The long month of March comes to a close with a few decent-sized hits under its belt as well as a few outright failures, but Easter weekend sees a mixed bag with a big budget action sequel a long time in the making, another attempt at a young adult adaptation–this one from the queen of the genre Stephenie Meier–as well as a new movie from Tyler Perry that branches out from his usual cross-dressing comedies.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Paramount)
Hasbro had been producing military action figures in their G.I. Joe line going back to before the Vietnam War and all during it, but 1982 changed everything when they revamped the line as “A Real American Hero” which basically introduced Joes with cool code names and gimmicks i.e. about as far away from the “real American heroes” in the U.S. military. They also bolstered the toys with a popular comic book from Marvel and a cartoon series that turned “G.I. Joe” into the company’s most popular line of action figures for many years.
In 2009, Hasbro decided to bring those action figure characters to the big screen following the success of Michael Bay’s first “Transformers” movie. Directed by Stephen Sommers of “The Mummy” franchise, the movie opened with $54 million in early August, eventually grossing $150 million. Reviews weren’t great (34% on Rotten Tomatoes) and its 5.7/10 rating on IMDb wasn’t great, but Hasbro, Paramount and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura knew they had to keep the franchise alive.
Now it’s over three years later and the sequel is finally coming out, directed by Jon M. Chu, best known for his work on the “Step Up” series as well as the Justin Bieber concert doc. His selection to direct a “G.I. Joe” movie was met with outrage by the fans, but so far, early reviews have generally felt he’s done a decent job.
Otherwise, there aren’t too many returning cast from the original movie, the most notable returns being Channing Tatum as Duke, Ray Park as Snake Eyes and Korean superstar Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow. Their big catch, and what’s going to set the sequel apart, was getting Dwayne Johnson, former and current professional wrestler “The Rock,” to come on board as the popular character Roadblock, while also introducing Lady Jaye and Flint, played by lesser known Adrianne Palicki and D.J. Cotrona. An even bigger coup was getting Bruce Willis to play the original G.I. Joe, General Joe Colton, which effectively brings together two popular 80s icons along with a superstar from more recent times.
Johnson and Willis are both on their second movies of the year with Johnson having two more movies over the next two months, but as we mentioned with Snitch, Johnson’s return to the WWE as a title holder has increased his presence among the core male target audience for a G.I. Joe movie and that should do a lot to get the two fan groups out to theaters. The same can be said for Willis.
“Retaliation” was originally supposed to open last summer in late June, but Paramount decided to delay the movie “to convert it into 3D” although there have been rumors of reshoots to give the white hot Channing Tatum (whose movie Magic Mike ended up opening big on the weekend “Retaliation” was supposed to be released) more screen time. These kinds of delays and the rumors surrounding it rarely help a movie, as seen by Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer, but the good thing is that “G.I. Joe” as a franchise continues to gain younger viewers, which means this won’t just be a movie for teen and older fanboys, but we’re likely to see fathers taking their sons to see it over the holiday weekend.
Opening on Thursday–which actually means Wednesday night at 7 now–is likely to cut into the weekend business, but it could be more affected by the final games of college basketball’s “March Madness” that will be a big draw for the film’s target audience on Thursday and Friday. It should still have a nice bump on Good Friday with people taking off work for the long weekend, but as with most Easter weekends, the movie will be frontloaded to Friday and we’ll have to see how it holds up in April against the likes of Evil Dead, Jurassic Park 3D and Tom Cruise’s Oblivion.
Thursday Est.: $9 to 11 million; Weekend Est.: $38 to 41 million; Est. Total Gross: $130 million
Tyler Perry’s Temptation (Lionsgate)
In the ten years since this column has been at ComingSoon.net, I’ve written about 13 different Tyler Perry movies, so you’d think that by now it would be easy to predict how his movies might do. Sure, there are certain variables we can count on, like that his Madea movies tend to do better than his non-Madea movies, but his movies have generally been up and down with some movies grossing $60 million plus and then others barely making $40 million. But other than that, what more can we say about Tyler Perry movies that we haven’t been saying in the eight years since Diary of a Mad Black Woman?
Based on his 2008 play “The Marriage Counselor,” this is a little different from Perry’s previous work as it’s being marketed as a dramatic thriller more in line with a movie like Obsessed while breaking away from the light comedic tone of Perry’s stagework. With a title like “Tyler Perry’s Temptation,” the jokes write themselves but then when you put Kim Kardashian in your movie, there are so many jokes that we’re in danger of hijacking this week’s entire column.
This is Perry’s 12th movie as a director in seven years, and in that time he’s also produced (and directed a few episodes) of two popular television shows, “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne,” which makes you wonder how he’s able to put out so much content without skimpking on quality. Oh, yeah, there’s that, which his why none of Perry’s movies are ever shown in advance to critics. I guess the one good thing we can say about Tyler Perry’s Temptation is that Tyler Perry himself doesn’t appear in it, even though generally, Perry’s movies sans Madea don’t do as well as those with her.
The last time Perry had a movie opening over Easter weekend, it was the sequel Why Did I Get Married Too, which was a sequel to one of his earlier hits and it opened with $29.3 million, $12.1 million of that on Good Friday. Temptation seems to be more on par with The Family That Preys ($17.2 million opening) or last year’s Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds. Although being based on one of his plays could help this one, the movie branches away from the play’s light tone–plus the title’s been changed accordingly–so it’s not likely to bring in as much business as some of Perry’s more popular movies but it should still do decent business among Perry’s core audience of African-American women, though they’re more likely to go see it on Good Friday than Easter.
Weekend Est.: $15 to 17 million; Est. Total Gross: $38 million
The Host (Open Road Entertainment)
At this point, we have to start wondering whether all of this interest Hollywood has had in adapting young adult novels into the “next Twilight” may have been a bit short-sighted, because other than Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, few other attempts have been quite as successful, let alone becoming such a sensation. Earlier this year, we saw the release of Warm Bodies, a zombie rom-com that did quite well, which was followed up by Beautiful Creatures, which had the Warner Bros. marketing behind it and a strong cast but it did disappointing business.
What The Host (not to be confused with the awesome Korean monster movie) has going for it, is that it’s based on the “The Twilight Saga” author Stephenie Meyer’s novel with the movie produced by Meyer herself and written and directed by Andrew Niccol, whose last science fiction movie In Time, starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, failed to get anyone very excited.
This one involves an alien invasion in which aliens take over human bodies and one young woman having to fight from an alien taking control of her life and body. Playing that young woman is Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, who has already starred in a number of big movies and received her first Oscar nomination by the age of 18, the latter for Joe Wright’s Atonement, which she followed by starring in the director’s action thriller Hanna. In between, she also starred in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the bestseller The Lovely Bones, all of the movies grossing between $40 and 50 million domestically. The film also stars Diane Kruger, William Hurt and hunky newcomers Max Irons and Jake Abel, the latter who appeared with Ronan in The Lovely Bones as well as in the previous alien romance adaptation I Am Number Four.
The movie’s being released by Open Road Films, who have had spotty success at the box office, their biggest movie being last year’s The Grey, which opened with $19 million and grossed $52 million total. They also did well with Marlon Wayans’ A Haunted House earlier this year. They are obviously trying to branch out by releasing a lot of different kinds of movies, but the marketing for this one has been almost non-existent compared to their previous two movies this year, so it’s relying solely on the teen and slightly older girls and women who already know and like Meyer’s book and will know about the movie since it’s not going to bring in much of an audience otherwise.
Weekend Est.: $12 to 14 million; Est. Total Gross: $36 million
This weekend last year was also Easter weekend but nothing could take down the blockbuster hit The Hunger Games, which remained on top with $61 million, down 60% from its opening weekend. The top new movie in wide release was the action sequel Wrath of the Titans (Warner Bros.), starring Sam Worthington, which had to settle for second place with $34.2 million in 3,545 theaters, a little over half what its predecessor made over Easter a few years earlier. Just a few months after his Immortals opened big, director Tarsem Singh’s take on Snow White with Mirror, Mirror (Relativity Media), starring Julia Roberts, Lily Collins and Armie Hammer, opened in third place with $19 million. The Top 10 grossed $143 million, but since we don’t think G.I. Joe: Retaliation will come close to $60 million with its Thursday opening, the downwards trend for 2013 will continue.
This Week’s Updated Predictions –
1. G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Paramount) – $40.3 million N/A (up .6 million)
2. The Croods (DreamWorks Animation/20th Century Fox) – $28.1 million -36% (same)
3. Olympus Has Fallen (FilmDistrict) – $15.8 million -48% (up .3 million and one place)
4. Tyler Perry’s Temptation (Lionsgate) – $15.5 million N/A (down 1 million and one place)
5. The Host (Open Road Entertainment) – $13.7 million N/A (up .5 million)
6. Oz The Great and Powerful (Walt Disney Pictures) – $11.8 million -45%
7. The Call (TriStar Pictures) – $4.7 million -48%
8. Admission (Focus Features) – $4.0 million -38%
9. Spring Breakers (A24) – $2.5 million -48 (up .2 million)
10. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (New Line/WB) – $1.9 million -56% (down .4 million)
Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance returns with The Place Beyond the Pines (Focus Features), a three-part crime drama starring Ryan Gosling as a circus stunt cyclist who uses his skills to rob banks, Bradley Cooper as the police officer who stops his crime spree and Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen as their sons who 15 years later have their own issues. Also starring Eva Mendes and Ray Liotta, it opens in select cities on Friday.
Quentin Dupieux, also known as electronic recording artist Mr. Oizo, brings his follow-up to 2010’s Rubber with Wrong (Drafthouse Films) starring Jack Plotnick as Dolph Springer, a man who wakes up to find his dog and best friend Paul missing, which sends him on a journey to find him and gets him in contact with an odd individual named Master Chang, played by William Fichtner. Also starring Alexis Dziena, it opens in select cities following a month on VOD and you can find out where it’s playing here.
Rodney Ascher’s documentary Room 237 (IFC Midnight) takes a look at all of the conspiracy theories that claim there are secret messages within Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining released in 1980 featuring interviews with conspiracy theorists and scholars backing their claims. After a fairly lengthy festival run, it opens at New York’s IFC Center on Friday.
James McAvoy and Mark Strong star in Eran Creevy’s police thriller Welcome to the Punch (IFC Films) as police detective Max Lewinsky and the master criminal Jacob Sternwood who becomes his arch-rival. Years after a brazen robbery where Max is shot by Sternwood, who disappears, the latter’s son turns up in a hospital having been shot in a heist, and the London police see a way of bringing Sternwood back into the open and Max sees it as a second chance to make up for failing to capture him years earlier. Also starring Andrea Riseborough and Peter Mullan, it also opens at New York’s IFC Center.
William Dickerson’s thriller Detour (Gravitas Ventures) stars Neil Hopkins as Jackson Alder, a high-powered ad man who gets trapped in a mudslide and only has a little bit of time to be rescued leaving him to his own instincts on how to survive. It opens in select cities and On Demand Friday.
Australian filmmaker P.J. Hogan (Muriel’s Wedding, My Best Friend’s Wedding) returns with Mental (Dada Films), reuniting him with Toni Collette for a comedy about the Moochmore family of girls who are left alone with their politician father (Anthony LaPaglia) commits their mother, but unable to handle the girls, he picks up a hitchhiker (Collette) and has her acting as their nanny. Also starring Liev Schreiber, it opens in select cities Friday.
Spain’s submission for the Academy Awards foreign language category is Pablo Berger’s Blancanieves (Cohen Media Group) which is a retelling of “Snow White” set in 1920’s Seville, Spain, as Carmen, the daughter of a bullfighter, deals with a monstrous stepmother, so she escapes to join a troupe of bullfighting dwarves. It opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday.
Kim Chapiron’s Dog Pound (Tribeca Film) involves three teenagers taken to a youth correctional center in Montana under the guise of a guard named Officer Goodyear, but when two of them become the victims of ruthless assaults by another inmate, the eldest of them decides to challenge their attacker as top dog of the pound. Following its debut at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, it open in New York at the Cinema Village on Friday.
Gilles Bourdos’ historical drama Renoir (Samuel Goldwyn Films) follows the latter life of artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir (played by Michel Bouquet) who gains new vitality and creativity with the arrival of the model Dédé (Christa Théret) who challenges the master painter but also becomes involved with his wounded soldier son Jean (Vincent Rottiers).
Benjamin Epps’ coming of age comedy Family Weekend (ARC Entertainment) stars Olesya Rulin as a16-year-old girl frustrated by her parents, played by Kristen Chenoweth and Matthew Modine, after they miss her jump-roping competition, so she and her siblings take their parents hostage to try to improve their relations.
And three movies I haven’t seen
White Elephant (Strand Releasing)
Violeta Went to Heaven (Kino Lorber)
The Revolutionary Optimists (Shadow Distribution)
Unfortunately, this will be the very last “Box Office Preview” column for reasons that will become apparent next week.
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Copyright 2013 Edward Douglas