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2015 Preview: February

February 1st, 2015

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water poster

It was a record-breaking January thanks entirely to American Sniper, which set records, both during its limited release run and especially when it expanded wide. There were a couple of other films that did well, but for the most part, it was a typical January. The question is, will American Sniper boost the overall box office, which would help February, or will its effects fade as it does? There are ten wide releases in February; there are a few films that may or may not open in the top ten. Of these, there are only two that have a real shot at true box office success. The biggest film in terms of buzz is Fifty Shades of Grey, which looks so, so bad. Personally, I would rather watch The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water a hundred times than sit through just the trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey. If Fifty Shades of Grey becomes the biggest hit of the month, it will mrean the end of civilization. Because. I. Will. End. Civilization. Last February was mostly mediocre, except for The LEGO Movie which was a huge early year hit. There's no chance any film opening this month will match The LEGO Movie; the top two films likely won't match The LEGO Movie. Because of this, 2015 will need to rely on depth to come out ahead. I'm not sure how likely that will be.

Weekend of February 6nd, 2015

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water poster

The month gets off to a fast start with two significant releases: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water and Jupiter Ascending. The original SpongeBob movie earned $85 million more than a decade ago. If Sponge Out of Water sells the same number of tickets, it will be a $100 million hit with room to spare. Jupiter Ascending is the latest from the Wachowski Sibling. It was set to open last summer, but was pushed back to February. That's a bad sign, but there are still some reasons to remain optimistic, as there is still strong buzz. Or to be more accurate, there is strong buzz for a February release. The third film coming out this week is Seventh Son, which is doing well internationally, but most analysts think it will be lost in the crowd here. This weekend last year was the weekend The LEGO Movie opened with nearly $70 million. I'm hoping Sponge Out of Water will earn at least half of that, but that's not a sure thing. Even with American Sniper still doing strong business, I don't think 2015 is going to end up on top in the year-over-year comparison.

Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: JupiterAscending.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: February 6th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence, sequences of sci-fi action, some suggestive content and partial nudity.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Royalty, Alien Invasion, Romance, Space Opera, Sibling Rivalries, and more
Directed By: Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski
Written By: Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski
Starring: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $175 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

Jupiter Ascending is the latest film from Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski. It has been a while since the pair have made a film that was an unqualified success. It has been almost as long since they directed a film that was merely profitable. This film was supposed to be a summer tentpole release, but was pushed back to February. That's never a good sign. That said, there is still enough buzz to suggest this film could become a midlevel hit domestically. I don't think it has a real chance at $100 million, but $75 million isn't bad for a February release.

Seventh Son

Seventh Son poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SeventhSonMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: February 6th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense fantasy violence and action throughout, frightening images and brief strong language.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Witches, Coming of Age, Young Adult Adaptation, Good vs. Evil, Witches, 3D, Post-Production Conversion to 3D, and more
Directed By: Sergey Bodrov
Written By: Matt Greenberg, Charles Leavitt, Steven Knight, and Joseph Delaney
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $77 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

After watching the trailer for Seventh Son, I was left with an overwhelming sense of, "Been there, done that." It feels like a very generic fantasy adventure film and the early reviews suggest I'm not alone in thinking this way. It is also the smallest of the three films opening this week and it could open outside of the top five during its opening weekend and could fall out of the top ten before the end of the month.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SpongeBobMovie.com/
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: February 6th, 2015
MPAA Rating: Not yet rated, very likely PG
Source: Based on a TV Show / Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Delayed Sequel, Food, Live Action Cartoon, Animal Leads, Buddy Comedy, Talking Animals, 3D, Shot in 3D, and more
Directed By: Paul Tibbitt
Written By: Paul Tibbitt, Jonathan Aibel, and Glenn Berger
Starring: Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Carolyn Lawrence, Antonio Banderas, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $66 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

The original SpongeBob SquarePants movie hit theaters in 2004 and was a surprise hit earning $85 million. If you just go by ticket price inflation, it would have made about $115 million today. Sponge Out of Water has the added benefit of 3D ticket prices, which should help it on its goal to get to $100 million. On the other hand, the SpongeBob TV show and overall franchise is not as strong as it was back in 2005, so that's another strike against it. If the movie earns good reviews, then it should get to $100 million, maybe significantly more. Worse case scenario has the film becoming a midlevel hit.

Weekend of February 13th, 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service poster

This is Valentine's Day weekend, so what better time could there be to release an R-rated erotic film about a deeply abusive relationship? Fifty Shades of Grey is by far the biggest film coming out this month... if you judge solely by the number of news stories about it. I'm not 100% sold it can turn this hype into ticket sales. I've seen too many other films fail to live up to the hype. On the other hand, Kingsman: The Secret Service's early reviews are amazing, so hopefully it will do well in a counter-programming role. This weekend last year was led by The LEGO Movie with nearly $50 million. The biggest new release was About Last Night, which opened with just over $25 million. Some evidence suggest Fifty Shades of Grey will open with more than $50 million, so perhaps 2015 will come out ahead. I'm not 100% sold on that argument.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FiftyShadesMovie.com
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: February 13th, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content including dialogue, some unusual behavior and graphic nudity, and for language.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Relationships Gone Wrong, Sexual Fetish, Cross-Class Romance, Loss of Virginity, and more
Directed By: Sam Taylor-Wood
Written By: E.L. James and Kelly Marcel
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $40 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million

Fifty Shades of Grey is based on an incredibly popular book and many analysts think it will be the biggest hit of the month. There are some signs that this will be the case, but there are also signs that analysts should be more cautious. For instance, the book sold a huge number of copies in e-book format where people could read it on a Kindle without others knowing exactly what book they were reading. Will these people want to watch the movie in public? On the other hand, there was such a huge amount of hype surrounding the book that perhaps a lot of people who had never read the book will want to see the movie. Or perhaps the less than smooth development of the movie will encourage people who want to see a train wreck.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: KingsmanMovie.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: February 13th, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content.
Source: Based on a Comic
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Secret Agents, Juvenile Delinquents, Marvel Comics, and more.
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
Written By: Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman, Mark Millar, and Dave Gibbons
Starring: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Michael Caine, Samuel. L. Jackson, Sophie Cookson, and other
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

Colin Firth stars as a secret agent who works for a group not bound to any one government. He recruits and must train Taron Egerton. This is not exactly a unique storyline, but the early reviews are nearly unanimously positive and the buzz is better than most other February releases. I don't think it will become a $100 million hit, but I think it should become a solid midlevel hit. If I'm right about the production budget and the box office potential, then this could turn into a franchise. On the down side, people could see the trailer and think it is another Young Adult Adaptation and avoid it, because we have reached market saturation on those films. I really want it to succeed, so I'm worried I'm letting this cloud my judgment.

Weekend of February 20th, 2015

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 poster

There are three wide releases coming out the weekend after Valentine's Day, but none of them are expected to be anything more than midlevel hits. In fact, there's a chance all three films will bomb. The original Hot Tub Time Machine looked really bad, but was surprisingly good. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 feels like an unnecessary sequel, but it is also the biggest release of the week. The DUFF is a high school comedy and even under the bset of circumstances, those are rarely anything more than midlevel hits. Finally there's McFarland, USA, which I'm not 100% sure is opening truly wide. Kevin Costner's most recent film, Black or White, opened in less than 2,000 theaters and I suspect this film will do the same. By comparison, this weekend last year has two wide releases, including a Kevin Costner film. Neither found an audience in theaters and combined they couldn't match the $30 million The LEGO Movie earned in its third weekend of release. I don't think any of the new releases are going to top $20 million, so 2015 might be in trouble.

The DUFF

The DUFF poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheDUFFMovie.com
Distributor: CBS Films
Release Date: February 20th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual material throughout, some language and teen partying.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: High School Hell, Bullies, Make-Over, Romance, Football, High School Sports, and more
Directed By: Ari Sandel
Written By: Josh Cagan and Kody Keplinger
Starring: Mae Whitman, Robbie Arnell, Bella Thorne, and more
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

Mae Whitman plays a high school student who finds out she's a DUFF, a designated ugly fat friend. She wants a makeover and asked a former friend of hers, Robbie Arnell, to unduff her. Meanwhile, Bella Thorne plays the main Mean Girl. There have been a lot of movies like this made over the years, but even when they are top-notch, like Mean Girls, they are still rarely anything more than midlevel hits. There are still no reviews, so it is hard to know just how the film will end up doing with critics. It likely won't be a huge hit in theaters, because CBS Films doesn't have a very good track record.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: hottubtimemachine2.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: February 20th, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for crude sexual content and language throughout, graphic nudity, drug use and some violence.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Time Travel, Sequel Without Stars, Buddy Comedy, Internet, Singer, Music Industry, and a lot more
Directed By: Steve Pink
Written By: Josh Heald
Starring: Rob Corddry, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, Adam Scott, and more
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

The original Hot Tub Time Machine looked dumb, but I was hoping would be entertaining, if not award-worthy. It was. However, while the ending left open the possibility of a sequel, I didn't think one was necessary. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 isn't the first unnecessary sequel, but that won't help it at the box office. In fact, the reputation that unnecessary sequels have will mean even a lot of fans of the first movie will stay home, unless the reviews are really good. I'm not bullish for this film's chances and even if it makes half of what its predecessor made, it will be a bit of a success.

McFarland, USA

McFarland, USA poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Movies.Disney.com/McFarland-USA
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: February 20th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic material, some violence and language.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Sports, Inspirational Sports, Inspiration Coach, Long Distance Running, Track and Field, Hispancs, Farmers, Poverty, and more
Directed By: Niki Caro
Written By: Christopher Cleveland, Bettina Gilois, and Grant Thompson
Starring: Kevin Costner, and more
Production Budget: Reported at $17 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million

Kevin Costner plays the new coach in a school who has trouble bonding with his students, until he sees them run and realizes they would make excellent long-distance runners. This is an inspirational sports story based on real life events. There are about 5 million of these movies released every week and it is hard to get excited about any of them. Last year, Disney released Million Dollar Arm and it only managed $36 million at the box office. McFarland, USA has a worse release date and its star is on a big losing streak at the box office. Finally, it is the smallest of the three wide releases coming out this week and it might not even open truly wide. There's not a lot of reasons to be bullish about this film's box office chances.

Weekend of February 27rd, 2015

Focus poster

The final weekend of February has two wide releases: Focus and The Lazarus Effect. (There were two other films that were supposed to open wide this weekend, but The Vatican Tapes were pushed back to May, while Maps to the Stars is going Video on Demand.) Focus stars Will Smith, but the buzz is incredibly quiet. I can't remember the last Will Smith film to open with such weak buzz. The buzz for The Lazarus Effect is so quiet that I'm not 100% sure it is opening wide. There are definitely some limited releases opening in February that are earning louder buzz. Non-Stop led the was this weekend last year and was one of three films to earn more than $20 million over the weekend. On the other hand, there were also only three films to earn more than $5 million over the weekend. Sadly, 2015 might have even worse depth and I think the month will end on a losing note.

Focus

Focus poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FocusMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: February 27th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, some sexual content and brief violence.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Confidence Man, Romance, Professional Rivalry, Mentor, Auto Racing, and more
Directed By: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Written By: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $100 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Focus stars Will Smith as a con man who takes on an apprentice, Margot Robbie, but when he develops feelings for her, he ends the relationship. Three years later, they meet again, when they are both going after the same mark.

This film reportedly cost $100 million and stars Will Smith, who at one time had the longest active $100 million movie streak. However, this film's buzz is so weak that it might not get to half that total at the box office. Granted, it does have nearly four full weeks to build its buzz, but as it stands now, it has almost no chance of matching its production budget and might be the biggest miss in Will Smith's career.

The Lazarus Effect

The Lazarus Effect poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Facebook.com/TheLazarusEffect/
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: February 27th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of horror violence, terror and some sexual references.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Research Scientist, Scientific Experiment, Undead, Scientific Experiment Gone Wrong, and more
Directed By: David Gelb
Written By: Luke Dawson
Starring: Olivia Wilde, Evan Peters, Sarah Bolger, Mark Duplass, Donald Glover, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $10 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million

The trailer makes this film seem like a relatively generic horror film, one that is generating nearly no buzz. There are limited releases coming out this month that are earning more buzz than this film is. I don't know what else to say. It could be the lowest grossing film of the month, but because its production budget is actually lower, it might do well enough to break even sometime on the home market.


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Filed under: Monthly Preview, Maps to the Stars, Seventh Son, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, Jupiter Ascending, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Fifty Shades of Grey, McFarland, USA, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, The Lazarus Effect, Focus, The DUFF, Samuel L. Jackson, Will Smith, Kevin Costner, Antonio Banderas, Ben Barnes, Sean Bean, Sarah Bolger, Jeff Bridges, Rodger Bumpass, Michael Caine, Rob Corddry, Clark Duke, Mark Duplass, Bill Fagerbakke, Colin Firth, Tom Kenny, Mila Kunis, Carolyn Lawrence, Julianne Moore, Evan Peters, Eddie Redmayne, Craig Robinson, Adam Scott, Channing Tatum, Matthew Vaughn, Andy Wachowski, Mae Whitman, Olivia Wilde, Donald Glover, John Requa, , Glenn Ficarra, Charles Leavitt, Lana Wachowski, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Dakota Johnson, Jane Goldman, Niki Caro, Josh Heald, David Gelb, Mark Millar, Steve Pink, Dave Gibbons, Steven Knight, Kelly Marcel, E.L. James, Sergey Bodrov, Matt Greenberg, Jamie Dornan, Margot Robbie, Bella Thorne, Paul Tibbitt, Robbie Amell, Ari Sandel, Sophie Cookson, Taron Egerton, Luke Dawson, Josh Cagan, Kody Keplinger