May 2016 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

May 5, 2016

What did he say about Marvel movies?

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3. Alice Through the Looking Glass (May 27th)

Once more to the well of Alice we go (literally). Film fans may not have dug the 2010 original all that much, but for box office enthusiasts, the first Alice in Wonderland is notable as the absolute highest-grossing film to be directed by Tim Burton (unadjusted, of course), and as the first really massive recent live action adaptation of a Disney fairy tale (it has inspired the existence of Maleficent, the two Snow Whites, and all the rest since). After Avatar took full use of 3D, Alice, another film in the format, rode its coattails well enough, opening to $116 million and finishing with a solid $334 million.

When it comes to big genre films, three years is about the right time to release a sequel, if you must. Alice doubles that waiting period, so I'm uncertain of its chances in matching the original, although unlike many belated sequels, this one brings back pretty much anyone of consequence from the first film: Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter, of course, along with Mia Wasikowska (still Alice), Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, and Alan Rickman, in what will be his last screen credit. For a villain, it adds Sacha Baron Cohen, who's worked with Bonham Carter a lot to memorable results, not least because their unhyphenated two-word surnames seem to sound so well together. Burton, whose name is pointedly mentioned in advertising, returns only to produce, with directing duties having been assumed by James Bobin, who re-vamped the cinematic Muppets franchise and directed its two most recent entries. Going up against X-Men sets Alice up for a likely second place finish, but it might have respectable legs with weekend matinees.

Opening weekend: $68 million (four-day) / Total gross: $172 million


4. The Angry Birds Movie (May 20th)

A big-screen version of the Angry Birds is basically inevitability personified, or cinemafied. As everybody knows, the Finnish video game on which it is based has become a cultural touchstone and monument of normality in modern-day America (and it's about time Americans embraced the intricacies of Finnish culture!). And of course, given its immense popularity and ubiquitousness, it is also a game that has remained unplayed by me ("I'll wait for the movie", I always said, and will keep my promise). Without even checking, I imagine the game is wildly popular across all demographics and does not even particularly skew to children, and it's precisely for that reason that the film's box office prospects confuse me so: will the many grown fans of Angry Birds quite so willingly elect to attend a CGI cinematic interpretation of their beloved time-passing operatus? (A stage musical was obviously the better fit.)

The cast consists of a cheerful selection of current comedy character actors (Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, and Bill Hader, among others, and if you took 10 guesses before reading their names, you'd have probably gotten at least two of those right). The film is also given an air of prestige by the inexplicable presence of Sean Penn (!?%?!), in the role he may or may not have been born to play. While I'd normally mention how this is the only real, no-holds-barred, children's film in town this month, I'll refrain from the thought because pre-teen audiences have already been ridiculously spoiled this year, giving $300 million first to Zootopia and then to The Jungle Book. So they've been served. And they'll be going into Cap and Alice, too, but if the Angry Birds game remains a rite of passage for the modern human, I assume it'll perform at least respectably at the cinemas, too.

Opening weekend: $35 million / Total gross: $140 million

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