After three weeks of Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper dominating the box office, what would happen if it actually managed to make it a fourth week in a row at #1? It’s a crazy concept, but nothing’s been stopping it so far. Even with three new movies opening on Friday, all of them have some potential but are also hindered by their share of issues, so one might wonder if they’re just going to suffer the same fate of all the other movies that have tried to make a mark against Sniper.
The movie with the most potential may not be the one some might think, as the animated family film The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (Paramount) brings the popular Nickelodeon cartoon character back to theaters for the first time in over ten years. SpongeBob SquarePants first appeared in a feature film in 2004’s The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, and it was a huge hit, grossing $85 million domestic after a $30 million opening. Taking so long before making a sequel is never a smart move, especially for a family film, because the young kids who liked SpongeBob ten years ago are all teenagers who have moved onto other things.
The film does look somewhat odd because it has the characters coming into the real world as 3D animation and interacting with humans which sometimes works (as in The Smurfs) and sometimes doesn’t (as in The Smurfs 2). Actually that’s a good example of how hit family movies don’t always deliver hit sequels, and that sequel was released fairly closely to the earlier blockbuster hit. Waiting ten years for another movie is definitely taking a chance on Paramount and Nickelodeon’s part, because you’ve lost the momentum created by the original movie.
There’s still something to say about the namebrand value of SpongeBob SquarePants especially among kids, since the show is still popular, and the movie will offer the same level of fun, being from the same creators of the show along with Tom Kenny and Bill Fagerbakke providing voices of their popular characters, joined by the likes of Antonio Banderas and Frankie Muniz. It’s also the only movie that doesn’t have some of the issues that the others are facing, and while it probably won’t get stellar reviews, it’s also the movie that’s going to be least affected by reviews.
While I don’t think it will open quite as big as the previous movie, I think it’s still good for $20 million, which may be enough to be #1 for the weekend, depending on whether American Sniper rallies post-Super Bowl or has run its course.
Many fans of The Matrix have been waiting for the Wachowskis to return to the greatness of that sci-fi classic, but they may have to wait a little longer since Jupiter Ascending (Warner Bros.), starring Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne, looks like a right mess. It was supposed to come out last summer but then got delayed at the last minute for unspecified reasons, maybe as to not cause a Channing Tatum logjam with 22 Jump Street coming out in June. Or maybe Warner Bros. realized that for this to have a disappointing opening for a sci-fi movie after Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow would just draw more attention to their weaker summer slate. Oddly, they had a hit earlier that summer with Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla, but since they’ve gone their separate ways, they chose to reschedule this for the same date as Legendary’s long-delayed Seventh Son, which we’ll talk about below.
It would make sense that having big stars like Tatum and Kunis would be a big selling point for the movie although they’ve been doing the bare minimum in promoting the movie, and even Oscar nominee Eddie Redmayne is doing his best to distance himself from the movie to keep it from hurting his campaign.
That leaves the Wachowskis to sell the movie, their last film being David Mitchell’s time-spanning anthology Cloud Atlas, starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Ben Whishaw and more, which they adapted with Thomas Tykwer. It opened with a weak $9.6 million in October 2012 and made $27.1 million domestic, which is pretty awful considering how much it cost. (It added another $100 million overseas, but I don’t think that would even cover the production costs.) This one is probably just as expensive—we’ve heard word of it costing something like $175 million, which is crazy even by today’s blockbuster standards. It’s obviously great that there’s some original science fiction being created, but not being based on a known property means that it’s relying entirely on the Wachowskis and their cast to sell it.
This looks like a pretty epic FX-heavy science-fiction movie going by the trailers and commercials, but good luck figuring out what the movie is about, because that’s one thing that hasn’t come across at all in any of the trailers. Buzz on the movie has generally been pretty bad even with it having a secret screening at the Sundance Film Festival last week and that could put off a lot of the discerning moviegoers that might give the Wachowskis a chance.
The Wachowskis’ latest could win Friday with their fans rushing out to see their latest movie after weeks without something new or fresh to see, but it’s going to quickly tail off after that, falling behind The SpongeBob Movie and American Sniper, which means it’s gunning for second or third place at best.
The release delays for Jupiter Ascending are nothing compared to those for Seventh Son (Universal/Legendary), based on the 2004 novel The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney, which gained the interest of the likes of Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges, who went on to spearhead the adaptation of another young adult sci-fi fantasy movie with last year’s The Giver. It also stars Ben Barnes from The Chronicles of Narnia movies and an actress who many suspect will soon be an Oscar winner herself, Julianne Moore.
Seventh Son is another novel adaptation that suddenly found itself being greenlit in the fervor following the success of the “Twilight” movies, but many of those movies have failed and Seventh Son doesn’t seem like it will be joining the plus side of the ledger.
If you consider the fact that the movie was first pushed by Legendary Entertainment at their very first Comic-Con panel way back in 2011, before the movie had even begun shooting, and then started filming in early 2012 with plans to release in 2013, it’s become one of those “whatever happened to” movies that we get from time to time. (Like 2013’s 47 Ronin for instance.) Legendary brought Seventh Son back to Comic-Con in 2013 when it had already been pushed back to January 2014 but then Legendary left their home at Warner Bros. and set up a new deal at Universal and Seventh Son was one of the movies that went along with it, as it got delayed a full year.
Now I don’t know about you, but when a movie gets delayed that much and finally gets a release without much fanfare in early February, my “bad movie sense” goes off, and it doesn’t take an expert to realize that Legendary Pictures probably knew they had a dud and have just delayed the inevitable as long as possible.
Even though it’s opening fairly wide, this one will be fighting for the fantasy sci-fi crowd against Jupiter Ascending, and will probably be lucky to open with $10 million especially since it’s coming into a market where few movies are faring well.
This weekend last year kicked off with a little animated film called The LEGO Movie (Warner Bros.) and saying it did pretty well would be an understatement as it opened with $69 million in 3,775 theaters or $18,291 per theater and it would go on to gross $258 million, making it the #1 movie of the year until Marvel Studios’ Captain America: The Winter Soldier and then Guardians of the Galaxy came along to beat it. (They all ended up falling to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, which is currently the box office leader for 2014.) Coming in a distant second place was George Clooney’s WWII flick Monuments Men (Sony), which didn’t do bad with $22 million but was seen as a disappointment after being moved to February once it was realized that it wasn’t an awards contender. (Reviews were generally negative as well.) It fared better than another failed young adult adaptation in Vampire Academy (The Weinstein Company), which opened in seventh place with just $4 million or $1,465 per theater, guaranteeing it would never turn into a franchise. The Top 10 grossed $132.7 million, but there’s no way that this week’s motley lot of mostly garbage can come close to that amount.
This Week’s Updated Predictions:
(The gallery has not been updated, only the numbers below)
UPDATE: Definitely going a bit bigger on two of the new movies since it seems like time for things to break out a bit after the domination of American Sniper over the past few weeks.
1. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (Paramount) – $28.8 million N/A (up 8 million)
Possibly one of the most anticipated movies of the year, at least among housewives, is the “romantic” S&M drama Fifty Shades of Grey (Focus/Universal) which hits theaters just in time for Valentine’s Day. Acting as counter-programming for the guys who are able to stand up to their wives and girlfriends and see a movie they’d rather see is Matthew Vaughn’s R-rated take on spy films, Kingsman: The Secret Service (20th Century Fox), starring Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Taron Eggerton and more.
This Week’s Must-Sees
Ballet 422 (Magnolia)
Other Limited Releases of Note:
The Voices (Lionsgate)
Outcast (eOne Films)
Love, Rosie (The Film Arcade)
Listen (Mance Media)
Boy Meets Girl (Cinephile International Pictures)
Call for Help (Studio)
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Copyright 2015 Edward Douglas