By David Mumpower
April 15, 2011
Having waited 11 years, this lack of people to kill presents less of a challenge now. Scream 4 introduces a new cast of hip, young Hollywood talent, many of whom are either well known or becoming well known. Kristen Bell has become Disney’s go-to actress in mediocre romantic comedies while her former Heroes co-star Hayden Panettiere tried to throw under Bell’s When in Rome with I Love You, Beth Cooper. Anna Paquin has a thing for vampires…and the actors who portray them. Lucy Hale is a Pretty Little Liar, Emma Roberts runs a Hotel for Dogs, Alison Brie is a part of everyone’s favorite Community, and Aimee Teegarden needs the work now that Friday Night Lights has wrapped.
What do all of these actresses have in common? They will either be killed now or killed later. The current plan for the re-launch of the Scream franchise is for this to be a trilogy as well. If only three people from Scream survived all the way through Scream 3, well, I wouldn’t play those odds at a table in Vegas. The real question this weekend is whether teen kids today know enough about the Scream franchise to be curious about seeing a new entry in a 15-year-old franchise. My suspicion is yes. Released in 3,305 theaters, I am expecting a per-location average of just under $10,000 for the return of the best horror franchise of the 1990s. Scream 4 should wind up around $32 million.
Now then, back to the Angry Birds. Okay, technically Rio features none of them although that hasn’t stopped Fox and their friends at Blue Sky Animation from cozying up to the uber-popular app game. This has built awareness for the latest project from the animators who brought the world Ice Age, Ice Age: The Meltdown and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. They also released Robots and Horton Hears a Who. This is like when a parent brags about their straight-A student getting a job at NASA then mumbles something about one of their other kids getting off with probation/time served. Even so, the reality for this upstart animation studio is that they have created five films to date. The worst of these in terms of box office performance earned $260 million worldwide. Stating the obvious, Rio has impeccable bloodlines.
The other positive Rio has going for it is that we are in the middle of an unprecedented run of quality animation releases over the past 16 months or so. 2010 saw the release of Tangled, Toy Story 3, Despicable Me, How to Train Your Dragon and Megamind. 2011 has featured Gnomeo and Juliet and Hop, neither of which is on a par with the 2010 titles in terms of quality. They have, however, been solid box office performers that have sustained interest in the genre. Rio is clearly a notch above these two films, which opened to $25.4 million and $37.5 million respectively. I don’t think I am going too far out on a limb to forecast an opening weekend of around $43 million for Rio followed by very strong legs. It is well reviewed and features a lot of musical numbers, the magic formula for the sustained popularity of animated hits.