Welcome back to the Beat’s weekly Box Office Preview, as we go into Captain Marvel week two with two or three wide releases that don’t stand much of a chance to dethrone Marvel Studios’ latest superhero movie. This is a weekend of anomalies, mostly original movies (a rarity these days!) with smaller name actors, though nothing that might have any sort of significant impact at the box office.
WONDER PARK (Paramount)
Voice Cast: Jennifer Garner, Kenan Thompson, Mila Kunis, John Oliver, Ken Jeong, Matthew Broderick, Norbert Leo Butz, Brianna Denski
Directed By: ????
MPAA Rating: PG
While Disney, DreamWorks and other studios have dominated in the world of CG animation, Paramount has frequently tried to get into the mix, whether it was with its former partnership with DreamWorks Animation or its ongoing relationship with Nickelodeon Films.
Wonder Park is an animated film about an an 8-year-old girl named June (voiced by Brianna Denski), who has a knack for engineering and who discovers her imaginary amusement park Wonderland has become a reality. But now she has to save it and its inhabitants from destruction.
Wonder Park’s voice cast also includes the likes of Jennifer Garner, Kenan Thompson, Mila Kunis and others, and it’s directed by… well, who knows? Apparently, there is no director credited to the movie, because it ended up directing itself. Apparently, it was so good that not even Alan Smithee wanted to take credit for it.
There probably is room for another animated family film to enter the market even with How to Train Your Dragon and The LEGO Movie 2 still in the top 10, but this seems like a lesser release ala 2001’s Nickelodeon release Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, which opened with $13.8 million but got a nice holiday bump to gross $81 million domestically. Like Wonder Park, that was made in conjunction with Nickelodeon, as were two of Paramount’s bigger animated hits, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and its sequel, but the company’s biggest animated hit had to be 2011’s Rango, which grossed $245 million globally and won an Oscar for Animated Feature.
With a voice cast that doesn’t include a significant box office star, Wonder Park seems like it’s going to be a lower-scale release than the two animated sequels currently in theaters but with many schools on spring break, parents will be looking for ways to get the kids out of the house.
Wonder Park will open for previews at 4pm on Thursday, which should help line up some business before a weekend where it should be able to take in $11 to 13 million for a distant second place behind Captain Marvel.
FIVE FEET APART (CBS Films / Lionsgate)
Cast: Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse, Claire Forlani, Moises Arias, Parminder Nagra
Directed By: Justin Baldoni (directorial debut)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Admittedly, I know less about this Y.A. romantic drama than some of the other films opening this weekend, although it seems to be in The Fault in our Stars vein in which two young people with life-threatening diseases fall in love with each other.
The film stars Haley Lu Richardson, who some might remember from M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, plus she also starred in The Edge of Seventeen with Hailee Steinfeld and a couple other prominent indies. More importantly, the movie stars Cole Sprouse, who appeared with his twin brother Dylan on Disney’s hit show The Suite Life of Zack and Cody but has gained even more fans on the hugely-popular CW show Riverdale. In fact, Sprouse’s popularity among the young women to whom this film is targeted will probably make the biggest difference in how well the film does.
As far as comparisons, this looks a lot like the teen romance The Fault in Our Stars, based on John Green’s hugely popular Y.A. book, which might be how it grossed $125 million (about ten times its production budget), although Fox’s follow-up adaptation of Green’s Paper Towns did far more moderately. Five Feet Apart seems to be more in the vein of the latter or last year’s Midnight Sun, starring Bella Thorne, which only opened with $4 million, not being based on a popular novel. (That was a remake of a Japanese film.)
This is CBS Films’ latest attempt to find relevance after a series of near-misses and outright bombs. The studio’s only significant releases last year were Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate, for which Willem Dafoe received another Oscar nomination, and the horror films Hell Fest and Winchester, the latter making $25 million i.e. twice as much as the former.
Honestly, I haven’t seen a single commercial for Five Feet Apart and only know the movie exists since that’s kind of my job. That said, I’m not the market for the movie so it might be advertised on shows I don’t watch, and it seems like a good time for this to offer counter-programming for everything else in theaters. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this open with a respectable $8 to 10 million, then we’ll have to see whether the youngsters like this enough to keep seeing it over the rest of the month.
CAPTIVE STATE (Focus Features)
Cast: John Goodman, Ashton Sanders, Vega Farmiga, James Ransone, Kiki Layne, Alan Ruck
Directed By: Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes,The Gambler, The Escapist)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
The third movie getting a wide release this weekend is an original science fiction thriller fromRise of the Planet of the Apesdirector Rupert Wyatt. Captive State is set nine years after an alien invasion after Chicago has been turned into a police state by the aliens’ government allies.
The film’s ensemble cast includes acting vet John Goodman, Ashton Sanders from Moonlight, Vera Farmiga (in a smaller supporting role) and many character actors you’ll probably recognize from other movies and television shows. Unfortunately, none of those names alone will be enough to get people into theaters, so it’s more about the concept and premise for the film, as well as its genre that might be of interest.
What’s interesting is that this is a fairly slow and somewhat challenging science fiction movie, but Focus has been selling it to urban audiences with commercials scored with hip-hop focusing mainly on Sanders’ character. That could help the movie bring in some business but could backfire when people realize the movie is not what’s being sold. (It’s not an action movie, for instance.)
Last year, Paramount released two similarly challenging genre films including the sci-fi thriller Annihilation, starring Natalie Portman, which opened with $11 million in a similar number of theaters. Later last year, Param ount released the WWII horror film Overlord and that didn’t fare quite as well. The big difference is that Paramount spent a lot more money marketing than those films than Focus has for Captive State, even having shifted the movie’s release date a few times.
Although I think this might fare slightly better than Focus’ recent psychological thriller Greta, I still feel this is getting too wide a release for a movie that only started its marketing campaign fairly recently. Because of that, I can’t see the movie opening with much more than $6 million, so it might have a tough time cracking the top 5.
Lionsgate’s LatinX division Pantelion Films will release the comedy sequel No Maches Frida 2into around 450 theaters this weekend. The sequel to Spanish TV vet Nacho Velilla’s 2016 movie reunites the cast of that movie, which opened with $4.6 million over the four-day Labor Day weekend in just 362 theaters, grossing $11.5 million in the States. Expect the sequel to also open in the top 10 with roughly $4 million.
Also, Warner Bros. is releasing something called Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, apparently a sequel to the 2007 movie, only without Emma Roberts who is now 28 years old. There is no word on wide the movie will be released, but I don’t think it stands much of a chance of breaking into the top 10 either way.
This Week’s Box Office Predictions:
- Captain Marvel (Marvel Studios/Disney) – $72 million -53%
- Wonder Park (Paramount) – $12.5 million N/A
- Five Feet Apart (CBS Films / Lionsgate) – $9.2 million N/A
- How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (DreamWorks Animation) – $8 million -46%
- Captive State (Focus Features) – $6 million N/A
- Tyler Perry’s A Madea Famly Funeral (Lionsgate) – $5.8 million -52%
- No Manches Frida 2 (Pantelion/Lionsgate) – $4.1 million N/A
- The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part(Warner Bros.) – $2.3 million -40%
- Alita: Battle Angel (20thCentury Fox) – $1.6 million -50%
- Isn’t It Romantic? (New Line/WB) – $1.3 million -45%
There’s some good stuff in limited release as well this weekend, including James Kent’s WWII drama The Aftermath, starring Keira Knightley, Alexander Skarsgard and Jason Clarke. Focus Features is also releasing Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s The Mustang, starring Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts as a prisoner who grows personally by bonding and training a wild mare.
Next week, fresh off its SXSW premiere, Jordan Peele’s horror-thriller Us, starring Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, will try to do as well as Peele’s 2017 debut Get Out.
Edward Douglas has been writing about movies and other forms of entertainment for over 25 years, so he’s probably older than you.