March 2016 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

March 4, 2016

Nice suit. Did Tony Stark make it?

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8. The Young Messiah (March 11th)

The month's other faith-based release, adapted from Anne Rice's book Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, is one of three recent films about Jesus Christ, following Son of God, about the crucifixion, and the weeks-old Risen, set shortly after (this one really breaks the chronological order). Unlike Son of God, which was somewhat put together from a television mini-series and advertised very closely to faith groups, this tale of the seven-year-old Jesus Christ comes from a major studio's indie label, Focus Features, and doesn't seem to have yet set a stir among its target demographic. The Young Messiah has few recognizable faces in its cast, and it's unclear if reviews will end up around Focus's usual aura of prestige. Still, we're close to Easter, so some audiences will likely gravitate towards the film and its original take on a known topic.

Opening weekend: $8 million / Total gross: $27 million

9. The Brothers Grimsby (March 11th)

Sacha Baron Cohen returns to the screen in his first film lead role since the underrated The Dictator (2012). His initial modus operandi - disguising himself as outlandish vulgarians and filming the reactions of the helpless citizens he encounters - doesn't really work anymore, now that people know the contours of his face, so he's turned to fictionalizing basically the same premise. The film's plotline (soccer - okay, football! - hooligan teams up with his MI6 spy brother for action and adventure) has some promise, but it seems to amount to something that'll play much better in its home country, and Cohen is still much more popular across the pond than on this side of it.

The film does pair up some interesting supporting players - the steely Mark Strong along with the foul-mouthed Rebel Wilson and Best Actress nominee Gabourey Sidibe (the star of Precious, long absent from the screen), not to mention Penelope Cruz, appearing in her second comedic spy venture in as many a month (the first, if you must know, was Zoolander 2). Grimsby's reviews, which are fair but unexceptional, place it somewhere in the vicinity of another British spy spoof, Johnny English, and less among the more robust comedies of the everpresent Wilson.

Opening weekend: $10 million / Total gross: $25 million


10. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (March 4th)

This tale of a war correspondent landing in vaguely comedic misadventures in Afghanistan is based on Kim Barker's autobiography, and was originally entitled with the much more evocative moniker "The Taliban Shuffle" (what does its current title mean? I recognize most of the words, but do not know what they stand for in unison). The film's irascible star, Tina Fey, is coming off the recent hit Sisters (speaking of which, something tells me we'll see Fey and Amy Poehler team for a third time sooner than later), and she here is surrounded by Margot Robbie and Martin Freeman, who'll be in some superhero movies this year, but are pulling in fine character work this time.

In its story of an American reporter on a foreign battleground, the film reminds me just vaguely of The Killing Fields, with less killing and a much more arid collection of fields. The film's background also recalls in just a few little ways that of Admission, the Fey-Paul Rudd team-up that opened in 2013 right against both a big CGI animation and the original Olympus Has Fallen, a calendar configuration that's exactly repeated this year (on a presumably totally coincidental basis). I don't think the Butler action films steal too many votes away from the Fey comedies, but Tango Foxtrot's ballpark should be right around Admission's. Reviews are decent but unspectacular, which means the movie will probably play longer on TV, video, and airplanes, even if Fey is very charming.

Opening weekend: $7 million / Total gross: $21 million

11. Midnight Special (March 18th)

A bit of a mystery on the release schedule is this drama, placed in the enigmatic #11 slot but not necessarily doomed to obscurity. Midnight Special is the latest offering by director Jeff Nichols, who's helmed a series of well-reviewed Southern-set tales that decidedly leaned indie (in increasing order of prominence: Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud). In its tale of a child with supernatural abilities, Midnight Special reminds me of another similar March release, The Last Mimzy, from almost a decade ago in 2007 (I suppose one could even compare it to The Young Messiah, if pressed). All of Nichols' films have featured Michael Shannon, and this one continues the tradition, along with other strong actors like Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, and Adam Driver. If the film gets good reviews, as Nichols' films tend to inspire, it could play well as a sleeper for a few weeks, even if it isn't all that likely to cede its #11 slot to someone else.

Opening weekend: $4 million / Total gross: $15 million

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