March 2017 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

March 2, 2017

Tale as old as time.

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8. The Belko Experiment (March 17th)

The month's sole real horror film is this indie effort that premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last September to fair reviews, and which presents us with some 80 office workers locked in together and ordered to participate in the mass murder of each other, for a reason that I am sure will turn out to make perfect sense. So, The Belko Experiment is part Hunger Games, part the future of humanity, and is directed by Greg McLean, previously of Wolf Creek (what a nasty film), and written by James Gunn, director of these rascally Guardians of the Galaxy movies; we can thus assume that the film combines the cutthroat genre sensibility of the former with the humor of the latter, if such merging is possible. There's a lot of underground buzz for this title, and reviews are strong enough to lead me to think the film will easily beat most expectations, even if its over performance is unlikely to be noticed among the month's bigger-charting arrivals.

By the way, who is Belko and why is he doing this to us?

Opening weekend: $16 million / Total gross: $42 million

9. The Shack (March 3rd)

In this faith-based film, the father of a murdered teenage girl finds redemption and hope in a divinely-inspired clearing in the middle of the Oregon wilderness, which while he wasn't looking has become populated by a group of mysterious people who seem to carry with them a divine purpose. The Shack features Octavia Spencer as the almighty (an act of casting which, I think, was a matter of time), while the male lead is Sam Worthington; this is an actor who once starred in some of the biggest movies in the world, and now enjoys a comeback in more earthy (well...) fare, following up his neat supporting role in Hacksaw Ridge with something a little quieter and less apocalyptic this time. The Shack is based on William P. Young's 2007 novel, which was presumably well-read enough to inspire this adaptation. Its fans, and some of those curious, ought to give the film a fair opening weekend, and a reasonable box office total after a few weeks at the second rung of the charts.

Opening weekend: $8 million / Total gross: $25 million


10. Before I Fall (March 3rd)

Zoey Deutch makes her well-deserved starring debut after years of essaying the love interest to everyone from James Franco to Blake Jenner to Zac Efron, including a co-starring role in the arguably awful yet sneakily-enjoyable Dirty Grandpa, which despite all common sense I still recommend. Here, she essentially reprises the Bill Murray role from Groundhog Day, playing a teenager who relives the same day over and over ad nauseum, without as much comedy but with the same stab at profundity about the meaning of life (whaddaya know, even at that age!). For a teen thriller (adapted from a 2010 novel), the film has certainly received solid reviews, and the picture must be cerebral and astute enough to have played at Sundance a few weeks ago. In fact, Before I Fall comes in almost like a third peg after the hit thrillers Split and Get Out, even if its ambitions are probably more modest. It should open okay, but let's give it some legs.

Opening weekend: $7 million / Total gross: $22 million

11. CHiPs (March 24th)

Curiously opening on the same day as another television adaptation (those gallant Power Rangers), CHiPs is the film version of a 1970s series that is mostly known to me from Chris Pine's Wikipedia biography (his father Robert Pine was a co-star). This big-screen CHiPs, like its series inspiration, is presumably a fairly straightforward buddy police comedy about an unavoidably mismatched pair of highway patrol officers in Southern California, played in the 1970s by Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox, and in the 2010s by Michael Peña and Dax Shepard. Here, they're up against Vincent D'Onofrio as the snarling villain on the one hand, and the nonchalant indifference of a crowded March slate on the other. Shepard previously directed Hit and Run (2012), a fitfully entertaining comedy chase film, and takes the director reigns on this one as well, casting as his co-stars Adam Brody, Wilmer Valderrama, Kristen Bell (as Shepard's character's wife...), and Jane Kaczmarek as the captain, who will demand her charges' badges and guns sooner than later. I wish them all well.

Opening weekend: $5 million / Total gross: $15 million

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