After starting out with a couple of big disappointments, March is turning out to be a pretty solid month at the box office. Three new films hit the box office in wide release.
Weekend Forecast for March 14-16, 2008
By Reagen Sulewski
March 14, 2008
You might be forgiven for being a little apprehensive about the release Horton Hears a Who, fearful that your childhood will take yet another beating from lousy Dr. Seuss adaptations. The last two features based on his work, The Grinch and The Cat in the Hat, set the standard for crappiness in children's film, and made for some seriously creepy imagery. Dr. Seuss was just not meant to be rendered in real life.
More promising, then, is the decision to make Horton into a fully CGI animated film, capturing that Seussian look and feel in a more natural way. It does of course, have [bp:1155_]Jim Carrey[/bp], who was part of the horror that was The Grinch, but he's a lot more tolerable as a voice than some makeup-covered thing.
Carrey voices Horton, who, as you would know if you were ever a five-year-old child, is an imaginative elephant that discovers a civilization of Whos on a speck of pollen that seemingly, only he can hear. The other elephants don't take too kindly to what they think is Horton's delusion, and they'll destroy Horton's speck unless there's some proof that the Whos exist. He communicates with one of the Whos, voiced by [bp:7561_]Steve Carell[/bp], to try and convince all the Whos to make enough noise to be heard. I'll let you figure out how this one ends. The lesson, here, is that you should always believe anyone who looks delusional.
The animation here looks pretty fantastic, and while I'm a bit dubious of how the premise could be effectively extended to a 90 minute film, critics seems to be lining up behind it, praising it for, well, not sucking, at least. It's likely to capture a lot of family crowds this weekend, and I see a weekend total of about $41 million.
It seems about time that Hollywood jumped on the MMA bandwagon. Never Back Down is one of the first big releases to tackle the sport of mixed-martial arts, asking that crucial question, "What if The O.C. had more bloodsport in it?"
Directed by and starring no one you've ever heard of (with the exception of [bp:102_]Djimon Hounsou[/bp] - who, for the love of Pete, has two Oscar nominations), it exists almost exclusively to ride the wave of a trend. It's no coincidence that it's produced by the same people that did the Step Up movies, since it's essentially the same thing - plucky young teen conquers dreams, only this time, by beating people up - though I suspect this won't start out quite as well from the gate as those films have. For one, you're not going to get quite the female audience for this, and for two, it looks absolutely terrible and generic. While I'm not saying MMA is going anywhere, this'll look about as dated as the Breakin' movie do now in a couple of years. I give this about $11 million on the weekend.
If you're looking for something a little more hardcore in your violence, Doomsday is probably for you. A blend of zombie movies and Mad Max with a gender twist, it's the latest from director Neil Marshall, who gave us the excellent and under-appreciated The Descent. The film takes place 30 years after the outbreak of a deadly plague, which led the British government in desperation to wall off a city and hope the plague would burn itself out. That didn't quite work out, and we enter the scene after the plague escapes again, and we see that it's made the ones that survived into super-human monsters, and a little bit psycho. It's up to a special military force, led by Rhona Mitra (of The Practice, Boston Legal and Nip/Tuck) to enter the hot zone and retrieve a cure.
It's a bit of a departure from Marshall's typical horror work, with a lot more action, especially with extended car battles. But it's also been a while since we've had some quality post-apocalyptic action on screen (Resident Evil fans: I said quality). Mitra is obviously hoping to join the ranks of Milla Jovovich and [bp:196_]Kate Beckinsale[/bp] as implausibly compelling female action stars and she just might be able to do it based on this movie - she's surprisingly authentic looking in the role. But she's not quite well known enough to open the film on her own just yet. Doomsday should come in with about $6 million this weekend.
If there's one thing Hollywood can rely on to consistently bring people in, it's spectacle. Witness [tm:3073_]10,000 B.C.[/tm]'s $35 million debut to win the box office last weekend, despite the giant flashing neon "CRAP" signs hanging all over it. We're all just suckers for some CGI mammoths, apparently. Matching its attempted epic scale will be its epic drop in its second weekend. Reviews are one thing, but the word-of-mouth is horrendous. Watch for 10,000 B.C. to fall to just $13 million this weekend.
There was only room for so much crap in the movie diet last weekend, and [tm:4210_]College Road Trip[/tm] managed just $13 million in its opening weekend. That's a decent figure relative to what couldn't have been a very big budget, but I figured on a lot more from this movie based on the Disney promotion savvy and a cast ([bp:92_]Martin Lawrence[/bp], Raven-Symone) that had the potential to draw from a lot of different demographics. It might hang around for another week or two, but don't expect anything special from it. Give it $7 million this frame.
After that, we're left with nothing earning over $5 million, though we do have an interesting group of mid-tier earners, with five films over $50 million total fighting for the remaining scraps. We should get some spring cleaning soon.