April 2010 Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
April 2, 2010

I'm on this thing called a pay phone!

April 2010 sure ain't in Kansas anymore. This time around, everyone's favorite quiet pre-summer month is loaded with one hefty grosser after the other, with more than one title positing itself as an $100 million contender (gee, where did all those Repo Men/Green Zone-type movies go?). It's also a frame heavy on indies with big stars, but with a nice, round number of ten wide release titles, who feels like covering those little movies, anyway?

1. Clash of the Titans (April 2nd)

2010 is churning out epic fantasies at a breakneck pace, in an apparent reversal on that dull historically-correct subgenre we all had to suffer through some ten years back. Titans places Avatar's Sam Worthington into yet another 3D special effects assault on innocent moviegoers, and there's a strong assembly of supporting actors - Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Pete Postelthwaite - as usual, an almost entirely English batch of thespians cast as Greek Gods and civilians alike (although I do have to admit, begrudgingly, that they may seem less out of place in ancient Greece than, say, Matthew McConaughey or Jack Black). Potential highlights: we'll no doubt get to see Medusa cinematically decapitated for only the second time this year, and celebrate the return of the Kraken, that malcontent monster last seen in the employ of Bill Nighy's villainous seafood in Pirates of the Caribbean. I do have to say, though, that the trailer looks a little choppy - doesn't clearly outline the plot, that sort of thing - but I guess we can figure out what it's about; indeed, after fellow 3D traveler Alice in Wonderland pulled in some unfathomable number that I dare not repeat in print here, my expectations for the third dimension's drawing power have soared higher than e'en the tallest Titan.

Opening weekend: $79 million / Total gross: $184 million

2. Date Night (April 9th)

Let's welcome back that newly beloved romantic comedy plot: a 40-ish couple re-ignites their relationship, while avoiding their potential demise at the hands of hordes of thoroughly incompetent armed killers (a situation that most recently transpired in The Bounty Hunter and Did You Hear About the Morgans?, films you could be forgiven for having somehow missed out on). As much as I may despise the respective television series headlined by Steve Carell and Tina Fey (did I just say that out loud?), on film, these two look like real winners. I've heard folks at BOP and beyond bash the trailer for this one, but I dunno - it made me laugh, and I think the sentiment will be reflected in the opening weekend, even if the movie itself doesn't live up to it. After all, it's got the 9th all to itself, and there's an interesting barrage of stars (Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Mila Kunis) masquerading as supporting players. Good gut feeling on this one.

Opening weekend: $35 million / Total gross: $94 million

3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (April 30th)

No need to delay the inevitable: here is, at last, the third leg in the unholy trinity of '80s horror remakes - Friday the 13th, Halloween, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, the definitive horror series of the 1980s, have all now themselves fallen under the knife. The casting of Jackie Earle Haley, now somewhere on the upper echelon of character actors, is certainly inspired, and the curiosity factor for such a high-profile genre property out to lift this one to numbers that go beyond the usual bi-weekly reboot. In short, it'll do very well as a right-before-summer genre fix. But I miss Robert Englund.

Opening weekend: $38 million / Total gross: $79 million

4. Kick-Ass (April 16th)

This is the month's real wild card, both a riff on the superhero film and evidently also a solid example of one, and a title that's been meticulously reviewed - at least so far. Playing with the superhero epos may seem familiar by now, but there's a clear element of originality here, and the cast is an intriguingly assembled bunch: Nicolas Cage, in what looks like a thoroughly incognito supporting role (the type we may see Mr. Cage indulge in more frequently in the next decade, perhaps?), and rising stars Chloe Moretz (who's around lots this year), Aaron Johnson, and the practically inimitable Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Most importantly, Kick-Ass has a lot of underground buzz on the genre scene, something that was true also of films like District 9, Inglourious Basterds, and Zombieland - all of which broke out into mainstream box office adoration after months of name-dropping on the message board circuit. Tough one to call, but I think Kick-Ass will be more of that same.

Opening weekend: $27 million / Total gross: $72 million

5. Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too? (April 2nd)

Another spring, another Tyler Perry film - and evidently his only release this year (the first year since 2006 not to contain a Perry double-bill). This is one that gets my attention: a follow-up to what may be Perry's best film (well, that's what I thought, anyway), with an enticing seaside resort setting propping up the prototypically explosive melodrama. The gang's all here, back from the first film, with pop superstar Janet Jackson seeming somewhat out of place among the cast of more down-to-earth characters (in case you're wondering, distant relation Madea is once again absent, having mysteriously disappeared half-way through I Can Do Bad All By Myself). Perry's fanbase will nab this an opening in the high $20 millions, but what's up with those ominous trailer proclamations that "One. Of. These. Couples. Will. Not. Make. It."? Is that mal-intentioned Gorton's Fisherman* on the loose in the Bahamas again or something?

Opening weekend: $28 million / Total gross: $61 million
*for more information, see I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)

6. Death At A Funeral (April 16th)

Frank Oz's Death at a Funeral is given the big-budget remake treatment. The gameplan: turning a quirky British import into a ginormous Hollywood product, with a massive cast, and direction by Neil LaBute - admittedly not anyone's first choice for a broad, mainstream comedy, but an interesting one nevertheless. The trailer has some funny lines, and that Chris Rock-Martin Lawrence ticket is going to be a pretty strong draw at the end of the day, with the inclusion of Zoe Saldana and James Marsden attracting a younger demographic. There's some distinct competition on both the comedy and domestic drama fronts - the opening's just two weeks after the Tyler Perry sequel, and one week after Date Night. But in this case, the leftovers ought to taste pretty good, too.

Opening weekend: $23 million / Total gross: $59 million

7. The Losers (April 23rd)

This comic book-based actionpic looks like an early spring version of the higher profile A-Team. There's a strong cast of pulpy B-movie personas on hand to preside over the explosions - Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Idris Elba - bumping with perpetually rising stars Zoe Saldana and Chris Evans (to crudely paraphrase a line from Rod Lurie's The Contender: Saldana and Evans are the future of Hollywood, and it looks like they always will be). The previews aren't bad, mixing in a decent chunk of action and comedy, but there might not be enough name recognition for this property - and the release date, two weeks before summer officially begins, seems like a case of close but no cigar.

Opening weekend: $18 million / Total gross: $45 million

8. Furry Vengeance (April 30th)

Brendan Fraser sets up suburban shop in the wrong place at the wrong time, and is subsequently assaulted, mauled, and otherwise placed into great duress by the local wildlife population. Brooke Shields is in it, too, and some of the Hangoverites (Ken Jeong, Rob Riggle) show up to bear witness to the proceedings. As a matter of fact, it's actually yet another journey into the world of special effects for Fraser (even talking skunks have become mere CGI constructs at this point - is nothing sacred?!?). As much as one may be tempted to dismiss the box office prospects here, I'm not so sure we should write Furry Vengeance off quite yet: as I keep telling people, movies that star lots of furry critters always do well. It's just part of life. And by the way: that bear on the film's poster sure has an interesting look on his face. Check it out.

Opening weekend: $14 million / Total gross: $35 million

9. Oceans (April 22nd)

At the moment, April 23rd looks to be the month's lone non-blockbuster weekend, and Oceans is a prime example of why: it's a follow-up to last year's searing nature exposé Earth, and yes, DisneyNature will have one of these out every year, right on Earth Day - even if the 22nd does fall on Thursday this time around. As those with incredibly good memories will recall, Earth opened with a $14 million five-day and finished with $32 million. Will there be a box office uptick this time around? Don't think so. The trailer isn't as charming, and they don't play it in theaters as insistently and incessantly as the Earth preview. As far the film's critters go - as a general principal, animals without hair are not as cute as those with it (see #8 for more on this phenomenon), but we'll get a chance to find out if that adage is upheld at the box office.

Opening weekend: $10 million / Total gross: $29 million

10. The Back-Up Plan (April 23rd)
After five years of wide-release inactivity, Jennifer Lopez returns to the familiar romantic comedy territory that made her such a big star in the early years of the 2000s. And she did go out on a bang - her last big film, Monster-In-Law, actually took in over $80 million, but the prognosis appears to be bleaker this time around: the plot heavily echoes Baby Mama, and as far as trailers go, I'm just not that impressed. And I, for one, am pretty easy to impress.

Opening weekend: $10 million / Total gross: $25 million