March 6th - 8th-
Three years ago, Fox Searchlight released The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on the same weekend as Marvel's The Avengers. That release was of course in the limited variety, but the movie gained a lot of traction in the coming weeks and had a pretty dang good run in its limited to moderate release, ending with $46 million on a $10 million budget while peaking at only 1,298 theaters. It especially hit a chord with the older crowd as it starred a handful of beloved older actors and actresses like Judie Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, and Bill Nighy. Because of that success, the gang returned last weekend with The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. As far as the title goes, is it the "SECOND best" or is it the "second BEST" hotel? Does that even make any sense? Probably not. Not important, though. Fans of the first one should show up to this one eventually if they haven't already. Instead of going the limited release route again, this opened right up into over 1,500 theaters and would up in third place at the box office with $8.5 million. Being that the older crowd don't rush out to theaters opening weekend, this should continue to play well throughout the month.
Dead on arrival this weekend was Vince Vaughn's recent bomb, Unfinished Business. There was a point in time where Vince Vaughn was actually a good box office draw. Back in 2005, The Wedding Crashers was a critical and financial success. Since then it's been a rocky downhill ride for the actor as the last 11 movies have all ended up as rotten on Rotten Tomatoes, the last several of which being complete financial duds. And now it seems like he's hit rock bottom. No one seemed interested in Unfinished Business leading up to release. No one showed up when it hit theaters as it only could manage $4.7 million in over 2,000 theaters. And worse of all, it seems like those who saw didn't laugh much at all. Poor Vince Vaughn.
March 13th - 15th-
Playing the counter-programming role this weekend is Run All Night, which is yet another Liam Neeson action movie. The idea here is to attract the male crowd not interested in Cinderella, which is pretty smart being that early indications are that Cinderella is skewing very heavily towards the female crowd. The problem is, are people getting tired of the Liam Neeson action movie? This one especially seems to be playing off the Taken brand being that it is about someone trying to harm one of his children which of course sparks Neeson taking action to stop that and protect his child. This time it's a son instead of a daughter. It also appears that the stakes are a bit higher in this being that all the Taken movies were PG-13 while this is R, thus fitting itself into the other category of Neeson action movies. One advantage that this has is that it's from the director of last year's Non-Stop, which was actually a decent hit.
March 20th - 22nd-
Speaking of Taken, Pierre Morel, the director of Taken, brings us The Gunman. This stars Sean Penn and Idris Elba in the second straight male-action driven action movie in as many weeks. Is there enough money and interest for both Run All Night and The Gunman to succeed? Straight up action movies like this without a strong brand name or huge box office draw have struggled to break out, which is why The Gunman is hoping that its attachment to Taken can help it succeed because despite how well-liked Sean Penn is, he doesn't exactly have the ability to completely put a movie on his back and turn it into a success. To me this just seems like the type of movie that will just get lost in the box office.
Rounding out the weekend, we have the Christian film Do You Believe? This comes from the same people that did God's Not Dead, which turned out to be a very solid hit last March. In fact, last year in general was a pretty big year for Christian films as Son of God, God's Not Dead, and Heaven is For Real all did really good business. Can Do You Believe? continue this trend? It's hard to predict when Christian audiences will show up in droves, so I have no idea. What I do know is that those who were a fan of God's Not Dead will most likely buy into this one as well.
March 27th - 29th-
Last but not least, we have Dreamworks' Home. It's no secret right now that Dreamworks is in big trouble right now. Their glory days seem like such a long time ago and they are grasping at straws trying to find their way back with little success. They've had a long string of failures that have caused the company to suffer financially and thus forced them to rethink their whole strategy. The last few years they've averaged two to three movies a year. This year Home is it for them unless they end up putting B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations back on the schedule. Will it be a success or yet another failure? It stars Jim Parsons as an alien who comes to earth and befriends a human girl voiced by Rihanna. Jim Parsons is a very popular TV actor and he plays a similar type of character like that of the beloved Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Rihanna is arguably the biggest pop star of this generation. But will bringing a TV star and a pop star translate into movie success? I don't know.