March 2016 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
March 4, 2016
2. Zootopia (March 4th)
Probably the most surefire non-DC Comics hit of the month is this latest Disney CGI animation, a movie whose animals-run-amok plotline seems more than vaguely reminiscent of the upcoming The Secret Life of Pets. In that film, the animals rule only behind the scenes; here, they run the whole show. Zootopia's voice cast is led by Jason Bateman and the newly-prolific Ginnifer Goodwin, along with some out-of-the-box supporting actors like Idris Elba and J.K. Simmons. That the film will be successful is surely not in doubt: it has already cleaned up almost $100 million overseas, and its timing, a solid month after Kung Fu Panda 3 and right around this March break (check your schedule), is perfectly attuned to its pre-teen audience. For me, though, Zootopia is mostly distinguished by one particular scene in the trailer: the more than vaguely defamatory moment with that satanic, frightening-looking sloth (surely they can't be that slow?), a joke that goes on and on and on and on for most of the trailer, well past the point of reasonable comedic conduct. On the other hand, it looks like I have a particularly off-kilter taste for comedy, so maybe the children of America will disagree with me and give the movie a huge opening weekend and a long long run. Critics certainly love it well enough (if you check the TomatoMeter right now and it doesn't say 100%, then you just missed it).
Opening weekend: $54 million / Total gross: $215 million
3. London Has Fallen (March 4th)
One of this month's five sequels. And if you liked Olympus Has Fallen, you [may or may not] love... In fact, I did like the original film, which was a solid '90s-style action extravaganza with a clear high-concept ("Die Hard in the White House" would have been the logline), and which opened a few months before the more heavily-advertised and very similar White House Down, outgrossing that latter film handily (well, $98 million to $73 million - and Olympus cost about half as much). More to the point, the film also won the expectations game: Olympus Has Fallen was generally expected to be but a blurb on the release schedule (some opening weekend predictions were as low as single digits - I won't name names), but the film started with $30 million and had more than acceptable legs, finishing just short of one hundred million.
So, the sequel arrives in a reasonably enviable position: it has assembled just about all the principals from the original (battle-hardy Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, who's still president, Morgan Freeman, now the veep, and so on), it has cleverly changed the setting to a less enclosed and more international location (London seems to really take it on the chin in this one), and it has positioned itself on the first weekend of March, oft used to launch some hefty grossers. If it's at all relevant, Gerard Butler's Gods of Egypt isn't doing all that well, and so far, reviews aren't favorable to this film, either, but the momentum from the original should still give it a decent opening, even if it's less taut as a thriller.
Opening weekend: $35 million / Total gross: $83 million