March 2004 Forecast

By Marty Doskins

Boy, did I underestimate the strength of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. I had said that it wouldn’t surprise me if it had a big opening weekend, but I never would have expected the record-setting numbers it put up. Now we’ll see if it can hold its own in the weeks to come. I expect that we’ll see decent numbers during the entire period of Lent, since it is such an emotional time for Christians; however, it remains to be seen how well it will fare after Easter.

I think this month we can start to feel a build-up toward the summer movie season. There are more quality and appealing films being released by the studios. I really don’t think there’s going to be a huge breakout hit this month and I had trouble picking the finishing order for this month’s releases (like that’s anything new). Nothing really stood out for me.

One more note, it looks like the much-delayed film Shaolin Soccer is finally going to get a limited theatrical release. I wrote the original listing for this film back in January 2002 and thought it sounded interesting. It was supposedly ready for release near that time, but it never came to pass. There have been delays, rumors of straight-to-video status, and other marketing blunders, which you hopefully have been following here on BOP. I even saw an action-packed trailer for it at my local Best Buy store about nine months ago that said “IN THEATERS NOW”. I hope it finally gets a chance and makes its way to a cinema near you.

And with that being said, on to the Top Ten.

1. Starsky and Hutch

The release of this film has been all the buzz here around the BOP water cooler. Most of the staff seems to be interested in seeing it. I watched this show back in the 1970s, but I don’t remember it being this silly. I really don’t think this one looks that good, but I have to take a step back and look at this objectively. During my daily activities, I have heard many people showing interest in going to see this movie. There are a lot of fans of both Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson out there and they’ll make the trip to spend their hard-earned money. I think this is attention is going to translate to a solid opening weekend.

2. Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed

This is a sequel to the popular live-action film released in 2002. The original cast is back as your favorite TV show characters. The studio is so certain of the popularity of this series that there is already a Scooby-Doo 3 in the works. There hasn’t been much in the way of commercials yet as I write this, but since this is at the end of the month, I don’t expect there to be. This film has a built-in fan base and should be able to ride quite well on the success of the first film. We should see a nice weekend for this one.

3. Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London

Here is another sequel to a popular first film. Frankie Muniz is a hot star right now and leave it up to the studio to take advantage of that. The first film brought in the young teen audiences with the star power of Muniz and Hilary Duff. This one should prove no exception. Muniz has the potential to be a popular star in Hollywood for the foreseeable future and hopefully this movie will keep him on the studio radar.

4. Hidalgo

There are a lot of factors that should add up to success for this film. First, you have Viggo Mortensen, who has come to prominence with his role in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He’s a handsome and talented actor who has a box office draw of his own. Second, it’s a horse movie. People love horse movies. Third, the film has had huge television exposure. It began with a showing during the Super Bowl and has been followed up with a barrage of commercials to keep it in the public’s mind. I think this movie has the right formula to do well.

5. Dawn of the Dead

I keep underestimating the power of horror films. I’m not going to do that this time. This remake of the classic film has been getting a lot of word-of-mouth advertising from people who have seen trailers and even preview screenings. It sounds like the filmmakers did a good job and made this a quality remake. Horror fans keep themselves well informed about the goings on of their genre and will be sure to support this offering.

6. Secret Window

Johnny Depp takes a dramatic turn from his role as Captain Jack Sparrow to star in this psychological thriller/horror film. There really wasn’t much of a Depp fan base until Pirates of the Caribbean. Depp had always taken on a wide variety of roles that didn’t seem to keep the attention of any one group. This film should bring in those new Depp groupies on the first weekend, but I have serious doubts about the staying power of this movie.

7. Jersey Girl

After Gigli and even Paycheck, there has been some talk about the demise of Ben Affleck’s career. However, I think those critics are not in the majority. Most of the viewing public still likes Affleck and the characters he plays. They are drawn in just by his name being attached to a film. This movie will also grab those people that are Kevin Smith fans. His work has always been underappreciated, but he is increasing with popularity with each work. This one falls somewhere in the middle of the top ten – not a blockbuster, but not a bomb either.

8. Taking Lives

The good news is this movie stars Angelina Jolie. The bad news is she’s not playing Lara Croft. I still don’t think she has enough star power on her own to draw people in to see a film and I have some guesses why. I kind of compare her to Johnny Depp because I don’t think she’s picked roles that have built and kept a solid following for her work. Plus, I’m sure some of it has to do with the perception that a majority of the public has of her as kind of “out there." Until she gets rid of some of that stigma of weirdness, she won’t be able to do it on her own.

9. The Ladykillers

Until very recently, I had no interest whatsoever in seeing this film. I like Tom Hanks a great deal, but the character he plays just seemed very unlikable. I have seen some commercials lately that show more of the story, but I think it may be too little too late. However, this film doesn’t open until the end of the month so there is still time to get people to go see it. We’ll see how the marketing focus goes in the next few weeks.

10. Spartan

For a film opening this month, I think this one’s going to fall prey to lack of public knowledge. The names of the cast and crew should be enough to get people to go – Val Kilmer, William H. Macy, David Mamet. But if you don’t make people aware of it, only those hardcore movie fans (or BOP visitors) will know about it or even care. It’s a shame to see so many films not get as much attention as they should. This appears to be the case with this one as well.

  • Read Tim Briody's March Forecast
  • Read Walid Habboub's March Forecast
  • Read Kim Hollis's March Forecast
  • Read Zach Kolkin's March Forecast
  • Read David Mumpower's March Forecast