February 2016 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
February 4, 2016
7. Eddie the Eagle (February 26th)
Eddie is actually human. He's Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards, a British skier who accomplished numerous athletic feats in the 1988 Olympics and elsewhere (I'd tell you exactly how well he did, but I don't want to spoil the movie). Eddie's film is headlined by Taron Egerton, who got some nice traction carrying last February's Kingsman to well over $100 million, and the film also contains within its cast Christopher Walken and Hugh Jackman, the latter of whom is clearly willing and able to play supporting roles opposite young and less-tested leads (see his atypical villain role in Chappie last year, if for no other reason than to prove that sentence right).
So, the cast and the thus far positive reviews should give the film some recognition, even if the subject matter of a British athlete's fight for glory might still be a tough sell on American shores, all these years after Chariots of Fire. Posters of Eddie and his skis astride Hugh Jackman's presumably moving pick-up truck ought to confuse audiences as to what the film is all about (they still confuse me as well, and I wrote this paragraph).
Opening weekend: $11 million / Total gross: $35 million
8. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (February 5th)
I've always had just about the same nagging question as I sat and watched any number of Jane Austen and Austen-esque costume dramas: in those films, why is it that we never saw the characters encounter and interact with mastodons, triceratopses, stegosauruses, and all the other prehistoric creatures that Austen's protagonists surely would have encountered during the story's time setting? (Did they just not have the budget for special effects?). This adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's parody novel doesn't exactly answer my question, but it does add a little extra flavor to Austen's oft-told tale of unrequited love, which has inspired countless adaptations, not least of which was the modernization Bridget Jones's Diary. This edition doesn't quite do something as radical as cast a Texan as a modern-day Austen lead (as Bridget Jones did), but it does add combatting the ravenous undead as an additional plot point in the life of lovelorn heroine Elizabeth Bennett.
Star Lily James headlined another not-quite-period piece, Cinderella, last year, and between that and her role on Downton Abbey, she's got more than enough credentials to carry this iteration. The supporting actor list is chock-full of British thespians, some of whom have probably already played these roles before in zombie-less incarnations of the same material (they've been deprived until now), and one of the producers is no less than Natalie Portman, who we can now reasonably ascertain has at least a fair sense of humor.
People do seem to like zombies, but whether these same audiences can stomach taking a zombie film and adding some Jane Austen to it is a harder bet to place. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a novelty and will play as one, but I suspect there'll be enough interested parties to give it a decent-sized audience, especially if they're reminded that if the film does well, we will surely get a cinematic adaptation of its sequel: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.
Opening weekend: $13 million / Total gross: $32 million