noah

Box Office Brasserie:
Movie News for Movie Lovers

Back in the mid-1980’s God vs. Schwarzenegger wouldn’t have even been a contest. That said, it’s still not, only the outcome is decisively reversed these days.

Paramount’s “Noah” and Open Road’s “Sabotage” both jump in the cinematic ring this weekend, but only one will be left standing. And right now, with the success of faith-based films such as “Son of God” and “God’s Not Dead,” “Noah” is in a heavenly position to part the box office waters.

Paramount certainly has the slimmest release calendar of the major studios these days after losing Marvel to Disney and DreamWorks Animation to Fox, which is probably why most of their films have an epic quality about them lately.

How do you make an epic? Hire Darren Aronofsky after he has his biggest success—“Black Swan” $329M worldwide—and give him upwards of $150+M to direct his dream project.

So far, so good. The film has already scored $22M in one week of release in just four international markets (where it’s also being released in 3D) including Australia, Russia, Mexico and South Korea. So even if  ”Noah” does only marginally well in the US, it looks like it’s on track to become a massive hit overseas.

Flooding 3,567 theaters this weekend expect upwards of $40M for “Noah” even though religious zealots have been protesting its “authenticity.” Shouldn’t matter too much as the Russell Crowe starrer is more of a blockbuster/popcorn film that will rely heavily on multiplex masses.

On the other end of the spectrum, Schwarzenegger is inexplicably back in action with the modestly priced “Sabotage,” which cost $35M.  That budget will be the film’s saving grace as this isn’t expected to do anything but crash and burn this weekend.

While the posters wisely do not feature Schwarzenegger above the title, there is no getting around the fact that he is still front and center despite being surrounded by a decent supporting cast including Sam Worthington, Terrence Howard, Olivia Williams and directed by David Ayer, writer/director of the gritty cop drama “End of Watch.”

How do you go from such a critically acclaimed film to this? It’s certainly a bit of a head-scratcher. If Arnie’s last two films—“The Last Stand” and “Escape Plan”—are any indication of where “Sabotage” will open, we’re looking at somewhere between $6M-$9M

Lionsgate and Pantelion’s “Cesar Chavez” arrives in moderate wide release in 664 theaters and coincides with Cesar Chavez Day which is actually a real holiday, with kids out of school and everything…at least in the Los Angeles area.

The Latino market should propel the $10M venture to between $4M-$5M as it stars Michael Pena, John Malkovich and Rosario Dawson and is directed by Diego Luna.

The big story this weekend is expansions. Wes Anderson’s indie hit, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” will go from limited to wide release on nearly 1,000 screens while Jason Bateman’s R-rated comedy “Bad Words” will continue to drop f*bombs in 842 venues.

Also, last week’s surprise hit, Freestyle’s “God’s Not Dead,” which came out of nowhere to debut at #4 with $9.2M, will expand from 780 theaters to 1,164. Expect a minimal drop as weekday numbers have been very strong.

In exclusive NY/LA release, Gareth Evans’ “The Raid 2” will hit the streets at 7 sites before it goes into full-on attack mode in wide release on April 11 from Sony Classics. If you live in LA or NYC and want real unfiltered full-on action that will mess your shit up, this can’t be recommended enough.

WEEKEND ESTIMATES

  1. NOAH – $39M
  2. DIVERGENT – $24M
  3. MUPPETS MOST WANTED – $10M
  4. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – $8M
  5. SABOTAGE – $7.5M

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SPLICE OF LIFE: BLURBS, BLIPS, CUTS & CLIPS

WORLD IS ENDING; PAUL BLART OFFICIALLY SETS SEQUEL DATE

Inhabitants of planet earth were on the edge of their seats when Sony announced that Kevin James will indeed reprise the biggest role of his career as “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” will cruise into theaters April 17, 2015. So yes, around this time next year, everyone will be buying advance tickets to the sequel…although no one will be admitting it.

Wait. You mean the title isn’t enough to hook you? How about this: Paul Blart attends a Mall Cop convention in Vegas and after being ridiculed by casino cops ends up taking on art thieves. There. Ticket punched.

For those keeping score, the original grossed $183M worldwide, $146M of that coming from North America. I need to get a fake passport. Anyway, since there’s no stopping this, we might as well get that “Wild Hogs” sequel greenlit.

THE MOST ANTICIPATED FILM OF THE YEAR IS DATED FOR JULY 30, 2014

Of course, we’re talking about “Sharknado 2: The Second One” set to debut on the SyFy network again, just one year after the original set schlock filmmaking back about 50 years, yet somehow made Ian Ziering and Tara Reid relevant again.

Hell, one could argue that it’s former 90210ers Ziering’s best work to date. Vivica A. Fox, Judd Hirsh and Sugar Ray himself, Mark McGrath, also star…or more appropriately…get turned into chum by flying sharks.

Oddly enough, besides “Guardians of the Galaxy” I think this is the film I’m looking forward to most this summer.  Has this jumped the Sharknado yet? Nope. I’m pretty sure “Sharknado 2” will break Twitter records for most Tweets about a summer film this year…if not of all-time.

The original was the only film I ever live-Tweeted…and I think I did that only because I had to make sure I wasn’t slipped a tab of acid by someone and that “Sharknado” was really on TV.

Didn’t have time for the original? No problemo. Here are all the best highlights in just 2 minutes. Now you’re ready for the sequel! You’re welcome, chum bucket.

CHINTZY CUT OF THE WEEK: Paramount’s “Hercules” (July 25, 2014)

Last summer, it was pretty easy to spot “R.I.P.D.” and “The Lone Ranger” as the big-time box office bottom feeders. This summer it’s a bit more difficult, although Dwayne Johnson in “Hercules” seems to be the frontrunner so far, and this teaser doesn’t do anything to diminish its box office diminutiveness.

Luckily for Paramount, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” arrives just two weeks after this potential debacle, and yes folks, there is a reason they are being released so closely together. If the studio actually had faith in the long-term playability of “Hercules” no way they would do this…especially considering how aggressive the summer competition already is.

CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Paramount’s “TMNT” (August 8, 2015)

Cowabunga, dude! This makes me want to order a pizza and scarf it down as I camp out in front of theaters for a couple months. Ok, maybe a couple weeks. Ok, maybe a couple hours. Actually, I think I’ll just reserve my tickets on Fandango. But still, you can see I’m excited.

Yeah, I’ll admit I saw “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze” in theaters…mostly for the Vanilla Ice cameo, but this new incarnation actually looks good. Like, really good. Like, really surprisingly good.

And yes, that’s Megan Fox as the turtles’ confidant, April O’Neil. Fanboys, I hope you procured your tickets to ComicCon, should be a whopper of a presentation there. And by whopper, of course, I mean Fox in tight clothing. It’s surprising Michael Bay would work with Fox again after their very public falling out after “Transformers,” but maybe that was all just blown out of proportion.

Paramount would no doubt like to get a trilogy out of this, and they just might. Remember, the CG cartoon, “TMNT,” debuted seven years ago and opened with $25M and that wasn’t even very good. Point is, there’s a huge demand for these totally tubular turtles…one that hasn’t diminished, only grown. Could be big.

Go, ninja, go ninja go! Love that Ninja Rap! Stay cool, Ice.

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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.

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“Noah” Poster Courtesy of Paramount Pictures; Poster Designed By BLT