Follow us on

2011 Preview: February

February 1st, 2011

January got off to about as bad a start as I feared, and already 2011 is behind 2010 by about $275 million. Even worse, last February was better than expected. Not only did Avatar add another $200 million to its coffers during the month, the new releases collectively topped expectations every week (even if some individual releases failed to do so). What does this mean going forward? It means 2011 will likely continue to lose ground on 2010. By the time March rolls around, the only thing box office watchers will be talking about is the slump.

Weekend of February 4th, 2011

Just the two wide releases this week, The Roommate and Sanctum. The latter is actually opening in more theaters, but I think a film about a killer college roommate will be a lot easier to market than a film about spelunking. Compared to this weekend last year, we could be in troubled as the top wide release, Dear John, earned more than $30 million. There's almost no chance that will happen this year. And if 2011 fails to live up to 2010, the slump will hit 13 weeks, or three full months.

The Roommate

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheRoommate-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: February 4th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and menace, sexual content, some language and teen partying.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: College, Mental Illness, and more
Directed By: Christian E. Christiansen
Starring: Leighton Meester and Minka Kelly
Production Budget: Reported at $8 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Director Christian E. Christiansen's Hollywood debut. In the film, Leighton Meester and Minka Kelly play college students who are assigned to be roommates. They quickly become friends, then one of them becomes dangerously obsessed.

It's a plot so familiar that some are calling it a college-age remake of Single White Female. People are also talking about the number of stars from the CW that are in this movie. Leighton Meester is from Gossip Girl, Alyson Michalka is from Hellcats, Danneel Harris is a One Tree Hill alumnus, Cam Gigandet was on The O.C.

What people are not discussing is the quality of the movie. There are no reviews so far, but most people are assuming it will be a campy thriller, at best. Some are comparing it to Obsessed, which earned just 20% positive reviews. On the other hand, that movie made nearly $70 million at the box office. If this film makes half that, I think the studio will be happy, especially given the film's tiny production budget.

Sanctum

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SanctumMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: February 4th, 2011
MPAA Rating: R for language, some violence and disturbing images.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Underground, Underwater, Trapped, Escape, 3D, and more
Directed By: Alister Grierson
Starring: Richard Roxburgh, Rhys Wakefield. Ioan Gruffudd, Alice Parkinson, and Daniel Wyllie
Production Budget: Reported at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

Produced by James Cameron. Yes, he has made the two biggest movies of all time, but when you use the producer in your advertisements, that's not really a good sign. It's almost as bad as saying, "From the studio that brought you..."

The film is about a group of cave explorers who get trapped by a flash flood and have to struggle to survive and find a new way out. This could be a thrilling story, but how many people will be interested in spelunking? The film's 3D visuals and the increased ticket prices associated with that could help it at the box office, but it could also completely bomb. The latter seems more likely given the lack of buzz, which is troublesome this close to its release date, as there's not enough time to really ramp up the advertising. Hopefully it will at least match its production budget theatrically, but that goal is far from assured.

Weekend of February 11th, 2011

The biggest weekend of February, both in terms of the number of movies coming out and the strength of those movies. There are two films with the potential to reach $100 million, plus a real wildcard, and another that can be described as counter-programming, if you want to be generous. I can't imagine a likely scenario where 2011 keeps pace with 2010, as this weekend last year featured Valentine's Day opening with more than $50 million, plus two other films earning a combined $60 million. (Avatar was still a significant player at the box office as well, even though it was pushed to fourth place.) Unless all four films top expectations, that strength won't be repeated.

The Eagle

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FindTheEagle.com
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: February 11th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for battle sequences and some disturbing images.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Ancient History, Roman Times, Slavery, War, Foreign Language. and more
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald
Starring: Channing Tatum and Jaime Bell
Production Budget: 15 million Pounds, or $20 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

Channing Tatum stars as Marcus Aquila, a Roman centurion who travels with his slave, Jamie Bell, into the wilds of North England where his father disappeared years ago.

This film has a very similar feel to The Last Legion or Centurion, which is terrible news, as both of those films bombed. Channing Tatum has put together some hits over the past few years, while Jaime Bell is starring in the upcoming Tintin movies, so that could boost his name recognition. On the other hand, it is one of four wide releases opening this week, and that's at least one too many. Additionally, out of those four films, this one is earning the weakest buzz. The competition could prove to be too much and just matching its relatively small production budget isn't a sure thing.

Gnomeo and Juliet

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: GnomeoAndJuliet.com
Distributor: Touchstone
Release Date: February 11th, 2011
MPAA Rating: G for General Admission
Source: Based on a Play
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Modern Adaptation, William Shakespeare, Dysfunctional Families, Living Toys, and more
Directed By: Kelly Asbury
Starring: Emily Blunt and James McAvoy and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

This film was originally going to be a major Disney release; however, when Pixar was brought into the fold and John Lasseter was put in charge of Disney's animation studio, he killed the project. That was in 2006. In the five years since, there have been a number of complications behind-the-scenes, including troubles finding a director. The one they finally got, Kelly Asbury, does add to the film's box office potential, as he previously directed Shrek 2, which is still the highest grossing digitally animated film of all time.

On the other hand, I'm getting a serious Hoodwinked vibe off of this one. It's being distributed by Touchstone, which is an arm of Disney that normally doesn't handle family films. (This is their first such film since The Nightmare Before Christmas and their first G-rated movie ever.) With the right marketing behind it, it could be a solid mid-level hit on par with Meet the Robinsons. On the other hand, a lot of second tier CG releases have failed to make any impact (Alpha and Omega and Planet 51 come to mind.)

The lower end seems a little more likely, as the competition for screens will be intense, but hopefully it didn't cost too much to make.

Just Go With It

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: JustGoWithIt-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony/Columbia
Release Date: February 11th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for frequent crude and sexual content, partial nudity, brief drug references and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Relationships Gone Wrong, Unexpected Family, Family Vacation, Romance, Gratuitous Cameos, and more
Directed By: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, and Brooklyn Decker
Production Budget: Estimated at $70 million to $90 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million

Adam Sandler stars as a plastic surgeon who pretends to be in an unhappy marriage in order to pick up women. When he meets the woman who could be "the one" (Brooklyn Decker) he decides not to use that scam on her. But when she finds his prop ring, she thinks he really is married. To fix this, he convinces his office manager (Jennifer Aniston) to pretend to be his soon-to-be ex-wife.

Dennis Dugan and Adam Sandler team up for what I believe is the 600th time. Actually, it's their sixth collaboration as director / star, while there are some more as director / producer. As director / star, they've made four $100 million hits in a row, and their only film not to hit the century mark was Happy Gilmore, which came out 15 years ago, before either man had established their box office credentials. Additionally, Jennifer Aniston hit the $1 billion milestone for her career last year and even though she's coming off a streak of three misses out of four, her films tend to do rather well at the box office. The only wildcard here is Brooklyn Decker, the model-turned-actress, who is making her theatrical debut in this film. (She's also in the upcoming Battleship adaptation.)

The only downside is the production budget, which is likely going to be quite high, as are most Sandler-produced films. However, given the track record of the people involved, I would be surprised if it didn't make at least $100 million at the box office, and taking top for the year so far is virtually guaranteed. It might even make enough to hold the top spot until May when Thor debuts. That said, there's a chance it won't open in first place this weekend, as the next film is the epitome of a Fangirl Film.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: JustinBieberNeverSayNever.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: February 11th, 2011
MPAA Rating: G for General Admission.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Concert
Keywords: Musicians, 3D, Gratuitous Cameos, Pop, and more
Directed By: Jon Chu
Starring: Justin Bieber
Production Budget: Estimated at $10 million or less
Box Office Potential: $85 million

On the one hand, Hannah Montana. On the other hand, The Jonas Brothers. Three years ago, Hannah Montana / Miley Cirus: The Best of Both Worlds opened in less than 700 theaters, not because the demand was perceived to be so low, but because that's the number of 3D theaters that were around at the time. When it opened, it broke records. Many records. The following year, The Jonas Brothers opened in nearly double the number of theaters, but only made a fraction of what Hannah Montana did during its opening weekend, and had even worse legs, falling nearly 80% during its sophomore stint.

With Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, expectations are somewhere in between, at least in terms of per theater average and legs. Thanks to the great success of 3D movies, there are enough 3D screens for a film to open at saturation level theater count, so that won't be an issue anymore. Justin Bieber is also extremely popular, selling more than 1 million copies of his debut album and recently winning four AMA awards. However, Miley Cyrus had sold 7 million copies of her albums, so this film might not have the same drawing power. Meanwhile, legs will be a serious issue and it will likely earn more opening weekend than it does during the rest of its run.

On the low end, it might not crack top spot on the chart during its opening, and fail to hit $60 million in total. On the other hand, it could open with $60 million and become the biggest hit of Spring. Most likely, it will open with $45 million, and earn about $85 million in total, but if it does hit the century mark, I wouldn't be surprised.

Weekend of February 18th, 2011

Three wide releases this week, all three of which could be solid mid-level hits, as they are going after different target audiences. These include the latest installment of a franchise that has lasted a decade, a film that will undoubtedly draw comparisons to Harry Potter, and the latest thriller starring Liam Neeson. If all three do well, then perhaps 2011 will perform relatively well compared to last year. This time last year, Shutter Island opened with just over $40 million, and while I don't think any film this year will match that, the second place film made well less than half of that. This year we could have two films opening with more than $30 million, plus another two films earning more than $20 million, so at least with the top five, 2011 has the potential to come out ahead. Let's hope so, because by the time we get to this weekend, the year-over-year slump will be well into its fourth month.

Big Momma's: Like Father Like Son

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: BigMommasLikeFatherLikeSon.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: February 18th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual humor and brief violence.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: African-American, Undercover, Fatsuit, Cross-Dressing, and more
Directed By: John Whitesell
Starring: Martin Lawrence, Brandon T. Jackson, Faizon Love, Jessica Lucas, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

Martin Lawrence dons the fatsuit and dress once again to go undercover as Big Momma. This time he's joined by his son, Brandon T. Jackson, after the pair witness a hit. While undercover, at an all-girl's art college, Brandon falls for one of his fellow students, Jessica Lucas, while Big Momma has to fend off the advances of the chubby-chasing janitor, Faizon Love.

Maybe it will be an okay comedy. It has to be better than the previous installment was, right? On the other hand, the film could be pretty bad and still be better than the first film was. Regardless of its quality, its box office potential is likely lower than the other installments, as those burned the last time around will be less likely to return. It could open with $25 million and hold on relatively well to end at $60 million. But an opening of less than $20 million and a $45 million final is more likely.

I Am Number Four

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FindNumberFour.com
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: February 18th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for language.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Friendly Alien on Earth, Alien Invasion, Romance, Visual Effects, and more
Directed By: D.J. Caruso
Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Durand, Dianna Agron, Teresa Palmer, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $50 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

This film is giving off a serious Percy Jackson vibe, and not just because it's coming out at the same time of year. It's also generating a Sorcerer's Apprentice vibe. And an Eragon vibe. Seeker. Etc.

Ever since Harry Potter exploded on the scene, studios have been looking for the next major franchise, preferably aimed at young adults, those who will grow up with the protagonists. So far most have failed to become the franchises they were hoping for, and it is unlikely I Am Number Four will be any different. Comparisons to so many other films can only hurt, as the movie will come across as unoriginal, while the cast is not exactly full of major box office draws. (There are a number of talented people in this movie, but they don't have a lot of blockbusters between them.) If it does earn more than Percy did, and its production budget is within reported figures, then that could be enough to generate a sequel. Maybe. On the other hand, it could fail to match Sorcerer domestically, struggle just as much internationally, and be mostly forgotten by the end of the year. The above figure is an average of those two extremes.

Unknown

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: UnknownMovie.WarnerBros.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: February 18th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sexual content.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Faulty Memory, Identity Theft, Surprise Twist, and more
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Liam Neeson, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Diane Kruger, Frank Langella, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

Liam Neeson stars as Dr. Martin Harris, who at the beginning of the movie wakes up from a coma only to find out his identity has been stolen. In fact, it's been completely wiped. His wife doesn't recognize him, she even has a new husband, who is also named Martin Harris. He gets some help from a woman and the two have to dodge shadowy forces while they try to learn the truth.

(It turns out he's a 33-year Estonian dwarf. Or maybe that was a different Jaume Collet-Serra movie.)

Just as the previous film gave off a Percy Jackson vibe, this film is giving off a Taken vibe. However, this isn't such a bad thing, as that film is one of the biggest January releases of all time. On the other hand, since then Liam Neeson has not had a lot of box office success with The A-Team, Dawn Treader, etc. missing expectations. I still think it will be a mid-level hit, and while it might not open in first place, it could have better legs than the competition. However, hitting the century mark will be unlikely, to say the least. It's not out of the question, but very unlikely.

Weekend of February 25th, 2011

This year, the final weekend in February is a lot like the final weekend of February last year. That is to say, there are two wide releases, neither of which will likely be big hits, but hopefully neither will be complete bombs either. If one of them can open with $20 million, I will be happy, but odds are the month will end the same way it began, on a bit of a down note.

Drive Angry

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: DriveAngry3D.com
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Release Date: February 25th, 2011
MPAA Rating: R for strong brutal violence throughout, grisly images, some graphic sexual content, nudity and pervasive language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Revenge, Hitmen, Demons, Hell, Rescue, Car Chases, Cults, 3D, and more
Directed By: Patrick Lussier
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, and others
Production Budget: Reported $75 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

Nicolas Cage plays a man who has just escaped from Hell and plans on getting revenge on the cult that killed him and his wife, and rescuing his daughter, whom the cult plans to sacrifice to their demon lord called Inglip.

(I think that's the plot, except for the last part, which is an internet meme.)

On the one hand... What the hell? Nicolas Cage has been making some weird choices in roles lately, and for every National Treasure, he has a Season of the Witch or Wicker Man. This film most resembles Ghost Rider, both in terms of style and release date. That might sound like great news, as that film was a surprise $100 million hit. But this film will not be. In fact, given the amount of negative buzz, it might not earn as much in total as that film opened with.

On the other hand, it might be a really fun ride and match its production budget domestically. Unfortunately, the lower end seems a lot more likely. Regardless, there's a lot of uncertainty here.

Hall Pass

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Hall-Pass-Movie.com
Distributor: New Line
Release Date: February 25th, 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Likely going for R
Source: Original Book
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Relationships Gone Wrong, Relationship Advice, Buddy Comedy, Sex Comedy, Mid-Life Crisis, and more
Directed By: Bobby & Peter Farrelly
Starring: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis star as two long-time friends who have both been married a long time. In order to avoid a serious mid-life crisis, their wives (Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate) decide to give them a free pass for the week. They can do whatever they want, with whomever they want, and there will be no consequences. However, while the pair first think they hit the jackpot, it turns out they have lost touch with the single life.

Bobby & Peter Farrelly started their writing / directing career with Dumb and Dumber, which was an unexpected and monstrous hit. After directing Kingpin, they wrote and directed There's Something About Mary, which was an even bigger hit. However, since then the pair have struggled to regain that form. They have made five films in the past decade, four of which were disappointments. So far the buzz surrounding this film suggests it won't really turn things around. However, it does come out at the end of the month, and perhaps things will pick up before then. But right now, its buzz is lagging behind its competition for the week, and it is one of the weaker films of the month.


-

Filed under: Monthly Preview, The Roommate, Gnomeo and Juliet, The Eagle, Sanctum, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, Drive Angry, I am Number Four, Just Go With It, Unknown, Hall Pass, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never