Due to CinemaCon and other unforeseen circumstances, we’re going to have a relatively shorter column this week and can’t get too heavily into the limited releases, so apologies to all the filmmaker/studios releasing movies we weren’t able to get to.
This is it. The end of April and the end of the (supposedly) slower winter and spring movie season – not that you could tell with one $300 million blockbuster, one $200 million, and numerous movies grossing over $100 million already. Yeah, this has been an uncharacteristically busy first quarter for the year, which certainly puts a lot of pressure on the upcoming summer movie season, but first, we get one more weekend of movies, some stronger than others.
The movie with the most potential to take the top spot is Nicholas Stoller’s romantic comedy The Five-Year Engagement (Universal), starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt as a couple whose wedding keeps being put off by various life situations. It’s a premise everyone who has been in a long-term relationship can relate to, but as a relationship comedy, it’s more likely to appeal to the female fans of Segel and/or Blunt from their previous work, and that’s an audience that already has a number of other choices in theaters. Segel has appeared in three major comedy hits including last year’s Bad Teacher and The Muppets, both which opened with $30 million, but we still think this is a tougher sell due to the awkward title, which may be why Universal have taken a cue from their 2011 hit Bridesmaids by focusing on the wedding stuff. There’s a chance this can break out and open big, but we expect it to end up somewhere in the $15 to 17 million range, which theoretically could allow it to beat Think Like a Man in its second weekend. We think it probably will win Friday but then end up falling behind over the weekend to end up in second place.
The other movies of the weekend may fall into the “dumped into this weekend ’cause we don’t know what else to do with them” category, but at least James McTeigue’s period horror flick The Raven (Relativity Studios), starring John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe, has a strong marketing campaign that makes it look really scary, something that should make it a first choice for the fussy 16 to 22-year-old crowd. According to estimates, the movie’s only opening in roughly 2,000 theaters, which doesn’t show a lot of confidence either from Relativity or exhibitors, but we think that number will be upped by Friday, and we don’t think the terrible reviews the movie got from its international opening will keep young people from checking it out, so expect this one to open in the $10 to 12 million range but probably end up with less than $30 million total.
Parents with small kids may consider Aardman’s stop-motion animated The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Sony Animation) as an option this weekend, and opening in the most theaters this weekend (over 3,000) would normally give it an advantage, although Aardman’s humor is often too quirky for audiences in the Midwest and South and the movie title isn’t much better, so we expect the business to be spread fairly thin and for it to open in fourth place in the $10 to 11 million opening range with a chance at roughly $36 million total.
Both those movies should fare better than Jason Statham’s return in the action thriller Safe (Lionsgate), a movie which seems like it just narrowly missed being sent straight to DVD, but instead got dumped in the last weekend of the spring movie season. Statham’s normally good for $9 to 12 million opening, but that’s when a movie is being marketed well, and frankly, if Lionsgate bothered to run any ads for this one, you could have fooled us, as we’ve seen less commercials and posters for this movie than anything else out there. Because of that, we think this will be the one movie that falls flat this weekend, opening with less than $8 million opening and topping out at $20 million or less.
Last year this weekend, it wasn’t about dumping movies and in fact, the summer started early as Universal Pictures released Fast Five, which made almost as much on its own as we think the entire Top 10 will make this weekend, setting a new April record with $86.2 million. The other two movies bombed with Prom (Disney) opening in fifth place with $4.7 million and the animated sequel Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil (The Weinstein Company) taking sixth place with $4.1 million. Obviously, the presence of Fast Five changed the entire game and since nothing this weekend will make even close to $86 million, this week will definitely be down from last year.
This Week’s Predictions -
1. Think Like a Man (Screen Gems) – $17.1 million -49%
2. The Five-Year Engagement (Universal) – $15.5 million N/A
3. The Lucky One (New Line/WB) – $12.5 million -45%
4. The Raven (Relativity) $11.6 million N/A
5. The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Sony) – $10.8 million N/A
6. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) $9.4 million -36%
7. Safe (Lionsgate) $7.6 million N/A
8. Chimpanzee (Disneynature) – $6.5 million -38%
9. The Three Stooges (20th Century Fox) – $5.5 million -44%
10. The Cabin in the Woods (Lionsgate) – $4.4 million -45%
Even though we don’t have much time to write about it, this week’s The Chosen One would have been the Danish crime-thriller Headhunters (Magnolia Pictures) from director Mortem Tyldun based on the novel by Jo Nesbo. It stars Aksel Hennie as Roger Brown, a shifty corporate recruiter who moonlights as an art thief in order to make money to support his trophy wife’s exorbitant lifestyle. When he encounters the charismatic Danish businessman Clas and tries to steal his valued painting, he suddenly finds himself the target of a ruthless tracker who has been hired to take Roger out. It’s a really sharp thriller, very exciting, and if you’re a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, you should thoroughly enjoy it.
We’re giving a special Honorable Mention to Raymond De Felitta’s documentary, Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story (Tribeca Film), which we saw at the Tribeca Film Festival last week. This is an incredibly personal story about how his father Frank De Felitta made a TV documentary down in Greenwood, Mississippi in 1965 which included a black waiter named Booker Wright speaking out about the treatment of blacks in the area. Raymond returns to the area and talks to Booker’s family about the impact he had on the black community at the time and the results are quite powerful and memorable. I wouldn’t even be remotely surprised if De Felitta’s film is shortlisted at the Academy Awards.
I wish I had more time to write about both the movies above, but give them a look if you have the chance.
Next week, it’s the summer! And the big movie that everyone’s been waiting for finally brings together John Steed and Mrs. Peel in a new agency run by Samuel L. Jackson, and you’re not buying that at all, are you? Nope, it’s Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye and the Hulk together for the first time (outside comics) fighting Loki and his army of aliens in Marvel’s The Avengers (Disney), which is already set to be one of the biggest movies of the summer.
You can read more about the upcoming summer box office in our annual Summer Box Office Preview.
You can read stuff like this and regular box office, awards and festival coverage in the new Weekend Warrior Blog and to keep up with the latest articles and posts, you can follow us on Twitter.
Copyright 2012 Edward Douglas