March's gaudy and remarkable box office bonanza will to some extent be repeated in April, with at least one enormous franchise movie. But first: a brief interlude.
Weekend Forecast for April 7-9. 2017
By Reagen Sulewski
April 7, 2017
Smurfs: The Lost Village is the highest profile new movie of this week, which is a depressing sentence to write under any circumstance. A full on reboot of the live-action/animation blend of the two Smurfs movies from earlier this decade, this version goes entirely animated for a story about everyone's favorite Belgian blue elf/troll/whatever funny-hatted creatures (Take that, the Snorks!). A stripped down version of the gigantic Smurf family sends a handful of the more recognizable Smurfs (Brainy, Clumsy, Hefty and naturally Smurfette) on a journey to follow a mysterious map that may hold secrets about the origins of the Smurfs (hint: see subtitle).
While there's obviously no live action talent to draw on, the voice cast does include some recognizable names and a few people who, while they aren't big stars, are actually decently talented and funny. Katy Perry is ditched as Smurfette for another pop star (Demi Lovato), while Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Mandy Patinkin and Rainn Wilson represent the voices of the characters that are being acknowledged openly. Then there's the cast that's not really featured strongly – with Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper, Ariel Winter, Meghan Trainor and ... Julia Roberts?!? as characters with some variation of “Smurf” in their name, which gives a larger hint as to what long standing question about Smurf sociology this movie's going to tackle.
However, it looks much more like an action-adventure family film, albeit one with small ambitions and lots of screaming from its characters. Somehow, this seems to pale in comparison to last fall's Trolls, especially when that film had Justin Timberlake songs to fall back on. It's also a franchise that's in a bit of a struggle – while 2011's version managed to fool some people into a $140 million domestic take, the second version just two years later earned half that, which is why we're getting this different, cheaper version. Then again, judging by the success of Boss Baby, people will buy just about anything in kids' entertainment. Still, with terrible reviews and a damaged brand, this should manage only about $19 million this weekend.
The “geezers on one last adventure” movie has a somewhat noble history, but also one filled with a bevy of tired, hackneyed ideas. Going In Style seems like a film that's much more to that latter side than the other, especially given that it's a remake of a film that's barely remembered in the first place. Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin star as a trio of golden years-ers who, when faced with the emptying of their pension plans and what they hoped would be a nest egg to leave to their families, decide to rob the bank that managed it. It's Hell or High Water, but with broken hip and constipation jokes. Directed by Zach Braff, of all people (though would anyone realistically turn down an opportunity to work with these three?), it's a lazy, sitcom-y looking film that seems to depend on the simplest possible jokes. I'm reminded here a bit of Last Vegas, a less crimey-involved version of this story, and at least had a modicum of good reviews. This is a film that critics are mostly teeing off on and offers little notion that there's anything great that the ads are hiding. I'd expect a fairly dismal $7 million this weekend.
The aforementioned Boss Baby was a surprise winner last weekend with $50 million, proving that everything sucks and we should just end it all. Still, we go on. Apparently the mere thought of Alec Baldwin voicing an Alec Baldwin-y baby is just the height of comedy, never mind the lack of jokes, plot or artistic reason for this film to exist. Facing direct competition in the family market from The Smurfs, it should still hold its own, with around $28 million this weekend.
It's a family-heavy market right now, with Beauty and the Beast entering its fourth weekend having crossed the $400 million milestone. Disney's most successful live action film that's not a Star War, it has validated the latest artistic direction of the Mouse House all by itself – certain to cross $500 million and may approach $550 million, depending on how quickly summer movies knock it off screens. Look for this to grab $25 million this weekend.
Ghost in the Shell was a noisy flop, with the Scarlett Johansson-starring adaptation of the famously impenetrable Japanese anime film opening to $18 million after a whitewashing of its characters and a machete taken to its plot. It's one of those curious moves that basically appealed to no one – fans already had their preferred version, and it would appear bizarre to the uninitiated. This should crash hard to around $7 million this weekend.
Another sort of adaptation from Japan, Power Rangers fell sharply in its second weekend after a solid $40 million debut. It's a remarkable effort to get it to even this level, one that's due to the ads taking the material quite a bit more seriously than might have been expected instead of the quicky knock-off that could have been. Still, it fell about two-thirds last weekend as it quickly exhausted its nostalgia factor. Give this about $5 million this weekend.