bobfeature

Can “The Revenant” Ride To The Top?

Box Office Brasserie: Movie News For Movie Lovers

Three new flicks—Sony’s YA adaptation “The 5th Wave,” Lionsgate’s R-rated road trip comedy “Dirty Grandpa,” and STX’s chill pill “The Boy”—fly into theaters this weekend, but none of them really have a snowball’s chance in hell of taking the top stop from last week’s dynamic duo, “Ride Along 2” and “The Revenant.”

After the massive success of “Harry Potter,” “Twilight,” and “Hunger Games” studios have attempted to launch countless YA adaptations, mostly to middling success, or downright muddy waters.

“Percy Jackson” and “Maze Runner” are modest wins, but  Sony’s “The Mortal Instruments,” “Vampire Academy,” “I Am Number Four,” “The Seeker,” and countless others have tried, and most have died.

You don’t purchase an entire series of books just to squeeze a single film out of it. At least Sony didn’t break the bank with “The 5th Wave,” starring Chloe Grace Moretz, which is budgeted at $38M. The PG-13 sci-fi invasion drama may actually get to sequel-ville, provided it opens with at the higher end of expectations: $15M.

Probably will have to settle with around $12M, though, in 2,900+ theaters, as critical support just isn’t there, and it really needs to be for this kind of film; it’s currently at just 22% on Rotten Tomatoes.

For relatively unknown YA adaptations to have success, they desperately need the support of positive word-of-mouth; without it, they often go down quickly, and usually in flames. Like a burst of flames. Like a bonfire really, that someone poured kerosene on. You get the idea now, right?

Hey, at least Sony had the balls to screen their film, as “The Boy” and “Dirty Grandpa” both chose to keep everyone in the dark. We all know what that means. Hey, when WKRP in Cincinnati is your only go-to for a pulled quote, you know you’ve got problems.  “I laughed my old balls off.” – Dr. Johnny Fever, WKRP Cincinnati.

Road trip comedies often make a quick buck at theaters: “The Hangover,” “We’re the Millers,” “Vacation (the OG),” “Dumb and Dumber,” and “Due Date,” to name a few.  However, Lionsgate’s latest seems like a desperate attempt to cash in on the rudest, crudest version of Robert De Niro…which isn’t the worst idea ever. Just seems a bit tired.

“Dirty Grandpa” is hoping the geriatric success of films featuring old codgers behaving badly like “Grumpy Old Men,” “Bad Grandpa,” and “Last Vegas” will rub off on a new generation of…geriatrics? I’m not sure who the target demo is here–probably middle-aged males.

We’ve seen this act from De Niro before in the “Meet the Parents” trilogy, although he finally gets to unleash his inner juvenile delinquent as he goes full-tilt filthy.

In 2,800+ theaters expect around $10M or so—which will be quite the uptick for Zac Efron, who has had trouble going at it alone. His last film, “We Are Your Friends” opened the last weekend of August, and was practically out of theaters by the first weekend of September, as it debuted with a disastrous $1.7M.

And then we have STX’s deadly, PG-13 doll flick, “The Boy.” Films featuring little people and dolls that come to life always creep me out. I do love Full Moon’s “Puppetmaster” series, and Chucky’s little foul-mouth will always have a place in my heart, but this one looks sort of tame in a seen-it, done-it, I’ve-played-with-that-doll-before sort of way.

In 2,600+ theaters, expect upwards of $10M, which will make this a success, as it cost just $10M to produce. Director William Brent Bell previously helmed “The Devil Inside,” which four years ago surprised everyone as Fox’s horror flick debuted the first weekend in January with $33M…although it ended its run with just $53M.

Still, horror is alive and well in Hollywood–making back your budget opening weekend is always a solid way to make a killing.

***

WEEKEND ESTIMATES

  1. The Revenant – $20M
  2. Ride Along 2 – $17.5M
  3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – $15M
  4. Dirty Grandpa – $11M
  5. The 5th Wave – $10M

***

CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: WB’s “SUICIDE SQUAD” (Aug. 8, 2016)

“Batman V. Superman” wishes it had a trailer this good. Listen, we all know everyone will still see Bats and Supes knock each other around, but this feels fresh, like “Guardians of the Galaxy” was a couple years ago.

And guess what? The similarities are strikingly hard to miss: it features a bunch of relatively unknown superheroes, has locked down the same release date, and features a classic rock anthem as its full-length trailer. That same type of release pattern bolstered Star Lord and Co. to $333M domestic and nearly $775M worldwide.

Looks like DC finally has something to crow about, now that they seemingly have a film that looks like, sounds like, and smells like a real comic book. By Jove, they got it right. Finally.

***

SECRET CUT OF THE WEEK: Paramount’s “10 CLOVERFIELD LANE” (Mar. 11, 2016)

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice–you dicks! J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot films have had an “Untitled Bad Robot Film” on Paramount’s release schedule for awhile now, and guess what…it’s a “spiritual” sequel to “Cloverfield.” I know it’s early in its usage …but I already immediately hate anything called a “spiritual sequel.”

Eight years ago the best kept flick in the movie industry debuted with a massive $40M and rolled up $170M worldwide with a budget of just $25M. This should be fun.

***

CHOICE CLIP OF THE WEEK: Netflix’s “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday” (Mar. 18, 2016)

When we last saw P.W., he up and left with the circus in 1988’s “Big Top Pee Wee.” 28 years later, he brings his tentpole to Netflix…a place that’s becoming more and more like home for artists that want to do things on their own terms. Own terms = less script notes.

“Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday” will roll out the red carpet at Austin’s SXSW film festival on March 17 and stream online the next day. No doubt there will be a pilgrimage to nearby San Antonio to visit The Alamo…but beware if you receive an invite to screen the film in the basement. Just sayin’.

***

CHINCY CUT OF THE WEEK: Universal’s “NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING” (May 20, 2016)

There’s no denying the allure of putting out a sequel when you have as much success as 2014’s “Neighbors.” Universal’s comedy grossed a massive $270M on a miniscule $18M budget. No wonder this one feels like a rush job.

From the get-go, though, we see this is exactly the same film, except with chicks. I mean, right down to not only the premise and the same pranks, but nearly identical reaction shots to—gasp—the fact that Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are living next to another Greek house! Déjà vu hijinks ensue.  Déjà vu hijinks ensue. Déjà vu hijinks ensue. Whoops…sorry about that.

This reeks of the worst kind of sequel: a shameless retread–A cash-grab under the guise of gender equality. Priceless. Even the subtitle is pointless. Why not just call it “Neighbors 2: Whores Next Door.”

I like offensive comedy, don’t get me wrong. Funny flicks that push boundaries are often the best kind, but thongs, girly-bongs, and blatant rip-off riffs are all kinds of wrong.

There are 40+ sequels set for release in 2016, and the problem with the majority of them will be the same: a constrained incubation period. You can tell from the trailer that there just aren’t an abundance of new ideas here.

All this aside, I’m excited to see what they’ll call the threequel since this will make another boatload of moola. I’m really hoping for 3D, too. Haven’t had a great 3D comedy since Harold & Kumar.

***

“The Revenant” Poster Image Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

***

Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.