For more evidence that the summer movie season is expanding and shifting ever earlier, look no further than this week. One of the most proven directors in terms of box office has an action film with two high profile stars who each have strong track records, and it's debuting the last week of April. It's a brave new box office world.
Weekend Forecast for April 26-28, 2013
By Reagen Sulewski
April 26, 2013
Pain & Gain combines the various talents of director Michael Bay, Dwayne Johnson and Mark Wahlberg in a quasi-true story about Florida body builders who find themselves involved in a kidnapping and extortion plot that leaves them wildly out of their depth. The requisite 'splosions and nastiness ensue. At the very least, this movie seems to have Michael Bay being in on the joke, with the excess played for laughs and maybe perhaps even being the (mildly satirical) point. Wahlberg and Johnson are men so convinced of their own superiority by dint of being such giant dudes (I mean, look at the ads – Mangus ver Magnusson thinks these guys should tone it down), that clearly they can succeed in any area they choose to. It's the American Dream as filtered through a Baysian lens, which should frighten us all a little.
This is the first Michael Bay film in eight years not based on a toy, and one imagines he's got a few things he'd like to work out since then. It's also eight years since his last bomb, and what likely spooked him a little into going so big market franchise with his next three films. While this isn't a franchise, it's a fairly safe move, as the satire is broad enough that it's not going to scare off action audiences, and his two stars are among the most bankable in this genre.
While Johnson has the higher overall figure with Fast Five's $86 million, a lot of that is due to the franchise, and Wahlberg has far more successful films on his own marquee value. Even mediocre looking films like Contraband, Max Payne and Shooter were successes on their own terms, while Johnson's had more bombs (e.g. Faster, Snitch). Johnson's also been more of a family entertainer, and this is sort of a polar opposite film to The Tooth Fairy and such. In essence, there's a lot about this film that looks like a safe, marketable choice for Bay, and who would expect anything less? One gets a sort of “unofficial Bad Boys 3” vibe off this, and that's probably worth about $31 million for an opening weekend.
In the latest edition of “Katherine Heigl's slowly spiralling career”, we have The Big Wedding, in which Heigl is really not even the lead. Perhaps being in an ensemble is a good play for her, but it's surprisingly how quickly she's fallen from the ranks of headlining romantic comedy stars to, well, let's call her “Lead 1C” in this. Robert DeNiro and Diane Keaton play a divorced couple who are forced to pretend they're married in order to not disappoint the biological mother of their adopted child (something called Ben Barnes) at his wedding because apparently this is still 1955. Heigl and Topher Grace are their own biological children, while Susan Sarandon is the new wife, Amanda Seyfried is the bride, and Robin Williams plays the priest (I'm assuming he owed somebody a favor). It's one of those films where everyone is aggressively wacky and/or bitter, and a series of insane sitcomy misunderstandings are required instead of just treating people like adults cause who cares about this stuff? What's that you say? Without giving it this premise, there wouldn't be a movie? Well, maybe there shouldn't. Maybe there shouldn't.
It's rare to see a trailer for a comedy that so utterly fails at eliciting laughs that you sort of have to think it's some sort of avant-garde art experiment. Perhaps they're curious at just how many people will unsuspectingly wander into a theater based upon the sheer volume of recognizable names on the poster. A mitigating factor: at least it's pretty short. Most of the people involved in this should have known better, and so should you. This probably still earns about $7 million this weekend, though.
Pain & Gain should be able to outpace the second weekend of Tom Cruise's Oblivion, which debuted to a respectable but not amazing $37 million. Let's chalk one up for relatively intelligent and original sci-fi, shall we? It's already a decent international hit, so the domestic box office is more than likely gravy in the final analysis, but it could be a $125 million earner here when it's all said and done. $22 million this weekend would be a good step towards that.
The rest of the slate is pretty thin this weekend, as studios have been refraining from dumping a bunch of movies in the market in fear of the killer May lineup. The Jackie Robinson movie 42 carried well with $17 million last weekend, and should see another $11 million this weekend, getting to around $70 million after its third weekend.
Family film The Croods has continued to take advantage of its market monopoly, pushing past the $150 million milestone, and should get within spitting distance of $200 million. It's weird for a film to get a straight run of the table like this one has, but not all animated films have been able to take advantage of similar situations, so give it a bit of credit there. This should be good for about $6 million this weekend. Other than that, all we really have to look forward to is for Iron Man 3 to finally show up, and maybe hope for Upstream Color to finally get to your city.