April 2013 Preview
by Ray Subers
April 3, 2013
Coming off an underwhelming first quarter at the domestic box office, it's unlikely that April 2013 will do much to turn things around. With only seven new nationwide releases—one of which is a 3D re-release—the major studios are mostly avoiding April, and that should translate to moderate grosses. April 2011, which had 13 nationwide debuts, holds the April record with $793 million, which is a figure that's completely out of reach for the upcoming month.
The first weekend of April features one remake and one re-release, and both are poised to do decent business. Jurassic Park 3D is the third major live-action 3D re-release following last year's Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 3D and Titanic 3D. Both were modest domestic performers—Titanic was tops with $57.9 million—though Titanic at least proved that there can be major upside overseas. Specifically, the movie earned an incredible $145 million in China; while Jurassic Park 3D probably won't come close to that, it's still likely that its Chinese haul is higher than its U.S. tally.
Boldly billed as "The Most Terrifying Film You Will Ever Experience, the Evil Dead remake should open well thanks to a mix of intense previews and strong buzz coming out of South By Southwest screenings. Horror movies have a pretty modest ceiling, though: for example, in the past five years, the highest-grossing horror remake is Friday the 13th, which earned $65 million. It's unlikely that Evil Dead gets to that level, though it's at least a safe bet that it grosses more than last April's The Cabin in the Woods ($42.1 million).
Scary Movie 5 goes head-to-head with Jackie Robinson biopic 42 on April 12. The first four installments in the Scary Movie franchise opened between 2000 and 2006, and they averaged over $100 million at the domestic box office. Unfortunately, spoof movies have faded in popularity since then, and the horror genre has already been lampooned in 2013 thanks to A Haunted House ($40 million). Also, The Weinstein Company has a poor track record reviving long-dormant franchises: in 2011, for example, fourth entries in the Scream and Spy Kids franchises each earned less than 40 percent of the average of their predecessors. A similar result for Scary Movie 5 wouldn't be surprising at all.
Opening less than two weeks in to the start of the 2013 baseball season, 42 has the makings of a modest sleeper hit. Jackie Robinson is almost universally regarded as an American hero, and previews set to Jay-Z's "Brooklyn (Go Hard)" do a great job establishing the story while also making it look more exciting than the average baseball movie. Unfortunately, even the most interesting baseball movies don't really light up the box office scoreboard: to date, no movie about "America's pastime" has opened above $20 million, and it's unlikely that 42 changes that.
The only new nationwide release on April 19 is sci-fi action movie Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman. Releasing a big-budget potential blockbuster in April is an odd choice, though distributor Universal Pictures had great success doing this with Fast and Furious and Fast Five in 2009 and 2011. Without an established brand—aside from Cruise's, which isn't a lock anymore—Oblivion won't earn nearly as much as those movies, but it will at least get to play for two weeks without any major competition before Iron Man 3 swoops in at the beginning of May. A total close to $100 million is definitely possible, and it should be the highest-grossing movie to come out of April.
The final weekend of Spring delivers two star-studded releases in Pain and Gain and The Big Wedding.
Bodybuilder action-comedy Pain and Gain marks the first time director Michael Bay has worked outside of the sci-fi genre since 2003's Bad Boys II. Bay is a perpetual hit-maker, and the pairing of Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is sure to bring in a solid audience (though fans of The Rock who literally just saw him in G.I. Joe: Retaliation may be inclined to wait a few more weeks to check him out again in Fast & Furious 6). Still, Pain and Gain's satirical macho tone, hyperkinetic visual style and R-rating suggest it could be a bit of a niche product. It also doesn't help that it runs in to Iron Man 3 the following weekend, which is going to be a seismic box office event.
Romantic comedy The Big Wedding has a stacked cast that includes Katherine Heigl, Robert DeNiro, Amanda Seyfried and Robin Williams, and is the latest entry in the perennially popular wedding movie genre. Additionally, it's the only movie that's exclusively targeted at women in all of April, which should help as well. The campaign has been light so far, though, and romantic comedy is outside of distributor Lionsgate's wheel house. A good comparable title is Lionsgate's What to Expect When You're Expecting, which had a strong ensemble and great counterprogramming opportunity last May but only wound up with $41.2 million.
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• 'Identity Thief' Tops Abysmal February
• 2012 Holdovers Dominate First Month of 2013
• 2013 Preview
• 2012 Recap: Winners & Losers
• Domestic Box Office Sets New Yearly Record in 2012
• Blockbuster Franchises Help November 2012 Destroy Record
• October Starts Strong, Ends on Down Note
• 'Hotel Transylvania' Tops Solid September
• Awful August Ends Summer 2012
• Five $50 Million Debuts Propel June Business
• 'Avengers' Accounts for Over Half of May 2012 Grosses
• 'Hunger Games' Tops Average April
• April 2013 Release Schedule
• 2013 Grosses (2013-only releases)
• Year-to-Date Comparison