Weekend Forecast for April 20-22, 2012
By Reagen Sulewski
April 20, 2012

Here's a shot of what Zac might have looked like if he'd been in Footloose.

There's just two more weeks to go until the big movies of the summer start arriving, but I'm not totally sure I can make it. In fact, I'm falling asleep just reading the plot summary of this week's new films. But, hey, thanks to the magic of attrition, we'll have a new number one film for the first time in a month. Maybe.

Nicholas Sparks' latest verbal diarrhea of a love story gets the big screen treatment in The Lucky One. Zac Efron stars as a Marine who returns from three tours of duty in Iraq to stalk, er, find the woman (Taylor Schilling) whose picture he found and believes kept him alive through luck. Because Nicholas Sparks doesn't have a good barometer for creepy, this is treated as incredibly romantic. And also because we need to at least have a pretense of plot, Efron's character decides to hide who he is and why he's there for no discernible reason, so that we have some kind of misunderstanding and create plot tension in between the sex.

Sparks adaptations have been almost dart-board accurate, hitting between $12 million and $18 million opening weekends, although the first, Message in a Bottle, remains the high water mark. The Notebook, on the other hand, is the overall champ thanks to legs and its status as this generation's Love Story, for both good and bad. The actual star of these films doesn't seem to make much of a difference, with a proof in the point that the highest opening one starred Kevin Costner. Mandy Moore, Ryan Gosling, Richard Gere and Miley Cyrus didn't seem to make much of an impact in their films from Sparks novels and I don't see how Efron's going to make a big jump here either, since his drawing power seems to have faded a bit. After a big splash with High School Musical and then 17 Again, Charlie St. Cloud, which this film kind of resembles, was bit of a disappointment, and then he had the multi-star flop of New Year's Eve. He's probably due for a little bit of a bump over St. Cloud's opening, but it should stay within the established Sparks range at about $15 million.

Think Like a Man represents Steve Harvey's first attempt at challenging the Tyler Perry empire with blandly inoffensive romantic comedy with a touch of drama. Tim Story, the man who ruined the Fantastic Four movies, directs the ensemble film, which centers on four women who decide to use men's relationship advice, dispensed by same-said Steve Harvey, against them. Apparently talking and behaving like adults is out of the question. But hey, it's a movie so let's go with it.

The cast includes a decently famous group of actors, including Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Gabrielle Union, Taraji P. Henson, Chris Brown... *record scratch*, yeah, that's unfortunate. I can imagine the romance just pouring off the screen during his scenes. Anyway, this would appear to follow in the footsteps of films like He's Just Not That Into You, albeit with a much smaller level of fame for both the source and its cast. While it's possible this could break out based on the sheer number of names that are in this cast, each of which tends to have their own fanbase, I'm not expecting a lot from this poorly reviewed, poorly advertised film, which should open to about $9 million.

Lastly, we have the now-annual tradition of the Disney nature documentary for Earth Day, this time simply entitled Chimpanzee. There's a little bit of celeb buzz thanks to the backing of Jane Goodall, but overall this should do about as well as Oceans, African Cats and Earth, which is to say around $7 million.

The Hunger Games is an odd blockbuster, in that its week-to-week decline has decreased in each of its first three weeks. After having more than half its opening weekend box office chopped off, this past weekend saw it lose just a little more than one third. Whether this is due to the soft competition or repeat viewing kicking in, it's an impressive performance. It's just shy of making the top 20 all-time list before this weekend, and will pass a couple more significant films in The Two Towers and the most recent Transformers. While it remains to be seen how it's going to hold up once May comes around, $400 million really isn't out of the question here. Let's start with $14 million this weekend.

The Three Stooges. $17 million. Come on, people. Have some self-respect. You can regain my trust by sending this down to $8 million or less this weekend. I'm putting an official “or else” on this one.

I'd like to think we can hope for The Cabin in the Woods to hit at least that mark, but I'm not that optimistic that this “too cool for school” horror satire will really connect with mass audiences following that great start. Just getting released after three years on the shelf is a kind of win, so let's not demand too much, okay? Another $7 million is probably in the cards.

Although the Titanic 3D opening weekend didn't impress as much as people might have expected relative to other re-releases, it's proven to be a pretty lucrative venture with a couple of weeks of returns in. It's added close to $50 million in 14 days, and worldwide totals have been even better, pushing the lifetime take for the film over the $2 billion milestone, only the second film ever to do this, behind you know which film. Somewhere between $7 and 8 million is what we should see here this weekend.