March 2017 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
March 2, 2017
2017 pauses with the horror movies for a while and delivers the kind of blockbuster March whose film slate would not look out of place in the summer month of your choice (except for August, of course). March's leading films will be a moody and predictably well-reviewed superhero film, two remakes that could plausibly be titled Beauty and the Beast, and a film I'll guiltily admit is my most anticipated television show adaptation yet.
1. Beauty and the Beast (March 17th)
Tim Burton's 2010 live-action remake of Alice in Wonderland came in as one of the heralds of the regrettable 3D movie phase, and left as the founding father of another, perhaps even more profitable sub-genre: the live-action remaking of the entire pantheon of Disney's animated fairytale classics, an idea so obvious that everyone except for Disney had been doing it for years. As rival studios got out of the way (the 2012 Snow White films were among the last to try), Disney has unleashed Oz the Great and Powerful ($234 million), Maleficent ($241 million), Cinderella ($201 million), and in particular The Jungle Book ($364 million, wow!). The Little Mermaid and Dumbo are also on their way.
This year's chapter is a live-action filming of the wildly successful 1991 animated film Beauty and the Beast, which grossed $218 million and became the first animation to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture (back under the old, good, system of a maximum five Best Pic nominees per year).
Belle is somewhat predictably played by Emma Watson, in what will surely be her biggest film since the Harry Potter series (and, I'm afraid, Potter fans, this item stands a real chance of outgrossing each and every eight of them). She was also good in 2012's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, whose creator, Stephen Chbosky, she has retained here as a co-writer. As with most previous live-action Disney adaptations, the set design and special effects look like an excellent evocation of the animated draft (Jungle Book just won the VFX Oscar), while the collection of acting talent is impeccable if not particularly radical: the cast is populated with leading men (Dan Stevens, as, temporarily, Beast, and Luke Evans as the beastly Gaston), character actors (Ian McKellan, Stanley Tucci, Josh Gad), and those whom cinema has successfully utilized as both (Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor). Yes, the beast's household ornaments and condiments will talk again, joke again, sing again (Broadway's Audra McDonald co-stars, and Gad is musically-inclined), and the direction is by Bill Condon, who transitioned from lush Oscar-worthy biopics like Gods and Monsters, Kinsey, and Dreamgirls into the tail end of the Twilight series, and now is back again somewhere on the sphere between art and commerce (which is where we should all wish ourselves to be).
A friend of mine has made a point of predicting for about a year now that this Beauty and the Beast is a lock to gross three hundred million dollars. Since I have very little interest in the film myself to think too much about it, I'll gladly defer to his judgment. I get the sense that, for whatever reason, people really want to see this movie (perhaps the material carries the same resonance for them that Power Rangers holds for me?); and what's going to stop them, especially on a warm late-March afternoon?
Opening weekend: $122 million / Total gross: $341 million