6 Films To Watch In April

Apr 4 2014, 9:47am CDT | by

6 Films To Watch In April
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

April is the kind of slow month where a big hit one year can lead to cries of “Slump!” the next should the fourth month of the year play out like a stereotypical April. As such, if Captain America: The Winter Soldier powers the month to record totals ($793m domestic, back in 2011 thanks to the $210m+ Fast Five), expect pundits to proclaim doom when summer 2015 doesn’t measure up accordingly. Nonetheless, let us take a moment, right before we get those Thursday night box office figures for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, to run down six films in the next month that will be worth watching from a box office perspective. To wit…

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4th):
Well, yes. I have written enough about this title, and will surely write more this weekend, that I would have left it off save for not wanting to change the headline to “Six Films To Watch In April Not Counting Captain America 2“. Anyway, with strong reviews, and true four-quadrant interest, the only question heading into the weekend is whether the well-reviewed action sequel can open with $90 million or $100 million+, with the caveat of Disney potentially being on the defensive if the film “only” earns $85m this weekend (don’t be that person)./>

The good news is that Steve Rogers and friends have pretty clear sailing throughout the month. Oh sure there will be potentially big films, but films that might have been competition (NoahDivergent) already opened. A record April debut (ahead of Fast Five‘s $85m in late April 2011) is all-but-assured, but after that it’s just a question of whether the film can capitalize on word-of-mouth or whether it ends up as (somewhat frontloaded) as the first Captain America, which earned just 2.6x its opening weekend despite being surprisingly terrific. The biggest-grossing April release is Fast Five, which made $209m domestic and $626m worldwide. Both goalposts are possible, if not guaranteed.

Rio 2 (April 11th)
Generally speaking, the audiences who are going to be flocking (pun intended) to Rio 2 are not the same audiences who will stereotypically be racing to see Captain America 2 for a first or second time on the weekend of the 11th. That’s good news for both pictures. The 20th Century Fox animated sequel is coming off a rather spectacular success of the first Rio, which opened to $39m back in April of 2011 and ended up earning $143m domestic and a terrific $341m overseas for a $484m total, or about what the first How To Train Your Dragon earned back ($494m) in 2010. And that was with an insane deluge of animated product where at least major animated features dropped within a three month window./>

Now Rio isn’t considered a beloved modern-day animated classic, so we should instead expect a run similar to Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2. The Sony sequel, despite being as good if not better than the original, debuted ended up with $274 million worldwide versus the original’s $243m gross, but at least some of that increase (all overseas, it made $5m less domestic) was due to four years of 3D expansion in foreign territories. Now I’m sure Fox will be thrilled with anything close to $484m worldwide, and I can’t imagine it cost that much more than the original’s $90m budget. So I’m presuming anything over $300m is pretty much a win. My kids want to see it, but the trailer is downright exhausting in a theater.

Draft Day (April 11th)
At some point, we’re going to have to stop expecting the movie stars of the 1980′s and 1990′s to magically recapture their old mojo. But that’s a conversation for another day. Kevin Costner has had something of a run lately, popping up in Man of Steel and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and starring in Three Days To Kill back in February, his first lead since Swing Vote in 2008. The last two were box office whiffs, but this sports-centric project is obviously more suited to those who remember Costner more from Field of Dreams than No Way Out. Still, if this one strikes out, it stands to reason that Kevin Costner’s comeback as a leading man may be cut a little short./>

It’s a little odd for Lionsgate to be releasing a football dramedy well outside of the NFL season and a full month before the actual NFL draft this year (yes, I had to look that up), but the film is clearly being pitched as counter-programming for older audiences who don’t want superheroes or animated films and have already seen Monuments Men.  There are plenty of moderate hits that happen to involve football and this Ivan Reitman film’s alleged $20m budget means it won’t have to be a Any Given Sunday-level hit to make its money back. Still, the notion of the Cleveland Browns trying to get to the Super Bowl may be too fantastical a premise.

Transcendence (April 18th)
Here is the arguable wild card of the month. Two weeks after Captain America 2 and two weeks before The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is this an out-and-out original science fiction thriller starring Johnny Depp. The hook, aside from the vaguely Lawnmower Man-ish plot, is the fact that it’s directed by Wally Pfister, who is Christopher Nolan’s favorite cinematographer. I’m not sure how much regular audiences will care about that fact, but it means that the picture, shot on old-school 35mm film, will at least look awfully pretty. The picture, distributed by Warner Bros. in America, Summit overseas, and DMG Entertainment in China, was a co-production between DMG and Alcon, with a budget at around $100 million./>

Even eleven years after Johnny Depp became a genuine box office draw thanks to Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, he is still somewhat untested as a pure “my face on the postermovie star. Most of his hits were in the Gore Verbinski/Tim Burton fantasy sandbox, with really only The Tourist ($278m worldwide) in 2010 and The Secret Window ($92m on a $40m budget) way back in 2004 counting as old-school star vehicles. Since the studios don’t exactly make a bunch of original big-budget star vehicles in general any more, this one will be interesting to watch for a host of reasons. The film frankly doesn’t look all that unique and the buzz is almost non-existent, but it’s also a potential stop-gap for blockbuster junkies seeking something in between the two superhero sequels.

A Haunted House 2 (April 18th)
I don’t think that Open Road Films’ A Haunted House 2 will be any kind of breakout hit or that it will be any less awful than the previous picture. But I think the fact that it exists is a kind of karmic justice. The Scary Movie franchise was originally the proverbial brainchild of Keenen Ivory Wayans and Marlon Wayans. The first film earned $278m on a $19m budget (for a brief period, the film’s $42m debut was a record for an R-rated film). But after Scary Movie 2 comparatively fizzled ($141m on a $45m budget), the Weinsteins took the Scary Movie franchise away from the Wayans Bros. and turned it into a more family-friendly PG-13, and (arguably) “whiter” franchise./>

Right or wrong, Marlon Wayans felt betrayed/cheated and the “best revenge is living well” result was A Haunted House, which overshadowed the much-delayed Scary Movie 5 last April. Scary Movie 5 earned $78m worldwide on a $19m budget, but by far the worst performing entry in the series. A Haunted House earned $59m on a $2.5m budget. There are at the moment no plans for Scary Movie 6, while this April sees the return of A Haunted House. Studio politics aside, it’s always refreshing when an outside-the-norm film scores big enough to earn a sequel. And my wife loves Wayans Brothers comedies, so I’ll probably have to see this when it drops on DVD. Pray for me.

The Other Woman/>
(April 25th)
With all of the constant hand-wringing over the “Can women be funny?” debate, Cameron Diaz has somewhat quietly made a name for herself as a genuine box office movie star in the realm of comedies. She’s not all that useful for other genres (the dynamite In Her Shoes made just $32 million in the states, although it earned $82m worldwide back in 2005), and not every comedy is a hit (the way ahead-of-its-time The Sweetest Thing fizzled in 2002 with $68m on a $43m budget), but she single-handedly powered Bad Teacher to $216m worldwide three summers ago.

Which basically means we should pay attention to 20th Century Fox’s The Other Woman and (in July) Sex Tape. The Other Women concerns Diaz as a woman who realizes that her boyfriend is married and teams up with the wife (Leslie Mann) and the fling (Kate Upton) to get revenge on the three-timer. It’s a pretty strong “high concept”, and one arguably suited to appeal to female audiences too old for Divergent and not interested in more (stereotypically) male-centric fare like Captain America 2 or Draft Day. The $30 million debut of Bad Teacher is surely a bridge too far, but there isn’t much in this vein for the remainder of the summer. So if it opens, it may well have legs at least until the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore reunion Blended.

And that’s a wrap for this look at the month of April. There are a few other films dropping as well, including two horror titles (Oculous and The Quiet Ones), a Disney Nature documentary (Bears), and another faith-based film (Heaven Is For Real) that may “surprise” accordingly. Oh, and Paul Walker and RZA are helping to close out the month with Brick Mansions, which is a remake of District B13. I’m not sure why an American remake of a popular French action film isn’t raising more of a ruckus, but there you have it. So sound off below if you wish. What are you looking forward to in April?


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