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2006 Preview: April

April 1st, 2006

March wasn't as strong as expected and April doesn't seem to have what it takes to turn things around. IMDb has a poll they run every month on what film you are looking forward to the most. This time the number one film is Silent Hill was in first with 16.5% of the vote. Number two went to 'Other' at 13.0% of the vote. This is a really, really bad sign. With no advanced buzz, many films will have a hard time attracting an audience, which not only means less people are seeing the movies, but also less people are seeing the trailers for the big summer releases, which means less buzz about the summer releases... On the other hand, there are several limited releases that look promising including Friends with Money, Hard Candy, The Notorious Bettie Page, and Kinky Boots. Unfortunately, all but the first are being released on April 14th.

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Name: Akeelah and the Bee
Studio: Lionsgate
Official Site: AkeelahAndTheBee.com
Release Date: April 28, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG for some language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Genres: Inspirational Teacher
Production Budget: Unknown - estimate at under $10 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million
Notes: Pushed back from 2005 to avoid competing with Bee Season, which considering that film barely made it past $1 million might have an overreaction. Many are comparing the movie to Spellbound, and for good reason. That film made nearly $6 million in limited release, a figure Akeelah and the Bee should top during its opening weekend, but not by a whole lot. Odds are the film will not open in more than 2000 theatres and the low theatre count will mean it won't be one of the big hits of the month, but it should make more than enough to be considered a box office success.

Name: American Dreamz
Studio: Universal
Official Site: AmericanDreamzMovie.com
Release Date: April 21, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language and some sexual references
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Politics, Assassination, Terrorism, Reality TV, Musicians, and probably more
Production Budget: $19 million
Box Office Potential: $33 million
Notes: One of the few movies coming out this month that I'm really looking forward to. I'm a big fan of writer / director Paul Weitz's previous films, especially In Good Company. And I'm also fans of many of the cast members including Hugh Grant, William Dafoe, and others. However, early reviews are nowhere near what I was expecting and while they could recover, it has put a damper on my enthusiasm for the film's chances. With the film opening on the very busy weekend, it could be squeezed out, but thanks to a relatively low production budget it should still earn enough to show a profit.

Name: The Benchwarmers
Studio: Sony
Official Site: SonyPictures.com
Release Date: April 7, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and suggestive humor, and for language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Baseball
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $35 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million
Notes: Happy Madison, the production company that brought us Grandma's Boy and Deuce Bigelow returns with The Benchwarmers. Gee, thanks. This film will likely really struggle at the box office for three reasons. Firstly, nearly everything that Happy Madison makes that doesn't star Adam Sandler struggles; their biggest non-Sandler hit was The Animal and that came out nearly five years ago. Secondly, none of the three main stars have any real drawing power on their own, and combined are likely to be box office poison. Lastly, so far the trailers, ads, etc. all make the film look terrible. Best case scenario has the film earning one weekend of decent numbers before a very quick drop-off and an even quicker exit from theatres.

Name: Lucky Number Slevin
Studio: Weinstein Co.
Official Site: LuckyNumberSlevin-TheMovie.com/
Release Date: April 7, 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence, sexuality and language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Genres: Organized Crime
Production Budget: $27 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million
Notes: This film has the most buzz around cinephiles with plenty of people saying it could be the break out hit for many of the people involved. However, the film recently opened in Britain with mixed results. The film placed third when it opened with just $1.87 million, which is like making $10 million domestically, and the reviews were only a little better. I don't think the film will be a flop, but it won't be a breakout hit either, just a solid performer given its production budget.

Name: Phat Girlz
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Official Site: FoxSearchlight.com
Release Date: April 7, 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language, including some crude sexual references
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Genres: Fashion
Production Budget: $1 million
Box Office Potential: $7.5 million
Notes: Four movies open wide on the first weekend of the month, and this is the smallest, with regards to both its budget and box office potential. Part of the reason for the lower prediction is that Mo'Nique has never really been able to carry a movie so far, although she has done well in a number of supporting roles. Also, as the smallest film out of the four with a predicted theatre count of just 1100, it will likely squeezed out by the competition and might not even make the top ten during its opening. Add in almost zero potential at the international box office and this film will have to wait till it hits the home market before it shows a profit.

Name: R.V.
Studio: Sony
Official Site: SonyPictures.com
Release Date: April 28, 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for crude humor, innuendo and language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Family Vacation and Dysfunctional Family
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $55 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million
Notes: This seems like a paycheck movie for Robin Williams and just looks terrible. It will probably still do very well at the box office since both The Shaggy Dog and The Pacifier looked equally terrible and did very well at the box office. In fact, a lot of films that looked awful have done rather well at the box office this year, which is probably why so many awful films are coming out. But I digress. On a side note, this is JoJo's second movie in just two months. I don't know how well her transition back into acting is going, but she delivers the only line in the trailer that I thought was funny. "Oh my god, it's your husband." I love the way she describes her father as her mother's husband. But even then the setup line seemed a little clunky.

Name: Scary Movie 4
Studio: Dimension
Official Site: ScaryMovie.com
Release Date: April 14, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor throughout, some comic violence and language
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Spoof
Production Budget: $45 million - $55 million, reports vary
Box Office Potential: $100 million
Notes: The fourth film in this successful
franchise will likely be one the most successful films during the month, but it won't match the previous film's box office numbers. I think it will have an opening similar to the first film and the same legs as the third film. If that's the case, it could become the first movie ever to open with more than $40 million but fail to reach $100 million during its run. However, it will probably come close enough that the studio giving it a little extra push to get over that milestone and save it from that fate. As for the future of the franchise, look for yet another installment sometime in 2007, especially since there are more than two-dozen horror films coming out in 2006 that are ripe for spoofing.

Name: The Sentinel
Studio: Fox
Official Site: SentinelTheMovie.com
Release Date: April 21, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some intense action violence and a scene of sensuality
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Thriller
Genres: Assassination
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $60 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million
Notes: Another movie with a leading man who is just a little too old to be in an action movie. The last such film, Firewall, will end its run with nearly $50 million, which is not a terrible result. This film should do slightly better as it has a slightly better release date, but it will also not be a major success either. On a side note, it has been more than five years since Michael Douglas had a major hit, and to be accurate, Traffic was an ensemble piece. The last time he was the lead in a movie that made $100 million domestically was way back in 1992 with Basic Instinct.

Name: Silent Hill
Studio: Sony
Official Site: SonyPictures.com
Release Date: April 21, 2006
MPAA Rating: R for strong horror violence and gore, disturbing images, and some language
Source: Based on a Video Game
Major Genre: Horror
Genres: Demons
Production Budget: $50 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million
Notes: Most movies based on video games suck, badly, (even those not made by Uwe Boll). This film looks like one of the few exceptions and is in fact the most anticipated film of the month. That doesn't necessarily mean it will be the highest grossing film of the month, although is should win the weekend and start showing a profit during its initial push into the home market, at the latest. On a side note, I expect great things from Jodelle Ferland, who is one of the most talented and prolific child actors working today. In fact, I had bought four DVDs she was in before I even knew her name, (Smallville - Season 2, Dark Angel - Season 1, Lone Gunmen - The Complete Series, and Dead Like Me - Season 1).

Name: Stick It
Studio: Disney
Official Site: StickItMovie.com
Release Date: April 21, 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some crude remarks
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Gymnastics
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million
Notes: Screenwriter Jessica Bendinger makes her directorial debut with this movie, but she has few writing and producing credits under her belt. Her best film to date was Bring It On, which was a surprise hit back in 2000 earning nearly $70 million on a production budget of just $10 million. On the other hand, she also wrote Aquamarine, which was pure fluff. I think in terms of quality the film will have a lot more in common with the former film, but at the box office is will sadly perform closer to the latter. Still, given its estimated production budget, that will probably be enough. On a side note, this film continues the rise of Canadian actress, Vanessa Lengies, who has the potential to be a big star.

Name: Take the Lead
Studio: New Line
Official Site: TheLeadMovie.com
Release Date: April 7, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material, language and some violence
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Genres: Inspirational Teacher and Dancing
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $27.5 million
Notes: The film is tough nut to crack. On the one hand, after researching the film I don't see a whole lot that suggests it will be a breakout hit. Antonio Banderas box office record is spotty, there's a lack of buzz, it's opening on a busy weekend, etc. Considering all four films opening wide on the 7th will not only have to battle each other for box office dollars, but the second weekend of Ice Age: The Meltdown, it seems unlikely any will be breakout hits, while most will be lost in the crowd. On the other hand, if the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom can pull in $8 million during its run, this film should be able to open with that amount. Look for it to have a second life on DVD.

Name: United 93
Studio: Universal
Official Site: United93Movie.com
Release Date: April 28, 2006
MPAA Rating: R for language, and some intense sequences of terror and violence
Source: Based On Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Genres: Terrorism
Production Budget: Unknown - reported at $15 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million
Notes: This is probably the hardest film on this month's list to accurately predict what its box office total will be. It is the first film to deal with the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and that could help or hurt the film. The wounds may be too fresh for the film to succeed regardless how well it's done, and any flaw will be magnified by the political climate, not to mention the competing theories about what really happened that day. (And I don't mean did the United States government orchestrate the attacks, which is a theory I give zero credibility to. I mean did the passengers rise up and overpower the hijackers, or was the plane shot down.) I think the political climate is just not right for a film like this regardless of any other factor.

Name: The Wild
Studio: Disney
Official Site: Disney.Go.com
Release Date: April 14, 2006
MPAA Rating: G
Source: Unoriginal Screenplay
Major Genre: Animated Adventure
Genres: Digital Animation
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $60 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million
Notes: This is a Madagascar rip-off and I hope for Disney's sake that it was cheap to make because it is unlikely that it will be a big hit. Maybe if it had come out first and had a better release date it would be a $100 million movie, but as it is it will likely be one of the lowest grossing digitally animated movies ever.


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Filed under: Monthly Preview, Scary Movie 4, R.V., The Benchwarmers, Silent Hill, The Wild, The Sentinel, Take the Lead, United 93, Stick It, Lucky Number Slevin, Akeelah and the Bee, Phat Girlz, American Dreamz