2013 Preview: April

March is over and while it is a little too soon to tell where a few films will end their box office runs, it is clear Oz The Great and Powerful won the month. Some films beat expectations to become midlevel hits, like The Call, but it wasn't a great month at the box office, especially compared to last year. This month, there are only seven wide releases spread over four weeks. Only one of those films, Oblivion, has a shot at being anything more than a midlevel hit. None of the other six releases look like they will come close to $100 million, but none of them look like obvious bombs either. (Although I do have my worries when it comes to Scary Movie 5.) Last April was even weaker with no film earning $100 million, although Think Like a Man did come relatively close. We might actually see growth on the year-over-year comparison. We'd better, because 2013 is behind 2012's pace by a huge margin at the moment and things will get worse when May arrives.

Weekend of April 5th, 2013

There is only one wide release this week, Evil Dead, but Jurassic Park is getting a wide 3D re-release. I fear Evil Dead will perform similarly to The Cabin in the Woods, that is to say, it will earn good reviews, but will fail to find a significant audience in theaters. Meanwhile, 3-D re-releases started out earning amazing box office numbers, but they have dipped so much that studios have canceled some planned releases. That doesn't bode well for Jurassic Park. This weekend last year saw the release of American Reunion, which was expected by many to earn more than $100 million, but barely made half of that. I think the two new releases will top last year's offering, combined for sure, but also possibly on an individual basis as well. However, The Hunger Games was still going strong, so a year-over-year loss is still possible.

Evil Dead

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: EvilDead-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony/TriStar
Release Date: April 5th, 2013
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language.
Source: Original Screenplay / Remake
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Cabin in the Woods, Demons, Possession, Teenage Slasher, Lovecraftian, and more
Directed By: Fede Alvarez
Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $15 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

I'm of two minds about this film. On the one hand, a straight-up old-school teenage slasher set in a cabin in the woods should work. It is an easier sell than last year's The Cabin in the Woods, which took this genre and really messed with it (in a good way). This film is also earning good early reviews and the buzz is quite strong. On the other hand, a lot of horror remakes have been struggling lately, so there's a chance this film will also fail to find an audience. It has the potential to be a solid midlevel hit with $60 million or more. Even on the lower range of expectations, it should open with more than it reportedly cost to make, so the studio should be happy either way.

Jurassic Park: 3D

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: JurassicPark.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: April 5th, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense science fiction terror.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Academics, Creature Features, Animal Lead, Foreign Language, Mad Scientist, Animals Gone Bad, Cloning, Visual Effects, 3D Re-release 3D, and more
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sir Richard Attenborough, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Knight, and others
Production Budget: $63 million originally, unknown for 3D conversion
Box Office Potential: $45 million

3D re-releases went from an easy source of big bucks to middling releases really fast. With Jurassic Park IV in the works, this re-release could benefit from some of that buzz, but there's also a chance it won't match Monsters, Inc., continuing the downward trend for these films.

March of April 12th, 2013

Again there are only two releases this week. Scary Movie 5 should start out faster, but 42 should have better legs and could end its run as the bigger of the two films. However, neither film is expected to be anything more than a midlevel hit. This weekend last year saw the release of The Three Stooges, which was a better than expected hit, and The Cabin in the Woods, which earned some of the best reviews of the year, but was only just a midlevel hit. (The less said about Lockout the better.) I think new releases this year will top the new releases from last year; however, The Hunger Games was still leading the way last year and it might be able to swing the year-over-year comparison to 2012's favor.


Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: 42Movie.WarnerBros.com
Distributor: Warner Brods.
Release Date: April 12th, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements including language.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Baseball, African-American, Biography, Bigotry, Prejudice, and more
Directed By: Brian Helgeland
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, and others.
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

Brian Helgeland has written a lot of screenplays, but he hasn't directed a lot of films. Harrison Ford was the biggest movie star around for a long time, but that time ended a while ago. This is Chadwick Boseman's first major movie role. Jackie Robinson is one of the most famous baseball players of all time and the story of how he broke the color barrier in the sport should draw in moviegoers. On the other hand, few baseball films have been huge hits. A League of Their Own is the only $100 million hit in the genre. Also, while there are a lot of biopics and films based on true stories in that list, there are none that focus on African-American players. In fact, there are very few African-American biopics period. This shouldn't hurt the film's box office chances, but the studio might look at these numbers and not give it the marketing push it deserves, because it might not be worth the investment. I think it will be a midlevel hit, but it likely won't open in top spot.

Scary Movie 5

Trailer: Coming Soon
Official Site: www.Facebook.com/ScaryMovie5
Distributor: Weinstein Co.
Release Date: April 12th, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language, some drug material, partial nudity, comic violence and gore.
Source: Orginal Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Parody, Gratuitous Cameos, Actor Playing Fictionalized Version of Themselves, Delayed Sequel, Sequel Without the Star, Sequel With Returning Stars Playing New Characters, Breaking the Fourth Wall, Demons, Religious, and more
Directed By: Malcolm D. Lee
Starring: Ashley Tisdale, Simon Rex, and a ton of cameos.
Production Budget: Reported at $25 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million

It has been seven years since Scary Movie 4 came out, and I think all but the most hard core fans of the franchise have moved on. All of the original cast members have moved on. Additionally, a very, very... very, very similar movie, A Haunted House, came out earlier this year, so moviegoers who want to see a movie like this have already had a chance to do so. I think it will easily have the worst box office performance in the franchise. In fact, I think there's a chance it won't match its production budget. The only reason I'm going with $40 million is that it can't be worse than A Haunted House, right?

Weekend of April 19th, 2013

There's only one wide release this week, Oblivion, which should become the biggest hit of the month. Tom Cruise has had success in this genre and the lack of competition should result in a big win. On the other hand, I don't know if it will be big enough. This weekend last year saw the release of Think Like a Man, The Lucky One, and Chimpanzee. Those three films combined made $55 million during the weekend. While Oblivion will top the best of them, the combined effort will likely leave 2013 with yet another loss in the year-over-year comparison.


Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: OblivionMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: April 19th, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG for sci-fi action violence, brief strong language, and some sensuality/nudity.
Source: Graphic Novel
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Post Apocalypse, Surprise Twist, Government Corruption, Alien Invasion, Visual Effects, Digital Cinematography, and more
Directed By: Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $120 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million

Tom Cruise stars as one of the last people living on Earth. Decades earlier, an alien invasion happened and while humanity won, they had to leave the planet. Now all that is there are some mining drones extracting the last of the natural resources and Tom Cruise and a small group of people are in charge of maintaining those drones. One day while doing his rounds, he is captured, which is strange, as there are supposed to be no other humans on the planet. He is captured by Morgan Freeman, the leader of the human survivors living on Earth, who explains to him what he has been told is a lie.

Oblivion is the biggest movie coming out in April, both in terms of production budget and box office potential. However, the buzz is only middling given those facts. It has no direct competition this weekend, but Iron Man 3 opens just two weeks later, and the latter film's buzz might drown out this one. If so, it could struggle to reach $100 million. Assuming the buzz grows as the release date nears, it should at least match its production budget domestically, although it could be close.

Weekend of April 26th, 2013

There are certain times of year that are bad times to release a film. Late August through September, January, and the end of April. Films that open in late April have to deal with the buzz from the massive summer blockbusters, which hurts their box office potential. That is certainly the case this year, as Iron Man 3's buzz is currently louder than any wide release of the month and the later in the month you go, the more this buzz will hurt box office potential. There are only two films opening on the final weekend of April: Pain & Gain and The Big Wedding. Pain & Gain is expected to be the bigger of the two releases, which is odd, as it is shares a lot more of its target audience with Iron Man 3 than The Big Wedding. That's a really bad sign for The Big Wedding. There is good news, however. This weekend last year there were four wide releases; but The Pirates! Band of Misfits was the best with just $11.14 million. 2013 might actually win the year-over-year comparison this weekend.

The Big Wedding

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheBigWeddingMovie.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: April 26th, 2013
MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual content and brief nudity.
Source: Original Screenplay / Remake
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Adoption, Romance, Wedding Day, Dysfunctional Family, Religious, Step-Family, Foreign Language Remake, Ensemble, and more
Directed By: Justin-Zackham
Starring: Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton, Ben Barnes, Amanda Seyfried, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Ben Barnes and Amanda Seyfried are getting married and Ben's biological mother is traveling to the wedding. However, she is a strict Catholic and believes divorce is a mortal sin. This is a problem, because Ben's adoptive parents are divorced. They decide to pretend to be married until after the wedding. What could go wrong?

Obviously something went wrong, or they wouldn't be dumping the film on the last weekend of April. The Big Wedding has an impressive cast, but the buzz just isn't there. The buzz isn't terrible, it is just quiet. Fortunately, it likely didn't cost a lot to make, so it should become a midlevel hit.

Pain and Gain

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: PainAndGainMovie.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: April 26th, 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Probably going for an R rating.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Bodybuilders, Kidnapping, Class Warfare, Life on the Outside, Private Eye, and more
Directed By: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $25 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie play bodybuilders who are tired of being poor. So they decide to team up with a fellow bodybuilder and ex-con, Dwayne Johnson, and kidnap Tony Shalhoub and force him to sign over his wealth. They get away with it, but after the police fail to catch the kidnappers, Tony Shalhoub hires a private eye, Ed Harris, to find them.

The buzz for this film is not living up to its pedigree. The cast is strong, and it is directed by Michael Bay, who hasn't made a lot of good movies, but has made a lot of profitable ones. Most moviegoers who will be interested in seeing this movie will be a lot more interested in seeing Iron Man 3. If the reports are right and it only cost $25 million to make, then it should break sooner rather than later. On the other hand, it has been a long time since Michael Bay directed a movie that cost that little to make, so I'm a little dubious of those reports.

- C.S.Strowbridge

Filed under: Monthly Preview, Evil Dead, Jurassic Park, 42, Scary Movie V, Oblivion, The Big Wedding, Pain & Gain