March 2011 Preview

By Michael Lynderey

March 4, 2011

Lizards, cats and owls, living together.

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Here's a month that's not nearly as littered with obvious blockbusters as last year, when How to Train Your Dragon and Alice in Wonderland exploded their 3D profitability over the unsuspecting marketplace. We've got Rango and Moms for the CGI crowd (you know who you are and what you've done), Sucker Punch and Battle: Los Angeles for the special effects lovers (and for me), and a plethora of other smatterings for anyone else who might be interested in buying a ticket for something, maybe just to say you did. But $200 million grossers? Wait 'til May.

1. Rango (March 4th)

The month's token animated extravaganza (okay, one of the month's two token animated extravaganzas). It's the second foray into voice performery for Johnny Depp, after the Corpse Bride, and as such, it's an indubitable attempt to market a CGI epic on traditional movie star power. As always, critics just loved it, and one might think audiences will too, even though some of the characters have a distinctly unpleasant look to them. With the year in box office not producing much in the way of outright blockbusters, the movie world is very much ready to be conquered, even by a film that doesn't seem to have been born with many hefty credentials. But that lack of competition is key.

Opening weekend: $47 million / Total gross: $133 million


2. Battle: Los Angeles (March 11th)

Nameless, faceless, unfairly stereotyped but presumably malintentioned foreigners from outer space arrive in Los Angeles yet again, apparently unaware that repeated and persistent attempts to conquer the earth had been unsuccessfully carried out by their compatriots from all over the galaxy (the way L.A. is looking at the beginning of the picture, it would seem like somebody already cleaned up after the invasion in Skyline). And so, what do these malnourished interlopers from above and beyond the stars bring to the table this time? Giant robotic monsters constructed out of paper machete? Vaguely dinosauric mutant porcupines with a lust for a good gourmet dinner at an affordable price? Perhaps they wish to eliminate many adverbs and adjectives from the language? (uh oh!). We don't know, and indeed questions like the above are ones that audiences will attend the picture to resolve. There may be other reasons, a few, like a decent trailer and a marketplace bereft of outright action pictures. But I don't know about that March 11th date. There's a reason aliens always invade in the summer, and it's not because Aaron Eckhart revs up a mean barbecue on the 4th of July weekend.

Opening weekend: $45 million / Total gross: $99 million

3. Mars Needs Moms (March 11th)
Faceless, nameless, presumably malintentioned but unfairly stereotyped foreigners from outer space arrive in Johnson County, Wyoming*, apparently unaware that persistent and repeated attempts by their interplanetary compatriots to abduct earth women had resulted in bloody noses and unpleasant bar tabs. Here's Mars Needs Moms for ya, coming in just a week after another CGI extravaganza, and a month before Rio topples its 3D screens. The title is fun, though, and the idea is just loopy enough to be memorable. Still, the real questions with these pictures always seem to be about the $100 million dollar mark (at least to me, they are), and I'm saying no on this one. I always get the answer to that question wrong, though, so don't make much of it.

Opening weekend: $30 million / Total gross: $80 million

*Is the movie really set in Johnson County, Wyoming? Probably not.

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