Box Office Beat: Weekend of April 12

Danny Baldwin's Box Office BeatHello and welcome back to Box Office Beat, the column in which I predict the upcoming weekend’s box office results. Apologies for my unannounced absence last week; I was out of town at my graduate school orientation, so I barely had time to choke out reviews of “The Croods” and “The Place Beyond the Pines,” while this column had to be sacrificed. But I’m sure you all managed to come up with your own predictions on “Evil Dead” and “Jurassic Park 3D” just fine, as both opened within the range of expectations. The results for this weekend are a little less certain, with two more new films going wide.

42-poster-2__spanThe film I’m betting on to top the box office chart is “42,” the Jackie Robinson biopic, starring newcomer Chadwick Boseman as the legendary ballplayer and Harrison Ford as Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey. The only baseball movie to be a hit in recent years was “Moneyball” ($19.5m opening) and that was as much about Brad Pitt, Sabermetrics, and Oscar nominations as it was baseball. By comparison, last year’s “Trouble with the Curve” ($12.2m) and the comedies “Bad News Bears” ($11.4m), “Fever Pitch” ($12.4m) and “Mr. 3000” ($8.7m) all basically tanked. But here’s where I think “42” is different: it’s not just being sold as a baseball movie, but as an African-American film (note the hip Jay-Z track laid over the trailer). Warner Bros. has made this into a must-see “black history movie,” which is likely to mean lucrative returns. While it’s a different type of film, “Tyler Perry’s Temptation” demonstrated just two weeks ago that African-American frequent moviegoers can deliver a very strong opening nearly all by themselves. In fact, I see a repeat of that film’s performance, $21.6 million, if not better.

Scary Movie 5Also vying for the number one slot is “Scary Movie 5,” which is apparently so unfunny it wasn’t screened for press (I’ll catch an opening day matinee and have a review up in the late afternoon). Virtually the only thing this film has going for it is its brand: not one of its predecessors has opened to under $20m. In fact, the past two, the franchise’s other PG-13 installments, pulled in a whopping $48.1m and $40.2m, respectively. But if it weren’t for this factor, “Scary Movie 5” would seem like a sure bomb. Not only has most of the major cast of the prior films been ditched—in favor of druggies Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen, no less—but original “Scary Movie” star Marlon Wayans headlined a very similar spoof of found-footage horror (“A Haunted House”) just three months ago. Are audiences really ready to double-dip on this concept? Perhaps only the ones who actually saw “A Haunted House,” which made $18.1 million opening weekend.

Also looking to make it into the top 10 are the expanding releases “The Place Beyond the Pines,” with Ryan Gosling, and Danny Boyle’s “Trance.” But because neither is going fully wide yet—they’re playing in 514 and 438 theaters, respectively—I will refrain from detailed write-ups assessing their box office potential. Perhaps those will come next weekend.

My prediction of what the full top 10 will look like:

  1. “42” … $21.6m
  2. “Scary Movie 5” … $18.1m
  3. “The Croods” … $15.5m  -24.9%
  4. “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” … $10.5m  -49.7%
  5. “Evil Dead” … $9.8m  -62.0%
  6. “Jurassic Park 3D” … $9.0m  -51.7%
  7. “Olympus Has Fallen” … $6.5m  -36.0%
  8. “Oz the Great and Powerful” … $5.2m  -35.1%
  9. “Tyler Perry’s Temptation” … $4.8m  -52.4%
  10. “The Place Beyond the Pines” … $3.4m  +483.4%