2012 continues its sumptuous run by generating big hits and franchises while maintaining its supremacy over last year. Aspiring for never been achieved $11 billion end of the year touchdown, 2012 still has a lot of groundwork to do. Every year has its strong and feeble months albeit February was one such months for 2012, it emerged with shinning numbers and overperformance of three movies (Safe House, The Vow and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island). April while not anemic leaves much to be desired with the scheduling specially the second half of it.
April has been a transition month where spring break ends as soon as Easter shells out and by the end weeks of this month big names and heavy marketing for Summer guns take full force. Last year Fast Five took one step further by marketing itself as the first Summer blockbuster though it was released just 3 days before May, Rio soared in Overseas markets while Hop benefited from Easter, add in the great legs of Insidious and 2011 gave the first April since 1984 that was bigger than its preceding months. In 2010, Clash of the Titans, Date Night and the great legs of How To Train Your Dragon soared it past previous Aprils only to be beaten next year. In the recent years action movies have performed exceptionally but family and animation movies have had better sustenance power.
Opening 4th April, just 11 days before the 100-year anniversary of the world famed ship's disaster is James Cameron's Titanic 3D. It aims to emulate the success of Star Wars (Special Edition) and Lion King 3D to become the top movie of month when re-release was issued. The conversion of classics into 3D hasn't been successful at box office this year with re-releases Beauty and the Beast and Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menance both failing to reach $50 million mark at domestic box office but unlike those Titanic comes in as much more timely release and Cameron's Avatar brought 3D back in conversation for non-animated movies. Titanic also held the record for highest grossing movie till 2009, which makes this re-release more comparable to aforementioned uber-blockbusters unlike this year's re-release which were only depending on their status of being "classic". Releasing over Easter weekend is Universal's third sequel to one of the most successful comedy franchise American Pie bringing all the characters together for an American Reunion. All three prior movies have crossed $100 million mark in domestic market and the DTV sequels without main cast became quite successful financially. Last year's Scream 4 showed that bringing up the original characters does not always turn into box office profit but that was sold as reboot and this one is selling itself as a continuation. Plus Scary Movies turned off big chunk of Scream's audience whereas DTV sequels in this case kept the series fresh among younger generation building new audience, cushioning the inevitable audience loss amid 8 year sequel gap.
Fox is trying to bring back the adaptation of the popular comedy TV series with the same title The Three Stooges. 21 Jump Street this year showed that if marketed aggressively these adaptations can be solid hits, still the physical comedy nature of Three Stooges has decayed in the recent years. The movie will rely on nostalgia from older audience, while the previews haven't yet managed to convey anything promising if they somehow hook younger crowd and if the movie could turn tables and impress critics then this could turn to be an impressive run. Sony brings Think Like a Man an ensemble comedy about four couples where the wives are using relationship advice from a book against the men who want to turn the tables. The Taraji P. Henson, Chris Brown starer is coming out too close to previously mentioned well-known comedies but still these movies have built in crowd which gives them decent openings but poor sustenance.
Talking about comedies Universal brings Jason Segal, Emily Blunt comedy in The Five Year Engagement. Similar to last year's surprise hit Bridesmaids this comedy about a five year delayed marriage will start early in Summer and will try to hold its audience over rewarding Summer box office days. Segal and Universal has a good record with romantic comedies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall that was released over the same time period and turned into decent profit. Warner Bros presents this year's Nicholas Sparks novel adaptation with The Lucky One. This Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling romantic drama would benefit from novels' fanbase, though it might not reach the heights of this year's surprise hit The Vow. Sparks' adaptations are getting a different and increasing fan following with every release and the marketing for it has thus far been solid.
The families will have the year's first stop-motion animation in Sony's The Pirates! Band of Misfits. Aardman studios have been very successful with this type of animation in the past with Chicken Run, Flushed Away and Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of Were Rabbit but all of those were tied with Dreamworks. Tied with Sony, Aardman gave well reviewed but last year's financially disappointing holiday themed movie Arthur Christmas. The marketing hasn't been really aggressive plus Aardman movies are known for their sustenance and not big openings. It might be a daunting task for this movie to connect with the audience as well as studios previous hits. Given that there aren't any direct family movies in May this could turn out to be very impressive run. Disney brings its annual Nature themed documentary Chimpanzee to lure families over Earth Day. These movies are generally quite cheap to make and even though we have Discovery and Animal Planet channels this is a good way to make money specially with school previews over the Earth Day. The annual pattern of release for these movies have started to result in diminishing box office results now.
Action seekers will have Jason Statham trying to save an innocent brainy girl in Safe(2012). Distributed by Lionsgate the movie has been moving in and out of schedule for quite a few months now. Statham has his own fan following and is quite consistent albeit at a smaller scale which results in decent mid-size profits since these movies are not expensive. Another actioner of the month is Guy Pearce starter Lockout. This Luc Benson directed space prison thriller is the only sci-fi movie of the month. This rescue mission movie is distributed by FilmDistrict which are still relatively new in the market, for now the director's last year movie Colombiana seems to be an appropriate target.
Horror fans will finally see the long delayed slasher The Cabin in the Woods now distributed by Lionsgate. Shot in 2009 the film was delayed due to MGM's financial problems and attempt to convert the movie in 3D. After staying in the box for three years it got a new life when Lionsgate took over MGM and finally decided to give it a Wide release. The Joss Whedon directed horror comedy stars Thor famed Chris Hemsworth and is the first horror movie in past two months, plus the early reviews have been quite good. Relativity brings period Horror about a serial killer investigation with The Raven. This John Cusack starer hasn't generated the much needed buzz and might be too close to huge Summer blockbusters to make any impact.
This month has a lot of Foreign hits trying to make their mark over domestic market via platform or limited releases. The most notable being the 2011 Oscar Nominated Belgian movie Monsieur Lazhar distributed by Music Box Films, the movie might be too late in the game to get any attention from mainstream audience though. Luc Benson directed French and British movie The Lady comes out after its successful run in limited overseas market. This English and Burmese spoken movie starring Michelle Yeoh hasn't got well reviews but has been showing good staying power in all the markets it has been released. French movie Elles starring Juliette Binoche discusses student prostitution. Hong Kong's Cantonese movie A Simple Life about an altruistic maid did really well in its hometown which has made the movie makers confident about its prospects in its overseas markets. Coming from Italy is a drama about relationship between newly elected pope and his therapist We Have a Pope. South Korea's My Way(2012) inspired by a true story, tells the tale of two competitive Koreans during the out break of war. Magnolia brings Norway's thriller Headhunters about an accomplished headhunter risking everything to obtain a valuable painting. Taiwanese historical Action Drama Warriors of the Rainbow: Seddiq Bale also comes out though it would need miraculous staying power to reach Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon which has held the record for biggest Foreign Language film for past 11 years. The language barrier for these movies is too big to shine in US market and given that they are releasing one after another along with three or more wide openers will definitely limit their potential.
Non-foreign slot is also quite big for limited or platform releases. Dominating Platform releases this month is horror/thriller genre with titles like IFC's ATM about three co-workers getting trapped by an unknown man, Samuel Goldwyn's Detention about killer stalking a group of teenagers serving school detention, Fox Searchlight's Sound of My Voice about a couple investigating a cult whose leader claims to be from future, IFC's Sci-Fi horror The Moth Diaries about teenage jealousy with a vampirical twist. None of them hold promise to a degree where then can lure horror audience from much bigger releases. Over the drama section in limited release we have Darling Companion starring Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline. The actors hold a lot of potential and there is a chance that Sony Classics might expand this to a few theaters. Jack Black, Shirley Mclane and Mathew McConaghey star in a comedy take on crime drama in Bernie but given that Millenium is handling this it could end up lost in the shuffle. Magnolia bring together William Dafoe, Sam Neill in the adventure drama The Hunter (2012) both the actors have passed their prime and their combination does not look strong enough to get the movie a major expansion. Kate Bosworth stars in a comedy L!fe Happens about two best friends trying to maintain normalcy in their after having a baby, these movies do better but it will be difficult to get more than a few hundred theaters of expansion. Kurt Russell looks back 15 years to the injury that ended his high-school football carrer in the drama Touchback, these sentimental dramas do much better on VOD and home media sales than their theatrical runs. Woman Thou Art Loosed!: On the 7th Day a drama thriller about a couple whose daughter is kidnapped, over the seven days they uncover their past that could break their marriage, unless the movie has great reviews it will be lost in shuffle.
April 2011 made $792.6 million ending up as the biggest April ever increasing 5% over 2010 and was one of the months where box office saw sparks of hope. Hop, Rio led the month but it was Fast Five's 3-day total which was the most impressive. This year does not have bigger names specially in the second half of the year and it would be require more than one or two movies to breakout for April to gain over 2011. Lookout for my next start of summer edition Movies 2012 - May