Friday, April 18, 2014

The Top Box Office Spot May Be for the Birds (from 'Rio 2')

It is a busy long weekend at the box office as there are 4 new releases opening in America and in Canada was have a fifth with Trailer Park Boys: Don't Legalize It. Scott has decided to ignore the Canuck darlings but he still offers up his predictions on the other new releases' chances along with a top five prediction.

Also, Happy Easter.

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Four new movies are popping out in theatres in wide release this weekend in time for Easter and looking to make a run at box office glory. I can easily see three of those films falling in the top five, leaving Disney’s Bears documentary most likely ending up taking the sixth spot. This makes seven wide releases in the last two weeks, creating quite the battleground in some very busy theatres.

First Place – Rio 2 - $25.5 Million

After getting held out of first place by Captain America: The Winter Soldier in its debut weekend, I am putting my money on the family movie coming through and sustaining well enough to suffer a drop of only around 35% from last week’s $39 million opening. It is quite possible that it may only drop 30%, but I am not completely confident of that. It will all depend on how many families take to the theatre during a time that can be busy with family and church commitments. Regardless of how it does this weekend, it has the advantage of not having any direct competition until May 9 when Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is released.

Second Place – Transcendence - $22 Million

It is the directorial debut of Wally Pfister the Oscar winning cinematographer from many Christopher Nolan films, and he looks to make a splash as he brings some science fiction to the table. It is a film about a person (played by Johnny Depp) who integrates himself into what looks like the internet. It is not an incredibly new concept (The Lawnmower Man took a ‘lawnmower man’ into the interwebs long ago), but it is packaged in a visually interesting way and has a great cast to support Depp in Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy.

There are, however, a few issues that this movie will be battling. While it had some great looking trailers, there has not been a lot of money being made in science fiction movies lately. This issue is compounded by the fact that there has been very little critical appreciation of the film with it currently sitting at only 13% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing this. Depp himself can be a decent draw, but his opening weekend numbers are not as good as when he is playing a ‘quirky’ character. For a little Johnny Depp trivia, would anyone have guessed that his highest movie on Rotten Tomatoes is A Nightmare on Elm Street with 96%? Hooray for 80s horror flicks!

Third Place – Captain America: The Winter Soldier - $18.5 Million

After having two weeks at number one, it is hard to believe that this film will be able to hold on to grab the much coveted three weekend run at the top. The Winter Soldier saw a drop of 57% from week one to week two, and I am thinking it could be seeing a decrease of 55% this weekend. It has been able to outperform expectations so far, and I will be guessing that the third film (which should enjoy a bump from the next Avengers movie) will be landing comfortably over $100 million in its opening weekend.

Fourth Place – Heaven is for Real - $18 Million


This year has seen its fair share of faith based productions. Movies such as Son of God and God’s Not Dead have shown that there can be interest enough in such films making their way to theatres. While they have performed decently, they have failed to hit the mark with critics with Son of God only scoring 22% on Rotten Tomatoes and God’s Not Dead landing in Transcendence territory with 13%. The reception for Heaven is for Real has been much better, as it currently sits at 55% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Starring Greg Kinnear it is able to bring some legitimate star power into the mix. As well, judging by the trailers, the production quality seems to be miles ahead of typical religious productions that generally suffer from sub-par technical attributes. Churches have apparently been getting behind this film and encouraging congregation members to see it, which will lend a massive hand in its chances. I am figuring that it should end up making over $7,000 per theatre this weekend.

Fifth Place – A Haunted House 2 - $16 Million

Sigh… I suppose I should give some insight here, but it is very hard to do for me to do. Not because there are no numbers to dig into, but because what really is there to say about modern ‘spoof’ movies, which is just a compilation of several genre scenes transformed into an awful parody? There was a while where these types of movies were able to make around $20 million in their opening weekend like clockwork, but there has been a little dip in the trend, and A Haunted House fell just shy of the mark with $18 million. I think there will be another dip this time around, and even so, I have fears that I will have to write about another one a year from now.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

There is More to the Summer Than Giant Robots and Web-Slingers

The summer blockbuster movie seasons has been hyped for months now. Even if you don't eagerly anticipate your next trip to the cinema, you probably are well-aware we have superheroes, a giant lizards, battling robots, and adventures in space all lined up for the next several months. The heavy diet of special effect spectacles can be sensory over-load and enough to make one hide away until Oscar season. Even though I'm all for an exciting blockbuster, there are times you want something different. Luckily, there are several character-driven stories that will be quietly making their way into cinemas this summer too. Over at the Collective Publishing, I look at a few of them that I think you should check out.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Captain America Battles Blue Macaws, NFL Draft and Possessed Mirrors in an Attempt to Retain Top Spot at Box Office

Scott looks at the chances that three new releases have against Marvel's latest red hot juggernaut.

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After being absent from my weekend analysis on Tuesday due to some nasty bit of sickness, I am attempting to return to stake my predictions for this week’s box office top five. However, writing from a den of illness and pestilence today means that there may be a little less intellect behind my thoughts as the majority of my waning brain power has been spent on making sure I keep drinking my orange juice and other such simplicities. I do apologize ahead of time for the lack of critical thinking this week.

First Place – Captain America: The Winter Soldier – $41 Million

After having a strong opening weekend that saw the largest percentage increase for an Avengers franchise post The Avengers (it scored an opening weekend 46% higher than the first movie), and there is a good chance that it could take the number one spot again. Other Disney Marvel movies generally hit a decline of around 60% in their second week (Iron Man 3 had a drop of 58% and Thor: The Dark World dropped 57%), and it is safe to say that something similar should be happening again here. It is hard for a film that makes so much money in its opening weekend to maintain such a pace, even when both audiences and critics are enjoying it as much as they are The Winter Soldier.

Second Place – Rio 2 - $40 Million

In 2011, Rio (starring Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg) opened to $39 million and signalled the start of a franchise. Three years later, Rio 2 comes out in a year where only two family movies have opened north of $30 million (The LEGO Movie $69 million and Mr. Peabody & Sherman $32 million), which could indicate that there is plenty of room for a the right type of movie to do well as parents may not have already broken the bank on movie tickets for 2014.

Third Place – Draft Day - $11 Million

Audiences love a great sports movie, and Draft Day looks to try a bit of a non-traditional approach to the genre by focusing on decisions made around the day of the NFL draft, and stars Kevin Costner. Costner’s ability to draw solid opening weekend numbers is not incredibly reliable. Most recently, 3 Days to Kill opened at $12 million, which perhaps showed a little glimmer of hope for the actor’s chances, especially in a role that may be more suited to his fan base and not one as an action star. The reviews have not been overly kind to this movie, which currently it has 47% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Fourth Place – Oculus - $10 Million

Out of the three new wide release movies this weekend, it is the horror flick that currently has the best critical reception. Oculus is boasting a decent 77% rating right now on Rotten Tomatoes, with a possibility of that dropping over the weekend as more critics see it. However, a solidly reviewed horror never means that it will fare well in theatres, as fans tend to be drawn more to the style of a horror than to its substance.

Fifth Place – Noah - $7.5 Million

While some films are able to hang around and secure solid numbers for a while, I am not seeing that as the case for poor Noah. After falling 61% in its second weekend (probably thanks to the attention that Captain America received) it will most likely see a fall this weekend of around 55%. That would mean that this film that opened to an impressive $43 million will only have two weekends in double digit millions.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

It Is Never Too Early to Get Excited About the New Fall TV Season

The Network Upfront is a major one week event where the TV networks reveal their new TV fall season (and often also their potential mid-season and summer season) in hope to attract big sponsorship dollars and generate excitement amongst the TV audience. There are always large batches of new TV series that get thrown into the mix. But for the last few months, there has been news pouring in about pilot orders and possible new series that will get picked up. Over at the Collective Publishing, I select a few of these potential series that I think are worth getting very excited about.

Friday, April 04, 2014

'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' Looking at a Super Heroic Win at the Box Office

One of the biggest potential blockbusters of the year comes out in one of the traditionally quieter movie months. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is looking to kick-off the big box office season early and become another massive hit for Marvel. Scott looks at its chances along with the pictures he predicts will land in the top 5 spot for this weekend.

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This year the blockbuster season has an early start as Disney pulls out the big guns the first weekend of April as opposed to the customary beginning of May kick-off weekend. Captain America: The Winter Soldier stands as the only new wide release, which is a smart move by competing studios who know that going against a Marvel super hero who was in The Avengers could be a dangerous game. This week I will be looking at how it will do, as well as making predictions on what the films will be in the box office’s top five will be.

First Place – Captain America: The Winter Soldier - $90 Million

A sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger, The Winter Soldier comes after 2012’s The Avengers, a super hero ensemble film that was able to prove solid in boosting the selling power of the Marvel brand. Iron Man 3 saw an opening weekend increase of 36% over Iron Man 2, showing just how great the increased popularity had become. As well, Thor: The Dark World had an $85 million opening weekend, a jump of 30% from the $65 million that Thor brought in. It has become quite clear that The Avengers has added a lot of interest into the movies of its individual components, the main question will be just how much Captain America: The Winter Soldier is able to grow by.

Similarly to the first Thor movie, The First Avenger had a solid opening frame of $65 million and online tracking of social media shows that it is ahead of where The Dark World was at the same point in its release cycle. It also has a much better critical reception when compared to the sophomore showing of Thor (which had 65% on Rotten Tomatoes compared to Captain America’s current rating of 88%). The trailers for the film have looked great, and the inclusion of Scarlett Johansson in her role as Black Widow should assist the film as well.

Second Place – Noah - $18.5 Million

After having a very successful opening weekend of $43 million, the Darren Aronofsky directed interpretation of the Biblical flood account really stands no chance of competing with a Marvel super hero from The Avengers. If it was just an ordinary weekend I could see the film holding up well with perhaps a drop of only 50% or so, but because of its competition it will most likely be dropping close to 60% from its opening weekend numbers. It has already cracked $100 million worldwide, and it should be able to secure second place quite easily this weekend.

Third Place – Divergent - $12.5 Million

After so many young adult movies had failed to capture audiences and become the next Twilight or The Hunger Games, Divergent was able to establish itself as a viable franchise moving forward. After opening to $54 million, it dropped by 53% for its second weekend, and I could easily see a drop of 50% in its future for this weekend. It may not have made the same amount of money that other successful young adult films have pocketed, but it has done well enough that it should be able to grab third spot without much competition.

Fourth Place – God’s Not Dead -$7.9 Million

While the top three movies this weekend feel like clear cut predictions as far as how they will order, the lower half of the top five sees three movies (God’s Not Dead, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Muppets Most Wanted) that could all land within one million dollars of one another. The faith based film God’s Not Dead debuted at number four and then dropped to fifth place last weekend. It is expanding its theatre count this weekend to 1,765 theatres from last week’s 1,178. I am predicting that it will be able to make a per theatre average of around $4,500 (down from last week’s average of $7,468) and could end up nabbing fourth place in the process.

Fifth Place – The Grand Budapest Hotel - $7.5 Million

Also expanding this weekend is Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which has seen great support from both audiences and critics so far. It has been working its way slowly towards wide release, and this weekend will be screening at 1,263 locations. It started its run at four theatres on March 7, and made an enormous $202,000 per theatre average. Since then, it has kept the critics happy (currently it has a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and the fans keep flocking out to see it. I do not think a per theatre average this weekend of $6,000 is out of the question (down from $8,741) which could keep it fending off Muppets Most Wanted who will be possibly landing right around the same mark.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

"The Walking Dead" Have Made Zombies Cool

Zombies have always been more of a "cult hit" thing. The lumbering, foul-smelling, brain-eaters just haven't had the charm to win over the mainstream. Or at least that has been the case for the last several decades, and before a TV ratings smash hit known as The Walking Dead came barging in. Zombies have had their moment such as with George Romero's critically successful The Night of the Living Dead franchise, which has a very strong following. It never was guaranteed gold at the box office and seemed more like something college guys occupied themselves with while emptying a keg. But now zombies are a prowling about in the mainstream, and it has changed the perception of what is considered broad entertainment. In my latest Collective Publishing article, I look at the major impact The Walking Dead and other once niche sci-fi/fantasy entertainment have had on modern pop culture.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Since Snow is Finally Taking a Vacation, Here is a Pictorial Reminder of Winter's Wonders

In honour of Noah coming out this weekend, the rain is coming down at a furious pace at the moment. The once white snow that dominated the landscape for several months is now becoming a grey slush. The outside isn't beckoning for us to wear shorts and tank tops yet, but it appears to be trying to encourage one to think about pulling out a lighter jacket. It looks like spring is finally going on the offensive and winter may be at its last stand.

Even though it got tiring pushing the snow off the driveway, and my habit to misplace gloves and hats means I played around with frostbite on my long walks with Summit, and most of all a pain in having to endure people whine about the thing that comes every single year, winter wasn't all bad. It is actually quite a fun time of year when the weather doesn't freeze off your limbs, especially when you have a young child and a bouncing dog that take plenty of pleasure in the great white.

Winter sometimes is a wonderland. So, since it finally seems to be gone, I am ready to talk nice about it. Here are some photos from a few months back where the Spicer clan got to embrace the joys of winter in our new backyard. Winter is extra fun when you have a tobogganing hill on your property.




























If you so desire, you can gander at these picture all weekend. I'm planning to be off the blog yet again. I've got the typical pay copy and family obligations to eat up all my hours. I'm aiming for a much busier week on the blog next week in order to kick off that wonderful month we all love to call April. I'll likely be back on Tuesday Wednesday.

'Noah' Hopes for Movie-Goers to Flood the Cinemas This Weekend

It's a weekend where studios are banking on icons from the past to draw out movie-goers. Paramount goes way back to present a Biblical epic that they hope can capture the imaginations of audience like they did back in the 1950s. A smaller studio in Open Road Films only trots back to the 1980s to find their iconic star and hope Arnold along with rising action director David Ayer can bring out the paying customers. Scott looks at the chances of both pictures.

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After months of controversy stirred up from unhappy religious groups, as well as a show of support from other clusters of the religious world, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah comes out in theatres and attempts to claim king of the weekend over Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Sabotage. While Divergent had a very strong opening last weekend, there is little chance that it will able to remain the number one film, although crazy happenings are never off the table.

There has been a lot of talk about Noah over the last number of months, but not so much around the typical hype that a film gets prior to its release. A lot of words have been said from some segments of the Christian faith regarding the lack of biblical accuracy in the film, and they have railed against it fairly hard. Paramount, the backing studio of the film, has responded by adding context to the beginning of their trailers and pointing out that this is an interpreted version of the Old Testament account. They have screened it to a number of church leaders, and there has been some very positive feedback.

If you look at the small amount of source material provided in the bible, it is pretty clear that there needs to be some more put into the story to make it a feature film. Aronofsky, a director with a distinct style with a personal flare, set out to tell a tale that was inspired by the scripture. It was never meant to be an accurate account, and, if anything, all of this commotion that has come out of protesting groups has amounted to an enormous amount of free publicity for the film. Back in the summer, the legal case over the name rights of The Weinstein Company’s Lee Daniel’s The Butler (originally titled, The Butler) was estimated to have increased its gross by over $10 million.

Whether or not it is a good film, it is one that has been discussed on websites and news broadcasts, and that amount of discussion is bound to raise both awareness and curiosity for the movie. While Aronofsky has had major financial success in Black Swan, his name involvement is not likely to be the driving promotional force in this film. As well, even though it stars Russell Crowe there is little stability behind that name anymore. The film will be relying on people’s intrigue in seeing an adaptation of the well-known story, as well as banking on all of the free press that it has gotten from opponents of the film (Note: if you are against a movie, sometimes the best thing to do is not bring a large amount of attention to said movie).

Noah Opening Weekend Prediction - $38 Million

From a man battling the rain we go to Arnold Schwarzenegger battling… well, does it really even matter who he battles in films? Fans just want to see explosions, big guns, and hear charismatic one-liners. Sadly for Arnold, the pool of people desiring those three things from him has declined a lot over the years, and big opening weekends do not seem to be a sure thing for the Austrian. Outside of the ensemble based The Expendables, Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand opened to only $6 million, and the Escape Plan (where he starred alongside Sylvester Stallone) made just south of $10 million.

Arnold has proven in the past that he is able to turn his career around after it seemed dead in the water when Last Action Hero hit theatres, and then Junior did not do much to help his case either. His future holds a return to multiple franchise roles in The Expendables 3, Terminator: Genesis, Triplets, and The Legend of Conan. While brand recognition may help a bit with some of those titles (I don’t really know how much the world wants a sequel to Twins), he does not have that sort of support to lean against with Sabotage.

Sabotage Opening Weekend Prediction - $8 Million


(Christopher: It is also interesting to note that the once mega-blockbuster king seemingly can't even get his picture into a major wide release as it isn't screening anywhere near where I live with nearby cinemas opting for The Grand Budapest Hotel or Bad Words instead.)