April 2016 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

April 1, 2016

A boy and his kitty cat.

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8. Hardcore Henry (April 8th)

Those shaky-cam horror movies like Cloverfield and the Blair Witch have vaguely prepared us for this, an action film shot completely in first-person shooter style, and really the first big theatrical movie to go that route (films like Doom [2005] have dabbled in such moments here and there, perhaps unwisely, and Hollywood first tried a full first-person movie with 1947's Lady in the Lake, but in the modern era it's surprisingly not been done). While clearly inspired by video games, Hardcore Henry is not based on one per se, though the story will sound eerily familiar for gamers: the lead character, whose title nickname I am not able to explain (is it pornographic in nature? perhaps), traipses around Moscow, and in the video game tradition, engages in R-rated action scenes described by the MPAA as containing "non-stop bloody brutal violence and mayhem."

H. H. is played mostly by stuntmen, whose faces likely won't be seen except for the occasional self-referential reflection shot. Henry is assisted by a tech genius played by Sharlto Copley, who's wheezed in and out of some major films in the last seven years, in particular ones involving science and action. Whether the concept has much appeal is a pointed question, though reviews are overwhelmingly positive. I might be lowballing this one quite a bit, but setting the film around an identifiable video game could have given it more of a ready-made audience.
Opening weekend: $10 million / Total gross: $28 million

9. Keanu (April 29th)

Television's Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele star in their first big leading film role, a movie whose very familiar Hawaiian-language title will likely confuse potential viewers as to its star for a time long, long after it's released. The film finds the duo in a search for their missing cat, who has either simply vanished or been forcefully taken, likely in order to enable his masters to participate in a series of comedic sketches and action scenes leading up to his successful retrieval. Early reviews are somewhat positive, and there are amusing parody posters out there substituting the title cat for various recent film stars ("Bring him home", in a parody of The Martian, is one I liked). The duo has some fans from their television pursuits, documented in their series Key & Peele from 2012 to 2015, and Key in particular was hard to miss at the movies last summer, but it's difficult to think that the film will paw away at much litter in its box (if that makes any sense) beyond those already pledged to see it.

Opening weekend: $8 million / Total gross: $22 million


10. Ratchet & Clank (April 29th)

Speaking of video games, this CGI film is based on quite a few of them, released for Sony Playstation in almost annual succession since 2002. It's about a fox-like alien and his robot friend as they engage in galactic misadventures (none seeming to involve a missing cat) and interact with space creatures who sound uncannily like John Goodman, Paul Giamatti, and Sylvester Stallone, to name a few cast members whose voices will be hard to miss. Strictly speaking, Ratchet & Clank is the only animated film of the month, although The Jungle Book sticks closely enough to the format as to make that statement irrelevant. And for a film starring a small, gun-toting animal in a sci-fi setting (Bradley Cooper's Rocket Raccoon gonna sue somebody), this one plays things on the serious side, with little apparent comedy and not as strong an appeal to pre-teen audiences as a movie with this premise might require. Films released on April's last weekend tend to be the sort that may need to free up screens very quickly in the weeks after, and barring good reviews or a memorable marketing campaign, this one looks like a prime candidate.

Opening weekend: $6 million / Total gross: $15 million

The month is littered with a lot of independent films with potential to be launched into wide release sooner or later. The most likely of which to accomplish this feat is Richard Linklater's Every Body Wants Some!! (a spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, and the exclamation marks in the title are neither a typo nor my idea), followed by Demolition, a Jake Gyllenhaal drama with an interesting trailer that opened the Toronto Film Festival last year, and Sing Street, an Irish-set musical which was one of the bigger breakouts at this year's Sundance, and which I thus assume is getting a decent push. And finally, there are no fewer than three biopics about brilliant if irascible musicians, the latter two brazen enough to open on the same day: Miles Davis, Nina Simone, and Elvis Presley are all getting the biographical treatment, although Elvis has to share the marquee space since his movie is called Elvis & Nixon or maybe even Elvis v Nixon. Spoiler alert: Nixon wins.

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