April 2017 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
April 6, 2017
After last month's onslaught of summer-quality blockbusters, April 2017 presents only a single high-stakes film (you know the one), surrounded by an army of titles that may not open above single digits (except, I guess, the new Smurfs movie). It's one of the barest slates I've seen in years, as April increasingly becomes a month where one film has a monopoly while the rest hold the fort until the Marvel Cinematic Universe arrives to officially open the summer.
1. The Fate of the Furious (April 14th)
It was between this and Smurfs 3.
Originally simple highway robbers of the old school, Diesel's gang of racers and thieves have grown into pseudo-middle aged government employees. Returning to the April date that launched a couple of the last films (and where the series has already staked out ground for 2019 and 2021, in case you had any other plans), part seven's series high of a $147 million opening and a $353 million total will likely not be replicated. But this eighth film should have no trouble delivering one of the franchise's biggest grosses. And how have we come to this?
From the moment John Ireland's wrongfully accused con fled the law in 1955's The Fast and the Furious to a cool June evening in 2001, when the late Paul Walker's undercover officer Brian O'Conner allowed highway robber Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) to flee the police and enter the popular imagination of blockbuster cinema, the Fast and the Furious films have carved their way into a legend of high-grossing American action - despite, in spite, and because of their flaws, excesses, and triumphs.
Whether you like them or only mildly like them (really, does anyone truly hate these films? What cold heart and cheerless husk...), they're just about the only action-blockbuster series left without [apparent] supernatural content, and must be regarded as one of the definitive franchises of the 21st century thus far; even if they haven't necessarily inspired a passionate, trivia-observant fanbase across the internet's message boards and tumblr blogs. The films have fully spanned our recent cinematic history, moving from California in 2001 to a commotion at the Miami docks in 2 Fast 2 Furious, 2003, drag racing across neon light-fueled Tokyo in Tokyo Drift, 2006, getting the gang back together to rough up Mexican drug cartels in Fast & Furious, 2009, careening through the streets of Rio with a monstrous metal-cased safe in Fast Five, 2011, moving through a spectacular half-hour chase with car, tank, and airplane in Fast Six in 2013, and, most recently, depicting two brilliant action scenes and a climax that was too absurd even for me, in Furious Seven, 2015.
The gang's been brought back together, the law is off their backs, and so what trouble have they gotten themselves into this time? Straight Outta Compton's F. Gary Gray directs, while Charlize Theron joins as the chief villain, with Helen Mirren spriting through the shadows as another threat. Elsewhere, Dwayne Johnson must team with Jason Statham's mass-murdering jailbird for the world's greater good, while Scott Eastwood is somewhere to be found among the film's rather luxurious running time (... 137 minutes). Oh, and as every trailer tells us, this little family's got a hole in its heart this time, because Vin Diesel's Dominic Torretto has seemingly turned over to the dark side! Heavens no! (he could even be in league with Optimus Prime, who goes bad in the upcoming Transformers 5, and with Robert Downey, Jr., who is committing villainy by his mere presence in the upcoming Spider-Man film).
The big action set-piece this time involves cars fleeing a big submarine as the ice collapses around them on a grand frozen lake. That's pretty good, but my idea for a future Fast and Furious stunt? Torretto and crew must drive from on top of one moving plane, 35,000 feet in mid-air, onto another, nearby, plane as it flies by at similar speed. As their vehicles careen away and into the ground (don't worry down there, the cars've got parachutes), Dom and company break open the side door and stow away in the cargo hold, surprising the unsuspecting drug lord/arms dealer of your choice. I'll see you in 2019.
Opening weekend: $115 million / Total gross: $270 million