Although February has often been unfairly been called a month where box office goes to die (see for instance, The LEGO Movie), it's hard to blame those calls when you see a week like this, where the B-Team (to be generous) comes out to play.
Weekend Forecast for February 21-23, 2014
By Reagen Sulewski
February 21, 2014
Leading the way, if we are being generous with that term, is Pompeii, which seems to be simultaneously ripping off Titanic and Gladiator, while at the same time looking like a fake movie from Seinfeld. Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, (who is exactly the low budget James Cameron, so that's at least accurate), it stars Kit Harington of Game of Thrones as a former-slave turned-gladiator in love with a Roman socialite played by Emily Browning. Since she's engaged to a Senator, this is a bit of a problem. And then there's that constantly smoking volcano in the distance...
Based on the famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which buried the Roman town of Pompeii for thousands of years (and which indirectly started the field of archaeology), it's a goofy bit of romance attached onto an excuse to try out some of those nifty new volcano effects in that effects software the studio just bought. In between scenes of utter destruction, we have extraneous fighting scenes and people just standing around while hot lava rains down on them as you think “JUST RUN ALREADY!” It's the original “rocks fall, everyone dies.”
Also featuring Jared Harris, Carrie-Anne Moss and Kiefer Sutherland as the least convincing Roman since John Wayne, Pompeii looks high on the melodrama and pretty 'splosions and low on the good part. This might be the biggest example of “When are they going to get to the fireworks factory!” in a movie in ages, and I suspect the box office will suffer for that fact. I'm reminded of Anderson's last foray into classical storytelling, The Three Musketeers, which was also both ridiculous and poorly received by audiences. That opened to about $8 million; the more relatable premise here might boost Pompeii up to about $12 million.
Kevin Costner's slow return to respectability may or may not continue with 3 Days to Kill, which feels just like a Luc Besson premise, and hey look at that, it is! Hoping to do for him what Taken did for Liam Neeson, the movie stars him as a Secret Service agent with a fatal condition, who is offered an experimental drug in exchange for apply his “particular set of skills” in an assassination assignment in Paris. Meanwhile, he has his estranged teenage daughter in tow. When does Mr. Roper show up?
Directed by the slowly dying career of McG, it also stars Amber Heard, Hailee Stanfield, Connie Nielsen, and a group of people I'm sure are really big deals in Europe. The action looks ... OK, but seems filled with lots of chaotic smashes and crashes that create more of a simulacrum of action that actual excitement. Filmed cheaply (good), it should do decently in international markets, where Costner may still enjoy a decent reputation, but here it should debut to about $7 million.
Thus, we are left with The LEGO Movie to win a third straight weekend at the box office. I can think of worse fates. Grossing almost $50 million in its second weekend, it is cruising along towards a no-longer-crazy-to-talk-about possibility of $300 million. That's if these legs hold up, which they may not to quite this degree, since it was buoyed slightly by Valentine's Day (though not to same amount as other films last weekend). It should fall this weekend to a still healthy $31 million.
Definitely helped along by Valentine's Day was About Last Night, which earned $12 million on that day alone along the way to nearly $26 million on the weekend. That also means it has the farther to fall, but whatever. Doesn't matter, still got paid. It's definitely the case that we have to deal with Kevin Hart as a box office draw in whatever he appears in for the foreseeable future. Give it $12 million this weekend.
RoboCop was a surprisingly strong third at $21 million, given its poor reviews and literal reboot nature. Beloved '80s action movies have not necessarily fared all that well as remakes, so the fact that this one did decently, if not spectacularly, is notable. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they appear to have had an actual reason to remake it. Maybe it's just The Killing fans showing their weary faces looking for a more positive piece of entertainment. At any rate, that's a solid opening, even if it won't hold up. Look for $10 million this weekend.
The Monuments Men has defied the odds a little, with its poor reviews and shunting out of awards season, to earn about $50 million so far. Remarkably, that makes it far and away George Clooney's most successful film as a director. Its $15 million take last weekend should turn into about $9 million this frame.
Finally, we have Endless Love (or perhaps Endwess Wuv?), which perhaps benefited more from February 14th than any other film last weekend, earning more than half its total on Friday. The teen-focused romance should fall precipitously without that support this weekend, to around $5 million.