March 2015 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
March 6, 2015
March 2014 was a rarity as far as Marches go, in that none of its films outgrossed the biggest earners of both February (The LEGO Movie) or April (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), though native son Divergent at least eked out a mild win over January's Ride Along. 2015 looks to continue the tradition, with none of this March's would-be blockbusters being likely to overcome Fifty Shades of Grey (February), the upcoming Furious 7 (April), and, in particular, American Sniper (which, for argument's sake, we'll naturalize as a January release, though it was really born in December. It even grossed at least 1.3 million of its 300+ million dollars then!).
March week-to-week openers still look stronger than any other early year month. But it seems like studios are keeping the real biggies out.
1. The Divergent Series: Insurgent (March 20th)
The first film in this soon-to-be quadrilogy somewhat surprisingly won last March's box office sweepstakes, thereby single-handedly reversing the 2013 tide of failed young adult adaptations (thanks, Shailene). Divergent opened big, it had relatively solid legs, and its target audience, of which I am evidently not a member, seems to have enjoyed it. There's no particular reason to think franchise fatigue will set in the second time around. Needing no lengthy introductions or world-building this time, the film looks lively enough, with promotional material highlighting the action elements, and a more tolerable running time of 119 minutes (a merciful 20 less than the last go-around; don't spend it all at once). The presence of Oscar-oriented actresses Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, and Octavia Spencer in some key roles probably won't do much for the bottom line. What might help, though, is the higher profile that series stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort now enjoy because of their other joint venture, The Fault in Our Stars. While some mild spillover audience may attend, there's likely a ceiling on this enterprise, and splitting the third and final book into two parts might cost this series some annual income, as it did the last Hunger Games movie. The total numbers for both series ought to be higher as a result, of course, making the splitting strategy essentially impossible to scowl at from a box office perspective (I speak only for myself).
Opening weekend: $71 million / Total gross: $153 million
2. Cinderella (March 13th)
Betting on a sure thing, Disney brings us yet another adaptation of a classic fairytale. The film's obvious antecedent and inspiration, Alice in Wonderland, was a starling success, but it had Tim Burton at the helm and Johnny Depp helping steer, while the studio's other big fairy tale winner, Maleficent, was a non-traditional adaptation buoyed by Angelina Jolie's star power and a relatively weak summer for family films. Cinderella has no particularly strong draws in the cast (though director Kenneth Brannagh has successfully helmed two Shakespeare adaptations - Henry V and Thor), and it may experience some fairy tale film fatigue (although I have no particular evidence that this is the case). Still, Disney is Disney, and if the film is liked enough, it might stage an insurgency of its own against the name currently at #1 on this forecast.
Opening weekend: $43 million / Total gross: $135 million