February comes to an end today, and the box office was tragically, but not surprisingly, slow. March, on the other hand, promises to be the start of the bigger, more anticipated releases, which will certainly pick things up.
March 2012 was huge, thanks to The Hunger Games, The Lorax, and 21 Jump Street all bringing massive pre-Summer totals in, and it will be tough -- if not virtually impossible -- to mirror such success, but, with a crowded month akin to a schedule one might see in a Summer month, it will at least provide enough megaplex diversity to supply fun for everybody
Virtually every weekend in March is a crowded one, and this first weekend is the most packed with four new theatrical releases. Even though there is one clear victor among them, the other three releases will certainly give it a run for its money.
Originally slated for a June 2012 release, Jack the Giant Slayer (then called Jack the Giant Killer) was pulled to fine tune the effects, and, seeing how last March was huge, Warner Bros. decided to try their luck here. Though the marketing campaign has been fairly strong, and has many recognizable faces (Warm Bodies' Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, and Ewan MacGreggor, for starters), the dark fairy tale genre has not been particularly strong. Snow White and the Huntsman was only a minor domestic success, while Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters has thus far only mustered $53.5 million, and Jack will be facing too much competition this weekend to be a giant success.
Since The Hangover movies have made a killing at the box office, the producers have been trying to make other films a success as well. 21 and Over is trying to capitalize on the hype built from last year's Project X, even to the point where their release dates are mirroring each other. However, Project X only made $21.1 million opening weekend, and this film will be lucky to make half of that this week.
Horror sequels rarely earn close to their predecessors, with the notable exception of the Paranormal Activity franchise. However, unlike the first Exorcism, Part II is ditching the found footage concept which made the first film a success, and horror fans may have already gotten their fill from January's Mama, so time will tell what this one can scare up.
Under the radar comes Phantom, a submarine thriller inspired by actual events featuring David Duchovny and Ed Harris. Virtually no advertising has been done on this film, and, though it will be bowing in over 2,000 theaters nationwide, it's very unlikely the film will make a splash.
Since 2010's Alice in Wonderland made a wonderful profit for them, Disney has tried setting up a tentpole event movie in March each year to try to mirror the success. Though last year's John Carter was a colossal disappointment, Oz The Great and Powerful promises to be the success Disney has been wanting, though mirroring Wonderland's numbers will be tough.
Hoping to provide some counter-programming from Oz, Dead Man Down is an adults only thriller featuring Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace. Though counter-programming has often proven effective against a big blockbuster lately, Colin Farrell's last big film, the remake of Total Recall, failed to capture attention, and stole much of Farrell's star power, proving it difficult to make this film even a modest success.
With Oz being predicted as the year's first blockbuster success, it will more than likely trump anything coming out this week. However, modest success can be found in situations such as these (look at Argo for instance).
Steve Carell and Jim Carrey have done wonderful work together. 2003's Bruce Almighty was miraculous with $242.8 million, while Blue Sky's Horton Hears a Who defied expectations with $154.5 million in 2008. So, if any film can cause a surprise stirring, it could be Burt Wonderstone. However, with Oz creating magic of its own in its second weekend, it may be tough competing against it, even though it will certainly be an incredible comedy.
Halle Berry's star power has almost become non-existent these days, with Cloud Atlas and Movie 43 both bombing at the box office, and having a couple films go straight to video. The Call, a thriller revolving around a 911 operator, doesn't look to change things up a bit either. With only a late-in-the-game push on Facebook and without any prevalent trailers on TV or in theaters, The Call certainly will not receive many answers from audience members.
Spring Breakers (limited release, nationwide release March 22)
Star power is everything when it comes to films like this one, which revolves around sex, drugs, and violence. With James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, and Selena Gomez, it seems Spring Breakers has a lot of star power, too. The problem is that all three are pretty much Disney darlings (Franco having Oz The Great and Powerful hitting theaters two weeks prior), and this R-rated film is far out from any of these three's perspective wheelhouses. With similarly looking Savages disappointing at the box office, Breakers may be looking at a modest box office return at best.
After 21 Jump Street made a killing last March, it's no wonder why comedies seem to be big business this time around. Teaming Paul Rudd and Tina Fey together is a brilliant decision, and Fey's last live-action outing, Date Night, was a huge hit in April 2010. However, Paul Rudd's Wanderlust wandered off the path of success, while This is 40 proved to be another disappointment for director Judd Apatow, so it's going to be tough to say this film could be a hit.
Last month, animated film Escape From Planet Earth managed to make a surprise, though modest, hit with hardly any advertising, simply by being the only family fare available. The Croods, the latest from Dreamworks, is the first big animated film of year, and, with little competition, could result in big business for the prehistoric film. While Dreamworks' last film, Rise of the Guardians, was barely able to reach the benchmark $100 million domestic, The Croods should fare quite a bit better.
There are two films with plots about terrorists taking over the White House. While White House Down won't drop until June 28, Olympus Has Fallen looks to take advantage of the true lack of big action films this year already, and to end Gerard Butler's losing streak. With co-stars Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Dylan McDermott, Angela Bassett, and Melissa Leo in tow, it seems that Butler will have no problem filling seats this time around.
The long-gestating sequel to 2009's mildly disappointing G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra finally bows after a 3D conversion and giving star Channing Tatum more screen time. While the first wasn't favored by many, adding Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis to the fray should be a bit more favorable for audiences.
Twilight is over, and, instead of embracing the latest options for teen paranormal fare, fans are less than thrilled with what they may deem to be second-rate fare. The Host, based on the book by Twilight author Stephanie Meyer, may fare better, seeing that Twilight fans have clamored for the book almost as much as the beloved vampire series, so, with a built-in fan base already, it should result in a hit, even if the movie is good or not.
Tyler Perry's stock has been plummeting as of late, with Alex Cross performing miserably, and his last dramatic effort Good Deeds grossed significantly less than his comedic films, which spells trouble for Marriage Counselor early on. Perry's films lately seem to be coming out when other bigger films are competing harder against them, and could be a sign of Perry's dwindling star power.