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2007 Preview: March

March 1st, 2007

March, a month without a holiday. In fact, It's the only month without any holidays to help boost the box office and this prevents studios from releasing big blockbusters. However, it is not the weakest month either and there are a few midlevel hits coming out over the next four weeks and even a couple that could top $100 million

Interested in discussing these predictions? The join us in the forums.

Name: 300
Studio: Warner Bros.
Official Site: 300TheMovie.WarnerBros.com
Release Date: March 9, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for graphic battle sequences throughout, some sexuality and nudity.
Source: Based on a Comic / Graphic Novel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Visual Effects, Historical Battles, Ancient History
Production Budget: $60 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million
Notes: One of the more anticipated films of the month, at least among the Internet crowd. However, while these Fanboys tend to be fanatics, they are not very numerous. The real question is whether mainstream moviegoers will be interested in seeing a movie about ancient history shot entirely on a green screen. It's very similar to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow only a futuristic setting fits better with this filming technique. Another issue is the source. Non-Super Hero comic book movies tend to have difficulties attracting an audience. Look for the film to be a midlevel hit during its theatrical run, but it should take advantage of the Fanboys on the home market and become a big seller.

Name: Black Snake Moan
Studio: Paramount Vantage
Official Site: MoanMovie.com
Release Date: March 2, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, language, some violence and drug use
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Musicians, Blues
Production Budget: $15 million
Box Office Potential: $17.5 million
Notes: One of several films that may or may not get a wide release this month. The film stars Samuel L. Jackson, who has been hit and miss recently, Christina Ricci, who hasn't had a box office hit for a number of years now, and Justin Timberlake, whose transition from singer to actor has not been smooth. Add in a subject matter that makes the movie very hard to advertise, and this movie will likely try the limited release route, or open semi-wide at most. It could, given its early reviews, escape limited release, but even the best case scenario has it waiting until the home market to earn the bulk of its revenue. Last minute update: The film was moved from the last weekend in February to the first weekend in March. This shouldn't have a big effect on the film's box office potential.

Name: Blades of Glory
Studio: Dreamworks
Official Site: BladesOfGloryMovie.com
Release Date: March 30, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, a comic violent image and some drug references.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Figure Skating
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $70 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million
Notes: Being typecast is bad news for any actor. It limits the roles you will get, it erodes your fanbase, and it makes work a lot more monotonous. Usually it takes a long time to become typecast, but with Jon Heder, it seems it happened to him after just one role. Napoleon Dynamite has so far defined his career and there's little in his future projects to suggest otherwise. Then again, Will Ferrell hasn't exactly shown a lot of range in most of his projects either, but at least he is a proven box office commodity and studios will be willing to let him work against type if it means getting a blockbuster out of him as well. This film, on the other hand, doesn't feel like a blockbuster. There's buzz from Will Ferrell fans, but not as much as for Ricky Bobby. Also, there seems to be a lot of people who like Will Ferrell but don't like the casting of Jon Heder (or vice versa), and that could hurt the film at the box office. There's a good chance the film will make more than the combined box office of the two stars' last projects, but that's still not enough to make it a big hit.

Name: Dead Silence
Studio: Univsersal
Official Site: DeadSilenceMovie.net
Release Date: March 16, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for horror violence and images.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Living Toys and Hauntings
Production Budget: $20 million
Box Office Potential: $12.5 million
Notes: One of two cheap horror films coming out this month. I think these movies are going to start running into trouble even with their low production budgets. The market isn't particularly strong and without a really good hook to separate the films from each other, there's little reason to watch one over the other. For that matter, there's little reason to watch any of these movies in a theater when it is clear an unrated DVD is only a few months away. On the other hand, Living Toys is a great genre for horror films. I think a lot of people are bothered by the concept of an inanimate object coming to life. And with dolls looking the way they do, it's easy to fall into the Uncanny Valley. Back to the original hand, there's just too many movies opening that weekend and this one will likely get squeezed out.

Name: Full of It
Studio: New Line
Official Site: FullOfItTheMovie.com
Release Date: March 2, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, drug references, teen partying and crude humor.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: New Guy In School and Genies and Other Wish Granters
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $20 to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $1 million
Notes: One of the semi-wide releases this month. This film has an interesting premise going for it: new kid in school tried to fit in by lying to everyone, which works fine until his lies start coming true. In essence, the film is your typical Genie movie, except instead of a genie or a universal remote, it's just lies. Because of the type of movie, there's a lot of predictability here. You know that the movie will start by showing Sam's rough life so we sympathize with him, then the wishes will start coming true and at first everything is great, then his power turns on him, and in the end he learns an important lesson. However, while the audience knows what's going to happen, if it's a good movie they will enjoy the ride. As for the film's box office chances, those are not so good. The cast members are mostly unknowns, the ad campaign has been AWOL, and the theater count is expected to be in the mid-hundreds. Yep, the dreaded select cities release schedule. If it opens with more than $3 million it will be a minor miracle while $10 million overall seems highly unlikely. One last note, the word is pronounced PORSH-uh, not Por-SCHA and certainly not porsh! If you don't know how to pronounce it, you don't deserve to drive one. Last minute update: The film has gone from a few hundred theatres to just 15. It is unlikely that it will escape limited release and that's really put a dent in the film's box office potential.

Name: The Hills Have Eyes 2
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Official Site: None
Release Date: March 23, 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Aiming for R but might have to recut to avoid NC-17
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Mutants, Rescue and Teenage Slasher
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million
Notes: There have been a number of horror remakes to come out recently. Most do well enough to show a profit, but this is mainly due to their low, low production budgets. Very few have done well enough to earn a sequel, and the ones that do usually crash and burn on the second installment. The Ring Two, The Grudge 2, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning all earned far less than their predecessors. On the other hand, The Hills Have Eyes 2 should avoid a steep decline, but it doesn't have to fall very far before profitability is out of reach. There is hope, with Wes Craven's direct involvement that the movie won't be terrible, but it is still very unlikely to live up to its predecessor's limited success.

Name: The Host
Studio: Magnolia Pictures (Distributor)
Official Site: HostMovie.com
Release Date: March 9, 2007 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R for creature violence and brief language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Monster, Mutant, Rescue, Revenge
Production Budget: $12 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million
Notes: This film is not opening wide. That much I am sure of. On the other hand, there is a shot that the film will expand wide, or at least wide enough to score some mainstream success. Unlike the horror films that come from this part of the world, there's less cultural aspects that prevent the film from connecting with audiences here. On the other hand, it is subtitled, and there's not a lot of crossover between moviegoer that love action-oriented monster movies and those that enjoy foreign language films. On a side note, I would not have given the film an R rating. I would compare the violence to Jaws, which only got a PG. Of course, that was before PG-13 was implemented and that's the rating I would have given the film. Not sure if this will hurt the film's box office chances, but it is worth noting.

Name: I Think I Love My Wife
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Official Site: FoxSearchlight.com
Release Date: March 16, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language and some sexual content
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Relationship Advice
Production Budget: $14 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million
Notes: Chris Rock is a great stand-up comic and his one hour specials are some of the funniest produced in the past decade. On the other hand, he has never really made the transition to leading man and I never once thought he could pull off such a role. ... Until I saw the trailer for this film. It was surprisingly effective and raised the film's stock substantially. There are some obstacles standing in the way of this film. For instance, the R-rating might turn off people looking for a more lighthearted romantic comedy. Also, it's a busy weekend and there are two other films that have a higher profile than this one. But if the studio can advertise it right, it could be a sleeper hit.

Name: The Last Mimzy
Studio: New Line
Official Site: Mimzy.com
Release Date: March 23, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG for some thematic elements, mild peril and language.
Source: Based on a Short Story
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Time Travel
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $60 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million
Notes: I'm not sure how this movie will do. I'm not even sure who the target audience is. On the surface it seems like a family film, but some of the subjects discussed are a little heavy for the younger set. The science fiction angle might pull some moviegoers in, but it depends on how it is marketed. And there could be a lot of problems marketing this film. Not only is the story a bit of an enigma, but there's not a lot of star power to work with either. (I'm a big fan of Timothy Hutton and the others, but they are not known to be able to carry a movie.) The film will likely struggle to become even a midlevel hit with a definite possibility of being an outright bomb.

Name: The Lookout
Studio: Disney
Official Site: TheLookout-Movie.com
Release Date: March 30, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for language, some violence and sexual content
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Heist and Faulty Memory
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at under $20 million
Box Office Potential: $17.5 million
Notes: Another film that may or may not open wide. It looks like the best case scenario has the film opening in 1,500 - 2,000 theaters, and, if it does, it could have a run similar to last year's Lucky Number Slevin. On the other hand, if it does only open in a few theaters, it still has a good shot at a run similar to Brick. The box office prediction reflects the weighted average of the two extremes and while it is not enough to earn a profit theatrically, or even come that close, it should be enough to make the studio happy after the home market numbers are added in.

Name: Meet the Robinsons
Studio: Disney
Official Site: Disney.Go.com
Release Date: March 30, 2007
MPAA Rating: G for General Admissions
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Time Travel
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at over $100 million
Box Office Potential: $115 million
Notes: The second digitally animated film to come out in two weeks, and with two more family films coming out the next weekend, this film is going to have a hard time standing out. Fortunately, it does have Disney's marketing might backing it up. On the other hand, for a Disney digitally animated movie, there's not a lot of advanced buzz surrounding it. In fact, I've heard more talk about Disney's return to 2-D animation than this movie. Even so, the worst case scenario has the film becoming a midlevel hit and if it doesn't at least come close to $100 million it would be shocking.

Name: Miss Potter
Studio: Weinstein Co.
Official Site: MissPotter-TheMovie.com
Release Date: March 9, 2007 (expansion to wide release)
MPAA Rating: PG brief mild language.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Biography, Authors, and Cross-Class Romance
Production Budget: Unknown - estimate at or near $30 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million
Notes: This film has made close to $1 million during its limited release but there is a planed wide expansion on the 10th of this month. Then again, there was a planed expansion on the 12th of January and that didn't exactly pan out. Should it actually earn a wide release, it could match original expectations with $20 million, but the above potential takes into account the likelihood of a much smaller release. Last minute note: The film has been pulled from the schedule, again. No word on what the new release date will be.

Name: Premonition
Studio: Sony
Official Site: SonyPictures.com
Release Date: March 16, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violent content, disturbing images, thematic material and brief language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Suspense
Keywords: ESP and Predictions and Time Travel
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $65 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million
Notes: Sandra Bullock hasn't had a $100 million movie recently, but she is still a solid draw at the box office. This is a bit of a different genre for her and the last such film, Murder By Numbers didn't exactly set box office records. Then again, out of the five films opening wide or semi-wide on this week, this is only one of two that has shot at coming out on top. Looking at this film and comparing it to recent releases, it strikes me as a companion film to The Number 23. Great premise, but the fans won't show up unless there's some substance in the ad campaign. That was missing from The Number 23, but I see more of it here. Not enough to be overly bullish on the film's chances, but it should do significantly better than The Number 23.

Name: Pride
Studio: Lionsgate
Official Site: PrideFilm.com
Release Date: March 23, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic material, language including some racial epithets, and violence.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Swimming and Inspirational Coach
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million
Notes: An inspirational coach movie. An inspirational coach movie that is based on real life events. It feels nearly identical to all other such movies with the exception of the sport featured: Swimming. On the one hand, these movies are so similar that it's really hard to get excited about them and even harder to come up with anything interesting to say about them. On the other hand, they are consistent performers at the box office and that makes estimating their box office potential much easier.

Name: Reign Over Me
Studio: Sony
Official Site: SonyPictures.com
Release Date: March 23, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual references
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Terrorism
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $20 million.
Box Office Potential: $25 million
Notes: Fans of the Happy Gilmore Adam Sandler are not going to be happy with this turn of events. These people assumed that after Sandler made Punch Drunk Love he was done with serious dramas and would stick with the type of comedy that made him a star. However, he may be sticking with the genre until he wins an Oscar. Speaking of which, this film was originally scheduled for a December release, right in the heart of award season, and it was probably aiming for Oscars. Why it was moved is not known, but it is very unlikely that it was is a good sign that it was. Given that, and the limited theater count (somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000), it could struggle to get noticed. A slow start and lots of competition could limit its theatrical run, but more moviegoers might give it a chance on the home market.

Name: Shooter
Studio: Paramount
Official Site: ShooterMovie.com
Release Date: March 21, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for strong graphic violence and some language.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Hitmen
Production Budget: $60 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million
Notes: Shooter is a movie starring Mark Wahlberg as a former Marine Corps sharpshooter brought back from retirement to help stop an assassination attempt on the president, only to be framed for said assassination attempt. Not to be confused with another movie coming out in 2007 called The Shooter that stars Wesley Snipes, which is about a former C.I.A. sharpshooter coaxed back from retirement for one last mission only to be framed. Now having two similar films coming out in the same year is not new, but wow, practically the same plot and the same name. The main difference is The Shooter will likely end up going Direct-to-DVD. This film, on the other hand, has quite a bit going for it, including Mark Wahlberg, who had an excellent 2006. Not only was he nominated for an Oscar for The Departed (and a Golden Globe and a SAG award), but he showed he could headline a hit in Invincible. While that latter film wasn't a huge it, it did make nearly $60 million on a late August release date and with this film's bigger stature and better release date, it should top it at the box office. Last minute note: The film was pushed back 5 days, but this shouldn't have a large effect on the box office potential. The midweek debut will reduce its opening weekend box office, but its total should be unaffected.

Name: Skinwalkers
Studio: Lionsgate
Official Site: SkinwalkersTheMovie.com
Release Date: March 30, 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Could go PG-13 or R
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Werewolf
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at between $20 million and $30 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million
Notes: This werewolf movie may or may not open wide March 30th. In fact, this film may or may not open on March 30th. It was originally set to open on the first weekend of December this year and the first weekend of December is a terrible time to open a movie. So, while moving the film up to the end of March should be a big improvement, someone might have forgotten to tell the marketing department because I haven't seen any advertising for the movie. In fact, the website has not seen an update in more than a year. Without any buzz, its chances at the box office are slim. Even a midlevel hit might be out of the film's reach.

Name: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Studio: Weinstein Co.
Official Site: TMNT.WarnerBros.com
Release Date: March 23, 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Likely aiming for PG
Source: Sequel or Based on a Comic - see notes.
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Mutants and Martial Arts
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $40 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million
Notes: A rebooting of sorts for the franchise. The movie isn't a prequel, since it takes place after the second film. However, it ignores the events of the third film. Then again, I think all fans of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have ignored the third movie. This is arguably the most anticipated movie of the month and could be the second $100 million movie of the year. There are some issues, however, and not just because of the poor showing by the previous film. This film is returning to its comic book roots, which is welcome news for longtime fans. However, there have been so many incarnations of the franchise (the comic, movies, multiple TV series), and each one has had a different tone. Because of this, regardless of which one this movie most closely resembles, there will be some that hate it because it doesn't match their personal favorite. On the other hand, it is a CG film with a lot of name recognition and as long as they advertise it well, it should get to $100 million or at least close. On a side note, does anyone remember all of the rip-offs that came out when the franchise first hit big? My personal favorites were the Samurai Pizza Cats, although at times I think I'm the only one who remembers those.

Name: Wild Hogs
Studio: Disney
Official Site: WildHogsMovie.com
Release Date: March 2, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and some violence.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Mid-Life Crisis, Road Trip, and Gangs
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $40 to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million
Notes: The film stars John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, and ...William H. Macy. ... One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong. Moving on... The film looks like a real box office risk as none of the stars are real box office draws at the moment. John Travolta's been overpriced and under-performing for the better part of a decade now. Outside of family films, Tim Allen hasn't had a hit in nearly as long. Martin Lawrence might be the hottest actor in the group with back-to-back hits, but that's not saying much. William H. Macy, meanwhile, has never been a major box office draw, but he tends to star in smaller films and take on more challenging roles. On the other hand, the film looks like it should win its opening weekend, and with Disney's marketing might behind it, it should make more than enough to show a profit sometime on the home market.

Name: Zodiac
Studio: Paramount
Official Site: ZodiacMovie.com
Release Date: March 2, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for some strong killings, language, drug material and brief sexual images.
Source: Based on a Book that was Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Thriller / Suspense
Keywords: Serial Killer
Production Budget: $85 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million
Notes: This looked like a smart move for the studio. Amazing cast, acclaimed director, interesting story. Then I saw the budget. $85 million is a lot to recoup at the best of times. It is even harder when the release date is just average. On the plus side, early reviews have been amazing. On the down side, the advertising campaign has been weak at best and there's a lack of buzz. The film might be able to rely on strong word-of-mouth to have a good showing, but there's a real chance it will stumble out of the gate and disappear before that happens.

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Filed under: Monthly Preview, Wild Hogs, Blades of Glory, Meet the Robinsons, TMNT, Premonition, Shooter, Zodiac, The Last Mimzy, The Hills Have Eyes II, Reign Over Me, Dead Silence, I Think I Love My Wife, Black Snake Moan, Pride, The Lookout, Miss Potter, Gwoemul, Skinwalkers, Full of It, 300