On the third weekend of February, producer Luc Besson's 3 Days to Killfaces off against disaster movie Pompeii.
Pompeii is the second entry in the early-2014 sword-and-sandal trilogy: it arrives a month after The Legend of Hercules, and two weeks before 300: Rise of An Empire. The Paul W.S. Anderson movie is a fictionalized account of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which buried the ancient Roman city of Pompeii under a thick layer of ash and volcanic rock.
Considering disaster movies have such a strong track record, it's no surprise that the explosion has been the centerpiece of the campaign; interestingly, though, the marketing has also highlighted a likely-doomed romance, which should increase its appeal with women. While Pompeii's release date and sketchy effects will hold it back from true blockbuster status, it's possible that this is unexpectedly strong out of the gate.
3 Days to Kill stars Kevin Costner in the latest movie that's obviously inspired by Taken: in 3 Days, Costner plays an assassin attempting to bond with his daughter, only to find out that he needs to once again put his special set of skills to use. Costner's presence is appealing, but it's probably not enough to save this from its derivative nature and lack of strong story. The main hook—Costner's character has been poisoned—is conspicuously missing from the TV campaign. Outside of the Taken franchise, writer/producer Besson's movies typically earn between $20 and $40 million; it's fair to expect a similar result here.
On the final day of February, Non-Stop goes head-to-head with Son of God and Welcome to Yesterday.
Non-Stop once again pairs Liam Neeson with director Jaume Collet-Serra; their last movie, Unknown, opened on the same weekend in 2011 and earned a solid $63.7 million. Non-Stop features a similarly-twisty plot involving an air marshall (Neeson) who attempts to find a murderer onboard an intercontinental flight. Neeson's beleaguered action hero shtick may be getting a bit old at this point, though Non-Stop's marketing seems strong enough to combat any fatigue there. Expect this to open at least on par with Unknown ($21.9 million).
Son of God is the wild card of the month. The movie is the umpteenth adaptation of the New Testament story detailing the life of Jesus of Nazareth, but it's the first since 2004 mega-hit The Passion of the Christ. What makes this entry unique, though, is that it's been pieced together from footage that was already used on last year's popular TV series The Bible. Will fans of the show turn out to see the same content on the big screen? Some will, of course, though exact numbers are hard to gauge.
With its found footage style, Welcome to Yesterday calls to mind 2012's Chronicle—instead of superheroes, though, Welcome to Yesterday's focus is on time travel. Unfortunately, the movie's marketing so far doesn't stand out the way it did for Chronicle. It's also arriving at a time when found footage seems to be fading: the Paranormal Activity franchise hit a new low with The Marked Ones, and Devil's Due barely registered. With so many other options in the market, it's unlikely this gets much traction.
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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