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2004 Summer Preview - Part 1: April

March 28th, 2004


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With summer just around the corner ... Yes I know Spring started a week ago, but this is the movie industry, we do things differently. So with Summer just around the corner it's time for the Summer Movie Preview, Part 1 - April. In April we have nearly 20 films opening wide over 5 weekends, or almost 4 per weekend. That much variety should please moviegoers, but that much competition will kill the chances of half the movies released.

Note: I decided to write about the movies in alphabetical order. While chronological order may have been more useful to some, release dates change frequently enough that a chronological order might not be valid even a week later.

Name: 13 Going on 30
Studio: Sony
Official Site: 13GoingOn30.com
Release Date: April 23rd
Source: Original Screenplay
Genres: Body Switch
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million
Notes: Jennifer Garner is on a hot streak with three $100 million movies in a row. However, it would be inaccurate to say she really starred in any of them. Her star is growing; however, it's too soon to say she can hold a movie on her own. Sony looks to be supporting the film well and April 23rd is pretty empty as far as competition goes, at least for now. I expect at least one more movie to be moved here before long. This one does have sleeper hit potential, perhaps enough for it to beat fellow Body Switch movie, Freaky Friday.

Name: The Alamo
Studio: Disney
Official Site: Alamo.Movies.com
Release Date: April 9th
Genres: Historical Battles
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Production Budget: $92 million
Box Office Potential: $50 - $75 million
Notes: Pushed back from its lucrative, but competitive, December opening till Easter, purportedly to give time for additional post-production work. However, the buzz was it was moved to a less competitive time due to poor test audience reactions. Other movies in this genre haven't performed well recently, most notably, Gods and Generals, and while this one won't bomb that badly, its outlook is as grim as the battle it depicts.

Name: Connie & Carla
Studio: Universal
Official Site: ConnieAndCarla.com
Release Date: April 16th
Source: Original Screenplay
Genres: Cross-Dressing
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million
Notes: This is a movie that is going to suffer from comparisons to other movie with cross-dressers in it, Tootsie, Victor/Victoria, and especially Some Like It Hot. All of them better movies than this. It will also suffer comparisons to Nia Vardalos' smash hit, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. In the end, unrealistic expectations will hurt this film so much that it won't earn even the small box office it otherwise would.

Name: Ella Enchanted
Studio: Miramax
Official Site: Mirmax.com
Release Date: April 9th
Genres: Princess
Source: Based on a Novel
Production Budget: $35 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million
Notes: This film stars Anne Hathaway, whose first staring role was as a princess in The Princess Diaries and whose next role is a reprisal of that role in The Princess Diaries 2. She's a little young to be typecast. This film has a large budget than The Princess Diaries, but less box office potential without Disney's strong marketing. Still, it should do well enough to ensure a sequel and Anne Hathaway may be stuck playing royalty forever.

Name: Envy
Studio: Dreamworks SKG
Official Site: Dreamworks.com
Release Date: April 30th
Source: Original Script
Genres: Rags to Riches
Production Budget: $40 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million
Notes: This movie has bounced around more than six release dates. And we all know what that means. It's a bomb waiting to explode in a theatre full of patrons. Or more likely, half full, if they're lucky. Both stars (Jack Black and Ben Stiller) are on mini hot streaks, but a bad movie is a bad movie.

Name: The Girl Next Door
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Official Site: TheGirlNextDoorMovie.com
Release Date: April 9th
Source: Original Script
Genres: Porn Business
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $25 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million
Notes: This film has already had a couple of sneak peaks and they both did every well, both in terms of attendance and audience reaction. It is also the only film with enough reviews to get a rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and at 87% positive it's very high. Unfortunately there are a lot of movies opening on the 9th, so that will hurt all of their chances at success. If the studios juggle their line-up to avoid competition the box office potential should increase.

Name: Godsend
Studio: Lions Gate
Official Site: GodsendTheMovie.com
Release Date: April 30th
Source: Original Script
Genres: Cloning
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million.
Notes: When this movie was first greenlighted, cloning was a big news story. In the two years since then cloning as faded from the public's mind, as has its box office potential. It was pushed back over half a year for reshoots, and while they may have fixed the problems, it is unlikely.

Name: Hellboy
Studio: Sony
Official Site: HellboyMovie.com
Release Date: April 2nd
Source: Comic Book
Genres: Independent Comic Book
Production Budget: $60 million
Box Office Potential: $150 - $200 million
Notes: This is the first movie of the year that I'm really excited to see. Hellboy is based on a lesser-known comic book and is being done by people of love the original work, especially the director, Guillermo Del Toro. With a production budget of just $60 million, cheap for a special effects film like this, it should need only $150 million to show a profit. A target it should beat.

Name: Home of the Range
Studio: Disney
Official Site: Disney.com
Release Date: April 2nd
Source: Original Script
Genres: Saving the Ranch
Production Budget: $110 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million
Notes: This was Disney's last stab at the 2D animation business before it closed its animation studio. And when this overpriced, under-performing movie finishes its run no one will doubt their decision. Given its budget, this film needs to make more than $250 million domestically to show a profit. The last time a 2D animated movie did that was almost a decade ago when The Lion King set records.

Name: Johnson Family Vacation
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Official Site: FoxSearchlight.com
Release Date: April 7th
Source: Original Script
Genres: Family Vacation
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $18 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million
Notes: Johnson Family Vacation will get a Wednesday jump-start on the Easter weekend, but with four movies opening on the Friday this one will get squeezes out. Not a whole lot of star power doesn't help either.

Name: Kill Bill: Volume 2
Studio: Miramax
Official Site: Kill-Bill.com
Release Date: April 16th
Source: Sequel
Genres: Hitmen
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $55 million
Box Office Potential: $70 million
Notes: The second half of Kill Bill, which was originally set to be released as one film. If the film can match the first one's quality, then it should match its box office.

Name: Laws of Attraction
Studio: New Line
Official Site: LawsOfAttractionMovie.com
Release Date: April 30th
Source: Original Script
Genres: Lawyers
Production Budget: $32 million
Box Office Potential: $50 - $100 million
Notes: First of all, I know there's a big range in my prediction, but there are a lot of variables here. Firstly, are movie audiences going to be interested in a romantic comedy where the combined age of the couple is nearing 100? (Pierce Brosnan is 50 and Julianne Moore is 43, granted, neither of them look their age.) The success of Something's Gotta Give suggests they might, if the story is good. And here's where the second problem comes in, depending on the source, there are 4 or 6 writers attached to this film. That means rewrites, and rewrites are a big red warning light when it comes to movies. Late April is also not a great time to release a movie and the competition is really heavy for such poor time. Most of this suggests a poor performance, but there's still a real possibility of a surprise.

Name: Man on Fire
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Official Site: ManOnFireMovie.com
Release Date: April 23rd
Source: Novel, Remake
Genres: Kidnapping
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $60 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million
Notes: This film has a lot going for it, Denzel Washington is very reliable at the box office, director Tony Scott has some massive hits under his belt, and screenplay writer Brian Helgeland wrote Mystic River and L.A. Confidential. So why am I not more enthusiastic about its box office potential? First of all, April is not an easy time to launch a movie. Very few movies that open in April go on to make $100 million. Secondly, I'm not hearing much in the way of advanced buzz. Not a great sign.

Name: Mean Girls
Studio: Paramount
Official Site: MeanGirlsMovie.com
Release Date: April 30th
Source: Novel
Genres: New Kid in School
Production Budget: Unknown, estimate at below $20 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million
Notes: Lindsay Lohan is on the verge of becoming a huge star. Her last, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, which by early expectations under-preformed, still managed five weekends in the top ten. Teenage girls used to be an under-marketed group, but with Hilary Duff and the like that is no longer true. In fact, there is an over abundance of movies targeting that demographic and the bubble will soon burst. But there's a reasons there are so many of these movies made, they are cheap to make and reliable at the box office.

Name: The Prince And Me
Studio: Paramount
Official Site: PrinceandMe.com
Release Date: April 2nd
Source: Original Script
Genres: Princess
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million to $100 million
Notes: Princess are to teenage girls what James Bond is to teenage boys. So this film should do big business among its target audience. Add in Julia Stiles, who is really making a name for herself, and this has hit written all over it. The biggest threat is the competition during that week - with four other movies opening wide it could get squeezed out of the picture.

Name: The Punisher
Studio: Artisan
Official Site: PunisherTheMovie.com
Release Date: April 16th
Source: Comic Book
Genres: Marvel Comics
Production Budget: $33 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million
Notes: If my prediction is correct, this would be the weakest showing at the box office for a Marvel Comic since Blade, but it also has the smallest production budget since Blade. And Artisan is a new comer in this business, it won't take much for The Punisher to become their biggest box office hit ever.

Name: Shaolin Soccer
Studio: Miramax
Official Site: ShaolinSoccer.com
Release Date: April 2nd
Source: Original Script
Genres: Wire Fu
Production Budget: $10 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million
Notes: This movie has had its release date changed more than a half a dozen times and has been pushed back 2 years. That's kind of treatment certainly lowers expectations. As does reports that it was heavily edited from the original Hong Kong version, although the studio has since backtracked on some of the changes. I'm not entirely convinced it will resemble the original when it opens. Nor and I'm not entirely convinced it will open on April 2nd, some sources say it will open on March 26th, but it could be pushed back to late summer, or it might go direct to video at this point. I won't believe any release date until after I see the opening credits.

Name: Walking Tall
Studio: MGM/UA
Official Site: WalkingTallMovie.com
Release Date: April 2nd
Source: Based on Real Life Events, Remake
Genres: Returning Soldier
Production Budget: $56 million
Box Office Potential: $50 - $60 million
Notes: The start to Dwayne Johnson's movie career hasn't gone smoothly. After a cameo in the $200 million hit, The Mummy Returns his first starring role managed less than half that amount. And last fall, The Rundown earned less than $50 million on an $85 million budget. Walking Tall's budget is much smaller, but its box office potential is about the same, maybe a little stronger.

Name: The Whole Ten Yards
Studio: Warner Bros.
Official Site: TheWholeTenYards.warnerbros.com
Release Date: April 9th
Source: Sequel
Genres: Hitmen/Assassins
Production Budget: $30 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million or less
Notes: This strikes me as an unnecessary sequel to a movie that wasn't that beloved to begin with. The original is still Matthew Perry's biggest hit and most of the rest of the cast seem to be in a slump at the box office.


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Filed under: Monthly Preview, Mean Girls, Man on Fire, Kill Bill: Volume 2, Hellboy, Home on the Range, Walking Tall, The Punisher, Johnson Family Vacation, The Prince & Me, Ella Enchanted, The Alamo, Laws of Attraction, The Whole Ten Yards, The Girl Next Door, Godsend, Envy, Connie & Carla, Shaolin Soccer, 13 Going On 30