Friday, February 28, 2014

Jesus and Liam Neeson Run Non-Stop for the Top at the Box Office

We're almost out of February, which means we can start analyzing genuine hits again. Of course, for that statement to work then I'd need to completely ignore the success of The LEGO Movie or Ride Along. This looks like a dull week at the box office. Scott does predict some big success for a few pictures this weekend, even if he isn't promising quality.

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Kevin Costner’s action flick 3 Days to Kill performed above expectations last weekend, but its life expectancy is about to be cut short this weekend as Liam Neeson jumps back into an action role in Non-Stop and looks to take first place in theatres. On top of all of the shouting and punching that Liam will be doling out, we have two movies that are re-cuts hitting theatres and also Russia’s biggest film from the previous year is hitting the domestic market.

I am sure that fifteen years ago there would have been a lot of people who would have balked at the idea of Liam Neeson becoming an action hero, but here we are in 2014 and the man has established himself as a believable and charismatic gunslinger. When you look back at his career, it becomes clear that it is something that he has always dabbled in. From action roles in movies like Darkman and Batman Begins, Neeson has been able to deliver a forceful presence while also being able to absolutely nail awesome lines that make you excited about him getting involved in an old-fashioned donnybrook.

What really turned audiences onto him in this kind of role was Taken, in which he had the very memorable phone conversation where he established that he is not to be messed with. From a financial perspective, he is a fairly solid draw who is able to get butts off the couch and into theatres quite consistently. His range in ability is monstrous, coming off of a delightful role in The LEGO Movie as Good Cop/Bad Cop.

Here he will be in a film that reminds me of the horribly convoluted Flightplan, but appears to have some more action pumped into it. I am guessing this one will have some inane twists as well, but he will be cracking noggins, so I suppose all will be good. The first Taken was able to open at $25 million with the sequel taking $49 million. This movie, which is supported by Julianne Moore and rising star Lupita Nyong’o, should be skewing more towards the numbers of Taken, but would not be surprised if it ended up in the higher $30 million range.

Non-Stop Opening Weekend Prediction - $30 Million

Also popping into wide release is Son of God, a movie that Chris and I have already vented our personal feelings about. This is a movie, which follows the life of Jesus, but is not a movie that was specifically made for the big screen and instead consists of footage from The Bible mini-series that aired last year along with a bit of deleted scenes.

The big question is just how much people want to pay for a product that looks (and was) made for television. The hope for this film is to grab the faith audience that poured into theatres to see The Passion of the Christ, but I am feeling Son of God will come nowhere close to that. While there are churches buying up large blocks of tickets for this movie and some preachers are encouraging their flock to see the film, the production quality shown in the trailers will most likely keep a lot of people away. This pick is the kind that I have no comfort in making, because it could easily shock with a disastrous or tremendous opening weekend.

Son of God Opening Weekend Prediction - $17 Million

As I had mentioned, there were two re-packaged movies in theatres this weekend. Son of God is the first, and the second is Anchorman 2, which is coming out in an R-rated form that boasts a longer run time and the inclusion of 763 new jokes. It is a one week only event, and it is likely it will not bring in the crowds that the studio is hoping for. I have a feeling that the hardcore fans of the franchise bought tickets when the movie came out a few months ago, and I doubt there will be a lot of interest in doing it again. This is the End did a re-release last year that was able to pick up $1.9 million, although it was the same cut that had been originally released. This really is something that should be a Blu-ray extra.

Anchorman 2 R-Rated Weekend Prediction - $1.5 Million

Lastly is Stalingrad, a film that comes to us from Russia and is a special effects driven story of what was probably the most brutal battle of World War 2. It was the dominant film in Russian theatres for 2013, and it is the first Russian film that is shot in the IMAX format. It is opening in 308 theatres and I could see this film pulling in perhaps around $2,500 per theatre.

Stalingrad Limited Release Opening Weekend Prediction - $800,000

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