Spring is here and the box office is back to normal. January and February put Hollywood in critical condition, but then Captain Marvel came along to save the day. That was just the beginning as we got another huge hit in Us, followed by the underwhelming opening from Dumbo. As we get further into Spring, there are still plenty of pre-Endgame releases that should keep things interesting before Summer starts.
5 Ways to Prep for Spring
By George Rose
April 4, 2019
The good news is, the Winter drought has been followed by a roller coaster Spring and I’d love to dive deeper into each individual film. The bad news is, this is also one of two busy Comic Con seasons in my head and I’m STILL trying to find the words needed to fully capture my recent Monster Mania experience, not to mention two more April conventions that will cause a black hole of free time during the month. So to catch up on two recent movies I missed and three more potential hits before the Avengers return, we going to do one of my favorite 5 Ways staples… A LIGHTING ROUND!!! Get ready, friends, as we cram down five of Spring’s biggest releases!
US (March 22)
1) GET OUT (2017): Though it has no story connections to Us, it is the first and only other film directed by Jordan Peele. That makes it the best option to see how Peele has evolved in creating a film. Reviews and box office earnings so far suggest he’s no one-hit wonder. Though I haven’t had a chance to see it yet, I’m excited to eventually watch Peele’s latest classic.
2) BLACK PANTHER (2018): The two leads from Us (Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke) have worked together before, though they didn’t interact much. Still, it’s nice to see cast members collaborating with familiar faces and Peele was smart to hire such talented actors from such a massive blockbuster.
3) 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2013): Not that Lupita needs the help of former cast members to help draw a crowd, as all anyone should need to care about this Queen is knowledge of her Oscar victory for her work in this movie. Some reviews even suggest more awards attention for her to come from Us. Are more Oscars in store for Nyong’o and Peele?
4) HALLOWEEN (2018): Only one horror hit has opened above $100 million (IT) and only two other have opened higher than $70 million (Us and Halloween), which makes Michael Myers latest effort the closest comp to how Us can play out over the long term.
5) THE STRANGERS (2008): With its home invasion story and bagged-face killers, The Strangers seems closest to Us in terms of thrilling action but they likely deviate quite a bit by the time the credits roll. Us has also already more than doubled Strangers total after only two weeks in theaters so there’s that but, still, several reviews mention a relation to Strangers so it can hurt to see what the fuss is about.
DUMBO (March 29)
1) DUMBO (1941): It’ll be interesting to see how a one hour animated film is turned into a two hour live-action adventure, so watching the original is crucial. Especially if you want to see how much of the unfortunate racist undertones are carried over.
2) ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2010): Dumbo isn’t the first Disney update to have Tim Burton in the director's chair, though 3D novelty at the time helped Alice climb to gigantic heights. Dumbo isn’t looking to soar as high, which may mean this is the last Disney/Burton update to come for some time.
3) BATMAN RETURNS (1992): If you want to see a classic character updated for modern times with Burton behind the wheel, and Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito In starring roles, than your best bet is the brilliant return of Batman. This film has held up over time and remains one of the best in the superhero genre.
4) SAVING MR. BANKS (2013): If you want to see a behind-the-scenes story about Disney with Colin Farrell, about the troubles making a Mary Poppins movie, then this is the film for you. Disney loves going back in time but seldom does the walk down memory lane lead to billion dollar blockbuster riches. I’m still holding out that the Aladdin remake will get there but most think it won’t happen again until Lion King.
5) MARY POPPINS RETURNS (2018): This was where I was planning to recommend either Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children or Dark Shadows, as both started Eva Green in films directed by Burton. Instead, let’s look at another classic Disney update that underwhelmed at the box office. I guess some stories are just too old to update, though a $45 million start won’t help Dumbo much in reaching the $172 that Poppins struggled to make.
SHAZAM! (April 5)
1) AQUAMAN (2018): DC’s last effort proved that changing their movies to be more fun and less brooding is a surefire way to make Marvel-level money. Early reviews suggest Shazam is the best of the DC films so far and I’m hoping this means early box office expectations ($50 million debut, $150 million total) will get crushed.
2) ANT-MAN (2015): This is Marvel’s tiniest hero in terms of size and box office revenue. It’s $57 million debut and $180 million total are where many saw Shazam landing but im hearing more public interest for DC’s newest hero than I ever did for Marvel’s smallest star. At this point, I’d be surprised if Shazam earned less than Ant-Man’s $217 million grossing sequel.
3) BIG (1988): A young boy’s mind inside the body of a grown man? That formula worked for Tom Hanks in 1988, with the comedy classic earning $115 million. In 2019 dollars that’s $253 million. Given the reviews and early excitement from fans, I think Shazam can match those Big numbers and prove that DC has finally reached Marvel’s level of quality/earnings.
4) JACK (1996): Then again, not every grown man acting like a child can make a mint at the box office. Not even Robin Williams could turn this concept into comedy gold, as Jack only earned $59 million. In 2019 dollars, that’s still just $120 million. It’s a touch more than Glass made in January and where Dumbo might land after a that $45 million debut. Poor reviews hurt those films so it’s almost a certainty that Shazam flies higher.
5) CAPTAIN MARVEL (2019): Marvel took a hero most people never heard of and made a movie with decent reviews. Somehow, it still earned more than almost all other Marvel solo-feature debuts with over $150 million, despite the average opening being just under $100 million. Can great reviews help Shazam grow bigger than the average DC release? At this point, I see Shazam opening closer to Wonder Woman’s $103 million debut than Aquaman’s $68 million start, and Dumbo’s weak opening will help that happen.
PET SEMATARY (April 5)
1) PET SEMATARY (1989): When remaking a movie you should always watch the original first. The good news is early reviews a great and the change in gender for the child isn’t that big of a deal. The bad news is I haaaaated the original.
2) IT (2017): Though IT seems to show audience interest in Stephen King re-adaptations, early analysts suggests otherwise. My bet is that IT’s success was less about the story and more about the iconic clown. Without a horror legend to rally behind, audiences may be less inclined to bring Pet Sematary back from the dead.
3) THE OMEN (2006): 30 years after the original, The Omen was rebooted and went from a horror classic to just another common $50-ish million release. A three decade wait seems appropriate and a 6/6/06 release date was a perfect opportunity to revisit Satan’s son, but neither meant much to the audience as the modern update earned only $55 million. With a similar child murderer at the center, I fear a similar end result is in store for Pet Setary. It doesn’t help that Us is still doing great business.
4) TERMINATOR GENISYS (2015): Sequels and reboots and extended universes, OH MY! Since horror films tend to be cheap to make, they can be mid-level hits and still make money. Sci-fi action, on the other hand, can’t afford to miss. And if there’s one franchise that continues to miss but keeps on trying to reboot itself, it’s the undying machines of Terminator. Two great films were followed by three train wrecks, the most recent of which started Pet Sematary actor Jason Clarke. Terminator’s failing wasn’t his fault but he won’t help much to save the Sematary.
5) DUMBO (2019): When a Disney reboot/remake underwhelms, every other full studio should worry about their unoriginal properties. If a pet like Dumbo can barely get brought back to life, what hope is there for Stephen King’s killer kid? Dumbo and Pet Sematary are really just the foreplay before the Aladdin, Lion King and IT: Chapter 2 threesome extravaganza to come.
HELLBOY (April 12)
1) HELLBOY (2004): Oh look, ANOTHER reboot. Of the five movies we’re discussing for Spring 2019, three are reboots, one is based off a DC comic book, and only one is original. Of the three remakes, one waited eight decades, one waited three decades and Hellboy waited 15 years, but really only 11 since the sequel. Guess which one is expected to make the least amount of money?
2) THE DESCENT (2005): Just because you made a well reviewed horror movie a decade ago that’s under-appreciated (aka it didn’t make much money), doesn’t mean you have the credentials to remake a moderate hit from (also) only a decade ago. That’s what director Neil Marshall is trying to do and, sadly, all signs are pointing to another under-appropriated release.
3) STRANGER THINGS (2016 TV): For all the hype this show once received and all the merchandise for it I still see around different stores, I’ve only ever seen the first few episodes and I don’t know anyone who has really watched it, either. I do remember enjoying David Harbour’s character but, again, who watches that show and are they really following David’s career enough to watch Hellboy? Probably not, and I don’t imagined being sandwiched between Shazam and Avengers: Endgame is going to help.
4) THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012): Superheroes aren’t new but their reboots kind of are. Superman’s was decent, Batman’s was brilliant, and Spider-Man’s was… well we’re actually three reboots in for the web crawler. Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man was bearable, the MCU’s Homecoming was great and the animated Spider-Verse just won an Oscar. Hellboy will likely be most similar to Amazing in terms of lowered quality and earnings, especially given the “too soon reboot” nature of this beast. A similar 35% drop from original to reboot has the new Hellboy dropping from just under $60 million to just under $40 million.
5) RESIDENT EVIL (2002-2016): So we’ve got a director nobody knows and a TV star headlining a movie that nobody wanted rebooted. The only silver lining to all of this is Milla Jovovich, who starred in her own horror franchise for six films. Despite such an extended run in an iconic role, the films only earned between $27-60 million. If all earned as much or less than the first Hellboy, what help will she be in a reboot nobody asked for?
And with that, friends, we have bolted through the Spring 2019 lighting round of releases!!! That’s it, too, until Avengers: Endgame is released. Moving forward, next week I’ll finally get out the Monster Mania recap (OMG Neve Campbell was everything!!!), then I’ll recap the upcoming Great Philadelphia Comic Con (April 14), then I’ll obviously give Endgame its own 5 Ways to Prep (April 25), and then I’ll recap my very first Awesome Con (April 27), which is DC’s versions of Comic Con. After that, we’ll get back to regular 5 Ways articles as Summer bombards is with weekly releases of blockbuster hopefuls.