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2012 Preview: April

April 1st, 2012

There's good news / bad news going forward into April. First the good news, aside from one week where we saw a minor dip, March was fantastic. There were a number of films beating expectations and the overall the month was even stronger than predicted. As of this weekend, the box office is now 20% higher than the same pace last year. The bad news? That winning streak will certainly come to an end in April. Last year, there was one film that reached $200 million, Fast Five, plus two others that reached $100 million, Hop and Rio. Granted, due to the shifting calendar, Hop is actually being compared to the last weekend in March, so this April only needs one $200 million hit and a $150 million hit to keep pace. But even so, there's almost no chance that will happen. In fact, there's a chance that we might not have one film topping $100 million this year. Only three films have a real shot at this milestone: American Reunion, Five-Year Engagement, and Titanic 3D. And quite frankly, only the first one has a 50/50 chance of getting there. We will likely see 2012 shed some of its lead over 2011, but it should still end the month with a solid year-over-year lead.

Weekend of April 6th, 2011

The month begins with two wide releases, one of which is the latest 3D re-release. There are some who think Titanic 3D will be the biggest 3D re-release so far, which does make some sense, as it was the biggest box office hit when it first came out and the second biggest of all time. The other wide release is American Reunion, the delayed installment in the American Pie franchise. Both of these films have a shot at $100 million. By comparison, this weekend last year there were four wide releases, none of which were able to become even midlevel hits. All four combined made less than $140 million at the box office. There's a slim chance American Pie will make that much money by itself. While April 2012 will definitely have trouble keeping pace with April of 2011, it should start off on a winning note.

American Reunion

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: AmericanReunionMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: April 6th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, language, brief drug use and teen drinking.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Family Reunion, Delayed Sequel, Delayed Adulthood, High School Reunion, and more
Directed By: Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg
Starring: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Chris Klein, Seann William Scott, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Tara Reid, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million

The crew from the first American Pie reunite after nearly a decade since American Wedding and thirteen years since the first film. Such a long time between installments is usually risky and there have been a number of delayed sequels that have failed to find an audience. Like Scream 4, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, and The Thing. And those were just the films from last year. On the other hand, thirteen years of nostalgia, plus thirteen years of inflation, might help the film top the franchises box office average. The over / under is about $100 million, but I think with the success of R-rated Comedies over the past year, and the overall strength at the box office, I think it will reach that milestone with relative ease. There's a good chance it will become the biggest hit of the month and possibly the biggest hit of the franchise.

Titanic 3D

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TitanicMovie.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: April 4th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for disaster related peril and violence, nudity, sensuality and brief language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: 3D Re-release, Inspired by a True Story, Disaster, Romance, Cross-class Romance, Relationships Gone Wrong, Non-Chronological, Immigration, Suicide, Love Triangle, Voiceover Narration, Artist, Underwater, Visual Effects, and more
Directed By: James Cameron
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, and others
Production Budget: Originally $200 million, unknown for 3D Conversion
Box Office Potential: $95 million

For many years, this was the biggest box office hit of all times. With the success of 3D, and 3-D re-releases, it makes sense that this one would be one of the earliest ones to be converted. How well will it do at the box office? We have key data points to look at. The Lion King made about $90 million domestically while Star Wars: Episode 1 made $40 million. We could say the market is collapsing, so Titanic 3D won't be a factor at the box office. Or we could say the decline is the result of special circumstances around Star Wars, namely the deranged backlash.

If you look at the amount of money The Lion King made during its 3-D re-release compared to its initial run and use that as the ratio for Titanic, then this re-release could make close to $175 million. That sounds crazy, but I have seen predictions as high as $150 million. I think it will just miss $100 million, but I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

Weekend of April 13th, 2011

And it all comes crashing down. This weekend, there are three films that are opening wide. The biggest of these is Cabin in the Woods, which has been delayed for so long that it might suffer as a result. There's Lockout, which is a movie I literally had to look up on our site to try and remember. It managed to completely slip under my radar, which is a really, really bad sign. And finally, The Three Stooges, which in my opinion has one of the worst trailers I've seen in years. I am not alone in thinking this way. By comparison, this weekend last year was the weekend Rio opened. That film made nearly $40 million during its opening and more than $140 million in total. There is a real chance that this year's crop of new releases won't match that opening or that total when combined. And even if they avoid that ignoble fate, Scream 4 will likely put 2011 over-the-top in the year-over-year comparison. On the other hand, the early reviews for Cabin in the Woods have been glowing, and there's a chance Joss Whedon's name will be in the press so much thanks to the upcoming release of The Avengers that this film will be a surprise hit.

Cabin in the Woods

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: DiscoverTheCabinInTheWoods.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: April 13th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller / Suspense / Horror
Keywords: 3-D, Development Hell, Surprise Twist, and a lot more, but I'm not going to say anything
Directed By: Joss Whedon
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, and others.
Production Budget: $30 million to $70 million, reports vary
Box Office Potential: $55 million

I read earlier in the year that it is best to go into this movie with as little knowledge as possible, so I've done my best not to learn anything about this movie. This will heighten my enjoyment of the movie, but it does make talking about it more difficult. In general terms, Lionsgate has done well shepherding films like this and creating many midlevel hits. It is the film earning the most buzz that is opening this weekend. And it is likely the only one with a real shot at becoming more than a midlevel hit. That said, it will probably only become a midlevel hit with a dedicated fan base.

Lockout

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: LockoutFilm.com
Distributor: Open Road
Release Date: April 13th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and language including some sexual references.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Wrongfully Convicted, Prison, Rescue, Space Program, and more
Directed By: James Mather and Stephen St. Leger
Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare, Lennie James, Vincent Regan, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

The first thing I noticed while watching the trailer for this movie was how cheap it looked, especially the special effects. It reportedly cost $30 million to make, which is less than half the average for a major studio release, but not exactly low budget. Granted, Open Road isn't a major studio, but they are trying to become a major player releasing four wide releases since last fall. On the other hand, their box office average so far is south of $30 million and I don't think this film will raise that average. None of the main cast have major box office drawing power. The combined careers of the directing duo are mostly short films. They did co-write the movie with Luc Besson, who is arguably the biggest name involved in this movie.

In short, it is the smallest movie opening this weekend. It has the least amount of buzz. And the overall buzz is more negative than positive.

The Three Stooges

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ThreeStooges.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: April 13th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG for slapstick action violence, some rude and suggestive humor including language.
Source: Original Screenplay / Remake / Sequel?
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Orphans, Adopted Family, Sibling Rivalry, Religious, Reality TV, Cross-Dressing, Development Hell, Gratuitous Cameos, and more
Directed By: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly
Starring: Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

When I first heard about this movie, I was excited. No seriously. In my defense, when I first heard about this movie, it was rumored to be a biopic about the real life Three Stooges. Then I heard it would be a comedy starring Benicio del Toro, Sean Penn, and Jim Carrey. My reaction to that was, "Huh?" Then those three actors dropped out and were replaced by Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, and Will Sasso. Any interest I had in the movie disappeared. Then I saw the trailer. It was one of the worst I've seen, and the overall buzz sides with that opinion.

Weekend of April 20th, 2011

There are a few times of year that are dumping grounds for movies that probably seemed like a good idea at the time they were greenlit, but obviously failed to live up to their potential. Late August through September, January, and late April are all dumping grounds. The reason why late April is a dumping ground is simple. Films opening in the last couple weeks don't have a lot of time to earn box office dollars before summer blockbusters crush them. By the time these films open in theaters, there will be more ads on TV for The Avengers than there will be ads for the three movies opening this weekend. I'm not sure any of them will be able to reach $50 million. The Lucky Ones might have the best best shot, but Zac Efron is not yet a proven box office draw. Think Like a Man feels too much like a Tyler Perry movie without Tyler Perry. Finally, Chimpanzee is the latest DisneyNature Documentary, and the previous ones have not been real hits at the box office. By comparison, this weekend last year also saw the release of a romantic drama, an actual Tyler Perry film, and the previous DisneyNature documentary. Unfortunately, last year was led by Rio during its second weekend of release, so we might have a down week at the box office.

Chimpanzee

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Disney.Go.com/DisneyNature/Chimpanzee
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: April 20th, 2012
MPAA Rating: G for General Admissions.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Documentary
Keywords: Animal Lead, Environmental, Voiceover, and more
Directed By: Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield
Starring:
Tim Allen and some Chimpanzees
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

Disneynature is the label Disney uses to release its nature documentaries. The first of these was earth, which was a big hit in 2009, at least for a documentary, earning more than $30 million. Oceans was a step back, but still managed close to $20 million. African Cats barely crossed $15 million and wasn't even released in many international markets (it does come out in the U.K. this April).

I think the franchise has bottomed out, so it should grab $15 million to $20 million.

The Lucky One

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheLuckyOnemovie.WarnerBros.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: April 13th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexuality and violence.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Romance, Returning Soldier, Relationship Gone Wrong, Iraq War, and more
Directed By: Scott Hicks
Starring: Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

Zac Efron stars as a Marine fighting in Iraq. When he sees a picture on the ground, he goes to retrieve it, and in that moment the rest of his squad is hit and kill. He keeps the picture as a good luck charm and when he returns stateside, he goes looking for the woman in the picture, Taylor Schilling. They fall in love, despite the many obstacles in their way. This is the latest Nicholas Sparks novel to be adapted into a movie. So far his box office average has been $55 million, while his track record with critics has been much weaker. Because of this, it is hard to judge the film's box office chances based on the trailer. Just because it looks bad, doesn't mean it will fail to attract its target demographic. On the other hand, Zac Efron failed to draw in moviegoers with Charlie St. Cloud, which has a similar target demographic, while Taylor Schilling's previous movie was Atlas Shrugged, Part 1, and the less said about that movie, the better. I don't think it will be a bomb, but I don't think it will be anything more than a midlevel hit. It might not even reach that level.

Think Like a Man

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ThinkLikeAMan-Movie.com/
Distributor: Sony/Screen Gems
Release Date: April 20th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, some crude humor, and brief drug use.
Source: Based on a Magazine Article
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: African-American, Ensemble, Relationship Advice, Relationships Gone Wrong, Romance, Battle of the Sexes, and more
Directed By: Tim Story
Starring: A whole lot of people.
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

This movie started as a magazine article written by by Steve Harvey, who later expanded it into a non-fictional book. It deals with relationship advice for women telling them how men think and how to use that to their advantage. If a woman described men the way Steve Harvey described men, she would be called sexist. Some of the advice he gives is certainly sexist. This means the film will probably get eviscerated by critics, but it could tap into the same audience that goes to Tyler Perry movies every year. Additionally, it was directed by Tim Story, who previously directed Barbershop, so he has had success reaching that market. On the other hand, Tyler Perry has dominated the market so much that there might not be a lot of room left for direct competition.

On a side note, Chris Brown as a relationship expert? Is this some kind of sick joke?

Weekend of April 27th, 2011

The month ends with four wide releases, only one of which has any chance at real box office success. The Five-Year Engagement has a vibe similar to Date Night or Forgetting Sarah Marshall and there is a slim chance it will reach $100 million. The Pirates! Band of Misfits, or as it is known in its native U.K., The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, could be a fun animated film, but for some reason, animated films rarely survive the journey across the pond. The Raven stars one of my favorite actors, John Cusack, but early reviews suggest the whole project was a misfire. Finally, Safe is the latest film from Jason Statham, which is all you really need to know about its box office chances. This weekend last year, there were three wide releases, two of which bombed, Prom and Hoodwinked 2: Hood vs. Evil. Unfortunately for 2012, the other film was Fast Five, which made $86 million during its opening weekend. There's no way any film will match that. There's a chance no single film will make that much in total. 2012 will end the month on a losing note.

The Five Year Engagement

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TomAndViolet.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: April 27th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, and language throughout.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Romance, Wedding Day, In-Laws, and more
Directed By: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 million and $60 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

Jason Segel and Emily Blunt star as a couple who decide to get married, but keep pushing the marriage date back further and further till their engagment extends to five years. The film was co-written and directed by Nicholas Stoller, who previously directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek. His co-writer was Jason Segel, who was also the co-writer on his previous two films, as well as The Muppets, so this film should be very high quality. Also, all three of the previous films earned between $60 and $100 million and it is very likely this film will also make about that much money. It is not a good release date, so I think it will end up a little closer to the lower end, but not by too much.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ThePirates-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: April 27th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG for mild action, rude humor and some language.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Pirates, Royalty, 3D, Animal Lead, Hauntings, Academics, Monsters, and more
Directed By: Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt
Starring: Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $60 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million

Hugh Grant stars as The Pirate Captain, who wants to win Pirate of the Year. He's up against Cutlass Liz and Black Bellamy. He does have a loyal, if disfigured crew. But he has to deal with Queen Victoria, who is intent on destroying all of the pirates.

I really want this film to be a hit. It'd the latest film from Aardman Animations and every single one of their previous films have been very good and the early reviews for this movie are fantastic. On the other hand, there is a chance the film's humor will be too British for American audiences. I think that's why Flushed Away and Arthur Christmas failed to connect with audiences here.

The Raven

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheRavenMovie.com
Distributor: Relativity
Release Date: April 27th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence and grisly images.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller / Suspense
Keywords: Serial Killer, Police Procedural, Writers, Costume Drama, and more
Directed By: James McTeigue
Starring: John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

A serial killer is going around killing people in ways based on the books of Edgar Allen Poe. So far this is not a particularly interesting premise. However, it takes place during the time of Edgar Allen Poe and the police of the day get help from the famous writer himself to help solve the crimes. This is a good hook. Unfortunately, the film's early reviews are anything but good. This is a shame, as I really like John Cusack as an actor, but this will likely be among his worst films, as well as among his biggest box office misses. After all, it failed to make much of an impact in its native market (it opened in eighth place) and I doubt it will do a whole lot better here.

Safe

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SafeTheFilm.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: April 27th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence throughout, and for language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Organized Crime, Kidnap, Corrupt Cops, Martial Arts, and more
Directed By: Boaz Yakin
Starring: Jason Statham, someone to rescue, and a bunch of people to kill
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million

Jason Statham stars as a cop who rescues a little girl, Catherine Chan, and has to keep her safe from the Triads, Russian mob, and corrupt cops. Most of Jason Statham's film in this genre tend to earn mixed reviews and finish with $30 million at the box office, more or less. I see no reason why this one will be any different.


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Filed under: Monthly Preview, Titanic, The Cabin in the Woods, The Three Stooges, The Five-Year Engagement, Lockout, The Lucky One, Safe, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Chimpanzee, American Reunion, Think Like a Man