DreamWorks Animation's The Croods (their first movie distributed by 20th Century Fox) is 2013's first major animated offering, and should have no problem leading the box office on the weekend of March 22. DreamWorks hasn't had a ton of success with original animated movies lately—Megamind was a bit underwhelming, while November's Rise of the Guardians is a well-documented disaster—and the hope is to reverse that trend with The Croods.
The marketing so far has been pushing the How to Train Your Dragon connection, and the fact that the titular group is a prehistoric family should make this an easy sell to family audiences. Still, matching Dragon's $217.6 million domestic haul will be tough; instead, look for abnormally strong numbers overseas, where Fox traditionally excels. Olympus Has Fallen is the first of two 2013 movies in which a terrorist group takes over the White House; Sony hasn't really begun marketing June's White House Down, though, so general audiences aren't likely to be aware of the conflict. Also, while star Gerard Butler is coming off a string of huge flops, his role here as a tough-guy Secret Service agent is more in his wheelhouse. Still, the movie appears to have a somewhat cheap aesthetic, and it's unclear if distributor FilmDistrict can really open a movie (their biggest opening weekend to date belongs to Red Dawn with $14.3 million. In fact, Red Dawn's $44.8 million total is probably a good target for Olympus Has Fallen.
The weekend's final new release, Admission, features popular comedy stars Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, but not much else. The movie's story isn't all that exciting—Fey's college admissions worker is confronted with an ethical dilemma when she finds out she has a son who wants to attend her college—so Focus Features is instead positioning the movie as a standard romantic comedy. As a result, the box office is entirely riding on Fey and Rudd, and it's unlikely their combined drawing power is enough to really get this one to take off.
Upstart distributor A24 is releasing Spring Breakers in to limited release this weekend with a planned nationwide expansion a week later. The movie stars Disney Channel icons Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, though it's rated R and features plenty of violence, sex, and drugs; it therefore appears to have the makings of a cult hit, with box office prospects looking very modest at this point. March 29 G.I. Joe: Retaliation and The Host should combine to end the month of March on a reasonably high note. Retaliation was originally set for release last Summer, though it was pushed back nine months in order to convert to 3D and to increase Channing Tatum's screen time after his bankability increased significantly following a string of early 2012 hits. Retaliation is technically a sequel to 2009's G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, which grossed a strong $150.2 million but is widely considered a pretty terrible movie (it has an atrocious 5.7 rating on IMDb).
In order to spice things up a bit for this entry, Paramount brought in a new director (Jon Chu) and a handful of high-profile new cast members including Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Bruce Willis. With these new stars and a ubiquitous marketing effort that features plenty of gung ho action and a nice dose of humor, it's entirely possible that Retaliation ultimately matches Rise of Cobra's box office take.
Alien invasion movie The Host is adapted from Twilight author Stephenie Meyer's young adult book of the same name. To date, distributor Open Road Films' highest-grossing movie is The Grey at $51.6 million; Summit Entertainment was in a similar position in 2008 when it released Twilight, which went on to earn over $192 million. It's entirely possible that The Host will also push Open Road to the next level, though the track record of movies following in Twilight's footsteps are pretty rough (look no further than February's Beautiful Creatures, which is struggling to get past $20 million). Tons of Twilight fans have also read The Host, though, and with such a built-in audience it's likely to be an above-average performer. Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor is the first Perry movie since June 2012, which feels like an eternity for the prolific writer-director. Unfortunately, it's a somber infidelity drama, and Perry's biggest successes are all comedies. As a result, it's likely that the movie will wind up close to last February's Good Deeds, which is one of Perry's lowest-grossing movies ever at $35 million.
Focus Features also has a limited release scheduled for Ryan Gosling-Bradley Cooper crime drama The Place Beyond the Pines. While Gosling and Cooper have both seen their star status rise significantly in recent years, the movie itself is a long, dark, divisive movie, and will probably struggle to connect with a mainstream audience as Focus expands it throughout April.