April Preview (Part 1): 'Titanic 3D,' 'American Reunion,' 'Three Stooges' & More
by Ray Subers
March 30, 2012
The domestic box office is coming off two record-setting months, though it's unlikely that April will follow suit. Out of the 11 nationwide releases scheduled, only Titanic 3D and American Reunion have a serious chance of reaching $100 million, and it would not be entirely surprising if they wind up battling holdover The Hunger Games for April's top spot. The highest-grossing April on record occurred last year ($792.6 million), and it will require very strong performances from late March releases to pass this mark.
April 6 - 'Titanic 3D' Vs. 'American Reunion'
For Easter weekend, the 3D re-release of one of the highest-grossing movies of all-time faces off against the fourth entry in the American Pie series. Titanic 3D is opening on Wednesday, April 4, or 11 days before the 100-year anniversary of the ship's sinking. It's the fourth major 3D re-release to take place in the past eight months, and the third one in 2012 following Beauty and the Beast 3D ($47.3 million) and Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace ($43.2 million). Considering how popular Titanic was (a then-record $600.8 million in 1997 and 1998), it would be a surprise if the movie didn't end up closer to The Lion King's 3D re-release ($30.2 million opening, $94.2 million total), and it could even go higher.
Over eight years after Jim and Michelle got married in American Wedding, the American Pie gang is back together in American Reunion. The original three movies all earned over $100 million, and the last two opened to at least $33.4 million, making this one of the most successful comedy franchises ever. There's some concern about reviving a long-dormant series—for example, Scream 4 bombed last April with just $38.2 million, or less than half of Scream 3's $89.1 million. That movie was a quasi-reboot that downplayed returning characters, though, while American Reunion is a more logical progression and includes all of the original characters, even ones that didn't appear in American Wedding. It may not reach the levels of the first three movies, but plenty of people are likely going to take another bite of the pie anyway.
April 13 - 'Three Stooges' Vs. 'Cabin in the Woods' Vs. 'Lockout'
After three weekends in a row with potential $100 million titles, things quiet down drastically in the second weekend of April. Two weeks out, the top contender on April 13 looks like The Three Stooges. Adapting popular older TV shows in to movies may seem like a cynical cash grab, but it's also been consistently successful over the past decade (the most recent example being 21 Jump Street). Previews for the Farrelly Brothers flick play up the pratfalls people traditionally associate with the Stooges, and nostalgic older audiences should turn out in decent numbers. If the characters also wind up resonating with the under-25 set, The Three Stooges could be in for a very impressive run.
After a long delay that included a brief flirtation with a 3D conversion, writer-producer Joss Whedon's horror comedy The Cabin in the Woods finally reaches theaters on Friday the 13th of April. Those who got to see the movie at South by Southwest in Austin were out-of-their-minds-thrilled about it, but that might be the Whedon fanboy effect to some extent. Festival reactions to horror movies aren't really relevant for box office anyway—what matters is that the movie looks scary and unique, and the satirical nature of Cabin in the Woods could make that a bit of a marketing challenge. Still, it's the first horror movie in months and has a killer release date, so it could be another genre hit for Lionsgate.
Lockout will also hope to get in on the action on April 13, though it has virtually no chance of breaking out. The space prison thriller is produced by Luc Besson, whose recent movies (aside from Taken) have all opened between $8 and $12 million and closed between $24 and $37 million. Nothing in the marketing for Lockout suggests that it will break this mold, and the sci-fi elements have the potential to even further limit the audience.