March 2010 Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
March 5, 2010

Take that, Avatar!

March 2010 is an odd little month, with two big, family-oriented blockbusters bookending an otherwise frankly second-tier batch of releases (at least when it comes to box office - and does anything else really matter?). Although you never know about some of these titles - as we have all learned this past year, the box office can come up and bite you on the bee-hind when you least expect it.

1. How to Train Your Dragon (March 26th)

Yet another chapter in this year's cinematic showcase of various mythological beasties, this one courtesy of DreamWorks and the co-directors/writers of Lilo & Stitch. The voice cast matches Gerard Butler with some of the Apatow regulars (Baruchel, Wiig, Mintz-Plasse), and adds Craig Ferguson in for good measure, too. It's a combination that's evidently so intimidating that even Clash of the Titans delayed its release for a week, apparently fleeing with its tail between its Kraken's tentacles. Look, I'll be honest here - these CGI movies all look just about the same to me; they all get praised incessantly and make a ton of money, and have little to no discernible effect but the monotony of having to observe them do it. Indeed, How to Train Your Dragon is obviously being set up as the first big CGI hit of 2010, so who am I to deny that this will invariably be the case?

Opening weekend: $62 million / Total gross: $170 million

2. Alice In Wonderland (March 5th)

Tim Burton's back with another stylistically outrageous fairy tale, a film that basically follows the formula that made Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory such a massive summer hit in 2005. The cast is full of Burton's usual rogues gallery - Johnny Depp, Crispin Glover, and Helena Bonham Carter (now far removed from her previous home in 19th century melodramas), with Anne Hathaway looking like a very at-home addition to the mix. On a sour note, critical appraisal seems more token than enthusiastic this time around, and the story possibly appeals more to girls than boys. Alice is also unreservedly weird, which I thought could cost it some capital - but then again, Charlie '05 was weirder still, and look how far that one got. On the plus side, Alice is in 3D, a statement that will soon be true of anything remotely resembling a would-be summer blockbuster (don't worry, us non-3D fans can always fall back on movies like... Dear John, and uh, the one with John Travolta and the goatee and, uh...).

Opening weekend: $44 million / Total gross: $144 million

3. The Last Song (March 31st)
A city girl is uprooted to an apparently slow-paced country lifestyle, giving her a chance to reconnect with her distant father and entertain the courtships of the local male underwear model. Sound familiar? I would hope it does not, because that was the premise of last year's Hannah Montana: The Movie, and it's the game plan this time around, too. Miley Cyrus seems to be replaying the careers of former teen queens Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan, but on a scale that's about three times as lucrative (and that's no wonder, since she now has so little competition). Anyway, this particular nugget's been assembled like a class-A star vehicle package, with glossy direction, good-looking cinematography, and a script based on a book by that Dear John-writing master of tears, Nicholas Sparks (and yes, since this is Sparks, one of the main characters does bite the dust ahead of the normal U.S. life expectancy for their gender and age group; watch the trailer and use the process of elimination to figure out who's the one). What else is there to say, really? It's going to be a very good year for Sparks, and for Cyrus.

Opening weekend: $40 million (five-day) / Total gross: $99 million

4. The Bounty Hunter (March 19th)

Former lovers (Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler) hit the road, fleeing from killers and re-igniting their passion, while dodging both bullets and their unwanted but ever-present romantic chemistry. There's a hint of last year's Did You Hear About the Morgans? in the plot here, but not much of anyone saw that one, so I guess we're okay. As a general social observation, I can also add that for the first time in some time, the lead actresses in these battle of the sexes romantic comedies seem to be getting older and older (think Aniston, Fey, Bullock, Lopez, Streep, the Sex and the City gals, and Madea). No opinion on this, just a thought. But anyway, listen here a minute, Bounty Hunter: I predicted real big numbers for your brothers and sisters - When in Rome, the Morgans, and Leap Year - and got burned for it, so you're not fooling me again with all the things you have going for you, like a funny trailer, big stars, the right release date, and a potentially famished demographic. But I'm going to give you one last chance, because down at the bottom line, I have to go with my gut. Just don't fool me again.

Opening weekend: $22 million / Total gross: $56 million

5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (March 19th)

This one's a children's movie right in time for March Break, based on a fairly popular book series. More than that I really can not say, except that I've heard some off-the-cuff buzz about the size of this one's fanbase, and there's an interesting supporting actor or two among the cast. It'll do all right. If it's good, it may do even better than that.

Opening weekend: $14 million / Total gross: $43 million

6. Green Zone (March 12th)

Hey, did you know that Green Zone is set in Iraq in 2003? That's the push poll question of the day, and I don't think much more need be said - but then again, who doesn't love a little verbosity? There's an indisputable attempt with the trailers and so on to play this one out like the fourth Bourne movie, with star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass re-teamed (at last?). But what the movie really looks like to me is another slog into the backrooms of the Iraq War, a Body of Lies for 2010 - with Damon taking over for DiCaprio, and Greg Kinnear and Brendan Gleeson sharing the Russell Crowe role. Don't get me wrong: this could be a real good movie; but like its predecessors in the subgenre, it has simply found itself existing at the wrong place and the wrong time.

Opening weekend: $14 million / Total gross: $39 million

7. Remember Me (March 12th)

Here it is, at last: the first clear post-Twilight star vehicle for Robert Pattinson. Remember Me's also got Emilie de Ravin, basically unseen at the movies since Hills Have Eyes '06, and Pierce Brosnan, back already after Percy Jackson, if without his now trademark hoofs. The film looks like an odd duck, no doubt there, with a genre and premise I just can't puzzle out - is it a drama? A tragi-leaning romance, like Dear John, ending with one lover weeping at the other's graveside? Or a thriller, perhaps, with the aforementioned graveside scene being played out in a whole different context? Either way, let's pay tribute to Pattinson's not inconsiderable fanbase, and peg this as at least a good opener, if not necessarily one with a penchant for strong legs.

Opening weekend: $16 million / Total gross: $36 million

8. Hot Tub Time Machine (March 26th)

Here's the annual college try for spring break at the movies: an R-rated time travel sex comedy, awash in the 1980s-nostalgia I've long predicted would develop in the 2010s. The cast mixes old reliable (John Cusack) with some recent supporting players coming into the spotlight (Clark Duke, Rob Corddry, and Craig Robinson). The Michael Jackson joke in the trailer kills, and there's some similarity to The Hangover, what with four male leads and all, but I dunno about the box office - just how funny is this one going to be, anyway?

Opening weekend: $13 million / Total gross: $35 million

9-10. Forest Whitaker Double-Bill: Our Family Wedding (March 12th) and Repo Men (March 19th)

There's more Forest Whitaker this March than anyone could care to shake a stick at (now, what the hell did I just say?). First, Repo Men, which looks like about an average science fiction action adventure, and one not particularly buoyed by star power (the co-star is, uh, Jude Law). On the other hand, Our Family Wedding is another one of those Guess Who movies about culture clashes and man-eating goats on the loose and so on. That one looks good-natured if awfully predictable, but I like the actors, and the premise has some box office appeal just about any time of year. As for Repo Men - after watching the seemingly dozens of futuristic sci-fi movies already released this year and seeing what's in store for humanity, let's just say I'm not much looking forward to life in any year after 2018. Repo Men doesn't exactly help improve that situation.

Our Family Wedding - opening weekend: $10 million / Total gross: $33 million

Repo Men - opening weekend: $8 million / Total gross: $18 million

11. She's Out of My League (March 12th)

Another Apatow vet gets a starring role (Jay Baruchel, this time), in yet one more romantic comedy about mismatched lovers and crude sexual references masquerading as comedy (but hey, they can't fool me). Really though, is She's Out of My League funny? It's entirely possible. I have no idea. If it is, it could get into the twenty millions - maybe the thirties. Otherwise, Sex Drive and Miss March and all the others will have some company down there somewhere.

Opening weekend: $5 million / Total gross: $13 million

12. Brooklyn's Finest (March 5th)

This one's a tale of cops and robbers traipsing around New York City and engaging in the usual unpreventable set of moral dilemmas and violent showdowns. It's helmed by veteran crime picture-maker Antoine Fuqua, re-teaming here with his Training Day star Ethan Hawke and adding in Don Cheadle, Richard Gere, and Wesley Snipes (hey, Wesley Snipes is back!) for good measure. The reviews are unkind, the release is unwide (well, it's a little wide), and the similarity to Street Kings, Pride and Glory, Armored, and all the rest will likely extend to the box office. Also-ran, Brooklyn's Finest is thy name.

Opening weekend: $3 million / Total gross: $10 million