February 2014 Preview
by Ray Subers
January 31, 2014
|The Lego Movie|| |
With little help from January holdovers and a typically modest lineup of new releases, February tends to be one of the slower months of the year. While that won't really change in 2014, there is reason to be optimistic about this February: aside from would-be blockbuster The Lego Movie, other movies with solid potential include Robocop, About Last Night and The Monuments Men.
It's hard to imagine a scenario in which The Lego Movie isn't the highest-grossing movie of the month. The movie is the first big-screen treatment for the popular toy brand, which has been producing the iconic bricks for over 60 years. While Legos are primarily made for children, they're far from juvenile; in much the same way, The Lego Movie's mix of unique animation and wry, self-referential humor (complete with hilarious parodies of Warner Bros. brands like Batman and Superman) seems designed to delight audiences young and old alike.
With a strong marketing effort and little competition, The Lego Movie should open to at least $40 million on opening weekend. Assuming it's solid entertainment—and some early reactions suggest it is—expect it to hold well through the month and wind up with over $150 million total.
Delayed from December to February to avoid the Oscar movie season, The Monuments Men features George Clooney and Matt Damon as part of a group of soldiers tasked with recovering stolen art from the Nazis during World War II. On paper, the true story—directed by Clooney—seems to be a mix of Inglourious Basterds and Ocean's Eleven.
Unfortunately, The Monuments Men looks more like a history lesson than a fun caper, which limits its appeal. The poor early reviews aren't going to help with discerning adult audiences, either. Sony's aggressive marketing effort is going to keep this from being an outright bomb, though it's unlikely this gets anywhere close to $100 million.
The weekend's final new release is Vampire Academy, which is the latest attempt to cash in on the young-adult book craze. More so than others, Vampire Academy seems to be built entirely out of parts of the successful adaptations: vampires from Twilight, a magic school from Harry Potter, and a butt-kicking female lead from The Hunger Games.
Unfortunately, audiences have proven lately that they aren't going to bite for these B-level would-be franchises; just last year, Beautiful Creatures, The Host and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones all earned between $19 million and $32 million. Nothing about Vampire Academy suggests it's going to wind up above that range.
Presidents Day weekend features three 80s remakes facing off against bizarre romance Winter's Tale.
The most ambitious of these movies is Robocop, which is a remake of the popular 1987 Paul Verhoeven movie. This isn't Sony's first remake of a Verhoeven sci-fi movie; in August 2012, they released Total Recall (2012), which flopped with just $58.9 million. Similar to Total Recall, the Robocop remake has made a few tweaks that seem sacrilegious to fans (most notable is the move from an "R" rating to "PG-13").
However, Sony's overall marketing effort has been much more compelling this time around. The movie feels like it's rooted in real-world issues, and the robo-action isn't nearly as cheesy as it could have been. On the same weekend last year, A Good Day to Die Hard had a $36.9 million five-day start; it wouldn't be surprising if Robocop matched that number over its first six days.
Of course, the big upside here is overseas. In particular, the movie will likely deliver big results from emerging markets that have dug the Iron Man and Transformers movies. One downside—Robocop's grosses will be suppressed a bit by the surprising lack of 3D.
Prospects are also looking good for romantic comedy About Last Night, which is from Sony's Screen Gems division. The movie reteams Think Like a Man's Kevin Hart and Michael Ealy, and shares that movie's fun battle-of-the-sexes vibe. As proven by the performance of January's Ride Along, Hart is a genuine box office draw now, and some of that mojo should rub off on About Last Night. With a strong tie-in to Valentine's Day, it's likely that this earns over $30 million for the long weekend.
Romantic drama Endless Love is targeting the same audience that turned out for Safe Haven, The Vow and Dear John around Valentine's Day. The lead pairing isn't nearly as appealing this time around, though. Alex Pettyfer got plenty of exposure from Magic Mike, but he's not the first (or second) actor most people associate with that movie. Meanwhile, female lead Gabriella Wilde is basically a newcomer. Still, don't bet against young love on Valentine's Day weekend.
Winter's Tale seems like the odd man out this weekend. The romantic fantasy is set in New York in two different time periods, and magic comes in to play somehow. That's about all the information that can be gathered from the marketing effort, which seems to struggle with the movie's weirder elements. It also doesn't help that the movie's lead is Colin Farrell, who has had a tough time opening movies that are much more appealing than this. Unless this turns out to be fantastic—and, based on the release date, that would be surprising—it's unlikely this makes much noise.
Continued with a look at 'Pompeii,' 'Non-Stop,' 'Son of God' & More >>
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• Strong November Box Office Falls Just Short of Record
• 'Gravity' Dominates Disappointing October
• Summer 2013 Sets New Record with $4.76 Billion
• 'Despicable' Drives July to Second-Highest Monthly Gross Ever
• 'Man of Steel,' 'Monsters U' Lead Record-Setting June
• May Kicks Off Summer 2013 With Record Grosses
• March Not Strong Enough to Salvage First Quarter of 2013
• 'Identity Thief' Tops Abysmal February
• February 2014 Release Schedule
• 2014 Grosses (2014-only releases)
• Year-to-Date Comparison