing, but the premise of the movie just doesn't look that interesting. Fey and Rudd are decent actors, but I don't know if they can single-handedly carry this movie on their backs without an interesting plot.

March 29th - 31st -

In wrapping up this month, there aren't a ton of guaranteed hits, but rather a slew of movies with potential - potential being a scary word sometimes. The final week should bring a couple of movies that are guaranteed to at least be decent hits to make up for whatever failures happen earlier in the month. The first of this being GI Joe: Retaliation, a sequel to the first GI Joe. Now GI Joe: Retaliation was originally scheduled to come out last June and it wisely rescheduled to this final spot in March of this year because no one would've seen it last Summer as it was scheduled to be released right before The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises. They claim they rescheduled the movie in order to add 3D to it, and while that may be true, I personally believe the spot they had in June was what really scared them away. Also the rumors are that they wanted to extend Channing Tatum's role in the movie after he had three $100M hits in 2012, which would be smart. The original GI Joe opened up to a great $54M and finished with over $150M, but has an overall bad rap and so logically you might conclude that this leads to a weaker sequel, which might be the case, but they have brought on Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson to try to remedy that.

The other movie opening this weekend that should be a huge success is The Host. The Host actually in my opinion has a good chance to actually win the weekend as it is the next big screen adaption of a Stephenie Meyer novel. Is it going to be the next Twilight? I don't know, but a lot of the fans of the Twilight books have also read The Host and word on the street is that it is a more widely enjoyed novel even though it may not be the more popular one, so this fact means that it should be able pull in both Twilight fans and non-Twilight fans alike. For those not familiar with it, it is about an alien race that invades earth and specifically the human mind, but some humans refuse to give up control and thus the drama ensues. It stars Saoirse Ronan as the lead role (Hanna, Atonement) and she is a MUCH better actress then the wooden, emotionless Kristen Stewart.

Finally, last movie of the month comes with Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confession's of a Marriage Counselor. If you are one who enjoys these Tyler Perry movies that seem to come out every other month, then be my guest. You might enjoy this one. They have a decent fan base and typically open between $15M and $25M, so this might make a slight dent in the weekend.

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