Not much to say about this weekend except that we’re reaching the dregs of the spring movie season where studios dump some last minute movies they usually don’t expect to fare too well before the summer comes along. Of course, one of the movies is the fifth installment of a comedy franchise that did very well with an April release and the other movie is a baseball film, so maybe they’ll both beat the odds.
Speaking of the summer, we’re a couple weeks away from our Summer Box Office Preview, but we spent a couple of hours this past weekend with the lovely gentlemen that do the Movie Moan podcast giving some early thoughts on the summer movies, which you can listen to by clicking here.
Scary Movie V (Dimension Films)
For most of the first decade of the 21st Century, spoof comedies were king, and much of that is due to the success of Scary Movie in the summer of 2000. It was the brainchild of the Wayans family who created a spoof of Wes Craven’s Scream and turned it into a $157 million blockbuster, followed a year later with a less successful sequel. Then in 2003, Dimension Films went PG-13 with the threequel and they were back in business with $110 million – three years after that, the fourth movie grossed slightly less than that, although it opened with $40 million in a similar mid-April release.
That brings us forward seven years and Dimension Films has brought the franchise back with plenty of horror movies released in those years to act as fodder for spoof comedy. And maybe it would be even more exciting if original “Scary Movie” creator Marlon Wayans hadn’t already released his own take on recent horror with A Haunted House just a few short months back. It opened with just $18 million in 2,160 theaters and went on to gross $40 million although spoof comedies had already taken a downturn with the movies by former “Scary Movie” scribes Friedberg & Seltzer doing less than that.
What Dimension Films has going for it over other spoof comedies is the namebrand value of the “Scary Movie” franchise. Although Anna Faris, star of the first four films, has already moved onto other things, as has Regina Hall, this one has a couple of returning people, notably former MTV VJ (and porn star) Simon Rex who played George in the last two movies. He’s joined by Ashley Tisdale, best known from the “High School Musical” shows and movie as well as providing a voice on “Phineas and Ferb” – I guess some of her fans who grew up with that stuff might see her in this, although the cast rarely matters as much as the jokes.
David Zucker, who helmed the last two movies and is responsible for some of the funniest spoof comedies of the 20th Century, was only involved with the writing of the script this time, replaced as director by Malcolm Lee, who has directed many popular movies that have done well among urban audiences including Undercover Brother, The Best Man and Soul Men. Like with Marlon Wayans’ A Haunted House, Dimension is heavily targeting the African-American communities with a cast that includes Katt Williams, Snoop Dogg, Terry Crews and Mike Tyson, but they’re also trying to interest people who read tabloids with prominent appearances by spoof comedy vet Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan.
Otherwise, the movie will appeal to teen audiences, both male and female, who’ll just want to go out to the movies for some laughs targeted at some of the horror movies they’ve all seen, particularly the “Paranormal Activity” franchise, and maybe some of them didn’t go see A Haunted House.
Granted, the last two “Scary Movies” each opened over $40 million, but considering how played these types of comedies had gotten in the seven years since, we think it will be tough for this one to gross that amount in total as it follows the path of Dimension’s “Scream” franchise into “Why on earth bring this back?” status.
Weekend Est.: $18 to 20 million; Est. Total Gross: $45 million
42 (Warner Bros.)
There have been lots of sports films over the years, although it doesn’t feel like we’ve seen one in a while and with the start of baseball season, it makes sense that we’d see a major studio drama based on the legendary Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in baseball after being signed by Branch Rickey to Major League Baseball in 1946.
It stars newcomer Chadwick Boseman in a true breakthrough role as Robinson, but the real draw of the film is actor Harrison Ford who is considered an A-list star, mainly for his movies from the 70s and 80slittle franchises like “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones”but lately he hasn’t really been hitting home runs with his summer sci-fi action movie Cowboys & Aliens tapping out at $100 million domestically. Before that, he had a few real duds such as Morning Glory ($31 million total), Extraordinary Measures ($12.5 million) and the drama Crossing Over ($4.5 million). Before those, he reunited with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg for the blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull which grossed $300 million. He has a number of other movies this year including the thriller Paranoia and the anticipated adaption of Ender’s Game, but the big news is that he will return as Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode VII, planned for 2015.
The movie is directed by Brian Helgeland, an Oscar-winning screenwriter responsible for the likes of L.A. Confidential and Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River, although as a director he hasn’t had nearly as much luck with his last directed movie being over ten years ago, the thriller bomb The Order.
As far as baseball movies go, the last one was Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, which opened with $19.5 million in September 2011 and went on to gross $75 million, making it the second-biggest baseball movie. It did slightly better than The Rookie, which opened in 2002 but not as well as Tom Hanks’ A League of Their Own, which grossed $107 million ten years earlier. Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams opened in April 1989 to gross $64 million.
Clearly, releasing a baseball movie at this time of the year (versus the fall Oscar season) is fairly risky and chances are this will appeal more to older men and some women, being an inspirational sports story, though it’ll probably hold very little interest to anyone under 20 or kids. It has a better chance of having legs compared to its primary competition Scary Movie V this weekend and we could see it being an April sleeper that offers counter-programming for the next few weeks.
Weekend Est.: $14 to 16 million; Est. Total Gross: $48 million
Besides the two movies above, Danny Boyle’s Trance (Fox Searchlight), which opened in select cities last Friday, will expand into roughly 350 theaters. It averaged about $33,000 in four theaters this past weekend and that should be enough to allow it to bring in between $1 and $1.5 million if does get that many theaters on Friday.
This weekend last year saw the release of three new movies and yet, surprise, surprise, The Hunger Games continued to dominate, remaining in first place with $21.1 million. Of the new movies, the Farrelly Brothers comedy remake of The Three Stooges (20th Century Fox) took second place with $17 million while the horror-comedy The Cabin in the Woods (Lionsgate), from director Drew Goddard and producer/co-writer Joss Whedon, took third place with $14.7 million. Guy Pearce starred in the sci-fi action-thriller Lockout (FilmDistrict), written and produced by Luc Besson, which grossed just $6.2 million to end up in ninth place in its opening weekend. The Top 10 grossed $105 million and this week’s offerings won’t do much to help best that amount unless Scary Movie V does significantly better than our prediction.
This Week’s UPDATED Predictions –
UPDATE: There’s a lot more buzz going into the weekend for Warner Bros’ baseball drama 42 and since it’s probably going to have stronger legs through the weekend than Scary Movie, which will do most of its business Friday night, we think the former might eek out a win. We also could have a last minute addition to the Top 10 as Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines expands into over 500 theaters and with The Host losing a lot of screens, it very well could be bounced out of the Top 10 in favor of the crime drama starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper.
1. 42 (Warner Bros.) – $19.3 million N/A (up 4.8 million)
2. Scary Movie V (Dimension Films) – $18.5 million N/A (down .8 million)
3. The Croods (DreamWorks Animation/20th Century Fox) – $13.6 million -34%
4. G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Paramount) – $11.1 million -47%
5. Evil Dead (Sony/TriStar Pictures/FilmDistrict) – $10.8 million -58%
6. Jurassic Park 3D (Universal) – $9 million -52%
7. Olympus Has Fallen (FilmDistrict) – $6.3 million -38%
8. Tyler Perry’s Temptation (Lionsgate) – $5.1 million -50%
9. Oz The Great and Powerful (Walt Disney Pictures) – $4.9 million -39%
10. The Host (Open Road Entertainment) – $2.5 million -52%
— The Place Beyond the Pines (Focus Features) – $2.3 million
— Trance (Fox Searchlight) – $1.7 million +1,000% (up .4 million)
This week’s “THE CHOSEN ONE” is Ken Loach’s new comedy The Angels’ Share (Sundance Selects), which is a movie that really took me by surprise. Granted, I’ve generally been a fan of Loach’s previous work, but this feels like a very different movie from his last few and possibly one that could find a much larger American audience than Loach has seen previously.
It opens with a very funny sequence involving a drunk guy walking on the edge of the subway tracks and just missing being run over by a train, and then we’re in the court watching him and others being reprimanded by a judge and being forced to do community service. We then meet Robbie, played by Paul Brannigan, a guy who was convicted of a violent crime who is trying to go on the straight and narrow for the sake of the new baby son had by his girlfriend Leonie. He gets off lightly and is put into community service with a motley group of individuals under the guidance of Harry (John Henshaw), who takes a shine to Robbie and takes him under his wing.
Harry is a whiskey enthusiast and he takes Robbie and others to a whisky plant in hopes they’ll pick up his love and appreciation for the finer drink. When they realize how much they could get for a bottle of the Holy Grail of whiskeys, the rare Malt Mill, the four of them decide to travel up North to an auction of a rare cask to steal a couple of bottles.
Robbie has a lot of problems though, including Leonie’s father and brothers who think that he’s a loser and they don’t want Leonie having anything to do with him, and the family of Robbie’s victim also wants revenge against him even though he’s tried to make right for what he did. These things lead to some of the film’s more dramatic moments such as Robbie confronting the guy he violently beat up.
But really, the movie is a comedy and those strong dramatic moments in the first half quickly give away to a bonafide caper movie with these four unlikely people trying to get their hands on a couple of bottles of the valuable whisky. (Note: the film’s title comes from the small amount of whisky that evaporates into the air naturally when it’s uncasked.) The movie really gets going in that second half as we watch incredulously as Robbie leads the group on what seems like an impossible mission. This section also introduces veteran actor Roger Allam as Thaddeus Maloney, a renowned whisky collector willing to buy the group’s illegal gains.
Written by frequent Loach collaborator Paul Laverty, this is easily Loach’s funniest movie to date and also his most mainstream and commercial as well – he even uses the Proclaimers’ “500 Miles” in the soundtrack! On top of that, Loach has assembled an amazing cast around the extremely talented Brannigan to create a really entertaining dynamic. This includes Albert Ridley, that guy from the opening, played by Gary Maitland, a really hilarious odd-looking character, a bit like Ricky Gervais’ sidekick Karl Pilkington, as well as the female kleptomaniac of the group, Mol.
Loach’s film has better production values than we’ve seen from him as Loach takes the group to Edinburgh for a whiskey meeting and then further into the countryside for the heist portion, but the entire time it remains focused on the very funny characters and their chemistry.
The biggest problem for mainstream American audiences will probably be the heavy Scottish accents with certain exchanges being almost impossible to discern without subtitles – we haven’t gotten a response on whether or not Sundance Selects plans on releasing it with subtitles in the States. We’ve seen it twice now once without and the second time with and the subtitles definitely help.
I don’t really drink whisky myself but Loach and Laverty have created a film that gives you a great idea why there are so many lovers of the stuff and if you have any love for the substance yourself, you’ll want to check out what I feel is Loach’s best film since “The Wind That Shakes the Barley.”
Brandon Cronenberg, son of the great David Cronenberg, makes his directorial debut with Antiviral (IFC Midnight), starring Caleb Landry Jones as Syd March, a guy who works at a clinic that sells injections taken from sick celebrities to their rabid fans while selling samples on the black market, illegally smuggled out of the clinic in his own body, which culminates in Syd becoming affected by a disease that kills a popular superstar.
Murderball co-director Henry-Alex Rubin makes his dramatic feature debut with Disconnect (LD Entertainment), an anthology drama dealing with the internet age and how our dependence on the internet creates all sorts of issues like cyber-bullying and identity theft. It stars Jason Bateman–you’d think he would have learned after Identity Thief, huh?–Alexander Skarsgard, Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, Michael Nyqvist, Paula Patton, and Andrea Riseborough and it opens in select cities on Friday.
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Terrence Malick returns with To the Wonder (Magnolia), which stars Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko as Neil and Marina, a couple who meet in France and travel to live in Oklahoma where she meets a priest in exile, played by Javier Bardem, while Neil starts seeing his childhood sweetheart, played by Rachel McAdams. It opens in select cities this weekend and then expands into other cities on April 19, and you can find out where it will be playing here.
Todd Berger’s doomsday comedy It’s a Disaster (Oscilloscope Labs) stars Julia Stiles as Tracy Scott, a woman looking to interview her new boyfriend (David Cross) to her three best friends (one of them played by America Ferrara from “Ugly Betty”) and their own boyfriends, but then all four couples end up in the middle of an apocalyptic disaster so whether they’ll all get along is the least of Tracy’s worries. It opens in New York, L.A. and Austin.
Martin Persiel’s German skateboarding doc (of sorts) This Ain’t California cuts together 8mm footage of underground skateboarding from the GDR with new footage and music by Lars Damm. It opens exclusively at the Maysles Cinema in Harlem, New York on Friday.
And two movies I didn’t get a chance to see
Fists of Legend (CJ Entertainment)
Into the White (Magnolia Pictures)
Next week, the summer kicks off early with the new sci-fi action movie from Tom Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski (TRON: Legacy) called Oblivion (Universal).. And that’s pretty much it. Wow.
You can read stuff like this and regular box office, awards and festival coverage on the Weekend Warrior Blog and to keep up with the latest articles and posts, you can follow us on Twitter.
Copyright 2013 Edward Douglas