The idea of what constitutes an acceptable weekend to release a blockbuster should be well and truly demolished following this weekend, which has a May-like slate of just one wide release film, but one of the most highly anticipated and reviewed big budget films of the year. The April record may or may not fall, but it will provide us with an early start to some gaudy numbers in the box office charts.
Weekend Forecast for April 4-6, 2014
By Reagen Sulewski
April 4, 2014
With Marvel deciding to release approximately 17.3 films per year, it was bound to happen that there wouldn't be room in the “traditional” blockbuster seasons to release them all in. That was certainly the case when some of their Avengers lead up films were being established, and it still holds now that they're proven quantities. And of course we all understand that films can be successful at any time of year, right? Right.
Anyhow, that brings us to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which continues the build up to the next Avengers movie, and isn't it a strange thing to talk about a hundreds of millions of dollars-budgeted film as a lead up to something? A more jaded Cap still struggles to find his place in the modern world, with the notions of what makes the United States the “good guys” becoming more and more difficult to define. This sequel seems to take on something of a geopolitical thriller bent, drafting Cap into a morally muddy battle across world boundaries that don't even seem to make sense anymore, particularly in light of all those alien forces just sizing up Earth.
This isn't to say that it's aiming at being all talk, no action. In addition to the returning Marvel characters played by Sam Jackson and Scarlett Johansson, we have the introduction of Anthony Mackie as the Falcon, a wingsuited warrior fighting along side Captain America and S.H.I.E.L.D. Then we have perhaps the biggest “get” for a Marvel movie to date, with Robert Redford playing the leader of the World Security Council and the morally grey counterpart to Cap's rock solid ethics. Then of course, there's the Winter Soldier of the title, played by Sebastian Shaw, the character name of which will excite those in the know and I wouldn't dream of ruining it for those that don't. Suffice to say that this is Cap's major plot line in the comics outside of a potential Civil War movie which would be a hell of a thing to pull off.
Ads for the film have been spectacular, albeit fairly numerous and spoileriffic. This was teased in particular by the elevator scene, in which Cap single-handed takes out a crowded lift full of supposedly friendly agents. The trailer itself is full of three or four scenes that would qualify as the money shot for lesser films. ALL THE ACTION, apparently. The Russo brothers take over the directing duties, making the jump from their mostly small-screen resume to huge budget films. They've apparently done a great job, with reviews putting it as the best Marvel movie outside of The Avengers and the first Iron Man.
Going by the jump from Thor to Thor: The Dark World, Winter Soldier should launch this sub-franchise well above the $65 million of its debut. I'd look for a weekend take of $92 million.
And that's all she wrote for new wide releases, which brings us to last week's champ, Noah. The film apparently won the weekend on its own merits and without appealing to specifically religious audiences, who found its generic treatment of religion off-putting. Treating it as a straight up story of an ancient flood and an obsession seemed to work, to the tune of $42 million, but without that specific religious audience support, it will probably fail to hold over well. About $24 million for this weekend seems right.
Divergent performed fairly typically for a teen supported film, dropping by a little more than half to $25 million, although it will have just flipped over the $100 million milestone by the time you read this. There's still room for improvement in the potential finances for this film in later editions, but at this point, we can count it among the successes, even with little to no legs. Give it $13 million this weekend.
Muppets Most Wanted isn't blowing off the doors of multiplexes, but another $8 million this weekend should push it towards a $70 million or so final figure, which could justify more movies in the series if the budgets are kept low.
Arguably the story of the last couple of weeks has been a couple of expanding films, God's Not Dead and The Grand Budapest Hotel, which continue adding screens this weekend. Both have a little more than $20 million in the bank after about $8 million last week, but that's really where their comparisons end in terms of style. They've both reached the point where adding screens isn't really bringing them to new markets, meaning we should see some declines in that release strategy. Give both around $6 million this frame.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman should see a similar amount this weekend, as it also crosses the $100 million mark. It's been an exceptionally strong early year slate, and this will be the fifth (or sixth, if something amazing happens with Captain America) film to cross into nine-figures domestically so far in 2014.