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2016 Preview: March

March 1st, 2016

Zootopia

It's March 1st, which is not only the beginning of the month, but also Super Tuesday. If you are not American and don't pay attention to American politics, Super Tuesday is sort of like the Oscar night of the primary season. I was going to write about my predictions, but it looks like the race is about to be over. On the Republicans side, if Trump gets more than 50% of the delegates, then he has won. It will be too late to stop him. If he gets less than 40%, then it becomes a real race again. If the polling is correct, then he will get closer to 50% than 40%. On the Democratic side, Sanders needs at least 45% of the delegates, or it is over for him. Anything less than that and Hillary Clinton will have too big a lead to overcome. If the South Carolina result is an indicator, Hillary Clinton could get two-thirds of the delegates awarded tonight.

As for the box office, February was amazing, thanks to Deadpool's record-breaking opening and better than expected legs. The month ended with 2016 being nearly 4% higher than 2015's pace. Additionally, there are some big releases coming out this month with both Zootopia and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice looking to get more than $200 million, while Allegiant should hit $100 million. Last March, there were also three films that earned more than $100 million, but only one $200 million hit, Cinderella. It should be a really close race between 2016 and 2015.

Weekend of March 4th, 2016

Zootopia

The first weekend in March features three wide releases. Of these, Zootopia is the only one expected to be a big hit. In fact, it should become just the second film released in 2016 to get to $200 million. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is looking to be a hit as counter-programming. It likely didn't cost too much to make, so it won't need to be a $100 million hit to break even. London Has Fallen is part of a category of sequels I call, "Why? WHY?" Olympus Has Fallen cost $70 million to make and only pulled in $150 million worldwide. This doesn't appear to be enough to break even. It certainly isn't enough to justify spending $105 million on the sequel. This weekend last year, there were also three wide releases, none of which became major hits. In fact, Zootopia will open with more than all three of them combined earned. It should earn more than the top five made last year. 2016 should have no trouble continuing its winning ways.

London Has Fallen

London Has Fallen poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: LondonHasFallen.com/
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: March 4th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and language throughout.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Action
Keywords: London, United Kingdom, Political Assasination, Terrorism, Secret Service Agent
Directed By: Babak Najafi
Written By: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Christian Gudegast, Chad St. John, Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman
Production Budget: Reported at $105 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Why? Olympus Has Fallen wasn't a big hit, nor was it loved by critics and moviegoers. Making a sequel seems like a mistake. Making a sequel and increasing the production budget by 50% is baffling. Granted, most other analysts I've seen are more bullish that I am, but even $75 million seems out of reach.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: WhiskeyTangoFoxtrotTheMovie.com
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: March 4th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, some sexual content, drug use and violent war images.
Source: Based on Factual Book/Article
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: War Correspondent, War, Afghanistan War, Romance
Directed By: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Written By: Robert Carlock, Kim Barker
Starring: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Tina Fey plays a war correspondent sent to Afghanistan. There she meets a ton of interesting people, including Martin Freeman and the pair have a bit of a romance. The early reviews are good, but not great, while the buzz is very similar. It's the quietest movie of the week, but most people who are talking about it are saying positive things. Even the high end estimates have it failing to become a midlevel hit. That said, assuming the film didn't cost a lot to make, it should be able to break even, eventually.

Zootopia

Zootopia poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Movies.Disney.com/Zootopia
Distributor: Walt Disney
Release Date: March 4th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG for some thematic elements, rude humor and action.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Beat Cops, Confidence Men, Talking Animals, Animal Lead, Missing Person, Bigotry, Government Corruption
Directed By: Byron Howard, Rich Moore
Written By: Jared Bush, Phil Johnston, Byron Howard, Jared Bush, Josie Trinidad, Phil Johnston, Jim Reardon, Jennifer Lee, Rich Moore
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman
Production Budget: Estimated at $150 million to $175 million
Box Office Potential: $225 million

Ginnifer Goodwin provides the voice for Judy Hopps, a new cop in the city of Zootopia. However, since she's a bunny, she's not given a lot of respect by the other cops. After an embarrassing incident on the job, she forces a con man fox to help her solve a series of missing person cases in order to save her career.

Out of all of the films opening wide in March, this is the one I want to see the most. It has already opened internationally and has earned more than $80 million. Additionally, the early reviews are 100% positive. Both of these suggest it will be a major hit here. $200 million domestically is the target number for the movie. If it can get past that figure, then it will be an unqualified success. Most people think it will at least come close. I'm a little more bullish than most and I think it has a shot at becoming the biggest hit of the month.

Weekend of March 11th, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane

There are four wide releases this week, but only 10 Cloverfield Lane has a reasonable shot at box office success. The Brothers Grimsby has already opened in its native U.K. and only managed second place with barely more than $2 million over the three-day weekend. That suggests a $10 million opening here. The Young Messiah is a faith-based film and long-time readers know how frustrating those are to predict. Finally there's The Perfect Match. I'm not 100% sure that film will open truly wide. This weekend last year was dominated by Cinderella, which earned $67.88 million during its opening weekend. That's likely more than and any single film will make in total. It's likely more than all four wide releases will open with this weekend. 2016's winning streak will end this weekend.

10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: 10CloverfieldLane.com/
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: March 11th, 2016
MPAA Rating:
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Kidnap, Post Apocalypse, Escape, Survivalist, Car Accident, One Location
Directed By: Dan Trachtenberg
Written By: Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken, Damien Chazelle
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman
Production Budget: Reported at $5 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million

Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays a woman who is in a car accident and rendered unconscious. When she wakes up, she is told by John Goodman, that he "rescued" her and that a a chemical attack rendered the surface uninhabitable for humans. But he he telling the truth?

This is a pseudo-sequel to Cloverfield, which at one point had the record for Biggest January opening. However, that film collapsed at the box office, which suggests that people bought into the marketing hype, but were less interested in the final product. Additionally, that movie came out eight years ago, so even people who liked it won't be terribly interested in a pseudo-sequel. That said, it is still the biggest film coming out this week and the lack of direct competition and a low, low production budget should mean it will have no trouble reaching profitability.

The Brothers Grimsby

The Brothers Grimsby poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SonyPictures.com/Movies/TheBrothersGrimsby/
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: March 11th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for strong crude sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, language, and some drug use.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Separated at Birth, Dysfunctional Family, Secret Agent, Terrorism, Conspiracy Theory, Spoof
Directed By: Louis Leterrier
Written By: Sacha Baron Cohen, Phil Johnston, Peter Baynham
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Rebel Wilson, Penelope Cruz
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

Sacha Baron Cohen stars as the low class brother of a top British spy, played by Mark Strong. They were separated as young boys when they were adopted by different families, but reunited as adults. This is a mess, because Sacha is a screw-up, but he's determined to make things right.

The film has already opened in its Native U.K. and earned $2.0 million over the weekend for a total opening of $2.7 million. That suggests an opening here of less than $10 million. Additionally, its reviews are mixed, so it likely won't have good word-of-mouth. Finally, Sacha Baron Cohen's box office drawing power is no longer at its peak. None of this bodes well for its box office chances.

The Perfect Match

The Perfect Match poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: CodeBlackFilms.com/
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: March 11th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for sexuality, some nudity, and language throughout.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: African-American, Romance
Directed By: Bille Woodruff
Written By: Brandon Broussard, Gary Hardwick
Starring: Terrence J, Cassie Ventura, Paula Patton
Production Budget: Estimated at $10 million, maybe less
Box Office Potential: $10 million

A romantic comedy about a player who finally finds a woman he wants to settle down with, only to learn she isn't interested in a serious relationship. I'm not 100% sure this film is opening truly wide, which really hurts its box office potential. Romantic comedys tend to do really poorly in limited release, so if it does open in just a few dozen theaters, it will very likely finish its box office run with less than $1 million. If it opens in a few hundred theaters, it might get to $1 million to $2 million, but that's it. If it does open truly wide, then it could earn $20 million to $25 million. The above number is a weighted average of those two extremes.

The Young Messiah

The Young Messiah poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheYoungMessiah.com/
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: March 11th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and thematic elements.
Source: Based on Religious Text
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Religious, Faith-Based, Coming of Age
Directed By: Cyrus Nowrasteh
Written By: Cyrus Nowrasteh, Betsy Nowrasteh, Anne Rice
Starring: Adam Greaves-Neal
Production Budget: Reported at $17 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

A coming of age movie about the young Jesus Christ. ... I have no idea how well this movie is going to do and the above number is just a shot in the dark. Frankly, I just used Risen's box office run and copied what the final number will be. The Young Messiah could earn half that, it could earn twice that, there's no telling with faith-based films.

Weekend of March 18th, 2016

Allegiant

Allegiant is the penultimate installment of the The Divergent Series. Most people think this film will continue the franchise's downwards trajectory at the box office. In fact, many think it will accelerate and getting to the century mark is not a sure thing. On the other hand, the combined box office for Miracles from Heaven and Midnight Special likely won't get close to $100 million. This weekend last year, Insurgent opened with $52 million. Allegiant won't match that figure. In fact, it might not match the $35 million Cinderella earned during its sophomore stint. 2016 will lose yet again in the year-over-year comparison.

Allegiant

Allegiant poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheDivergentSeries.Movie/#Allegiant
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: March 18th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements, and some partial nudity.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Action
Keywords: Dystopia, Young Adult Book Adaptation
Directed By: Robert Schwentke
Written By: Noah Oppenheim, Veronica Roth
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James
Production Budget: Estimated at $80 million to $90 million
Box Office Potential: $110 million

This movie looks so bad. I know I'm not in the target demographic, but even so... I was done with this franchise after the first installment and they just look more and more generic as they go on. That said, the second film made nearly $300 million worldwide and it is likely this one will do about the same level of business, so it should break even sometime during the home market. The final installment comes out next year and overall the franchise should be profitable, but it won't be too impressive financially.

Midnight Special

Midnight Special poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: MidnightSpecialMovie.com/
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: March 18th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and action.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Fugitive / On the Run, Cults, Religious
Directed By: Jeff Nichols
Written By: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Jaeden Lieberher
Production Budget: Reported at $18 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million

This is a short prediction, because I no longer think this film is going to open truly wide, or even semi-wide. If it opens in a few hundred theaters, then it might peter out before it reaches $5 million. If it opens in just a few dozen theaters, it likely won't get to $1 million. If it does open truly wide, then it could get to $25 million.

Miracles from Heaven

Miracles from Heaven poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SonyPictures.com/Movies/MiraclesFromHeaven/
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: March 18th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic material, including accident and medical images.
Source: Based on Factual Book/Article
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Faith-Based, Christians, Medical and Hospitals, Near Death Experience
Directed By: Patricia Riggen
Written By: Randy Brown, Christy Beam
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Kylie Rogers
Production Budget: Estimated at $10 million to $20 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million

This is a faith-based film that feels very much like Heaven is for Real, which is great news for its box office chances. Additionally, Easter is the following weekend, so it should have great legs. Unfortunately, another faith-based film is opening the weekend before this one and that will hurt its box office chances. It appears to be the bigger of the two faith-based films, but these films are so unpredictable that this barely qualifies as an educated guess.

Weekend of March 25th, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

The month ends with what many are assuming will be the biggest hit of the month and the biggest hit of the year so far, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I have zero interest in seeing this movie for reasons I will mention below. The counter-programming this week is My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, the delayed sequel to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which is considered by some to be the biggest independent hit of all time. (It depends on if you consider mini-majors to be independent films, or if you take budgets into consideration. If you just say it was independently financed, then the Star Wars prequels are the technically the biggest independent films of all time, and that's obviously not right.) This weekend last year, Home and Get Hard earned more than $85 million combined. If Batman v Superman doesn't top that by itself, then something has gone horribly wrong. 2016 should end its losing streak this week.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: BatmanVSuperman.DCComics.com/
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: March 25th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action throughout, and some sensuality.
Source: Based on Comic/Graphic Novel
Genre: Action
Keywords: Franchise Crossover, D.C. Comics, Vigilante
Directed By: Zack Snyder
Written By: David S. Goyer, David S. Goyer, Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck
Production Budget: Reported at $200 million
Box Office Potential: $250 million

I have no interest in seeing this movie for two reasons. Firstly, the behind-the-scenes mess. The entire Warner Bros. has been trying to turn their D.C. Comics properties into a Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it just doesn't seem to be coming together. Instead of being made because they have a great story to tell, it feels like it is being made because the executives want to be part of that billion dollar box office bonanza. That's a bad way to make a movie. It's an even worse way to make half-a-dozen movies before you know the first movie is going to be a hit. Furthermore, the announcement that there's going to be an R-rated version of the movie coming out on Blu-ray sounds like the studio is trying to sabotage the film's box office numbers by proactively coming up with an excuse why it struggled. It's like they know they have a dud on their hands and are trying to reduce expectations before it comes out.

The other reason I'm not interested in seeing this movie is because I don't like the Nolan Batman trilogy. ... I know I'm in the minority here, but it's true. I liked the first two films the first time I watched them, but I re-watched them in preparation to see The Dark Knight Rises and I realized there are way too many points where suspension of disbelief is broken. This happens in the opening heist. First of all, you don't join a heist where the boss tells you to kill someone when they are no longer useful on the heist, because that means the boss told someone else to kill you. Furthermore, when the guy says, "I bet the Joker told you to kill me as soon as we loaded the cash." The person we later learn is the Joker saying, "No, no, no, I kill the bus drivers." The bank robber would have said, "There's a bus driver? Thanks for the heads up." BLAM! And that's the end of the movie. That's not even the most complicated plan the Joker comes up in that movie that is fatally flawed, but still works, because the screenwriters say it works. And that's not even getting into the Joker's ultimate plan, which is to force Batman to kill him, thus proving they are the same. This is just stupid. This is like saying killing someone in self-defense is the same as first degree murder. Utter. Crap. Don't get me wrong, Heath Ledger is amazing in the movie and I'd watch that film again just for his performance, but the rest of the movie is a mess.

On a side note, there's a fan theory that the Joker has super powers, namely, he has the super power to create plans that rely on perfect timing, because he has perfect timing... because he's a super stand-up comic and you need comedic timing to be a comic. I'm not sure that makes the movies more believable.

Don't get me started on the new Superman. Superman is a man from another time and doesn't fit in with the new gritty world we live in. Neither does Captain America, but Marvel made the right choice to make that flaw a part of his character. The perfect example is when he scolded Tony Stark in the opening of The Age of Ultron. "Language!" That one word showed Marvel knew how to work with Captain American more than anyone at Warner Bros. knows how to work with Superman. I really hope they figure out how to fix this problem, but so far I haven't seen evidence that they did.

Maybe I'm being pessimistic. Hopefully I'm being pessimistic. However, I just don't see it topping Deadpool's box office run. Considering this film cost about three times more to make than Deadpool did, a $250 million domestic run might not please the studio.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: MyBigFatGreekWeddingMovie.com/
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: March 25th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some suggestive material.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Delayed Sequel, Relationships Gone Wrong
Directed By: Kirk Jones
Written By: Nia Vardalos
Starring: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Elena Kampouris
Production Budget: $10 million to $20 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million

My Big Fat Greek Wedding is arguably the biggest independent film of all time and it earned $240 million domestically back in 2002. There's no way this film will do the same. It likely won't make half of that worldwide. The gap between installments is too long and original film tapped into something that this film just won't be able to duplicate. That said, it is also likely the film cost very little to make compared to the average wide release, so it will only need to make about $50 million to break even sooner rather than later.

On a side note, I have a well-publicized Pro-Canada bias, which manifests itself in strange ways. There are more than a few actors that I really like, because they are Canadian. Sometimes, like with the late Maury Chaykin, I thought they were Canadian, intentionally watched a bunch of their work because of that. Then found out they weren't Canadian, but still really like them. I bring this up, because while there are many real Canadians on this film, Elena Kampouris is in the list of people I thought were Canadian, but are not. She's from New York, just like Maury Chaykin.

Filed under: Monthly Preview, The Young Messiah, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Divergent Series: Allegiant, The Brothers Grimsby, London Has Fallen, Midnight Special, Zootopia, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Miracles from Heaven, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, The Perfect Match, Star Wars, Batman, Superman, Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Divergent Series, Morgan Freeman, Ben Affleck, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jason Bateman, Gerard Butler, Henry Cavill, Maury Chaykin, John Corbett, Penelope Cruz, Robert Downey, Jr., Kirsten Dunst, Aaron Eckhart, Joel Edgerton, Chris Evans, Tina Fey, Martin Freeman, Jennifer Garner, John Goodman, Ginnifer Goodwin, Heath Ledger, Louis Leterrier, Christopher Nolan, Cyrus Nowrasteh, Paula Patton, Michael Shannon, Zack Snyder, Mark Strong, Nia Vardalos, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Shailene Woodley, Bille Woodruff, Robert Schwentke, John Requa, Theo James, Damien Chazelle, Byron Howard, Glenn Ficarra, Jim Reardon, David S. Goyer, Phil Johnston, Peter Baynham, Rich Moore, Jeff Nichols, Patricia Riggen, Jennifer Lee, Kirk Jones, Gary Hardwick, Rebel Wilson, Veronica Roth, Randy Brown, Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Betsy Nowrasteh, Anne Rice, Terrence J, Margot Robbie, Babak Najafi, Josh Campbell, Christian Gudegast, Cassie Ventura, Noah Oppenheim, Kylie Rogers, Elena Kampouris, Jaeden Lieberher, Josie Trinidad, Jared Bush, Christy Beam, Dan Trachtenberg, Robert Carlock, Kim Barker, Chad St. John, Matt Stuecken, Adam Greaves-Neal, Brandon Broussard