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February 2016 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

February 4, 2016

Don't you want me, baby?

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It's a lively February, with a pair of big-budget action blockbusters, two sports biopics, some material that's just more topical for Valentine's Day, and a book adaptation that might at last get Jane Austen just right.

1. Deadpool (February 12th)
The first of many, many, many superhero films set to launch at the screen in 2016 is this Ryan Reynolds vehicle, a Marvel Comics adaptation from Fox, about the foul-mouthed, anti-heroic assassin and mercenary who's not exactly a traditional leading man, as the advertising often reminds us. It's also the film pre-anointed by the powers that be as the month's biggest, and that's not hard to believe: after Kingsman cleaned up on the 13th of February last year, it's clear that R-rated comedic action bloodletting plays unsurprisingly well over the Valentine's Day weekend (everyone's just in the mood for it). Early tracking, which I generally ignore and never ever mention out of general principle, has Deadpool polling at an above $50 million opening, which seems high but is probably no longer implausible.

Reynolds has headlined some really big movies like The Proposal and Safe House, and starred in a few smaller ones (last year's Woman in Gold was underrated); here he sports a mask for much of the film's length, all the better to hide his character's face, which has been mangled beyond recognition in some kind of unfortunate and unavoidable chemical treatment. Reynolds debuted the role back in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), one of the least beloved of the X-Men pictures, but any qualms about that film seem to have generally disappeared from the public's memory in anticipation for this one.

And there are memorable supporting actors along for the ride, including the intimidating Gina Carano, the fetching Morena Baccarin, and perennial comic relief figure T. J. Miller, who spends much too much time in the trailer commenting on Deadpool's deformed, mangled, grotesque, repulsive, face. Deadpool won't, or can't, or maybe it can, open quite as high as Fifty Shades did on the same slot last year, but it should still easily win the month.

Opening weekend: $58 million / Total gross: $151 million




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2. Zoolander 2 (February 12th)
In the tradition of Anchorman: the Legend Continues, here is a much-awaited, oft-announced, even oftener-pushed back, comedic sequel that has, to the disbelief of many, indeed finally been written, filmed, advertised, and slated for release. The original Zoolander came at the beginning of Ben Stiller's run as one of the biggest box office stars of the 2000s (it succeeded Meet the Parents and preceded his big 2004 slate).
Now, his Fockers and Museum franchises seemingly behind him, Stiller returns to the well of another potential sequel factory, and it makes a certain kind of sense to pick this one: quality-wise, the original was an okay parody that has somehow gained increasing stature year after year (and it's been 14 years!).

Much of the first film's cast is back, including Owen Wilson, and Will Ferrell's brilliantly-named Jacobim Mugatu, while new faces include Penelope Cruz, as what looks like the female lead, and Kristen Wiig, the latter totally unrecognizable as a truly frightening villain who looks like a particularly satanic Miley Cyrus. The raft of name cameos, hinted at in the trailers, must be here as well.

Zoolander the first made $45 million, and just how much higher the sequel will go, I do not know. The most ambitious of blueprints must be that of another irreverent parody, Austin Powers, which went from a $53 million-grossing original to a sequel that pulled in nearly in four times as much. It's tough to put a finger on the pulse of this film's fans; if they're numerous enough, they might just give the month its second $100 million film.

Opening weekend: $45 million / Total gross: $105 million


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