2013 Spring Preview: February

There are no two bigger months at theaters. While the Summer may provide box office swing, both box office and Oscars dominate the final two months of the year with November likely the biggest of them all. This year, a number of top notch films will compete for audience dollars and critics’ appreciation going into the final weeks of pre-Oscar wrangling. This November features one of the most impressive line-ups Oscar has seen in some time, with many of them strong contenders for one or multiple nominations.

February 1, 2013

Bullet to the Head

Premise: From IMDb: “After watching their respective partners die, a New Orleans hitman and a Washington D.C. detective form an alliance in order to bring down their common enemy.”
Box Office Prospects: $40 M
Expectations: Apart from his collaboration with other big name action stars in The Expendables, Sly hasn’t had a very good history with the box office in recent years. This looks like another in a long line of career duds for Stallone.
Oscar Prospects: None

Stand Up Guys

Premise: From IMDb: “A pair of aging con men try to get the old gang back together for one last hurrah before one of the guys takes his last assignment — to kill his comrade.”
Box Office Prospects: $25 M
Expectations: A cast that isn’t populated with box office stars might appeal to a narrow demographic of older voters, but even those may be turned off by the violent prospects of the film.
Oscar Prospects: The film was on the eligibility list for 2012, and as it received no nominations, I’d say it has no prospects.

Warm Bodies

Premise: From IMDb: “After R (a highly unusual zombie) saves Julie from an attack, the two form a relationship that sets in motion a sequence of events that might transform the entire lifeless world.”
Box Office Prospects: $60 M
Expectations: Sometimes the film that has the most unusual premise does exceedingly well at the box office. This zombie romantic comedy could be the right mood-setting feature for a cold February trip to the cineplex.
Oscar Prospects: None

February 8, 2013

Identity Thief

Premise: From IMDb: “When a mild-mannered businessman learns his identity has been stolen, he hits the road in an attempt to foil the thief — a trip that puts him in the path of a deceptively harmless-looking woman.”
Box Office Prospects: $100 M
Expectations: When Bateman teams up, his films do better than when he appears by himself or in a genre pic. This time, he has the added benefit of the now-popular Melissa McCarthy. Although the concept seems a bit thin, those who enjoy road trip movies infused with lunacy will find something to get excited about. And with few major threats over the month, it could do solid business.
Oscar Prospects: None

Side Effects

Premise: From IMDb: “A woman turns to prescription medication as a way of handling her anxiety concerning her husband’s upcoming release from prison.”
Box Office Prospects: $20 M
Expectations: Duds or hits. Soderbergh can’t seem to find a middle ground. Contagion is probably the only film in his long career that has done solid box office numbers without surpassing $100 million. The rest of his films seem to soar or flop and this one doesn’t seem like it’s going to take off. Little advertisement and a handful of recognizable but box office anemic names won’t help.
Oscar Prospects: Soderbergh should always be in the conversation, but is typically not. I don’t see this one becoming a rare breakthrough for him.

February 15, 2013

Beautiful Creatures

Premise: From IMDb: “Ethan longs to escape his small Southern town. He meets a mysterious new girl, Lena. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town.”
Box Office Prospects: $90 M
Expectations: Hype, hype and more hype. This film needs serious hype to overcome the ennui some audiences may be feeling over these teen-centric titles. Unlike The Hunger Games or Twilight, Beautiful Creatures doesn’t have the rabid base of support to make it an instant hit. However, the formula is there and a strong performance is possible.
Oscar Prospects: Never let anyone tell you that films aimed at the tween demographic have a chance at the Oscars. As The Hunger Games proved last year, strong reviews and a tween audience do not an Oscar nominee make.

Escape from Planet Earth

Premise: From IMDb: “Astronaut Scorch Supernova finds himself caught in a trap when he responds to an SOS from a notoriously dangerous alien planet.”
Box Office Prospects: $115 M
Expectations: In the last few years, it’s rare for an animated film to falter at the box office. With no competition naerby, Escape from Planet Earth should have little problem overcoming the likely lukewarm reviews to be a decent February hit. It’s starting a month earlier than Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax did last year, so the waters haven’t quite been tested for this window.
Oscar Prospects: None

A Good Day to Die Hard

Premise: From IMDb: “John McClane travels to Russia to help out his seemingly wayward son, Jack, only to discover that Jack is a CIA operative working to prevent a nuclear-weapons heist, causing the father and son to team up against underworld forces.”
Box Office Prospects: $120 M
Expectations: In spite of its cheesy premise, the Die Hard franchise is dependable, each film having met the $100 million threshhold. Only 1995’s entry barely hit that number, but the price of tickets has inflated, so we shouldn’t have much doubt that John McClane can do it again.
Oscar Prospects: None

Safe Haven

Premise: From IMDb: “A young woman with a mysterious past lands in Southport, North Carolina where her bond with a widower forces her to confront the dark secret that haunts her.”
Box Office Prospects: $80 M
Expectations: Nicholas Sparks has a decent box office reputation. His films have typically hit the sweet spot for audience anticipation of romantic dramas. His weakest performance at the box office to date was $41 million and his best was $81. I expect this one to come in at the higher end of that thanks to its key, pre-Valentine’s Day positioning.
Oscar Prospects: None

February 22, 2013

Dark Skies

Premise: From IMDb: “As the Barret family’s peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them.”
Box Office Prospects: $50 M
Expectations: Supernatural horror films are one of the most reliable genres at the box office. While $50 million might not sound like much, frequently that’s a 1000% return on investment, which is why these films seem to be churned out at a decent rate. This one looks like it will end up in that same range without much problem.
Oscar Prospects: None

Snitch

Premise: From IMDb: “A father goes undercover for the DEA in order to free his son who was imprisoned after being set up in drug deal.”
Box Office Prospects: $50 M
Expectations: The Rock has never $60 million off of one of his pure action films. His action-comedies and family adventure films do quite well with audiences, but little else. This might do decent business, but with so many solid holdovers at the cineplex when it releases, I doubt we’ll be surprised by the result.
Oscar Prospects: None

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