The summer box office season started off as large and as quickly as could have been imagined, thanks to the latest comic-book smash. Week two slows down things significantly with that rare beast, the prestige drama blockbuster, leading the way among new films. But even a great performance from it will leave it short of taking the box office crown.
Weekend Forecast for May 10-12, 2013
By Reagen Sulewski
May 10, 2013
The Great Gatsby is, depending on who you ask, one of the greatest pieces of American literature ever created (perhaps even *the* piece of American literature), or a tremendous life-sucking slog of a metaphorical novel. Maybe even simultaneously, and without contradiction. So of course it's Australian Baz Luhrmann who's set to bring the latest adaptation of it to the big screen. Luhrmann reunites with Leonardo DiCaprio for the first time in almost 20 years to put him in the lead role of Jay Gatsby, renowned playboy and raconteur, who is partying like there's no tomorrow in the inter-war years in New York, and there just might not be. The story is one of longing and searching for meaning, as Gatsby pursues his unobtainable lost-love Daisy Buchanan (played here by Carey Mulligan) amid all the excess of his own created self-image. Or to put it another way, "blah blah blah, I have everything and I'm not happy."
Filled to bursting with art-deco style and halfway to a musical (indeed, there are commercials selling the soundtrack more than the movie itself) a la Moulin Rouge!, Luhrmann can't be accused of underplaying the material, and the brash treatment certainly brings an initial appeal. It would seem to at the very least to not be boring (but then anyone who sat through all six hours of Moulin Rouge! can tell you how something cranked up to 11 for a long period of time can become tedious).
Gatsby stands to easily be Luhrmann's greatest hit, at least domestically, and by a large margin, as his biggest earner to date is the aforementioned Moulin Rouge, at $57 million. This is a mix of both the material (and an admittedly spectacularly cut trailer) and the cast, which is not inconsiderable. DiCaprio doesn't work frequently, but has produced some huge opening weekends, including Inception and Shutter Island. Gatsby seems tailor-made to show off his movie-star charm, since the role is based almost entirely on the idea of putting on a stylish facade. In addition to DiCaprio and Mulligan, we also have Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke, making this a bit of a showcase for some strong young(ish) performers.
There aren't a lot of analogs for this level of adaptation, but it is clearly being pitched as a major summer film with possible Oscar aspirations (I expect set design and cinematography and such, but it probably gets left out of major awards. Just a hunch). Excitement for this appears to be quite high, and for a non-explosion filled, non-franchise, non-explody drama, this could mean an opening weekend of about $41 million.
Tyler Perry seems to secrete movies as a bodily function these days, although this week's Peeples is only partially his fault. With it, he extends his brand to producing, and potentially launching a new career with writer/director Tina Gordon Chism. So while it's not Perry in fact, it's Perry in spirit, following the semi-formula of a giant family reunion with a cast of eccentric and brash characters, leading to broad and exaggerated comedy. Craig Robinson stars in the film as a man trying to win over the family of Kerry Washington during a beach vacation. Misunderstandings and embarrassments ensue, and we've essentially got a low-key version of Meet the Parents.
Robinson is a decent character comedy actor getting his first lead, and this seems to play to his strengths. He's excellent at the slow burn, and playing the crass fish out of water amidst an upper-class environment could be the perfect role for him. Going up against David Allen Grier might be another triumph of casting. Robinson still has to prove himself as a lead, however, even if the Perry name in the title helps some. I'd look for an opening weekend of $11 million here.
Iron Man 3's $174 million is one of those figures that it's difficult to overpraise. Second only to The Avengers' opening weekend all-time, it's an improvement by over one-third from Iron Man 2, something few franchise films ever do once they reach this level. Jumping that much or more from 1 to 2 isn't unheard of, but the 2 to 3 jump is more substantial in showing the franchise's health, and indicating just how much of an Avengers proxy this film is turning out to be. Of course, by their very nature, these films have to be front-loaded, and even the very good and well-received Avengers dropped by half in its second weekend. Thus, while Iron Man 3 may drop to around $70 million this weekend, that's by no means an indication of poor interest in the film. That will still put it at around $285 million by the end of the weekend, and with a good run at $500 million still possible.
And that will essentially be it for significant earning films, as no studios are willing to challenge May with middle-tier projects, leaving the April films to just dwindle away. Pain & Gain appears to be a bit of a flop at this point, heading towards a $50 million domestic tally, while 42 and Oblivion creep along towards $100 million, maybe. Matthew McConaughey's Mud continues its slow expansion, getting to over 800 venues this weekend, but its total earnings this frame should still be less than $3 million. For a smaller film, staying in the box office mix is decently impressive, though.