After a record-breaking March, the eyes of Hollywood now turn to April, the final month of this year’s hugely successful spring movie season. However, much like March, the question remains – can April continue the box office success story that has been 2012 thus far? Unlike past Aprils where films such as Fast and Furious reached blockbuster status, April 2012 seems more like a “quiet before the storm” that will be this year’s summer season that kicks off in May. With more question marks than certain moneymakers, it’ll be interesting to see if April can continue this year’s strong box office; looking down the road, one thing is certain – it most definitely won’t be easy, even with strong March holdovers like The Hunger Games. To get a closer look, let’s break down the month by weekend:
Titanic 3D – The April movie season kicks off on a Wednesday this year with the 3D re-release of James Cameron’s classic epic, Titanic. If past 3D re-releases have proven anything, it’s that their box office success has more to do with nostalgia than the 3D factor (The Lion King 3D worked because it’s a film we all care about while The Phantom Menace failed because no one really liked it in the first place), and since Titanic spent a record 15 weeks at #1 when it was released, won 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture, and grossed $600 million dollars (it was the highest grossing film of all time until Cameron’s own Avatar grossed more), it’s safe to say that nostalgia and Titanic go hand in hand – expect this re-release to be a success story (plus, who doesn’t want to see DiCaprio and Winselt again on the big screen?)
American Reunion – After a handful of abysmal direct-to-DVD sequels, the American Piefranchise returns to the big screen nearly nine years after the mediocre American Wedding. While no one was begging for a fourth American Pie film, the trailers for Reunionhave been pretty rewarding by smartly playing up why we fell in love with the franchise in the first place: Jim and Michele’s awkward naivety, Stifler’s super-sexualized banter, and Jim’s dad’s bumbling clumsiness. In addition, reuniting the entire original cast (even Stifler’s mom is back!) hugely helps and is a step in the right direction. The only barrier inReunion’s way is the fact that the R-rated comedy is no longer the small genre it was back when the first two films were released, and with 21 Jump Street still satisfying audiences hunger for R-rated raunchiness, it’ll be interesting to see how many people dig back in for another slice of Pie.
With nostalgia running high between Titanic 3D and American Reunion, plus the stellar box office run of The Hunger Games, expect the first weekend of April (which also happens to be Easter weekend, a solid movie holiday) to be the biggest of the month; in fact, this is the only sure-fire weekend where big success seems likely.
The Cabin in the Woods – Shot in 2009 for an early 2010 release, The Cabin in the Woods hasn’t had the easiest distribution ride, but this Joss Whedon produced horror comedy fright fest is finally coming to the big screen and its success is anyone’s guess. Early reviews have been unanimously positive and those who have seen it in advanced screenings have had nothing but stellar remarks, but the horror-comedy genre hasn’t been the most impressive box office draw over the years, and other critically acclaimed films likeThe Evil Dead and Drag Me To Hell never really caught on. Having a friday the 13th release date and fanboy/geek demigod Joss Whedon as producer certainly helps, but the success of Woods is definitely up in the air. If the film opens moderately and word of mouth sticks, than we could be looking at a surprise hit, but if it plays like its comparative examples, than Woods could be dead or alive.
Lockout – Though it has the always-reliable Guy Ritchie and Lost veteran Maggie Grace,Lockout seems more or less like your standard, CGI-obsessed futuristic adventure tale. The story of a space prison that descends into madness when the convicts break out,Lockout doesn’t seem like the film that will garner great reviews, and with no big marketing push to get the name out there, this film won’t be lighting any fireworks at the box office.
The Three Stooges – While the Farrelly Brothers have certainly had their share of success stories (There’s Something About Mary, Shallow Hal), their latest, a reboot of the famous 1930’s trio, doesn’t seem like the most winning comedy despite a stellar cast that includes Sean Haynes, Jennifer Hudson, Sofia Vergara, and Larry David. The trailers so far have been painfully slapstick and overtly clumsy, and while the family market is open now that The Lorax is over a month old, I can’t see The Three Stooges being the megahit that most family films become during the spring months.
With Titanic 3D, American Reunion, and The Hunger Games all still in the theatres, the second weekend of April could turn out stronger than expected, but with 3 new wide releases that are all pretty much questions marks, I’m thinking the weekend turns out averagely – a change of pace from the huge money making weekends of spring.
Chimpanzee – Like they’ve done in the past with Oceans and African Cats, Disney and Disney Nature will honor and celebrate Earth Day once again with a nature friendly documentary, the simply titled Chimpanzee. The trailers, depicting the story of a young chimp that becomes lost and must reunite with his family, have been northing short of adorable (I mean, hello – it’s a baby chimp!), but Disney Nature’s past documentaries haven’t been very popular and Chimpanzee will probably follow suit with a mediocre-at-best gross
The Lucky One – This Nicholas Sparks adapted film starring Zac Efron is another big question mark of the month. While Sparks’ adaptions have proven to be solid box office contenders (The Notebook, The Last Song), Efron hasn’t really had a solid live action hit since High School Musical (his last, Charlie St. Cloud bombed), so it really is anyone’s guess how this one plays. Since there hasn’t been a true romance since the hit The Vow,women could come out strongly for this film, but with no certified stars besides Efron (who as I said isn’t even that certified himself), this one seems like a moderate hit at best – even if it opens somewhat strong, expect it to die out quickly during the following weekends.
Think Like A Man – Another April movie, another big question mark. While the Steve Harvey book that inspired the film was hugely successful, the movie seems more or less like your typical romantic comedy, a fact that won’t do it any favors. However, with a strong ensemble that includes Gabrielle Union, Taraji P. Henson, Meghan Good, Romeo, Kevin Hart, and more, this film could be a surprise success if it catches on to the Tyler Perry-style audience it’s clearly being marketing towards.
Of all the weekends in April, this one seems to be the biggest open ended at this point. Since all 3 releases this week and last week seem to be question marks, it’s anyone’s guess how this weekend will play out, especially since the momentum of Titanic 3D, American Reunion, and The Hunger Games will probably begin slow down.
The Five-Year Engagement – Besides Titanic 3D and American Reunion, The Five-Year Engagement seems like a safe bet this April, and the lack of romantic comedies in the market place will certainly help turn this story of one couple’s prolonged engagement into a substantial hit. With a cast headed by the reliably funny Jason Siegel and the reliably charming Emily Blunt, Engagement has all the broad appeal it needs to be a success story, and the fact that it’s directed by Nick Stoller, the man behind comedy hits Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek, is an added bonus.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits – Between an awkward title and an unpopular visual style (the claymation genre hasn’t been a box office draw since 2000’s Chicken Run), Pirates! will certainly struggle to be the next must-see family film, but with The Lorax finally out of the way, this film will have the family demographic all to itself, and with the added 3D bonuses, this could be a surprisingly successful family picture if positive word of mouth sticks.
The Raven – Between director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) and star John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe, there’s definitely enough behind the scenes talent to give this gothic horror mystery a try. At this point, however, marketing has been minimal, and the fact that it was delayed multiple times doesn’t do the film any favors. Nonetheless, there is definitely an audience that loves the gothic era (as seen with the success of this year’s The Woman in Black), but with an R-rating, that audience (which is teenagers) could be greatly limited.
Safe – While Jason Statham is always a reliable action star, his tough guy films have become insanely boring and monotonous, and this thriller about a NYPD cop who rescues an abducted Chinese girl seems to blend into Statham’s stagnant, action-only filmography. With nothing to market as original, don’t expect Safe to be a huge hit, especially since its core audience, males, will be occupied the following week as the summer movie season kicks off with The Avengers
Just like the first weekend of April, the last weekend seems easier to predict then the middle, and I suspect The Five-Year Engagement to have a sizable debut and than hold up well with woman as men flock to see The Avengers the following weekend.
As I said before, this April seems like the “quiet before the storm” that will be the summer movie season, which kicks off the first weekend of May with The Avengers. Though Titanic 3D, American Reunion, and The Five-Year Engagement all seem like safe bets to become solid hits, every other film this month is a huge question mark as to how successful it’ll be. While there’s certainly a film for everyone this month – romance lovers, comedy lovers, genre nerds, action lovers – will audiences come out in large amounts to see films that don’t necessarily seem all that great? Luckily it’s already April, so we’ll soon find out!