February 2015 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

February 5, 2015

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8. McFarland, USA (February 20th)
Kevin Costner has been churning out many middle-of-the-road star vehicles lately (some of them are quite good - see the well-written Draft Day). McFarland's the first cross country film in the filmography of Costner, who has headlined movies about almost every sport (does Dances With Wolves qualify as archery?). The film's original release date of November is better suited for this kind of feel-good story, although the Disney machine behind McFarland is out to move it to numbers that at least somewhat resemble their own Million Dollar Arm from last summer.

Opening weekend: $13 million / Total gross: $35 million

9. The Duff (February 20th)
This light comedy seems determined to introduce a new term into the lexicon, and indeed, many people are perhaps unfamiliar with what a "Duff" is (ask someone in Fifty Shades to explain it to you - just kidding, I think). All humor aside, it's entirely possible that The Duff will be very well reviewed, but as a teen film with largely unknown actors, it has an uphill box office climb to make. The high school genre, which last truly flourished around 1999, has produced few hit films in the last decade. Star Mae Whitman does seem to follow naturally in the footsteps of Zoey Deschanel, Aubrey Plaza, and other leads of vaguely indiesh films about high school and college students. So as far as vaguely indiesh goes, The Duff shouldn't do too badly at all.

Opening weekend: $8 million / Total gross: $25 million


10. The Lazarus Effect (February 27th)
Here's what looks like the month's token horror film - albeit not filmed in shaky-cam style, thank heavens - about medical students dabbling in resurrection of the dead and other forms of unpleasantness (yes, shades of Flatliners). The Lazarus Effect does have an intriguing cast (Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Evan Peters, and, in his biggest film role yet, Donald Glover), but it's out on a weekend that's often treated as a wash with studios, and the film seems unlikely to change that tradition.

Opening weekend: $7 million / Total gross: $20 million

Also on the release schedule are two films I've already seen: David Cronenberg's Hollywood-set Maps to the Stars, which plays as hilarious, stone-faced, gothic melodrama, and The Last Five Years, an unpretentious and amusing musical starring Anna Kendrick, who's done her fair share of singing on film. Despite the name actors and pedigree (Julianne Moore earned raves for the Cronenberg film), I doubt either movie will crack wide release, but they're worth seeing.

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