Weekend Forecast for January 23-25, 2015
By Reagen Sulewski
January 23, 2015
So that happened. One of the strangest events in recent box office history occurred last weekend, and still Hollywood insists on releasing new movies, as if we want to talk about them, and not the Great Box Office Quake of '15. Sigh. Let's oblige them, I guess.
Leading the way of the trio of wide releases, at least in star power, is Mortdecai, an art-theft detective caper headlined by Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Ewan McGregor and Olivia Munn. Depp is doing his level best Peter Sellers impression as a fey detective (with a ridiculous mustache) in search of a painting that may have a link to lost Nazi gold. Between the accent, the facial hair and the mincing, that's basically the entire joke of the film, and that's asking a lot from viewers. If your comedy circuits are wired in a particular way, this probably gives you a nice zap, but it's going to be firing at a mighty small segment of the population that's willing to put up with absurdist farce.
Of course, Depp might bring along his own fans too, which is likely the reason this was made. In the past decade or so, he's run the gamut from mega-box office/critical acclaim (Pirates of the Caribbean), through mega box-office/terrible reviews (Alice in Wonderland), low-box office/critical acclaim (Finding Neverland) and on to just straight up flops (Transcendence, The Lone Ranger, Dark Shadows). Worryingly, it's been increasingly more frequent to find that last category of films in his repertoire, as the creative freedom he's earned from the Pirates films has led to awful creative decisions. Hence Pirates 5, I suppose.
Mortdecai has resulted in some of the worst reviews of Depp's career, and has the potential to be a lead weight around his neck for future projects. That director David Koepp was responsible for Depp's first big post-Pirates disappointment, Secret Window, likely doesn't help things, though he's largely anonymous in this, perhaps to his great relief. This reminds me to some degree of Steve Martin's attempt to relaunch the Pink Panther franchise, but without brand recognition. I'd expect maybe $11 million this weekend.
Thriller The Boy Next Door is next, starring Jennifer Lopez as a high school teacher who finds an attraction with a younger man only to – surprise – find he's enrolled in her class and now stalking her after she decides their dalliance was a mistake. The film does gymnastics that Michael Bay would be proud of to make that initial encounter legal (not to mention having a 28(!) year old play the teenager), but then proceeds to run through every other thriller cliche possible.
While I would have liked to have seen the epic rochambeau match between Lopez, Halle Berry and Jennifer Aniston for this role, the film itself looks to be entirely pointless, a Lifetime movie that escaped onto theaters. It's been about 10 years since the last Lopez film you could rightly call a hit (and no, voice performances don't count), and it's questionable just how much of a star you could really call her. Her double career as a singer and an actress has certainly been lucrative for her, but hasn't yielded more than a couple of real notable films in box office terms. What's a name worth for movies when it can't open a movie? Dumped in the mire of January, this should find about $9 million worth of business.