January 2016 Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
January 7, 2016
8. The 5th Wave (January 22nd)
The latest gaggle of mal-intentioned invaders from outer space ransacks earth, and the only one who could possibly stand in their way is Chloë Grace Moretz (…that doesn't sound right somehow, but she's packing what looks like a semi-automatic on one of the posters, so maybe). What looks to be another of the month's mid-level genre titles is this adaptation of a 2013 young adult sci-fi novel of the same name, a hoped-for franchise-starter about teenagers in a world that has again lapsed into a post-apocalyptic setting. Moretz previously carried another successful young adult adaptation, If I Stay, a surprise hit in August 2014 that took in a more-than-respectable $50 million total, and there are other rising actors here, like Nick Robinson of Jurassic World and Maika Monroe, who fought off that yucky creature in It Follows. Looking at the big pond that The 5th Wave inhabits, one can see that the young adult genre successfully recovered from its 2013 slump in 2014, though all three 2015 sequels to 2014 YA films (Divergent, Maze Runner, Hunger Games) finished on the lower ends of various expectations. The 5th Wave somewhat recalls another alien invasion tale with young actors, Stephenie Meyer's The Host, which fluttered through 2013 without connecting, so I'll be modest in my prediction, although it's entirely possible I'm undercounting this film's target audience (who may well number in the many millions, for all I know).
Opening weekend: $13 million / Total gross: $29 million
9. Fifty Shades of Black (January 29th)
Obvious joke, but it’s still a funny title. This parody stars Marlon Wayans, who with some of his Wayans siblings had previously spearheaded Scary Movie to success, and has since quietly etched out a niche of almost underground spoof films. This is the third one in as many years, following right behind A Haunted House, which had some very funny scenes and somehow opened above Gangster Squad in January 2013, and the thereafter-inevitable A Haunted House 2, which was much more of a blimp a little over a year later. The target of the parody this time is obvious, though it's Wayans' bad luck there isn't a new Fifty Shades sequel opening this year (if there’s any justice, some of that franchise’s fans will mistake this for a new entry and readily attend). Wayans must have developed a somewhat consistently loyal audience by now, and if enough of them turn out, this de-facto Haunted House sequel ought to come in somewhere in between his last two spoofs.
Opening weekend: $14 million / Total gross: $27 million
10. The Boy (January 22nd)
The month’s second horror film also carries a distinctly creepy premise, about a childlike porcelain figurine that may not be totally inanimate. In its story of an entrepreneurial 20-something perusing an unhygienic British mansion inhabited by supernatural phenomena, The Boy recalls Daniel Radcliffe's The Woman in Black, a film whose success The Boy would surely be happy to replicate. These PG-13 horror films called "The" are getting hard to predict just right (The Visit did very well just recently), but The Boy doesn't have the release date advantage of The Forest, which is first-past-the gate this year. Still, that memorably frightening doll is prominent in the marketing, and a successful and ubiquitous advertising campaign over the next few weeks is all it would take to double the numbers I'm scribbling down for it right now.
Opening weekend: $11 million / Total gross: $26 million
11. Jane Got a Gun (January 29th)
This western was spearheaded to the screen by Natalie Portman, who stars alongside Ewan McGregor, Joel Edgerton, and other notables. Jane Got a Gun is actually Portman's first lead role in a major film since all the way back to No Strings Attached five years ago, not counting a Thor or two in between. She may have been missed, and while many westerns have broken out to spectacular numbers in the last 20 years (and The Hateful Eight is doing pretty well, too), I'm not sure how big the incoming audience is this time. As its title doesn’t hesitate to imply, there's a sort of feminist bent at play, rare for the genre outside of films like 1994's Bad Girls, and that's notable. But barring strong reviews or a feverish marketing push, either of which could be in the cards, it's hard to slot the film anywhere else but #11.
Opening weekend: $8 million / Total gross: $24 million