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2016 Preview: February

February 1st, 2016

Deadpool

As expected, January was dominated by holdovers with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Revenant leading the way. That's not to say there were no new releases that did well, as Ride Along 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3 were hits with moviegoers. Looking forward, there is only one film that looks like a sure hit, Deadpool. There's a slim chance it could be a surprise $200 million hit. There's a much better chance it will be the only $100 million hit. Conversely, last February started with a $100 million hit coming out, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, while there were two other $100 million movies to come out that month, Fifty Shades of Grey and Kingsman: The Secret Service. Looks like 2016 is going to lose in the year-over-year comparison.

Weekend of February 5th, 2016

Hail, Caesar!

As with every week this month, there are three wide releases coming out the first week of February. Of these, Hail, Caesar! is earning the best buzz. It is a film by the Coen Brothers, who rarely make $100 million hits, but they tend to make movies that earn good reviews and become solid midlevel hits. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is earning a lot of Internet Buzz, which is like regular buzz, but often doesn't translate into ticket sales. Finally there's The Choice, the latest from Nicholas Sparks. He used to have a winning streak, but his last two films struggled. The weekend last year, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water opened with $55.37 million. This is likely more than any of the three releases opening this week will earn in total. The month is going to start with a loss in the year-over-year comparison.

The Choice

The Choice poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheChoice.Movie
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: February 5th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and some thematic issues.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Romance, North Carolina, Medical Students
Directed By: Ross Katz
Written By: Bryan Sipe, Nicholas Sparks
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Teresa Palmer
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

The Choice is the latest from Nicholas Sparks. For a while, he was one of the most prolific authors when it came to his novels being adapted into movies. However, it looks like even his target fanbase is growing tired of his movies, because both The Best of Me and The Longest Ride failed to live up to his career average. Additionally, there is another romantic film, How to be Single, coming out the week after and that film is earning better buzz.

Hail, Caesar!

Hail, Caesar! poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: HailCaesarMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: February 5th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some suggestive content and smoking.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Movie Business, Film Actor, Kidnap, Ransom, Private Investigator, Investigative Journalist, Media Circus, 1950s, Ensemble
Directed By: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Written By: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Starring: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson
Production Budget: Rumored at $22 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

Hail, Caesar! is the latest from the Coen Brothers. It is a film set in the 1950s and it is about a fixer, played by Josh Brolin, whose job it is to clean up studio messes. The latest mess involves an actor, George Clooney, who has been kidnapped and held for ransom.

The last time the Coen Brothers directed a movie that didn't earn overall positive reviews was back in 2004 with The Ladykillers. And that film came awfully close to that mark. Then again, they've only made one $100 million movie, True Grit. So I expect this film to earn good reviews, but struggle to get to $50 million during its box office run. There's no prime competition in theaters this weekend, but it is Superbowl weekend, so Hail, Caesar! will likely be profitable, but it won't be a major hit.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SonyPictures.com/Movies/PrideAndPrejudiceAndZombies/
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: February 5th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for zombie violence and action, and brief suggestive material.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Black Comedy
Keywords: Zombies, Costume Drama, Romance
Directed By: Burr Steers
Written By: Seth Grahame-Smith, Burr Steers
Starring: Lily James, Sam Riley
Production Budget: Estimated at between $10 million and $20 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is based on the novel of the same name from 2009, which in turn is based on the Jane Austen novel from 1813. It's a costume drama with zombies. I'm not 100% sure this concept will work. There's a lot of internet buzz about the movie and the early reviews are mostly positive. That said, early reviews can turn sour really fast and internet buzz has the tendency to not translate into ticket sales. On the positive side, it likely didn't cost a lot to make, so it should easily top its production budget domestically. If it can find an audience internationally, it will break even early in its home market run. It also has the chance to become a cult hit on the home market, which would really help its financial numbers.

Weekend of February 12th, 2016

Deadpool

This year, Valentine's day lands on a Sunday, which should be a huge boon for romantic films playing in theaters. How to be Single is a romantic comedy and is should do well on Sunday. Unfortunately, buzz-wise, that film is being blown away by Deadpool, and to a lesser extent, Zoolander 2. Deadpool is widely expected to be the biggest hit of the month and some even think it will open with more than any other wide release will make in total. Meanwhile, comedy sequels have a ... mixed history, as do delayed sequels. There's a chance Zoolander 2 won't match the original, even if you don't take into account inflation. The weekend last year, Fifty Shades of Grey set the record for Biggest February weekend. Deadpool might earn a spot in the top three on that list, but I can't image 2016 is going to win in the year-over-year comparison.

Deadpool

Deadpool poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FoxMovies.com/Deadpool
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: February 12th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity.
Source: Based on Comic/Graphic Novel
Genre: Action
Keywords: Terminal Illness, Cancer, Special Ops, Romance, Medical Crimes, Human Experimentation, Revenge, Gratuitous Cameos, Development Hell
Directed By: Tim Miller
Written By: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Rob Liefeld, Fabian Nicieza
Starring: Ryan Reynolds
Production Budget: Reported at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million

I'm having trouble figuring out how much money this movie will make because of three factors. Firstly, it is an R-rated comic book movie. There are very few of those made and of the top 25 Comic Book Films, only one of them, 300, was rated R. If you limit it to comic book and Super Heroes, Watchmen is the biggest, but the Blade Trilogy is the most profitable. There's a reason why studios don't want to risk $100 million or more making a movie like this. The only way the filmmakers were allowed to aim for an R-rating was to write a script that could be shot with $50 million or less. Since no movie like this has been made in a decade, it is really hard to judge its chances.

Secondly, while there is a huge amount of buzz surrounding this film, a lot of it is "Internet Buzz". If "Internet Buzz" was a good way to predict a film's box office chances, then Snakes on a Plane would have been a $100 million hit. I think it has broken out into more mainstream buzz, but considering I live on the internet, that's harder for me to judge.

Finally, and this might be the biggest factor... I really want Deadpool to be a huge hit. I really like the character and think Ryan Reynolds was born to play this part. Additionally, I really want big-budget R-rated movies to come back, because there are some stories that just don't work in PG-13. (You couldn't tell a faithful adaptation of Lovecraft mythos in PG-13, for example.) However, because I really want the film to succeed, I'm worried I will subconsciously cherry-pick the data that supports what I want to have happen, while ignoring data that goes against it.

Despite this, I'm confident that Deadpool will be a hit. It could open with more than it cost to make and should have no trouble crossing $100 million domestically. If it just matches that internationally, then it will break even before it reaches the home market. $150 million isn't out of the question, while I've seen some predictions that are close to $175 million. I don't think it will get there, but if it did, it could change the way Hollywood looks at R-rated movies.

How to be Single

How to be Single poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: HowToBeSingleMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: February 12th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content and strong language throughout.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Romance, New York City
Directed By: Christian Ditter
Written By: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, Dana Fox, Liz Tuccillo
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Dan Stevens, Leslie Mann, Alison Brie
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million

How to be Single is a romantic comedy opening on the same weekend as Valentine's Day. That should give a solid boost to this film's opening weekend. It is playing the counter-programming role and its buzz is good when you take that into account. I doubt the movie will be a huge hit, but it likely didn't cost a lot to make, so a $40 million domestic box office would help it break even sometime during its home market run.

Zoolander 2

Zoolander 2 poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Zoolander.com
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: February 12th, 2016
MPAA Rating:
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Directing Yourself, Screenplay Written By the Star, Fashion, Models, Delayed Sequel, Gratuitous Cameos
Directed By: Ben Stiller
Written By: Justin Theroux
Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Penelope Cruz
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million

The original Zoolander came out in 2001. It made only $45 million, which made it a midlevel hit, not a major hit. However, it did extremely well on the home market. The idea of making a sequel has bubbled around for a while, but I don't know if the delay has meant there is built up demand, or if it means they missed their opportunity. The buzz for the film is good, but about half as loud as it is for Deadpool, which opens this weekend as well. There are some who think this movie could earn more than $75 million during its run and might even come close to $100 million. That would be great for the overall health of the box office, but I think that's too optimistic. I hope I'm wrong.

Weekend of February 19th, 2016

Race This weekend is not nearly as potent when it comes to box office potential. Race is an inspirational sports movie based on real life events. Those can do well, but are usually aiming for midlevel hit, nothing more. Risen is a faith-based film, which is a subgenre that is nearly impossible to predict. The Witch cost just $1 million to make and was expected to open in limited release until it got a promotion not too long ago. I really hope at least one of these films earn more than $50 million, but that's unlikely. This weekend last year, there were three wide releases, none of which did well. This means the year-over-year comparison will be down to holdover vs. holdover: Deadpool vs. Fifty Shades of Grey. It could be a close race.

Race

Race poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FocusFeatures.com/Race
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: February 19th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements and language.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Olympics, Germany, 1930s, Nazis, Track and Field, World Record Attempt, African-American, Bigotry
Directed By: Stephen Hopkins
Written By: Anna Waterhouse, Joe Shrapnel
Starring: Stephan James
Production Budget: Estimated at $15 million to $25 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

Race is an inspirational sports movie based on real life events. Needless to say, we've seen a number of those in the past. For instance, 42 is just a few years old and it earned nearly $100 million. I would love Race to do the same at the box office, but that seems very unlikely. The biggest obstacle is the sport. Sports movies tend to do as well as the sport involved. 42 is a baseball movie and baseball is one of the big four sports in the United States. Race, on the other hand, is a film about track and field, which technically isn't even a sport. (It's an athletic competition. It's not a sport unless you can interfere with your opponents' ability to play.) Track and Field is not even close to as popular as baseball is and this will result in this film earning only about half as much at the box office. It might even earn a third or less. On the other hand, it likely didn't cost a whole lot to make, so this might be enough to break even.

Risen

Risen poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Facebook.com/RisenMovie
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: February 19th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Biblical violence including some disturbing images.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Religious, Ancient Rome
Directed By: Kevin Reynolds
Written By: Patrick Aiello, Kevin Reynolds
Starring: Joseph Fiennes
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

Joseph Fiennes stars as a Roman Centurion investigating the mystery of the missing body. It is an unofficial sequel to The Passion of the Christ.

This is a faith-based film. I hate faith-based films. They are nearly impossible to predict. For every Heaven is for Real there's a number of films like 90 Minutes in Heaven. The connection to The Passion of the Christ might help it out, but I'm not hearing any buzz.

The Witch

The Witch poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: http://thewitch-movie.com/
Distributor: A24
Release Date: February 19th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent content and graphic nudity.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Horror
Keywords: 1600s, Missing Child, Witches
Directed By: Robert Eggers
Written By: Robert Eggers
Starring: Anya Taylor Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie
Production Budget: Reported at $1 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

A24 has had a lot of success in limited release. Its biggest hit, Ex Machina, even expanded truly wide. However, The Witch is the first film from the distributor to open truly wide. Is it a risk? Possibly. However, the film is a horror movie that only cost $1 million to make. It will likely cost $15 million to $20 million for advertising, but the film could open with somewhere in-between those two amounts. That's probably a little too much to ask. That said, The Lazarus Effect opened with just over $10 million last year, and it was a bad movie. The Witch's reviews are 88% positive. This film could be a surprise hit. Additionally, even if it struggles in theaters, it should find a receptive audience internationally and / or on the home market. I would be very surprised if it didn't earn a profit.

Weekend of February 26th, 2016

Gods of Egypt

The month ends on a sour note. Gods of Egypt is by far the largest movie of the month costing $140 million to make. It's buzz is equal parts quiet and negative. Practically the only time I hear people talking about the movie, they are insulting it. This could be this year's Jupiter Ascending. Eddie the Eagle, on the other hand, looks incredibly cheesy, but in a good way. The final wide release of the month is Triple Nine, which looks like a rather generic action film. This weekend last year, there were two wide releases, but neither were big hits with combined openings of less than $30 million. This year's new releases should top that, but not by enough to really be impressive.

Eddie the Eagle

Eddie the Eagle poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FoxMovies.com/Movies/Eddie-The-Eagle
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: February 26th, 2016
MPAA Rating:
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Winter Sports, Olympics, Inspirational Sports, Skiing, Underdog
Directed By: Dexter Fletcher
Written By: Sean Macaulay
Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, and more
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

Read what I said above about Race. Everything I said there applies here. The main difference is Eddie the Eagle is more of a comedy and it is not political. The most obvious film to compare it to is Cool Runnings, which came out more than 20 years ago. Million Dollar Arm is a much more recent film that is still a close comparison. That film had a better release date, a bigger star, and focused on a more popular sport. Additionally, Eddie the Eagle is the smallest of the three films coming out this week and might get lost in the crowd. It could break even, but it will likely need a strong home market run for that to happen. [Copy Ed:It should do well in the UK, where Eddie is a legend]

Gods of Egypt

Gods of Egypt poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: GodsOfEgypt.Movie
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: February 26th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for fantasy violence and action, and some sexuality.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Gods and Goddesses, Rescue, Whitewashed Casting, 3-D, 3-D - Post-production Conversion, Digital Cinematography
Directed By: Alex Proyas
Written By: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and others.
Production Budget: Reported at $140 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million

What were they thinking? At a time when a lot of people are pushing for more diversity in media, why would you risk the backlash of casting white people for a movie about ancient Egypt? If the people behind these decisions didn't know there would be people complaining, then they should resign. This film is coming out the same weekend as the Oscars are being handed out, which is poetic, as the Oscars are also dealing with controversy due to lack of diversity. As for the quality, the movie just looks bad. It looks like a half-baked idea turned into a visually messy movie. On the other hand, it is the biggest movie coming out this weekend, so it should finish first on its opening weekend. That's damning it with faint praise.

Triple 9

Triple 9 poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Triple9Movie.com
Distributor: Open Road
Release Date: February 26th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and language throughout, drug use and some nudity.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Russian Mafia, Corrupt Cops, Heist, Blackmail
Directed By: John Hillcoat
Written By: Matt Cook
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Winslet, Casey Affleck
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

A group of corrupt cops are blackmailed by the Russian Mafia into committing a heist. In order to get away with it, they plan on killing a rookie police officer as a distraction. The buzz for this movie is not good. It's not bad, but it is very quiet. Granted, it is opening at the end of the month, so it does have time to build the world-of-mouth, but the information we have suggests it will struggle to find an audience in theaters.

Filed under: Monthly Preview, Deadpool, Zoolander 2, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Gods of Egypt, How to be Single, Risen, Triple 9, Race, The Choice, Hail, Caesar!, The Witch, Eddie the Eagle, Blade, Kate Winslet, Casey Affleck, Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Penelope Cruz, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Will Ferrell, Joseph Fiennes, Ralph Fiennes, Dexter Fletcher, Woody Harrelson, Stephen Hopkins, Ralph Ineson, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Leslie Mann, Teresa Palmer, Alex Proyas, Rhett Reese, Ryan Reynolds, Sam Riley, Burr Steers, Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux, Paul Wernick, Owen Wilson, Dana Fox, Jane Austen, Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse, Dakota Johnson, Patrick Aiello, Seth Grahame-Smith, Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, Lily James, Dan Stevens, Liz Tuccillo, Alison Brie, Benjamin Walker, Rebel Wilson, Kate Dickie, John Hillcoat, Nicholas Sparks, Brenton Thwaites, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Kevin Reynolds, Tim Miller, Matt Cook, Christian Ditter, Ross Katz, Stephan James, Bryan Sipe, Rob Liefeld, Fabian Nicieza, H.P. Lovecraft, Taron Egerton, Robert Eggers, Anya Taylor Joy, Sean Macaulay