“The Boss Baby” (20th Century Fox) and “Beauty and the Beast” (Disney) should take the top slots this early spring weekend, but the DreamWorks Animation comedy isn’t guaranteed to hold on to number one.
We’re in the middle of staggered school spring vacation season, so family-oriented films abound. That explains Sony’s release of “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” which looks to do best among the three new wide releases. However, “Going in Style” (Warner Bros.) and “The Case for Christ” (PureFlix) are less predictable with their respective older and faith-based core audiences.
This looks like another weekend that will outpace last year’s, when the top 10 grossed $91 million; expect this one to reach at least $100 million.
Alec Baldwin as an overgrown, big-mouth animated infant bested the third week of “Beauty” by $5 million, but on Monday and Tuesday it fell behind by small margins. This week, expect another close contest: “Baby” should fall more precipitously in its second week than “Beauty,” which is further into its run. The results for DreamWorks’ film will indicate whether it has found a zeitgeist among adults responding to Baldwin’s portrayals of narcissistic characters.
Both should end up somewhere around $25 million. That’s about a third better than the opening of its predecessor, 2013 release “The Smurfs 2.” However, that opened on a Wednesday, with a $27 million five-day total. But it also arrived in something of a family-film vacuum, a month after “Despicable Me 2.” This go round features a Smurfette and other girl characters. That could give it a boost, with $15 million-$20 million its likely range.
“Going in Style” is Zach Braff’s third time out as a director and his first wide studio release. A remake of the 1979 sleeper with George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg, which grossed $92 million (adjusted), it stars Morgan Freeman Jr., Alan Arkin, and Michael Caine as retired criminals combining forces for one last score. (The script was written by Theodore Melfi, before his stint as an Oscar-nominated writer for “Hidden Figures.”) It’s a genre that appeals to older audiences, and did well for recent comedies “The Bucket List” and “Last Vegas.” Older audiences also like reviews, and they’ve been held back here. Despite lower expectations, it could end up closer to “Smurfs: The Lost Village” than projected.
Mike Vogel in “The Case for Christ”
Both “Style” and “Smurfs” debut at the usual 3,000+ theater total. The more niche-oriented “The Case for Christ,” aimed at gaining a Holy Week foothold, is set for over 1,000. Pure Flix’s biggest success came a year ago with “God’s Not Dead 2,” which opened to $7.6 million and got to over $20 million with an initial total of 2,419 theaters. This bestseller adaptation includes Faye Dunaway in its cast.
A very active specialized and limited opening schedule gives hope that the mostly weak post-Oscars period might see some strong entries to join “Kedi,” “T2 Trainspotting,” and “The Zookeeper’s Wife.” Notable as their first release is Neon’s “Colossal” with great New York/Los Angeles theater placement for Nacho Vigalondo’s comedy starring Anne Hathaway as a young woman whose life changes course after a giant creature attacks Seoul.
Also opening is Fox Searchlight’s “The Gifted” from Marc Webb, director of Searchlight’s “500 Days of Summer” and two “Spider-man” films from Sony. It stars Chris Evans looking out for his niece, a seven-year-old math prodigy. STX has “Their Finest” similarly positioned in New York and Los Angeles. From Lone Scherfig (“One Day,” “An Education”) it stars Gemma Arterton as a British woman hired to provide a female touch to war-time screenplays in London during the Battle of Britain.
The best advance reviews go to two subtitled films and a massive worldwide animated film already honored last year. “Graduation” (IFC) from acclaimed Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, debuts in New York. “Truman” (FilmRise), from Spanish director Cesc Gay, spotlights the difficulties of sustaining a relationship over two continents. And the Japanese “Your Name” (FUNimation), which won Best Animated Film from the Los Angeles Film Critics last December with an off-the-radar one week qualifying run; it has a worldwide gross of $328 million.
Also of note: Werner Herzog’s “Salt and Fire” (XLrator) with Michael Shannon and Gael Garcia Bernal, the Polish documentary “All These Sleepless Nights” (The Orchard), and “Alive and Kicking” (Magnolia), a rare documentary (this one about swing dancing) backed by Blumhouse Productions.
Add in another Herzog film,”Queen of the Desert” (IFC) with Nicole Kidman, James Franco and Robert Pattinson, Walter Hill’s controversial transgender thriller “The Assignment” (Saban), and “Aftermath” with Arnold Schwarzenegger (Lionsgate) — all three either on or shortly available for home viewing — and the specialized viewer has a lot of options.