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2017 Preview: March

March 1st, 2017

Beauty and the Beast

February was an okay month. The films that missed expectations were mostly balanced by the films that were pleasant surprises. Unfortunately, last February was amazing as Deadpool dominated the chart, so 2017 has fallen further behind 2016 and 2016’s lead is now about $100 million. It is not so bad that a good March won’t help 2017 back into the lead. Will that happen? We have some good news and some bad news. Good news: Every week there is one movie that has at least a shot at $100 million. Two of them, Logan and Beauty and the Beast, could reach $200 million or a lot more. Bad News: last March, both Zootopia and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice earned more than $300 million. That’s a really powerful one-two punch and I don’t think we can replicate that this time around. On the other hand, last March, the third best film of the month was 10 Cloverfield Lane, while there were four films that were expected to open wide that earned less than $10 million at the box office. 2017 likely won’t be as good at the top, but I also don’t think it will have as many bombs either. If Beauty and the Beast reaches the very high end of expectations, then 2017 could even close the gap with 2016 entirely. I’ll be happy getting halfway there.

Weekend of March 3rd, 2017

Logan

The month begins with Logan and two films that likely won’t matter much. Deadpool showed the industry that R-rated comic book movies could work and Logan is the result. This is going to lead to some terrible movies, but Logan’s reviews are amazing so far. It should dominate the weekend and might even become the biggest hit of the year so far. Before I Fall is a time-loop high school drama. Its buzz is quiet, but its early reviews are good. The Shack is a faith-based film, which is the most unpredictable genre of movies. This weekend last year was the weekend Zootopia debuted. Logan could start out faster, even if it doesn’t have the same legs. Maybe 2017 will come out ahead in the year-over-year comparison. It should at least be close.

Before I Fall

Before I Fall
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: BeforeIFallFilm.com/
Distributor: Open Road
Release Date: March 3rd, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic content involving drinking, sexuality, bullying, some violent images, and language-all involving teens.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Supernatural, High School, Bullies, One Day, Time Travel, Graduation
Directed By: Ry Russo-Young
Written By: Lauren Oliver, Maria Maggenti
Starring: Zoey Deutch
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $10 million to $20 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

Zoey Deutch plays a high school student who gets trapped in a time loop and needs to figure out how to escape. The film’s early reviews are good, but the buzz is really quiet and I fear it will fall between the cracks. On the other hand, it likely didn’t cost a lot to make, so it could break even eventually, if it just manages an opening in the top five.

Last Minute Update: The film’s reviews have actually improved a little, so it will likely finish with overall positive reviews. The buzz is still too quiet to expect it to become a hit.

Logan

Logan
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FoxMovies.com/Movies/Logan
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: March 3rd, 2017
MPAA Rating: R for strong brutal violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity.
Source: Based on Comic/Graphic Novel
Genre: Action
Keywords: Road Trip, Mutants, Autumn Years, Dystopia, Bad Role Models, Psychics, Marvel Comics
Directed By: James Mangold
Written By: Michael Green, Scott Frank, James Mangold, David James Kelly, James Mangold, Mark Millar
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Dafne Keen
Production Budget: Reported at $127 million
Box Office Potential: $205 million

Deadpool was stuck in development hell for a long time, because the studio didn’t think R-rated comic movies could be profitable. Now that there is such a prominent counter-example, some studios will be trying to mimic Deadpool with their own R-rated comic book movie. This is going to result in some terrible movies. I don’t know who will blow it first... I have a prediction: It will be Zack “I killed off Jimmy Olsen as an Easter Egg” Snyder. Fortunately we know Logan won’t be the first to screw up the R-rated comic book movie, as its reviews are better than most films that were nominated for Oscars this year. The film also has a lot of buzz and there are some who think it will top $100 million during its opening weekend. I don’t think it will do that well, but I think it will come relatively close. I expect it to have the biggest opening of the year and it might even become the biggest film of the year, for a very, very short time before Beauty and the Beast shows up.

Last minute update: The film’s reviews slipped from 96% positive to 94% positive, but that’s still fantastic for a blockbuster. I might be underestimating it’s potential.

The Shack

The Shack
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheShack.movie
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: March 3rd, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material including some violence.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Death of a Son or Daughter, Supernatural, Faith-Based, Dysfunctional Family, Domestic Abuse, Death of a Sibling
Directed By: Stuart Hazeldine
Written By: John Fusco, Andrew Lanham, Destin Daniel Cretton, William Paul Young
Starring: Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $10 million to $20 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

This is a faith-based film about a father whose daughter goes missing and is presumed murdered. As long-time readers know, I hate faith-based films, as they are the most unpredictable genre around. This film could earn over $50 million, or it could miss the Mendoza Line during its opening weekend. I think the higher end is more likely, because it does have more star power than films of this nature usually have, but it is still very unpredictable.

Last Minute Update: There are still no reviews and that is not a good sign. Then again, faith-based films tend to be critic-proof, so I’m not dropping its box office potential just yet.

Weekend of March 10th, 2017

Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island has the weekend to itself. That’s the good news. The bad news is the lack of buzz. This is a film with a monster budget, so it needs to be a monster hit to break even. The lack of competition this week will help, but it is sandwiched between the two biggest releases of the month, so it could get squeezed out of the theaters quickly. This weekend last year, there were four new releases in the top ten, two of which opened below the Mendoza Line. The top two films were Zootopia and 10 Cloverfield Lane, which earned a combined $76 million. I think Kong: Skull Island’s opening and the sophomore stint for Logan will match that figure, so again 2017 will be in line with 2016.

Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: KongSkullIslandMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: March 10th, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief strong language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Creature Features, Character POV shot, 1970s, Prequel, Reboot
Directed By: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Written By: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, John Gatins, Dan Gilroy
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson
Production Budget: Unknown, reported at $190 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million

This is the latest installment in the King Kong franchise. Sort of. They are rebooting the franchise as part of a new shared universe Warner Bros. is developing; in fact, there is a Godzilla vs. Kong in works for 2020, assuming this film doesn’t bomb so badly it scares the studio into changing its mind. Is that possible? I’m afraid there is a chance this will happen. In fact, I sense a Fantastic Four vibe coming from it. I don’t think it will be as bad, but I think there are some similarities. Like Fantastic Four, the previous incarnation of King Kong isn’t that old. Remaking / rebooting the franchise this soon will likely cause some to roll their eyes. Secondly, both films are rebooting a franchise after the previous film missed expectations with critics and with moviegoers. Finally, Skull Island also has a director who is inexperienced with big films. Jordan Vogt-Roberts' only previous movie was The Kings of Summer, a small coming-of-age indie drama. I don’t think the movie will completely bomb, but there are too many risks here for me to be bullish about its chances. Then again, films like this tend to do better business internationally, so it could break even thanks to an impressive run internationally, especially in China.

Weekend of March 17th, 2017

Beauty and the Beast

The third weekend of the month is home to what many assume will be the biggest hit of the month, Beauty and the Beast. Many are predicting that this film will be the biggest release of 2017 so far and the first to cross $1 billion worldwide. There are also two other films opening wide this week, The Belko Experiment and T2: Trainspotting. However, I’m not 100% convinced both films will open truly wide. Even if they do, they will likely get crushed by the competition. This weekend last year, both Allegiant and Miracles from Heaven struggled, leaving Zootopia on top. Beauty and the Beast could earn more than the top five earned last year. 2017 will have a massive win this week.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Movies.Disney.com/Beauty-and-the-Beast-2017
Distributor: Walt Disney
Release Date: March 17th, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG for some action violence, peril and frightening images.
Source: Remake
Genre: Musical
Keywords: Hostage, Romance, Interspecies Romance, Royalty, Curses, Animated Inanimate Objects, Live Action Cartoon, Witches
Directed By: Bill Condon
Written By: Stephen Chbosky, Evan Spiliotopoulos, Linda Woolverton, Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $150 million to $200 million
Box Office Potential: $350 million

I’m trying not to get caught up in the irrational exuberance that this film is generating. I do completely understand why most people would be very bullish about this film’s chances. The other live-action Disney cartoons have been massive hits at the box office. In the past three years, Disney has made three live-action cartoons and these movies have earned an average of over $250 million domestically. There are some who think this film will earn well over $400 million. I can’t dismiss that possibility, but I think being a little more cautious would be wise. It does have a huge amount of buzz going for it, more than any film coming out this year prior to The Fate and the Furious and / or Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. However, March is a little early for a $400 million hit, so I’m going to be a little more cautious in my prediction.

The Belko Experiment

The Belko Experiment
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Facebook.com/TheBelkoExperiment
Distributor: BH Tilt
Release Date: March 17th, 2017
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence throughout, language including sexual references, and some drug use.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Horror
Keywords: Corporate Malfeasance, One Location, Trapped, Human Experimentation, Ensemble, Colombia
Directed By: Greg McLean
Written By: James Gunn
Starring: John Gallagher, Jr.
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $10 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million

A group of Americans working at an official building in Columbia are sealed in and told they have to kill a certain number of their co-workers, or twice as many co-workers will be killed at random. It is an interesting set-up, but there some troubling signs here. Firstly, the early reviews are a problem. The film’s Tomatometer Score is 57%, which isn’t bad for a wide release. However, its average score is just 4.3 out of 10. This suggests that while most critics liked it, they didn’t love it. Those that didn’t like it, hated it. This reminds me of A Cure for Wellness, which recently bombed in theaters. I fear the same will happen here.

T2: Trainspotting

T2: Trainspotting
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SonyPictures.com/Movies/T2Trainspotting/
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: March 17th, 2017
MPAA Rating: R for drug use, language throughout, strong sexual content, graphic nudity and some violence.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Delayed Sequel, Prison Break, Narcotics, Scotland, Non-Chronological, Suicide
Directed By: Danny Boyle
Written By: John Hodge, Irvine Welsh
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner
Production Budget: Reported at $18 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

The original Trainspotting was a massive hit with critics and did really well in theaters, for a limited release. The film ended in a way that didn’t scream sequel, but didn’t close the door on these characters either. T2: Trainspotting’s reviews are excellent, even if they can’t live up to its predecessor’s reviews. It has also topped the original in its native U.K., at least in terms of raw dollars. It hasn’t kept up with inflation, on the other hand. If the film can merely match the first film at the box office, then it will be financially successful. I think it will get there, or at least come close.

Weekend of March 24th, 2017

Power Rangers

The fourth weekend of March is massive step down from the third weekend. All three films opening wide this weekend won’t make as much as Beauty and the Beast will the previous weekend. There’s a chance all three films won’t makes as much as Beauty and the Beast will during its second weekend. Power Rangers still has a shot at earning $100 million domestically. However, there’s a chance it will be critically savaged and bombs in theaters. Life is a Sci-fi thriller with a good cast, but the buzz suggests it will be a midlevel hit at most. Meanwhile, CHiPs is being greeted with a “Why?” from most moviegoers. This weekend last year, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opened with $166 million. That could be more than the entire box office earns this weekend. The sophomore stint of Beauty and the Beast will be the only thing saving 2017 in the year-over-year comparison.

CHiPs

CHiPS
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: CHiPsTheMovie.com/
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: March 24th, 2017
MPAA Rating: R for crude sexual content, graphic nudity, pervasive language, some violence and drug use.
Source: Based on TV
Genre: Action
Keywords: California, Hollywood, Corrupt Cops, Undercover, FBI, Buddy Cop, Adapted as a Comedy
Directed By: Dax Shepard
Written By: Dax Shepard
Starring: Dax Shepard, Michael Peña
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Dax Shepard writes, directs, and stars in this adaptation of a 1970s TV show. The show turns 40 years old this year and if it had any lasting cultural impact, that would really help the movie at the box office. As it is, there’s a frightening lack of buzz for the film and the trailer wasn’t well-received, so what little buzz there is isn’t positive. I just don’t see the film finding an audience in theaters.

Life

Life
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: LifeMovie.com
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: March 24th, 2017
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Outer Space, Space Station, Alien Encounters, Trapped, One Location
Directed By: Daniel Espinosa
Written By: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million

A group of astronauts recover samples from Mars to determine if there was ever life on the planet. Not only do they find life, they are able to reanimate it. Needless to say, the results are not what they were expecting. The buzz for this film is very positive, but also very quiet. Granted, it doesn’t open for nearly four weeks, so there’s plenty of time for that buzz to grow. If the buzz does grow and its reviews are solid, then it could become the biggest release of the week. If things remain as they are, then it will play second fiddle to Power Rangers.

Power Rangers

Power Rangers
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: PowerRangers.movie
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: March 24th, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, language, and for some crude humor.
Source: Based on TV
Genre: Action
Keywords: Reboot, Mecha, Alien Encounters, Bullies, House Arrest, Car Accident
Directed By: Dean Israelite
Written By: John Gatins, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney
Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin
Production Budget: Reported at $120 million
Box Office Potential: $95 million

When reports first came out that they were rebooting the Power Rangers, I saw several people joking that they would make the new movie dark and gritty, like the DCEU. That was a joke; it wasn’t a wish. Then the first trailer came out and a lot of people were dismayed to see it was a lot darker and more gritty than the original TV show was. Making a movie about a TV show and changing the tone that much is risky and I don’t think this will pay off in the end. On the other hand, I don’t think it will bomb either. It could get to $100 million domestically, but it will need to rely on international numbers and / or the home market to break even.

Weekend of March 31st, 2017

Ghost in the Shell

The month ends with three wide releases, two of which at least have a shot at $100 million. The Boss Baby is a digitally animated movie, but Smurfs: The Lost Village opens the next week, so it won’t have a lot of time to engage its audience. Ghost in the Shell is one of the biggest Manga adaptations made by a Hollywood studio. However, the buzz is mixed with some controversy following it. Finally there’s The Zookeeper’s Wife, a World War II drama. It’s not expected to open in the top five. This weekend last year was actually the first weekend in April. There were two wide releases and both bombed. Granted, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice still earned more than $50 million over the weekend and no film opening this week will match that. However, there’s a chance this year’s one-two punch will top last year’s one-two punch, so the depth could lead 2017 to victory in the year-over-year comparison.

The Boss Baby

The Boss Baby
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Dreamworks.com/TheBossBaby/
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: March 31st, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild rude humor.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Dysfunctional Family, Undercover, Talking Babies, 3-D, 3-D - Shot in 3-D
Directed By: Tom McGrath
Written By: Michael McCullers, Marla Frazee
Starring: Alec Baldwin
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $75 million
Box Office Potential: $90 million

In the movie, a young boy learns his new baby brother is actually an undercover agent sent in to figure out why people are buying more puppies, which his organization believes is causing people to love babies less. This is a second-tier animated title, but even second-tier animated titles have a shot at earning $100 million domestically. Unfortunately, Beauty and the Beast will still be in the top five this weekend and Smurfs: The Lost Village opens the following week. That’s too much direct competition for this movie to reach its full potential. I don’t think it will bomb, but it won’t reach $100 million either.

Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: GhostInTheShell.tumblr.com/
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: March 31st, 2017
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Source: Based on Comic/Graphic Novel
Genre: Action
Keywords: Live Action Cartoon, Robot, Cyborg, Dystopia, Implanted Memory, Organized Crime
Directed By: Rupert Sanders
Written By: Jamie Moss, Ehren Kruger, Masamune Shirow
Starring: Scarlett Johansson
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $90 million to $100 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

Scarlett Johansson plays a counter-cyberterrorism agent who has to battle a new type of enemy, an artificial intelligence. This film is based on a Manga that was later turned into an Anime franchise. This film has the potential to be a geek’s dream. However, there is also a lot of controversy surrounding this film, since the lead character in the Manga / Anime is Japanese and Scarlett Johansson is not. There were even rumors that the studio looked at digital post-production to make her look Japanese. Thankfully that didn’t make it into the end movie. Digital yellowface wouldn’t fly with today’s audiences. I think the movie will do well in theaters and should crack $100 million domestically, but it might need a small push to get there.

The Zookeeper’s Wife

The Zookeeper’s Wife
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FocusFeatures.com/TheZookeepersWife
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: March 31st, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, disturbing images, violence, brief sexuality, nudity and smoking.
Source: Based on Factual Book/Article
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Poland, 1930s, Nazis, World War II, Jewish, Zoos, Animal Lead
Directed By: Niki Caro
Written By: Angela Workman, Diane Ackerman
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Daniel Bruhl
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

This film is about a zookeeper in Poland who helped hide Jews from the Nazis, saving 300 people in the process. The film is based on an award-winning book and given the cast and crew, it could earn award-worthy reviews. It is opening too early to be a player during Awards Season, on the other hand. It also likely won’t be a major hit in theaters. It could become a sleeper hit, but I doubt it will open in the top five at the box office.

Filed under: Monthly Preview, CHiPS, Logan, The Boss Baby, Kong: Skull Island, Power Rangers, Ghost in the Shell, Beauty and the Beast, The Shack, The Zookeeper’s Wife, T2: Trainspotting, The Belko Experiment, Before I Fall, Life, King Kong, Power Rangers, DC Extended Universe, Samuel L. Jackson, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Stanley Tucci, Alec Baldwin, Danny Boyle, Ewen Bremner, Daniel Bruhl, Robert Carlyle, Jessica Chastain, Bill Condon, Josh Gad, John Gatins, James Gunn, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Kevin Kline, Brie Larson, James Mangold, Jonny Lee Miller, Michael Peña, Rhett Reese, Ryan Reynolds, Dax Shepard, Zack Snyder, Emma Thompson, Emma Watson, Paul Wernick, Sam Worthington, Luke Evans, John Gallagher, Jr., Tom McGrath, Ehren Kruger, Greg McLean, Ry Russo-Young, Linda Woolverton, Michael McCullers, Michael Green, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Niki Caro, Maria Maggenti, Rupert Sanders, Angela Workman, Octavia Spencer, Scott Frank, Dan Gilroy, Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney, Daniel Espinosa, Dan Stevens, Stephen Chbosky, Mark Millar, John Fusco, Max Borenstein, William Paul Young, Zoey Deutch, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Dean Israelite, Destin Daniel Cretton, John Hodge, Irvine Welsh, Audra McDonald, Rebecca Ferguson, Evan Spiliotopoulos, Jamie Moss, RJ Cyler, Naomi Scott, Andrew Lanham, Stuart Hazeldine, Diane Ackerman, Masamune Shirow, Lauren Oliver, Marla Frazee, Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, Dafne Keen, David James Kelly, Dacre Montgomery, Becky G, Ludi Lin