2014 Preview: February

Lego poster

After a weak start, January rebounded and a couple of films on last month's preview cracked $100 million at the box office. Granted, Lone Survivor is technically a December release, but Ride Along will become one of the rare January releases to reach the century mark. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be too many February releases that have a real shot at $100 million. It is very likely that The Lego Movie will reach that milestone, but most of the rest of the movies will be lucky if they reach $50 million. Last February was very similar. We had one surprise $100 million hit, Identity Thief, plus a couple of solid midlevel hits, Warm Bodies, for instance. However, for the most part, the month was one miss after another. This means 2014 could continue its winning ways, or at the very least, shouldn't fall behind 2013's pace.

Weekend of February 7th, 2014

Lego poster

It's the first weekend of the month and it is a rather busy one with three wide releases, including what will very likely become the biggest hit of the month: The Lego Movie. It is still very early in the year to release a kids movie, so there's a chance it will fail to reach lofty goals, but most analysts think it will at least crack $100 million. On the other hand, The Monuments Men's early reviews are bad, which has really hurt the film's box office potential. Finally, calling Vampire Academy counter-programming is being generous. There are some who are predicting this film will be the biggest miss of the month. There are certainly legitimate reasons to believe that will happen. Last year, the first weekend of the month actually lined up with the last weekend of January, so the three new releases this year have to compete with the February 8th releases, which included Identity Thief, the biggest hit of the month. I think The Lego Movie will make more than Identity Thief did, hopefully including a faster start. If it can, then 2014 should top 2013 in the year-over-year comparison.

The LEGO Movie

Lego poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheLEGOMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: February 7th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG for mild action and rude humor.
Source: Based on a Toy
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Mistaken Identity, End of the World, Secret Identity, D.C. Comics, Family Film, Gratuitous Cameos, Love at First Sight, and more
Directed By: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Written By: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Starring: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $60 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million

Chris Pratt provides the voice for an average everyday Lego figure who is mistaken for the Special One, the only one who can save Legoland.

This film has been in development for six years. That's not too surprising, as it must have been hard to sell a movie based on a toy with no actual plot. The writer / director team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have had success with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, so there's reason to be cautiously optimistic. On the other hand, there are no reviews so far, so it is too early to tell if it will be a good movie, or a big mess. Assuming it is at least somewhere in the middle, it should open with $40 million and finish with $125 million.

The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: MonumentsMenMovie.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: February 7th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some images of war violence and historical smoking.
Source: Based on a Factual Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: World War II, Nazis, Museum, Directing Yourself, Screenplay Written by the Star, and more
Directed By: George Clooney
Written By: George Clooney
Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, Cate Blanchett, and others
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $40 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million

George Clooney writes, directs, and stars in this film, which is based on real life World War II events. At the end of the war, a groups of soldiers and museum curators tried to recover art stolen by the Nazi regime.

George Clooney has written and / or directed some great movies, but this one will likely not be one of them. So far its early reviews are a mere 33% positive. This will likely have a really negative effect on the film's box office potential. Originally, this film looked like it would be a solid midlevel hit earning $75 million, perhaps a little more. At this point, $60 million is probably the higher end of its box office potential, while if things get worse, it will have trouble getting past $50 million. On the other hand, it likely cost no more than $50 million, so this isn't a bad result.

Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy poster
Trailer: Coming Soon
Official Site: VA-Movie.com
Distributor: Weinstein Co.
Release Date: February 7th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, bloody images, sexual content and language.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Vampires, Princess, Secret Magic, Romance, Love Triangle, Good vs. Evil, Boarding School, High School Hell, New Girl in School, Ensemble, and more
Directed By: Mark Waters
Written By: Richelle Mead and Daniel Waters
Starring: Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry, Danila Kozlovsky, Sarah Hyland, Sami Gayle, and others
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $30 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

A fantasy film based on a Young Adult novel. There have been a metric ton of these to come out recently, as every studio is hoping to create the next Harry Potter or Twilight. Sadly, hits have been rare, while most of them have missed expectations. Fortunately, I think we will see a couple of hit movies based on Young Adult novels coming out this year. Unfortunately for this film, those exceptions are Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars. The buzz for those two films are already louder than the buzz for this film and this film comes out in less than a week. That's a really bad sign. It might open with less than $10 million and disappear incredibly fast, just as fast as Beautiful Creatures did. Even on the high end, I don't think it will top $50 million domestically.

Weekend of February 14th, 2014

Robocop poster

The second weekend of the month is Valentine's Day weekend. In fact, this year Valentine's Day lands on the Friday, while the following Monday is Presidents Day. It should be a really busy weekend for any film with even a hint of romance in it. So which film seems poised to take advantage? RoboCop. There are a lot of people who think the RoboCop remake is the worst idea ever, but there are also many who think it will be the biggest hit of the weekend. About Last Night is the biggest romantic movie of the weekend. Unfortunately, it might not earn first place, because there are two other romantic films opening this weekend, Endless Love and Winters Tale. Three romantic films are just too many, even for Valentine's Day. This weekend last year, A Good Day to Die Hard led the way, but with a much weaker opening than expected. I think both RoboCop and About Last Night have a shot at beating A Good Day to Die Hard, while The Lego Movie might repeat on top. This would give 2014 a serious advantage in the year-over-year comparison.

About Last Night

About Last Night poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: AboutLastNightMovie.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: February 14th, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, language and brief drug use.
Source: Based on a Play / Remake
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: African-American, Romance, One Night Stand, and more
Directed By: Steve Pink
Written By: David Mamet, Tim Kazurinsky, Denise DeClue, and Leslye Headland
Starring: Joy Bryant, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million

A remake of About Last Night..., but with an African-American cast. This cast includes Kevin Hart, who starred in Ride Along, which became one of the biggest January releases of all time. This certainly improves this film's box office potential. The movie is also opening on Valentine's Day and Presidents Day long weekend, so that can't hurt. On the other hand, there are two other romantic films opening the same day, so the competition is high. There is a chance this film will earn first place over the weekend and score $75 million or so, but I think being a little more cautious is wise.

Endless Love

Endless Love poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: EndlessLoveMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: February 14th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, brief partial nudity, some language and teen partying.
Source: Based on a Book / Remake
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Romance, Coming of Age, Dysfunctional Family, Mental Illness, and more
Directed By: Shana Feste
Written By: Shana Feste, Josh Safran, and Scott Spencer
Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $15 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

A remake of the 1981 movie of the same name. That movie earned terrible reviews and picked up six Razzie nominations. Who gave this remake a greenlight?

I guess it makes sense to remake bad movies instead of beloved movies. You can fix the mistakes the first film made without alienating hardcore fans, because there are not enough of them to hurt your box office potential. Then again, I'm not sure that is going to happen with this film. One of the reasons the first movie was so bad is that it took a book about the dangers of first love when you are not emotionally mature enough to handle it and turned it into a story about how parents are a bummer for standing in the way of two people who are obviously soulmates. It really looks like this movie is following the movie more than the book, which is a shame. Also, I'm not entirely sure about the cast. I liked Gabriella Wilde as Sue Snell in Carrie, but she has almost no credits to her name, so it is impossible to tell how well she will carry a movie like this. Alex Pettyfer has more movies under his belt, but I have not been impressed by his screen presence. Like I said in a previous review, I think he would be more at home on the CW than on the big screen.

I'm not the only one with reservations about this movie. There's a chance it will become a midlevel hit, thanks in part to its release date. It could also find itself opening outside the top five due to all of the competition. I think the latter is more likely than the former.

RoboCop

Robocop poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: RoboCop2014-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: February 12th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action including frenetic gun violence throughout, brief strong language, sensuality and some drug material.
Source: Original Screenplay / Remake
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Robots, Cyborg, Police, Gangs, Dystopian, Terrorism, and more
Directed By: Jose Padilha
Written By: Joshua Zetumer, Edward Neumeier, and Michael Miner
Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Abbie Cornish, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $130 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million

The original RoboCop is considered a classic of the genre and remaking it is such a risk. It reminds me too much of Carrie, which wasn't a big box office hit. I think this one will earn more at the box office, but it also reportedly cost $130 million to make. It could fail to make half of that domestically. On the low end, it might not match that figure worldwide.

There have been a few early reviews posted online, and most are positive. The story has been adapted for the modern day and the film talks about drones and mass surveillance. This is a positive. On the other hand, the film has lost almost all of the humor that made the original so entertaining. There are no commercials for fake products. Also, why does RoboCop have a human hand still? That's a serious weakness and a design flaw. I'm remaining open-minded, but there are a lot of pitfalls that could sink this movie.

As for its financial future... with a reported production budget of $130 million, there's almost no chance this film will be a big hit. The amount of money it would have to make to break even is almost unheard of for a February release. The studio would love to turn this into a franchise, but I don't think that will happen.

Winter's Tale

Winter's Tale poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: WintersTaleMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: February 14th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and some sensuality.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Romance, Animal Lead, Cross-Class Romance, Terminal Illness, Reincarnation, Orphan, Love at First Sight, more
Directed By: Akiva Goldsman
Written By: Akiva Goldsman and Mark Helprin
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $46 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Colin Farrell stars as a middle-aged Irish burglar who robs a large mansion that he thinks is empty. However, a young lady, Jessica Brown Findlay, is inside dying of tuberculosis. It's love at first sight, but she dies in his arms. That's not the end of their love, because of reincarnation. Also, a magic horse.

The Venn diagram between this film and Endless Love is practically a circle. Had either film been the only romantic movie opening on Valentine's Day, then it would have had a chance to $75 million. However, because there are three such films opening, and Winter's Tale is one of the smaller films, so it will likely struggle to find an audience.

Weekend of February 21st, 2014

Pompeii poster

This is a post-holiday, post-Valentine's Day weekend, so it's not exactly the best time of the year to release a movie. It should come as no surprise that none of the big six studios are risking any of their films on this weekend and the two films that are coming out this week are weak. 3 Days to Kill is about a secret agent doing one last job before retiring, while also looking after his teenage daughter. Fortunately, it is an action comedy, because I don't think you could play it straight and not become unintentionally funny. Unfortunately, Non Stop opens the following week and the two films share a very similar target demographic and Non Stop is already earning better buzz. The second side release of the week is Pompeii. The film reportedly cost $100 million to make and there's a chance it won't match that worldwide. The buzz surrounding this film is terribly quiet for a film with a nine-digit production budget. This weekend last year, five films earned more than $10 million, which is excellent. However, no film earned more than $15 million, which is bad. Sadly, neither Three Days to Kill nor Pompeii will do much better. Because of that, I think 2014 will end up on the losing end of the year-over-year comparison. On a side note, The Wind Rises opens in limited release this week, and it is the February release that I'm most interested in seeing.

3 Days to Kill

3 Days to Kill poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: 3DaysToKill.tumblr.com
Distributor: Relativity
Release Date: February 21st, 2014
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Very Likely PG-13
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Secret Agent, Dysfunctional Family, Out of Retirement, One Last Job, and more
Directed By: McG
Written By: Luc Besson and Adi Hasak
Starring: Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Amber Heard, Connie Nielsen, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $60 million to $80 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Kevin Costner stars as a secret agent who retires so he can reconnect with his wife, Connie Nielsen, and his daughter, Hailee Steinfeld. Unfortunately, he's dragged back into the business by his former partner, Amber Heard, on the weekend he's supposed to look after his daughter.

The film is co-written by Luc Besson, who has a ton of experience with this type of movie. It is also directed by McG, whose first two movies were in this genre as well. Unfortunately, McG hasn't really has a box office hit since his first film and the buzz surrounding this film is really weak. There are not a lot of people who think this movie will be terrible, but there are also not a lot of people who think this movie is unique and that means it could be hard to sell to the public. It is also opening on the worst weekend of the month. Maybe it will surprise, but I think even getting to $50 million is out of reach.

Pompeii

Pompeii poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: PompeiiMovie.tumblr.com
Distributor: FilmDistrict
Release Date: February 21st, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense battle sequences, disaster-related action and brief sexual content.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Disaster, Romance, Arranged Marriage, Inspired by True Events, and more
Directed By: Paul W.S. Anderson
Written By: Janet Scott Batchler, Lee Batchler, and Michael Robert Johnson
Starring: Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Keifer Sutherland, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $100 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

This is the second Pompeii film that was in the works recently. The previous one was going to be made by Roman Polanski with a production budget of $150 million, but was scuttled. That's probably for the best, as Roman Polanski has never made a movie that was a large enough commercial success to cover a budget that large. Then again, Paul W.S. Anderson hasn't made many movies outside of the Resident Evil franchise that would cover this film's $100 million production budget. The buzz here is pretty bad with very few people expecting it will be a hit. Most think it will be an outright bomb. Paul W.S. Anderson's track record isn't very good, while the two leads, Kit Harington and Emily Browning, don't have a lot of box office smashes under their belts. Again, maybe it will surprise, but the evidence suggests otherwise.

Weekend of February 28th, 2014

Non-Stop poster

The final weekend in February includes three wide releases, although only one of them has a serious shot at significant box office success. Non-Stop is the latest action film starring Liam Neeson. And to think, people thought it was strange he was cast in Taken, but now it is strange when he doesn't star in at least one action film a year. The other two films are, Son of God and Welcome to Yesterday. I honestly had no idea what those movies were about till I started this column. They had completely flown under my radar, and it's my job to pay attention to the upcoming release schedule. I don't think they will bomb completely, but they will very likely struggle to become midlevel hits. This weekend last year was the first weekend in March, which was led by Jack the Giant Killer. The film was hardly a box office success, but I don't think Non-Stop will earn as much during its opening weekend (it should have better legs). This could result in 2014 losing in the year-over-year comparison, but it should be close.

Non-Stop

Non-Stop poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: NonStopTheFilm.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: February 28th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some language, sensuality and drug references.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Terrorism, In a Plane, Falsely Accused, and more
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra
Written By: Christopher Roach and John W. Richardson
Starring: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, and others
Production Budget: Rumored at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $70 million

Liam Neeson stars as an Air Marshall who receives texts threatening to kill passengers on the flight he's on unless $150 million is transferred to a secret bank account. However, this account is in his name, so everyone thinks he's the terrorist.

I'm tempted to add another $10 million to this film's box office potential, simply because Universal is on such a winning streak this year. The film will likely be the second biggest hit of the month behind The LEGO Movie. Assuming the rumored production budget isn't too far off, this will be enough to become a solid midlevel hit and add another victory to Universal's record so far this year.

Son of God

Son of God poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SonOfGodMovie.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: February 28th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense and bloody depiction of The Crucifixion, and for some sequences of violence.
Source: Based on Religious Text / Based on TV
Major Genre:
Drama
Keywords: Religious, Voiceover, and more
Directed By: Christopher Spencer
Written By: Richard Bedser, Christopher Spencer, Colin Swash, and Nic Young
Starring: Diogo Morgado, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $22 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million

This is a recut of 2013 mini-series, The Bible. It does include some new scenes not shown on TV, but I'm not sure people are going to rush out to pay to see a movie that they saw last year for free on TV. It wouldn't be unprecedented, as Earth did very well in theaters. On the other hand, it was a British mini-series, so a lot of people here wouldn't have seen it before it hit theaters, whereas the target audience here likely saw The Bible already. On a positive note, it is highly unlikely the film cost a lot to recut, so it won't take much to break even.

Welcome to Yesterday

Welcome to Yesterday poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: WelcomeToYesterday.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: February 28th, 2014
MPAA Rating: Unrated - Likely PG-13
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Time Travel, Found Footage, Shot by Character, and more
Directed By: Dean Israelite
Written By: Andrew Stark, Jason Pagan, and Andrew Deutschman
Starring: Jonny Weston, Sofia Black-D'Elia, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

A group of teens discover that one of their fathers worked at D.A.R.P.A. and created a time machine. They are able to get it working and start traveling in the past for fun and profit. However, they screw up their futures in the process.

Out of all of the films opening in wide release this month, this one is earning the quietest buzz, by a serious margin. Granted, it doesn't open for four weeks, so that could change, but I'm not optimistic. It's the feature-length debut for the director and the writers, while none of the actors are major stars. Also, it has a serious déjà vu feeling to it. The quickest way to describe the plot is, "It's like Chronicle, but with a time machine instead of super powers." Granted, Chronicle did well, so I can see why a studio would want to copy that formula. However, if they copied it too closely, moviegoers won't be interested in seeing the replica.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2014-01-31