The “Blockbusters Anytime” philosophy comes to April, as the Easter weekend brings another installment from one of the most unlikely mega-franchises of all time.
Weekend Forecast for April 3-5, 2015
By Reagen Sulewski
April 3, 2015
Furious 7 is the latest entry in the car-racing/heist/whatever the hell they want it to be series, which has had one of the strangest trajectories in cinema history. Starting out as a note-for-note Point Break rip-off, but with cars instead of surfboards, it dropped heavily through its first two modestly genre-hopping sequels, surviving mostly on international success. Then Vin “Human Subwoofer” Diesel decided he needed a return to basics after his non-action career didn't really work out, and things jumped into ridiculousness. The $71 million opening of Fast & Furious turned heads and secured funding and new actors for the series, which busily set out retconning its various threads into one semi-coherent mythos, all surrounded by driving cars really fast into things. One half expected them to start using cars to perform open-heart surgery.
The addition of Dwayne Johnson in the fifth film took things to a heretofore unknown level, both in action and box office, and was the first in the series to top $200 million domestic. Arriving at the right time for the explosion in international box office, it ended up over $600 million in final proceeds. The sixth film basically left reality behind in its plotting, and showed that its up-leveling was not yet complete, hitting nearly $800 million internationally.
The seventh entry however, is tinged by a sense of tribute and melancholy thanks to the tragic (and, let's face it, preventable) death of Paul Walker in a car crash during filming, but not on the set of the film. After some time to regroup, since this appears to be a cast that is legitimately close, filming was continued with a mix of body doubles (including Walker's brothers) and some CGI to give Walker an appropriate sendoff. The film itself has raised its stakes to ridiculous heights, becoming something like a latter-day Die Hard movie mixed with Ocean's Eleven, if Clooney and Pitt tried to rob a casino with a muscle car. Ballooning the cast yet again, it adds Jason Statham as the big bad, the brother of the kingpin the gang dispatched in the last film, who starts coming after them for revenge. And *then* Kurt Russell's character, another new addition, sides with Diesel and company to protect them if they do some elaborate job for him and things go really out of control and suddenly someone's jumping a sports car from one skyscraper to another.
Marketing for the film has reached a “screw it, throw it in, see how it does” point, with just about every character getting a bit of a moment in the trailers, from the aforementioned skyscraper jump, to the now-absurdly proportioned Johnson firing a gun shooting bullets the size of small dogs. There's no development or scene too ridiculous for this franchise – and it's probably done it some good, as reviews have eventually come around on the series (although 2 Fast 2 Furious remains one of the worst films of the last decade or so) – of course, it's one that's entirely review-proof. The question here is just how high is the ceiling for the film? It's difficult to say, except to note that over $100 million is certain – and then you can start throwing darts at numbers above that. When you reach cultural phenomenon status like this has, just about anything is possible. For this weekend, let's say it's going to hit around $125 million.
This leaves last weekend's new films, Home and Get Hard, strong openers in their own rights, in the dust. DreamWorks' Home, one of its last as an independent animation studio, opened to $52 million, in a bit of a surprise for the mediocre-looking film. With a dearth of family entertainment, it was Johnny-on-the-spot in an “eh, good enough” sense. Legs should be minimal relative to other family entertainment, and this second weekend should see it bring in $30 million.
Meanwhile, the Ferrell/Hart collaboration Get Hard started with nearly $34 million, a great number for both of its leading men. Comedy can be a tricky animal as far as second and third weekends go, as it's one of the genres which can really inspire word-of-mouth. With fans of both its stars as passionate as they are, it's hard to imagine many of them missing out on this film in its first weekend, and I'd say we're looking for a drop to about $18 million.
Insurgent, the second Divergent film, shed about 60% of its business in week 2, but with its strong start, should still be able to hit a respectable $135 million for its final number, and somewhat legitimize the decision to go for a fauxlogy of films about this YA book series. Give it $11 million this weekend.
Lastly, in terms of relevance, we have Cinderella, which hit the $150 million mark just after its third weekend. Disney's latest live action modernization of one of its core properties – already inspiring numerous others including the just-this-week-announced Winnie the Pooh (the horror, the horror) – should hit about $175 million in the final figures, this week bringing in $9 million.