After Baldwin Becomes Box Office Boss, Moviegoers Turn to Smurfs and Seniors. This Coming Weekend at the Box Office

By Jim Amos | April 2, 2017 10:09 pm PDT
Box Office - April 7, 2017 - Smurfs, Going In Style, Case for Christ

Well that was certainly a surprise, wasn’t it? Twentieth Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation’s “Boss Baby” pulled off a bit of a stunner, making its debut to the tune of USD $49 million and knocking Disney’s Beast off its lofty perch. The company expertly used its vocal star Alec Baldwin to its advantage and made the film palatable for parents as well as tikes. An A- Cinemascore should ensure positive word-of-mouth throughout the April school breaks.

“Zookeeper’s Wife” was another pleasant surprise as the film debuted to more than USD $3 million in only 500+ theatres for the third largest per location average in the top ten.

As much of a winner as “Boss Baby” was, the Scarlett Johansson starrer, “Ghost in the Shell” proved to be a ghost at the boxoffice, to the tune of a measly USD $19 million. That one’s hard to figure as there’s not that much out there right now for an action audience, although a B Cinemascore certainly doesn’t help, nor does a middling Rotten Tomatoes score. Overseas boxoffice prospects for the film look rosier, especially with the international cast.

So with that we head upward and onward to this coming weekend:

“Smurfs: The Lost Village” (Sony)—If you’re asking yourself who’s dying for a third installment of the “Smurfs” franchise just remember that the previous two films amassed almost USD $700 million just from the overseas market. What Sony grabs Stateside is just gravy at this point. As much as many of us laboring in the domestic market hate to admit it, sometimes North America is simply an add-on when you total worldwide boxoffice prospects, as if we’re in the same category as Myanmar or Burkina Faso. Getting back to our tiny boxoffice island, the first “Smurfs” cranked out a USD $35 million opening in North America while the second dipped to USD $17 million. I’m no mathematician but that seems to be going in the wrong direction.

The Verdict: Not sure if anyone has noticed but there are a couple of titles already in the marketplace for kids so it’s gonna be tough for the gang in Culver City to break through. A large part of the ad campaign has been that this effort is fully animated, as if Neil Patrick Harris was the cause of the boxoffice drop from the first to the second. However, the larger area of concern should be that the film opened in 30 countries around the world this past weekend and the results were fairly disappointing. Russia opened to USD $2.5 mil vs $5 mil for the opening weekend of the 2nd “Smurfs”. Spain debuted to USD $2.1 vs. $2.7 mil and the UK took an even larger hit, USD $1.8 mil vs. $2.7 mil. Many outlets here have this in the USD $25 million range for some reason but it’s difficult for us to believe there’s room for three family films in the marketplace and these international returns echo that sentiment. USD $15 million.

“Going In Style” (Warners)—Just to give you an idea of how long it’s been since the original version of “Going In Style” was in theatres, the “wide” release on the film in 1979 totaled 731 theatres and its opening weekend of USD $1.7 million was considered hefty. My how things have changed. This time out, George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg have been replaced by the AARP Approved roster of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin, not to mention Ann-Margret in a supporting role.   You gotta love a movie where someone who once dated Elvis is the film’s love interest.

The Verdict: Seniors are returning to the movies so this film has a much better chance of working than, say, five years ago, and the film is harmless fun for the prune juice demographic. Still and all, it’s difficult to see this expanding its core demo and attracting an audience whose Saturday night doesn’t revolve around watching Lawrence Welk reruns or attending Bingo Night at the Pleasant Acres Retirement Village. USD $12 million.

“The Case For Christ” (Pure Flix)—This 1,200 run break revolves around a journalist out to prove that Christ does not exist. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he ultimately doesn’t succeed. Faith based films are notoriously difficult to predict but this one feels like a second class citizen. The film does have some “names” Erika Christensen and Faye Dunaway and it also answers the oft-asked question, “Whatever happened to Grant Goodeve from TV’s “Eight is Enough”?”

The Verdict: It’s difficult make a case for this opening to more than USD $2-3 million.

ALSO OPENING— Fox Searchlight has the custody battle drama, “Gifted”, starring Chris Evans, Octavia Spencer and Jenny Slate. New distributor Neon opens “Colossal”, a sci-fi’er with Anne Hathaway and Dan Stevens. STX opens “Their Finest”, a WWII dramedy with Gemma Arterton and the always awesome Bill Nighy. And finally, Funimation offers up the anime title, “Your Name”, which has already grossed USD $328 million overseas. Yes, you read that right.

Jim Amos
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