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Box Office Brasserie:
Movie News For Movie Lovers

Is there any way to stop Marvel madness in multiplexes? Not really. Last weekend, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” became the #1 opener of all-time for April, dishing out a box office blow of $95.2M, and topping the $86M “Fast Five” revved up back in 2011.

With jingoism running rampant, and the rockets’ red glare still aglow at the box office, it’ll be up to Fox’s flappy birds of “Rio 2” to unseat a superhero, as the sequel will look to build on its $39M debut three years ago and its solid run thereafter, which saw “Rio” soar week in and week out to $143M domestic, $484M worldwide.

In a massive 3,900+ theaters, Blue Sky should see solid grosses for its toon, but not the clear skies it likely would have had it waited one more week. Still, look for a close race with a debut of around $40M expected, meanwhile if “The Winter Soldier” holds like “The Avengers” at a 50% clip, we could be looking at $46M. However, it if performs similarly to “Thor: The Dark World” and drops 56%, we might see around $42M.

Kevin Costner might not be the second coming of Liam Neeson, as his latest, “3 Days to Kill,” went out with a whimper this winter, tallying up a mediocre $30M. But, damn if the man isn’t one hell of an actor, and proves it yet again in Lionsgate’s “Draft Day.”

The football flick was certainly the surprise of CinemaCon—filmdom’s annual conference in Vegas where studios and theater owners run elbows and make nice—this year, as the third act threw a desperation heave and scored a touchdown with audiences.

While the subject matter of the NFL draft may seem limiting, Costner, Jennifer Garner, Chadwick Boseman and a host of cameos from real NFL talent and play-callers, make this an authentic journey behind the curtain…one that follows a playbook written by comedy legend, Ivan Reitman.

Under his watch, the film is much better than expected, and although “Draft Day” is a drama in tone, it’s much funnier than expected…and real in a way football fans will appreciate. Debuting in 2,700+ theaters expect $13M.

Micro-budget horror maestro, Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions, has become synonymous with mavericks of the macabre like John Carpenter and Wes Craven as his unique brand of horror is quickly becoming Hollywood lore.

Consider this: Blum’s budgets never top the $5M mark, and more often than not, his chill pills kill it at the box office, assuring that his movies never bleed red…and that’s precisely the main vein the studios will forever drain. Is it any wonder he has dozens of projects in various stages of production with multiple studios?

Haunting 2,500+ creepshows “Oculus” may surprise with up to $15M bones. So far in 2014, horror has been DOA as a genre though, as only one title, Blum’s “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” has open north of $10+M. Last year, there were four horror flicks that had already debuted with $20+M including “Evil Dead,” “Warm Bodies,” “Texas Chainsaw 3D” and “Mama.” Nothing is more cyclical that horror though, and it just takes one sick flick get the box office blood flowing again.

With “Rio 2” and “Captain America 2” leading the box office brigade, Sony Classics is also hoping to see some sequel-love expanding “The Raid 2” into nearly 1,000 theaters. The original action flick pulled a similar play, although it didn’t quite hit $1M. Expect similar results for this one, as limited release hasn’t been overly impressive.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – $42M
2. Rio 2 – $38M
3. Oculus – $14M
4. Draft Day – $13M
5. Noah – $8M

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SPLICE OF LIFE: BLURBS, BLIPS, CUTS & CLIPS

THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER EXPANDS

Universal recently announced that Harry Potter will fly his Firebolt into Universal Studios Hollywood which will in effect completely transform the themepark which has played second fiddle to Disneyland since, well, forever. That Imperious curse The Magic Kingdom has cast on Southern Californians is about to be broken, as 2016 will place a dark mark over Disneyland while The Wizarding World of Harry Potter  finally opens and fans will have a chance to be sorted and sip on those delicious Butterbeers.

No doubt the Transformers ride is one best things out there, but Universal isn’t stopping with J.K. Rowling, they’re also adding a “Fast & Furious” diversion, called “Supercharged,” that will have tram riders feel the rush of hitting the NOS button as they zip and zoom through a brand new 3D-HD set–likely similar to the King Kong attraction.

Long live The Mariner! Thank the ghost of Dennis Hopper that there are no current plans to retire the Waterworld live action spectacular. Probably would’ve started picketing if they were planning to replace that wondrous wet zone with Vin Deisel and Co’s dryland drag-racing adventures.

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ADAM SANDLER INSERTS COINS IN SLOT

It’s true: Adam Sandler and partner-in-crime, Kevin James, will return to theaters next summer. No, thank your lucky stars it’s not “Grown Ups 3,” or “I Now Pronounce you Chuck & Larry Again,” but Sony’s video game adventure, “Pixels,” directed by Chris Columbus.

As you might recall, this big-budget 3D version is based on the short film from 2010 of the same name that had Frenchman Patrick Jean at the joystick. Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage are also rumored to round out the cast.

Here’s the synopsis courtesy of Sony Pictures:

When aliens misinterpret video-feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war against them, they attack the Earth, using the games as models for their various assaults. President Will Cooper has to call on his childhood best friend, ’80s video game champion Jules Brenner, now a home theater installer, to lead a team of old-school arcaders to defeat the aliens and save the planet.

Anything’s better than “Blended,” right? Sandler honestly hasn’t a film that will arrive with this much buzz since, probably, well…ever. Could be fun, as Sony is teasing cameos from the 80s most iconic games. I only home Food Fight and Burgertime will finally get their just due.

While video game adaptations have been sketchy at best at the box office, Disney’s recent hit, “Wreck-It Ralph” had similar fun with old school arcade games, and this looks like it might be just the ticket…provided they can actually level up a release date in the ever-crowded summer that is 2015.

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WOODY ALLEN’S “MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT” SETS DATE FOR SUMMER

The Woodman’s latest flick from Sony Classics will shine exclusively in New York and Los Angeles on July 25, 2014. Woody’s last three films–“Midnight in Paris,” “To Rome with Love,” and “Blue Jasmine”–all found varying levels of success with a summer bow, and are all part of his box office renaissance of late.

“Magic in the Moonlight” is Woody’s typical PG-13 dramedy, featuring a bevy of acting talent including Emma Stone, Colin Firth, Marcia Gay Harden and Jacki Weaver.

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“GOONIES II” ON THE FAST TRACK?

Well, only if you believe director Richard Donner who showed up on TMZ earlier this week telling anyone who would listen that the script is ready and that he’s bringing back the entire cast for the sequel to the 1985 film produced by Steven Spielberg.

I’m pretty sure this is the first Spielberg is hearing of this too, as I’m positive “Goonies II” would still have to go through him. And if not, it should. Otherwise, it might as well be straight-to-Redbox fodder like “The Lost Boys ” sequels.

C’mon, we all know this rumor has been popping up on the internet ever since the wild wild web was first plugged in. As much as I want to return to Astoria–my actual birthplace–I truly hope this never happens, as the original is a magical piece of filmmaking that will certainly only be tainted by nostalgia 30+ years later. Yes, 30 years, folks.

“Beetlejuice 2?” Sure, why not.  But films like “The Goonies,” “Stand By Me,” and “The Dead Poet’s Society” should be declared national treasures…or historical artifacts…with the assurance that no one can ever sequilze, reboot, or bastardize the original. It will only end up hurting the ones we love.

Hey, I realize Corey Feldman and Sean Astin need paychecks, which is why I fully support “Encino Man 2: Tarzana Man” and “License to Drive: License Revoked” going into production. I can probably whip out those scripts in about one week, too. You’ve got my email addy.

And for those of us that were glued to our NES in 1987, we all know there already was a sequel to “The Goonies.” Relive Cyndi Lauper’s “The Goonies R Good Enough” in all its 8-bit glory…

Based on Lauper’s acting in the extended “Good Enough” video, it’s pretty obvious why she was cast in “Vibes.” Now, why the music video was extended in the first place to include Captain Lou Albino, Randy Savage, Rowdy Roddy Piper and The Iron Sheik of the World Wrestling Federation is anyone’s guess…

Cyndi Lauper and Jeff Goldblum: “Vibes” Trailer

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Open Road’s  “CHEF” (May 9, 2014)

After “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” and “Cowboys & Aliens” Jon Favreau finally took a big-budget blockbuster break and returns to his lo-fi roots with “Chef.” And, man, does it look tasty.

While this may be food porn, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It might just be that ‘something different’ audiences are craving in the big bad world of summer blockbusters.  Just make sure you see it at one of those theaters that offers dinner-and-a-movie.

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CHOICE CLIP OF THE WEEK: Focus Features’  “WISH I WAS HERE” (July 18, 2014)

Zach Braff successfully swindled me out of $30 bucks with his Kickstarter campaign. My love for “The Garden State” blinded me, making me  forget that he received royalty checks bigger than my annual salary thanks to his decade-long run on “Scrubs.” Oh well, at least I get to see an advance screening and sleep with him. That’s $30 bucks well spent in my book.

The teaser is more of a music video, but folks who adored “The Garden State” may jump all over this. Let’s just hope The Shins have some new material as good as ‘New Slang’ and ‘Caring is Creepy.’

The Shins: Caring is Creepy

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CHOICE BLIP OF THE WEEK: Focus Features’  “THE SIGNAL” (June 13, 2014)

Anytime Laurence Fishburne shows up in a hazmat suit…you should probably listen to him.

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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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“Rio 2” Poster Courtesy of Blue Sky Studios; Poster Designed By The Refinery