Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Movie Preview: March 2015

We're about a week and a half into March, so it's time to sit down and look at this month in movies before we get any further on. Thanks for very healthy totals from Fifty Shades of Grey, The SpongeBob Movie, and Kingsman: The Secret Service as well as another good chunk of cash from January phenomenon American Sniper, this past February turned out to be a very healthy month. It fell short of 2012's record, but still it's been a really good start for the box office this year, especially  considering the huge heavyweights coming later on in the year. March got off to a very slow start, as I'll discuss in a bit, but there's still some promise. There's a few pretty big titles that will get people's attention, but not enough of them and nothing as huge as The Hunger Games from a few years back that will make this a memorable March. But that's okay. Even with a slightly slow March, 2015 is still in good shape. But let's go ahead and dive in and see what this month has to offer!

March 6th - 8th-

The first weekend of March was looking to start things off fairly strong, instead it wound up as the lowest grossing weekend of the year so far, thanks mostly due to the failure of Chappie. Neil Blomkamp built up quite the solid reputation with just one film back in 2009 as he sent District 9 to the level of a sci-fi classic. It even picked up a best picture nomination at the Oscars, which is essentially unheard of for the genre. Blomkamp's second outing, 2013's Elysium, got a less than enthusiastic reaction from audiences, but still managed to rack up nearly $100 million in the domestic box office. Chappie was Blomkamp's attempt to dive into the artificially intelligent robot genre, but for multiple reasons, this just didn't work out. Its $13 million opening weekend was less than half of Elysium's debut and only a third of District 9's. Not helping its cause was the beating it got by critics as it currently stands at 28 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Not everyone hated this, though. Your's truly actually enjoyed it, but it appears as if I was in the minority. Regardless, you can check out my review right here.

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- 

After a very weak first weekend, Disney looks like it will spark some box office magic with Cinderella. Back in 2010, Disney had the genius idea of releasing a live action remake of one of it's timeless classics, that of Alice in Wonderland. And when I say genius, I mean that in the most genuine, non-sarcastic tone possible because Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland fed off the new 3D fetish that made Avatar the highest grossing movie of all time just a few months earlier and wound up with over $1 billion worldwide. That of course began a new fetish of making live action versions of all kinds of Disney classics. And it's not just Disney doing that. Several studios have joined in on the party. In 2012, we got two adaptions of Snow White. Last year we got a Sleeping Beauty adaption (Maleficent). Now it's Cinderella again. And this is just the beginning. Many more to come in the next few years. In terms of the adaptions done by Disney themselves, they went a sequel route with Alice in Wonderland and did Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the villain. This time around they are going traditional and telling the story of Cinderella the exact same way that everyone knows. Does this make it redundant being that this will be the upteenth adaption of Cinderella? Apparently not. Early reaction is very positive, thus meaning that family audiences will storm theaters throughout March seeking out Cinderella.

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- 

In my introduction I mentioned that there was nothing coming out as huge as The Hunger Games. I stand by that statement because I was talking in financial terms when The Hunger Games opened in late March back in 2012 and eventually earned over $400 million in the domestic box office. But in terms of type of movie, we definitely do have something like The Hunger Games. It's The Divergent Series: Insurgent. Because, you know, everything about Divergent screams Hunger Games wannabee. It's worked, though. No, it's not as big as The Hunger Games. It was actually even beat out by The Maze Runner in the box office (worldwide totals, that is), but it's done fairly well for itself and now every March for the next few years we will continue to get more Divergent movies. They even did the split-the-last-book-into-two-movies thing. So Insurgent is of course the second book in the trilogy. How high can Insurgent get? Divergent took in $50 million in its first weekend on its way to $150 million. Was Divergent liked enough to get Insurgent to explode like the second Twilight movie? Or will it just match Divergent? I'm betting on the latter, but we'll see.

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-

Finishing off the month we have a couple of movies that have decent potential. The first of which is Get Hard. This is another Kevin Hart movie and if we've learned anything from him recently it's that he has a pretty big fan base due to his natural ability to make everyone laugh. Last year he was on fire as he helped three different movies open up north of $20 million and he continued that this year with January's The Wedding Ringer. Because of this, there's no reason to believe that Get Hard will be any different. This time around, Kevin Hart is looking especially strong because he's starring right alongside one of the most well-known and successful comedians of the last decade, the one and only Will Ferrell. Kevin Hart plus Will Ferrell seems like the perfect recipe for comedy success right now and I'm certain it will work out.

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.

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