April 2015 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

April 2, 2015

Who let Jason Statham on the set?

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2. The Longest Ride (April 10th)

While the title alone sounds glaringly like a Fast and Furious parody (and indeed, having a film called The Longest Ride released a week after Furious 7 borders on ironic), this is actually another from the Nicholas Sparks factory. It follows more or less in the release plan of The Lucky One from 2012, although the last Sparks picture, The Best of Me, showed that his Southern-set romance brand is not commercially infallible. This film's leads are not big draws - yet - but there's a nice aura of rising stardom emanating from Britt Robertson (soon headlining Tomorrowland) and Scott Eastwood (the surname is vaguely familiar), and even from supporting players Jack Huston (soon to star in, and as, both Ben-Hur and The Crow) and Oona Chaplin (yes, three of these actors' surnames sound very familiar indeed). For those who like this sort of film, the movie should play as respectable counterprogramming (and it's got its release date all to itself). For those who hate Sparks' output, The Longest Ride will surely confirm their worst fears.

Opening weekend: $19 million / Total gross: $50 million


3. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (April 17th)

Yes, this is going to be another box office history lesson, but the occasion calls for it: on a late December day in 2008, as I hunkered down safely to watch Adam Sandler's sainted film Bedtime Stories, the movie screen filled with a trailer for a film called, directly enough, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and scheduled for release in mid January. I predicted to myself right there and then that Paul Blart would gross something like $4 million (by the time it left theaters). No, I'm not kidding. I don't think I was being unreasonable. It was a good prediction. Then came the onslaught of January 2009 box office, which in its entirety is hard to explain (see also Gran Torino and Taken), with Kevin James's first film as solo lead standing above the month's rest as a titan, grossing $146 million without any conceivable explanation. I'm sure sturdy box office analysts have tried to make sense of it. I reject their reasoning, whatever it is, as insufficient. And to this day, I rank Mr. Blart as among the five biggest surprises in my history as a box office observer.

So here we are, over six years later, and what have we done? Kevin James, whose filmography subsequent to Blart has been hit-or-miss, finally reprises what has become his signature film character. The sequel doesn't seem to be particularly anticipated by a huge host of people, but then again I've been wrong here from the start. Can we say, however, that the magic-in-the-bottle that enchanted the moviegoing population in January 2009 has long-ago subsided? Can we use logic and common sense in forecasting Paul Blart box office this time around, or must we once again surrender to the unknown? And speaking of which, does the Avengers sequel stand a chance of outgrossing Paul Blart Part 2? Any at all? At least internationally? Furious 7 is a sure thing. But Paul Blart 2 is the real question of the day.

Opening weekend: $17 million / Total gross: $45 million
(just kidding. Actual prediction: Opening weekend: $784 million / Total gross: $2.5 billion)

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