April 2017 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
April 6, 2017
4. The Circle (April 27th)
The long-awaited teaming of Tom Hanks and Emma Watson is granted us with this adaptation of the Dave Eggers novel, about an ingenue (Watson) who lands in the headquarters of a technological mastermind/surveillance guru (that's Hanks), and is duly impressed with his many accomplishments, although only before discovering all his sinister machinations, which only she, of course, can, would, and will stop. (Hanks starred in another Eggers tome, A Hologram for the King, last year. Quite good, actually). The plot reminds me of AntiTrust, that anti-computer mogul thriller with Ryan Phillippe, and, with its all-knowing corporation, also of the Spider-Man comic book character Authority, a man who was so wronged by a critical fact unbeknown to him that he spent the rest of his life glued to a thousand screens, transmitting every piece of vital information about the world directly into his brain (this is prescient).
Star Wars lends out John Boyega for a supporting role, Hanks clearly did great in, and as, Sully, while Watson is now enjoying a starring role in one of the biggest movies of all time (which shall not be named here, but let's just say its box office makes the Harry Potter films seem modest in comparison). While it is certain that when the history of Watson's 2017 adventures is written, The Circle will have to remain an addendum, I think it has a decent shot to be that film that joins Fast Eight and Smurfs Three as an opener above single digits (and beyond!).
Opening weekend: $9 million / Total gross: $29 million
5. Born in China (April 21st)
The exposition-filled and geographically-obtuse title aside, this is an adorable DisneyNature documentary about the noble largesse of our animal friends, here paying tribute to the orient's mighty panda. For the math geeks among us, this is the studio's sixth such documentary since Earth, which began the trend with a $32 million total in 2009, unmatched by the franchise since, although Chimpanzee's $28 million in 2012 gave it a try. All seven were released on roughly this same April weekend, in tandem with Earth Day, and presumably with little regard for box office glory (the financial indulgences of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars Traumatic Megaverse help pay for these nature films, I presume).
So what have we here? The direction is by Lu Chuan, a known filmmaker in this film's title country, and the narration is by John Krasinski, who bears no particular physical resemblance to a panda, if it matters, but whose voice is needed because while pandas are wonderful animals, they don't make great conversationalists. April 21 audiences, if given the choice between Katherine Heigl with a butcher knife and a Chinese panda with a bamboo stick, may well select the latter, although this is another time where I might disagree with popular tastes.
Opening weekend: $6 million / Total gross: $23 million