April 2017 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
April 6, 2017
2. Smurfs: The Lost Village (April 7th)
The blue-hued humanoid forest critters of the 1950s Belgian comic book series return in roughly their fourth film, following the 1983 cartoon and the pair of live-action adaptations of recent years, the latter two part of the nostalgia wave that brought back the 1980s on its way to its current destination, the early 1990s (see the Angel Grove references scattered throughout the forecast). I didn't see the cartoon, and harbored no particular ill feelings towards the last two Smurfs films, though I will confess that I did not spend the last four years thinking up story ideas for another sequel, nor writing the studio fan letters in pleading request for it to be made (although I did consider it). This outing eschews the live-action cast of the 2011/2013 films (Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays must have been devastated), placing the story in tourist-friendly Smurf-land and avoiding the token visit to human-infested metropolis like New York City (all magic portals from fantasy universes lead directly to New York - and Angel Grove, California, of course).
The cast consists of all-star voices superimposed into smurf faces, too many even for me to recount here, though Demi Lovato replaces Katy Perry as Smurfette, and Mandy Patinkin takes over for the late Jonathan Winters' olden tones as Papa Smurf (Anton Yelchin voiced Clumsy Smurf).
I was a little surprised that The Smurfs 2 took in only $71 million, almost exactly 50% back from the 2011 Smurfs. Therefore, we can perhaps surmise that this new outing is headed for a little drop in grossings, too, though it won't decrease all too much, I think: though The Boss Baby is still on the loose and those Born in China pandas remain adorable, the April slate is bereft enough of content, especially much aimed at very young audiences. If you dig smurfs, dig away.
Opening weekend: $23 million / Total gross: $68 million
3. Going in Style (April 7th)
Director Zach Braff moves from pseudo-auto-biographical material like Garden State and Wish I Was Here to directing a mainstream comedic entertainment, a remake of the 1979 heist film of the same name, about three enterprising gentlemen who choose to relieve the doldrums of their senior days by committing a bank robbery in lieu of their canceled pensions (it's Calendar Girls meets Ocean's Eleven, see). The original's leads were legendary comedians George Burns and Art Carney, along with master teacher of thespians Lee Strasberg, all three of whom enjoyed a career renaissance in the 1970s (by the end of the decade, Burns and Carney had won an Oscar a piece, while Strasberg was nominated, though not, as it were, for Going in Style).
Here the lead three are played by the much more prolific actors Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin, veterans of any dozen of films about senior citizens who embark on special missions, road trips, or "one last" adventures to redeem their life-long dream. In the original film, they didn't care much if they got caught, since they figured that prison could only be an improvement (three meals a day...), and in a stroke of good fortune, it's likely that the quality of your average incarceratory facility has only improved since (anyone with experience to the contrary is free to correct me, though only in writing). For these men, it's a win-win, and the film too has a decent shot at drawing in an underserved demographic to outrank all the month's other non-sequels.
Opening weekend: $9 million / Total gross: $30 million