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Wednesday, July 23, 2014



2012 Preview: February

2012 got off to a great start, with January earning four wins in a row in the year-over-year comparison and finishing the month with a double-digit lead over 2011's pace. This has made me very hopeful going forward. That said, there are fourteen films opening wide or being re-released wide in February, and I don't think there's a $100 million hit in the group. In fact, I don't think any will get all that close to the century mark. There are several that should be solid mid-level hits and with a little luck, half of them could reached $50 million and there are five that could reach $75 million. Last February, Just Go With It topped $100 million while Gnomeo and Juliet came within $33,000 of doing the same. We won't replicate that this year, so we have to hope for a lot more depth. If films like Safe House, Journey 2, Ghost Rider 2, The Phantom Menace: 3D and The Vow all meet expectations, then perhaps 2012 will continue its hot start.

Weekend of February 3rd, 2011

The month starts off with three wide releases, including The Woman in Black, which marks Daniel Radcliffe's first serious post-Harry Potter release. This can only help the film's buzz, but it will need more than buzz to thrive. Its competition comes from Chronicle, a found footage teenage superpower film, and Big Miracle, an inspirational real life story. I think The Woman in Black will come out ahead. The real question is whether or not it can do well enough to help 2012 beat last year. Last year only two films opened wide, The Roommate and Sanctum, and neither were major hits, so I'm cautiously optimistic that the month will start on a strong note.

Big Miracle

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: EverybodyLovesWhales.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: February 3rd, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG for language.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Animal Lead, Rescue, TV Industry, News, Environmental, and more
Directed By: Ken Kwapis
Starring: John Krasinski, Drew Barrymore, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

John Krasinski stars as a reporter stationed in Alaska looking for stories. His producer doesn't think he has any, but then he spots three gray whales that are trapped in the ice. When he reports on this story, it attracts the attention of the world, including his ex-girlfriend, Drew Barrymore, an environmentalist, who rushes to Alaska to try and rescue the whales.

This is a live action film aimed mostly at families, at least that's the vibe I'm getting. The filmmakers might be going for a warmhearted date movie, and since the release date is so close to Valentine's Day, this wouldn't be a bad idea. The buzz is not bad, but films like this rarely become major hits. Dolphin Tale earned more than $70 million, and that was a shock. That film also had 3D to boost its box office numbers. Perhaps this film will open in the mid to high teens and finish with north of $50 million. However, opening with just over $10 million and finishing with $35 million or so is more likely.

Chronicle

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Facebook.com/Chronicle
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: February 3rd, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense action and violence, thematic material, some language, sexual content and teen drinking.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Found Footage, Psychics, Dysfunctional Family, Addiction, Romance, First Love, Friends Becoming Enemies, and more
Directed By: Josh Trank
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Ashley Hinshaw, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $15 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Three high school students find a mysterious cave that is filled with crystals. These crystals give them superpowers, which they use mostly for fun. However, when one of them starts to use their powers for evil, the other two don't know how to deal with the situation.

This is a plot that could result in a very dark and disturbing movie. However, the PG-13 rating suggests it's being aimed at kids instead. (Or at the very least, it is being aimed at high school students, instead of adult horror fans.) At this point I could just say, "Harry Potter-Wannabe" and leave it at that. This is probably a bit unfair, but I'm not the only one who had that thought when they first heard of the movie, and when it comes to box office potential, sometimes perceptions can be more important than reality. Fortunately, early reviews are good and perhaps this film will be a surprise hit. I'm not expecting Cloverfield-like numbers, but half that is possible. And since the movie only cost $15 million to make, the studio should be happy with that result.

The Woman in Black

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: WomanInBlack.com
Distributor: CBS Films
Release Date: February 3rd, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material and violence/disturbing images..
Source: Base on a Book / Remake
Major Genre: Suspense
Keywords: Hauntings, Curses, Death of a Son or Daughter, Death of a Spouse, and more
Directed By: James Watkins
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer, Liz White, and others
Production Budget: Reported at 15 million Pounds or $23 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million

Hammer Films is back. For those who don't know, Hammer Films made countless classic horror films from the 1950s to the 1970s, but tastes changed and they didn't keep up. Now after many, many years, they are back. Hopefully.

There are some signs that are positive, including the early reviews, which are 88% positive. Plus the film stars Daniel Radcliffe. Granted, his drawing power outside of Harry Potter is completely unknown at the moment, but you can't deny he has name recognition. On the other hand, this is the sixth film released by CBS Films, and so far they haven't had a single hit.

I think this will be their biggest hit and I think it will be a surprise midlevel hit, reinvigorating both the studio and the distributor.

Weekend of February 10th, 2011

It's a very crowded weekend with three to five new releases, depending on how you define things. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is a 3D Re-release while This Means War doesn't open till Tuesday, so it's in no man's land as far as weekends go. Amazingly, all four films opening on the Friday, The Phantom Menace, Journey 2, Safe House, and The Vow, appear to be solid midlevel hits. Unfortunately, this week last year was also quite strong with three films opening with more than $25 million. It might be hard to replicate that success this year.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheMysteriousIsland.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: February 10th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG for some adventure action, and brief mild language.
Source: Based on a Book and Sequel
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: 3-D, Rescue, Sequels Without Their Original Stars, and more
Directed By: Brad Peyton
Starring: Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens, Dwayne Johnson, Luis Guzman, Michael Caine, and others.
Production Budget: Rumored to be $100 million
Box Office Potential: $70 million

Journey to the Center of the Earth opened in the summer of 2008 and earned just over $100 million domestically and $240 million worldwide. It should come as no shock that they made a sequel. However, it's practically a sequel in name only. Both are based on novels by Jules Verne and both star Josh Hutcherson, but other than that, there's no real connection between the two films. This one has a mostly new cast, new writers, new director.

All of these changes has resulted in weaker buzz for the movie and early reviews suggest this buzz is correct. There's little chance it will match its predecessor. On the other hand, I can't see it doing worse than The Tooth Fairy did at the box office.

Safe House

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: NoOneIsSafe.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: February 10th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence throughout and some language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Secret Agent, Corrupt Cops, On the Run, Surprise Twist, and more
Directed By: Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Denzel Washington, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $60 million to $80 million
Box Office Potential: $80 million

Ryan Reynolds stars as a secret agent who desperately wants some field experience. Denzel Washington stars as a former agent who went rogue years ago, but who recently turned himself in. Now he's brought to the safe house Ryan's character is in charge of, but when a military squad breaks in and attack, Ryan has to get Denzel out safely. It quickly becomes clear that there's a lot more to the story than what Ryan's superiors told him.

Denzel Washington is a very reliable box office draw. While his films rarely top $100 million, they are also very rarely bombs. The Book of Eli opened about this time in 2010 and finished with close to $100 million. This does bode well for this film's chances. Ryan Reynolds has starred in three $100 million movies since 2009, although his last two wide releases missed expectations. There's a slim chance this film will get to the century mark, but $80 million is more likely. Unfortunately, Denzel Washington film's tend to be rather expensive, so $80 million might not be enough for a profit, unless it is a bigger than expected hit internationally and on the home market.

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: StarWars.com/Explore/The-Movies/Episode-I-3D
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: February 10th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG for sci-fi action/violence.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Prequel, Delayed Sequel, Orphan, Secret Identity, War, Royalty, Politics, On the Run, Invented Language, Gambling, Slavery, Organized Crime, Same Actor, Multiple Roles, Sequel With a Recast Main Lead, Good Versus Evil, Robots, Auto Racing, Fake Sports, 3-D, 3-D Re-release, and more
Directed By: George Lucas
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, and others
Production Budget: $115 million originally, unknown for 3-D conversion
Box Office Potential: $65 million

One of the biggest movie franchises of all time gets a 3-D, re-release starting with The Phantom Menace. This film earned more than $900 million worldwide during its initial release, which bodes well for its 3-D re-release. However, it is also the weakest of the six films in terms of reviews. Granted, it earned 61% positive reviews, which is good for a wide release. I am a little concerned the irrational, the highly irrational backlash against George Lucas will hurt the film's box office chances, but getting to $1 billion worldwide is a reasonable goal.

On a side note, I think this film will do better than Beauty and the Beast 3-D, re-release, because I think these releases are drawing in disproportionally high amount of Fanboys. And when it comes to fanboys, there are few films that out-muscle Star Wars.

The Vow

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheVow-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: February 10th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for an accident scene, sexual content, partial nudity and some language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Romance, Faulty Memory, Medical and Hospitals, and more
Directed By: Michael Sucsy
Starring: Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $80 million

Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum star as a loving couple who get into a car crash. As a result, Rachel loses all memory of their marriage and Channing has to try and make her fall in love with him again.

Rachel McAdams starred in The Notebook, which made just over $80 million. Channing Tatum starred in Dear John, which made just over $80 million. There are some who think this movie will make more than $100 million, and there are reasons to be optimistic. After all, it is opening the weekend before Valentine's Day, which should really draw in audiences. Plus, Valentine's Day made $110 million in 2010, and there's a chance this film will replicate that success. Not a huge chance, but a chance. Even if it doesn't reach the century mark at the box office, there's a good chance it will be in a tight race for the biggest hit of the month.

Weekend of February 17th, 2011

The third weekend in February is a big weekend, because it is Presidents Day long weekend. There are two films opening that weekend, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and The Secret World of Arrietty, although the latter is probably opening semi-wide. There is also a film opening earlier in the week, This Means War, which opens on Valentine's Day. While it could be the biggest hit opening day, by the weekend, demand for that film might be deflated. Last year there were three films that opened wide, Unknown, I Am Number Four, and Big Momma's: Like Father, Like Son. Impressively, there were a total of six films that earned $10 million over the weekend. I don't know if 2012 will be able to replicate that result. However, if Spirit of Vengeance can earn $30 million over the weekend, 2012 could win with ease, even if it doesn't have the same depth.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheSpiritOfVengeance.com/
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: February 17th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, and language.
Source: Based on a Comic
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: 3-D, Visual Effects, Demons, Good vs. Evil, Marvel Comics, Sequels Without Their Original Stars, and more
Directed By: Neveldine & Taylor
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Ciarán Hinds, Violante Placido, Fergus Riordan, Christopher Lambert, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $75 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

Ghost Rider opened five years ago with terrible reviews, but managed to nearly double its production budget at the worldwide box office. This is enough to show a profit early in the home market, so it is not really surprising that a sequel is being made. It is also not really surprising that it took five years and the budget was reduced drastically. Hopefully this film's reviews are better than the last film's reviews were. Even if they are at the Drive Angry level I will be happy. If it can earn overall positive reviews, the word-of-mouth might be strong enough to top $100 million. It's a long shot.

The Secret World of Arietty

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Disney.Go.com/Arrietty
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: February 17th, 2012
MPAA Rating: G for General Admission.
Source: Based on the Book
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Tiny Worlds, Anime, Rescue, Kidnapping, and more
Directed By: Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Gary Rydstrom
Starring: Bridgit Mendler, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, David Henrie, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $23 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

The Secret World of Arietty is the latest Anime release from Studio Ghibli that is being distributed here by Disney. So far these films have not done particularly well at the box office and Anime has remained a niche market. It's unlikely that it will open truly wide, but if it does, it could easily double the box office potential above. On the other hand, there is a chance this film will open in much less than 1000 theaters, which means it could finish with less than $5 million. Given its reviews, I really hope it's a surprise hit.

This Means War

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ThisMeansWarMovie.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: February 14th, 2011
MPAA Rating: R for some sexual content.
Source: Original Comedy
Major Genre: Action / Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Secret Agent, Romance, Love Triangle, Revenge, Relationship Advice, and more
Directed By: McG
Starring: Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $70 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million

Chris Pine and Tom Hardy star as two CIA Agents who are highly trained and bestfriends. They would take a bullet for each other. That is until they learn they are both dating Reese Witherspoon. At first they decide to be grown up about the situation, which lasts about five seconds before a competition starts. And it doesn't take a whole lot longer before that competition becomes dirty and they use the full force of the CIA to mess with each other's dates.

This film is opening on Valentine's Day, which is a great time to open a romantic movie. But an action romance? I'm not sure how well that will play out. Also, this year Valentine's Day is on a Tuesday, which has to be the worst day of the week for it to land on. That said, McG's movies on average have earned nearly $100 million at the box office and Reese Witherspoon does have quite a bit of box office drawing power. (The two male leads don't have a lot of box office numbers to look at. I don't think you can really say Chris Pine had any real effect on Star Trek's box office numbers, for instance.) I'm worried that the midweek release will backfire, but it should still be a midlevel hit, but with a production budget large enough that being just a midlevel hit might not be enough.

Weekend of February 24th, 2011

The last weekend of February has four films opening wide; however, I'm not sure any of them will be big hits. Tyler Perry's Good Deeds is the only one with a real shot at $50 million, while the other three, Act of Valor, Gone, and Wanderlust, are middling hits at best. Odds are, one, maybe even two of these films, will be squeezed out at the box office and won't even open in the top five. There is some good news, on the other hand, as this week last year saw the release of two films, Hall Pass and Drive Angry. There's a chance Good Deeds will make more than the $55 million those two films made combined.

Act of Valor

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ActOfValor.com
Distributor: Relativity
Release Date: February 24th, 2011
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence including some torture, and for language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Special Forces, Inspired by True Events, Rescue, Secret Agents, Terrorism, and more
Directed By: Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh
Starring: Roselyn Sanchez, Alex Veadov, Jason Cottle, Nestor Serrano, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $15 million to $18 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

Navy Seals go on a mission to rescue a CIA Agent in order to stop a terrorist attack. The buzz surrounding this film is deafening in the silence. It has a cast that are mostly unknowns, it is the non-documentary debut for the directing team, it's only the second theatrical release for the writer, etc. It is being released by a distributor that has struggled and we could have another Haywire on our hands.

Gone

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Gone-Movie.com
Distributor: Summit
Release Date: February 24th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and terror, some sexual material, brief language and drug references.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller / Suspense
Keywords: Serial Killer, Buried Alive, Kidnapping, Disbelieving Police, Rescue, Surprise Twist, and more
Directed By: Heitor Dhalia
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer Carpenter, Wes Bentley, Sebastian Stan, Joel David Moore, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $28 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

Amanda Seyfried stars as a survivor of a serial killer, whom she thinks has returned and kidnapped her sister. Or maybe it's all in her head. That's what the cops think.

I'm a little worried about this film, because the distributor, Summit, has been bought out. And the distributor who bought Summit, Lionsgate, also has a film coming out the same weekend. This happened at the end of January as well, and the Summit film struggled. Also, while Amanda Seyfried has good name recognition and has a lot of talent, her choices in movie projects has not exactly worked out 100% of the time (Jennifer's Body, Red Riding Hood, etc.) There are some who think this will be the weakest of the three films opening on the final weekend of February, and they might be right. I think this film will avoid that fate, but it might be a close race to the bottom.

Tyler Perry's Good Deeds

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TylerPerry.com/Movies/Good-Deeds
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: February 24th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, language, some violence and thematic material.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Dysfunctional Family, Romance, Relationships Gone Wrong, African-American, Directing Yourself, and more
Directed By: Tyler Perry
Starring: Tyler Perry, Thandie Newton, Brian White, Gabrielle Union, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Tyler Perry plays Wesley Deeds, a man whose always done what people thought he should do, including work at his father's company, help his screw-up brother, propose to his long-term girlfriend, etc. However, after meeting a single mother, he starts to question what he's done with his life.

I have seen most of Tyler Perry's movies, and most have been pretty bad. I'm not alone in this regard, as only one of his films earned overall positive reviews, and that was just barely. On the other hand, his films have averaged more than $50 million at the box office, usually with a production budget of less than half of that, so there's no arguing with his success in that regard. Granted, the Madea have performed better than his average non-Medea film, so this one might struggle to earn much more than $40 million, but I've learned to err on the side of optimism when it comes to Tyler Perry.

Wanderlust

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Wanderlust-Movie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: February 24th, 2011
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, graphic nudity, language and drug use.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Fired, Mid-Life Crisis, Romance, Commune, Ensemble, and more
Directed By: David Wain
Starring: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, and a lot more
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million

Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston play husband and wife, but when he gets fired, they move from New York City to Georgia. Along the way, they stop at a bed and breakfast for the night, only to realize it is a commune. As they get to know the counterculture denizens, they start to appreciate the simpler lifestyle.

The film is directed by David Wain, who previously made Role Models, The Ten, Wet Hot American Summer, etc. Jennifer Aniston is coming off back-to-back $100 million hits, but the last two Paul Rudd films were a middling hit and a disaster. Hopefully this film lands somewhere close to the high end, but I think it will have to settle for $40 million or so.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2012-02-01

Movies 
 Big Miracle
 Chronicle
 The Woman in Black
 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
 Safe House
 Star Wars Ep. I: The Phantom Menace
 The Vow
 Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
 The Secret World of Arietty
 This Means War
 Act of Valor
 Gone
 Tyler Perry's Good Deeds
 Wanderlust