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2016 Preview: April

April 1st, 2016

The Jungle Book

March was a really good month, for the most part. There were a few bombs, but the two biggest films, Zootopia and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, both beat expectations by significant margins, so overall the box office was better than expected. Unfortunately, April is a mess, which makes prognosticating really tough. Every single week has at least one film that either moved, switched from wide to limited release, or disappeared entirely. The Jungle Book appears to be the biggest film of the year, but The Huntsman: Winter's War could also be a $100 million hit. Sadly, last April was led by Furious 7, which earned more than $350 million at the box office. That's very likely more than both The Jungle Book and The Huntsman: Winter's War will make combined. Worse still, there were only four weekends in April last year, meaning the month ends by going head-to-head with The Avengers: Age of Ultron. By the time the month ends, 2016's lead over 2015 might be gone. Let's hope it is not that bad.

Weekend of April 1st, 2016

God's Not Dead 2

The month starts on a really, really weak note. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was expected to be a monster hit, so no one wanted to compete with it, not even during its sophomore stint. There have been four films that were thought to open wide this week, but two moved and the other has been downgraded to semi-wide. This leaves God’s Not Dead 2 as the only true wide release of the week and it's a faith-based film. This sub-genre is nearly impossible to predict and this year they have been extra fickle. The film could make anything from $20 million in total to more than $30 million just over its opening weekend. Unfortunately, this weekend last year, Furious 7 dominated the box office with $147 million. This could be more than the entire box office earns this week, so April will get off to a poor start in the year-over-year comparison. One last note, Meet the Blacks is also opening this week, but the early theater count has it playing in just 1,000 theaters, which isn't enough to be considered truly wide.

God’s Not Dead 2

God’s Not Dead 2 poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: GodsNotDeadTheMovie.com
Distributor: Pure Flix Entertainment
Release Date: April 1st, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG for some thematic elements.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Faith-Based, Religious, Christians, Courtroom Drama, Teachers, Agitprop
Directed By: Harold Cronk
Written By: Chuck Konzelman, Cary Solomon
Starring: Melissa Joan Hart
Production Budget: Under $5 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

God's Not Dead opened in 2014 and became one of the biggest surprise hits of the year. It earned nearly $64 million on a budget of just $1.15 million. Unfortunately, since then, the distributor has not been able to match that figure at the box office. Additionally, there have been three faith-based films released in just over a month and only one will become a midlevel hit, so the market might have hit saturation level. God’s Not Dead 2 could bomb and finish with less than $20 million in total. Or it could top its predecessor with more than $80 million. Faith-based films are truly that unpredictable. The box office potential above is a weighted average of those two extremes.

Weekend of April 8th, 2016

The Boss

The Boss is the only film opening this week with a shot at becoming anything more than a midlevel hit. Melissa McCarthy has been in five $100 million hits so far in her career. It is unlikely this will be her sixth, because April isn't a great month for hitting the century mark, but this film should still be a solid hit. Hardcore Henry has been earning amazing early reviews, but I'm worried the film is too high-concept to find a mainstream audience. (It is being billed as the first first-person action film.) This weekend last year, The Longest Ride was the only wide release and it only managed $13 million. Granted, Furious 7 earned nearly $60 million and 2016 will likely lose in the year-over-year comparison, but it shouldn't get crushed. On a side note, some reports have Demolition opening wide, but it looks like it is coming out in select cities instead.

The Boss

The Boss poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheBossFilm.com/
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: April 8th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, language and brief drug use.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Riches to Rags, Life on the Outside, White Collar Crime, Single Parent, Comeback, Bad Role Models
Directed By: Ben Falcone
Written By: Ben Falcone, Melissa McCarthy, Steve Mallory
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

Melissa McCarthy teams up with her husband, Ben Falcone, for the first time since making Tammy in 2014. That film earned terrible reviews, but earned more than $80 million on a $20 million budget. You can see why someone else was willing to let them make another movie. There is a small chance The Boss will do better at the box office, especially if it earns better reviews. The Boss will be dealing with less competition, but it has a much weaker release date. It has maybe a 1% shot at being a $100 million hit, but a domestic run of $75 million will ensure these two get to make more movies together.

Hardcore Henry

Hardcore Henry poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: STXMovies.com/HardcoreHenry/
Distributor: STX Entertainment
Release Date: April 8th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for non-stop bloody brutal violence and mayhem, language throughout, sexual content/nudity and drug use.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Action
Keywords: Filmed By a Character, Character POV shot, Cyborg, Rescue, Kidnap, Moscow, Russia
Directed By: Ilya Naishuller
Written By: Ilya Naishuller
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Haley Bennett
Production Budget: Estimated at $10 million to $20 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

This is a high-concept action film where the lead character is ... us? It's a first-person action film, so the entire movie is shot from the perspective of the lead character, a man who was nearly killed, but saved as a cyborg. He then has to rescue his wife, who was one of the scientists who turned him into a cyborg.

I'm of two minds when it comes to this film's box office potential. The idea of an entire film being shot in first person perspective is novel, I will definitely agree to that. However, I'm not sold that it will appeal to a wide audience. I think people who play a lot of first-person video games will be into the movie, but the average moviegoer might not get into it. Then again, the Venn Diagram between people who like action films and those who play first-person shooters is practically a circle. I guess it depends on if the distributor gives it a big push. The early reviews are encouraging, but the buzz isn't as loud as I would like this close to its release date. I think it will be a middling hit. That is to say, it will break even thanks to its small costs, but won't break $50 million.

Weekend of April 15th, 2016

The Jungle Book

This is the busiest week of the month and among the three films coming out is The Jungle Book, which is the only film coming out in April that has a better than 90% chance at reaching $100 million. In fact, it has a shot at $200 million domestically. Barbershop: The Next Cut is a delayed sequel, which we've just seen can work. Finally Criminal has a great cast, but the buzz is just not there. This weekend last year, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 was the biggest new release, while Furious 7 remained in first place. I think The Jungle Book will open with more than those two combined made, so 2016 will win the year-over-year comparison. One final note, Everybody Wants Some is scheduled to expand wide this week; however, it looks like that won't be a truly wide expansion. It looks like it will be more like a few hundred theaters nationwide and not 2,000 or more theaters.

Barbershop: The Next Cut

Barbershop: The Next Cut poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: BarbershopMovie.com/
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: April 15th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG for sexual material and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: African-American, Fashion, Delayed Sequel, Gangs
Directed By: Malcolm D. Lee
Written By: Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver
Starring: Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Regina Hall, Nicki Minaj
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million

The first two Barbershop movies came out more than a decade ago. Normally delayed sequels are a risky proposition; however, we recently had an example of successful delayed sequel, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. The Barbershop movies were never as big as My Big Fat Greek Wedding was. However, it will probably not drop nearly as much at the box office. A $50 million domestic run will be enough to be a financial hit. I don't think there will be a fourth film in the franchise, on the other hand.

Criminal

Criminal poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Criminal.Movie/
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: April 15th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and language throughout.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Action
Keywords: Secret Agent, C.I.A.
Directed By: Ariel Vromen
Written By: Douglas S. Cook, David Weisberg
Starring: Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, Gal Gadot
Production Budget: Reported at $32 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

Ryan Reynolds plays a CIA agent who is killed on a mission. His memories are then implanted in Kevin Costner, a career criminal with sociopathic tendencies, so the CIA can get the information from him and complete the mission. Huh? This film has a great cast, but the setup is too out there and the buzz is way too quiet. Add in the major competition and it is very likely that this film will slip between the cracks.

The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Movies.Disney.com/The-Jungle-Book-2016
Distributor: Walt Disney
Release Date: April 15th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG for some sequences of scary action and peril.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Animal Lead, Talking Animals, India, Jungle, Raised By Wild Animals, Orphan, Young Child Dealing with the Death of a Parent, Live Action Cartoon, Remake
Directed By: Jon Favreau
Written By: Justin Marks, Rudyard Kipling
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Neel Sethi, Bill Murray
Production Budget: Estimated at $150 million to $200 million
Box Office Potential: $190 million

A live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book, which is a Disney classic. Disney has made several similar movies, including Cinderella, which came out roughly this time last year. Will this film also cross $200 million, like Cinderella, Maleficent, and Alice in Wonderland did? Probably not, but I think it will be really close. It is the biggest film of the month as far as buzz is concerned. Unfortunately, the next biggest film is The Huntsman: Winter's War, which opens the following week. I think that competition will keep it from the $200 million mark.

On a related note, there's reports that The Black Cauldron will be the next Disney animated film to be remade as a live action film. I really hope they start with The Book of Three and do The Chronicles of Prydain in its entirety. I think they might want to aim for a PG-13 rating. Some of that book is dark.

Weekend of April 22nd, 2016

The Huntsman: Winter's War

The Huntsman: Winter's War is the only wide release of the week, for now. There's been a lot of movement for releases this month, so I wouldn't be too surprised if a film either moved here or if Elvis and Nixon opens semi-wide instead of limited release as it is currently scheduled. The Huntsman is the sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman and when it was first announced, I thought it would be an easy $100 million hit. Then it was scheduled for an April release date. Now I'm not sure. This weekend last year, Furious 7 again led the way, but The Age of Adaline did well for this time of year.

The Huntsman: Winter's War

The Huntsman: Winter's War poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheHuntsmanMovie.com/
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: April 22nd, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for fantasy action violence and some sensuality.
Source: Based on Folk Tale/Legend/Fairytale
Genre: Action
Keywords: Prequel, Dwarves, Royalty, Death of a Sibling
Directed By: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Written By: Frank Darabont, Craig Mazin, Evan Spiliotopoulos
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain
Production Budget: Estimated at $150 million
Box Office Potential: $95 million

Snow White and the Huntsman came out in 2014 with a prime summer release date. Its reviews were mixed, but it managed to earn just over $400 million worldwide on a budget of $170 million. A sequel makes perfect sense. However, I feel like something went wrong, because the studio decided to release The Huntsman: Winter's War in April. Granted, the movie industry has been trying to turn April into a summer month, with some success stories. But this is still a weaker release date than its predecessor had. Furthermore, The Jungle Book is earning more buzz and it opens a week before. I still have some hope that it will be a surprise $100 million hit domestically, while it could find a larger audience internationally. It will still need help to break even.

Weekend of April 29th, 2016

Keanu

The final weekend of the month has three wide releases, none of which are expected to be anything more than midlevel hits. In fact, there's a chance none of them will reach $50 million domestically. Fortunately, I doubt any of them were super expensive to make, so that helps. Of the three, Keanu is the one I'm most interested in seeing. It was pushed back a week, but its early reviews suggest it should be fun. Mother's Day is an ensemble film with a good cast, but no buzz. Finally, Ratchet and Clank is a lower-budget animated film based on a video game from 2002. This weekend last year was the first weekend in May. Oh no. There's a misalignment in the calendar resulting in Keanu et al going up against The Avengers: Age of Ultron. It is going to be a bloodbath on the year-over-year comparison.

Keanu

Keanu poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: KeanuMovie.com/
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: April 29th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language throughout, drug use and sexuality/nudity.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: African-American, Missing Pet, Gangs, Rescue, Relationships Gone Wrong
Directed By: Peter Atencio
Written By: Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key
Starring: Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele's TV show recently ended, but fans didn't have to wait long for their first foray into movies. In the movie, Jordan Peele suffers a bad breakup, but while he is wallowing in misery, he finds a stray kitten at his front door, whom he names Keanu. This miracle is short-lived when a gang breaks into his home and steals his cat. It's a parody of John Wick. It might earn more than that film did domestically. The early reviews suggests it is not as good as the best their TV show had to offer, but is still entertaining enough to satisfy most fans. Out of all of the films opening this month, this is the one I'm most excited to see.

Mother's Day

Mother's Day poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SeeMothersDay.com/
Distributor: Open Road
Release Date: April 29th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and some suggestive material.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Ensemble, Segments
Directed By: Garry Marshall
Written By: Anya Kochoff, Lily Hollander, Tom Hines
Starring: Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Jason Sudeikis
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

Is this a sequel to New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day? It has the same Garry Marshall, all three films are ensemble comedies, and all are named after holidays. The target audience is more mature women, which is a demographic that doesn't tend to generate a lot of hype, so the lack of buzz more than four weeks out isn't fatal, but it is also not ideal. I'm not bullish about the film's chances, but it likely didn't cost a ton to make, so $45 million will be enough to break even, eventually.

Ratchet and Clank

Ratchet and Clank poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: RatchetAndClankTheMovie.com/
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: April 29th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG for action and some rude humor.
Source: Based on Game
Genre: Adventure
Keywords:
Directed By: Kevin Munroe
Written By: Kevin Munroe
Starring: James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

A lower-budget digitally animated film that tells the origin story of the two lead characters of the Ratchet and Clank video game. On the one hand, there's is little buzz for this movie. On the other hand, it is a family-friendly film and there hasn't been one of those to come out since Zootopia and won't be another coming out till The Angry Birds Movie. The lack of direct competition could be the film's biggest asset. ... That and low expectations.

Filed under: Monthly Preview, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, The Jungle Book, Demolition, Elvis & Nixon, Criminal, The Boss, Barbershop: The Next Cut, Ratchet and Clank, Keanu, Mother’s Day, Everybody Wants Some, God’s Not Dead 2, Hardcore Henry, Meet the Blacks, Barbershop, Julia Roberts, Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Aniston, Kristen Bell, Haley Bennett, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Sharlto Copley, Ice Cube, Frank Darabont, Idris Elba, Cedric the Entertainer, Ben Falcone, Jon Favreau, Gal Gadot, Regina Hall, Melissa Joan Hart, Chris Hemsworth, Kate Hudson, Tommy Lee Jones, David Kaye, Ben Kingsley, Malcolm D. Lee, Garry Marshall, Melissa McCarthy, Bill Murray, Ryan Reynolds, James Arnold Taylor, Jason Sudeikis, Kevin Munroe, Craig Mazin, Nicki Minaj, Tom Hines, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Anya Kochoff, Ariel Vromen, Steve Mallory, David Weisberg, Douglas S. Cook, Harold Cronk, Cary Solomon, Chuck Konzelman, Evan Spiliotopoulos, Neel Sethi, Justin Marks, Peter Atencio, Lily Hollander, Kenya Barris, Ilya Naishuller, Tracy Oliver, Rudyard Kipling