Friday, April 11, 2014

Can Blu fly past the Captain?

Rio 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier will both vie for the top slot at the box office this Friday-Sunday. The former is one of the weekend’s new major releases and the follow-up to the popular Rio, an animated kids’ film about a pair of endangered macaws (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway).  When it opened in spring of 2011, Rio grossed almost $40 million. Its successor is currently tracking in the high-$30-to-low-$40-millions range, prompting many pundits to speculate it should match, possibly even better, the original. If either proves to be the case, Rio 2 will give holdover Captain America: The Winter Soldier a run for its sky-high pile of dough. Given positive critical reviews and smiling word-of-mouth, The Winter Soldier is expected to hold well. However, comic book movies often plummet their second weekend in theatres – Iron Man 3 dipped 58 percent, for example – so the title of Weekend’s Top Earner is really up for grabs.

Beginning today and with a slightly smaller platform than Rio 2, which opens in 3,948 locations, the latest sports film to star Kevin Costner, Draft Day, will screen in 2,781 theatres. The movie gives a fictionalized behind-the-scenes look at the unpublicized maneuvering that takes place in the lead-up to the NFL draft. Costner is firmly ensconced in familiar territory here, playing the American underdog everyman fighting for good amidst the corrupt milieu of an American sports industry. Field of Dreams, Bull Durham and Tin Cup are among Costner’s best-loved movies, and Draft Day looks to repeat the old-fashioned though nonetheless satisfying story arc characteristic of those films. Will audiences go for Costner’s brand of comfort? Reviews for Draft Day aren’t great, and recent sports movies haven’t opened very strong: Moneyball, which is basically the baseball version of Day, had great buzz going for it and still only managed to rake in $19.5 million over its opening weekend. Distributor Lionsgate believes Draft Day will gross in the low teens.

The last new major release to open this weekend is also the first horror offering since January’s Devil’s Due. Oculus will screen in 2,648 theatres. The flick has producer Jason Blum (the Paranormal Activity movies) behind it, and has been pretty well reviewed, though box-office expectations are modest. Returns around $11 or $12 million would be considered solid.

Finally, the specialty realm has two new offerings of its own in Joe, starring Nicolas Cage and directed by cult favorite David Gordon Green, and Cuban Fury, a salsa comedy starring Nick Frost and Rashida Jones. The latter is playing in 79 theatres while the former will start off its B.O. run in 48 locations.

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