This weekend, Jackie Robinson biopic 42 faces off against the fifth installment in the long-dormant Scary Movie franchise, with both titles targeting around $20 million. The winner will take first place on what should be another good overall weekend.
Sports drama 42, produced by Legendary Pictures, tells the true story of baseball legend Jackie Robinson's challenging first season for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The story is inherently compelling—Robinson was the first African-American to play on a Major League Baseball team, and remains an important figure in American civil rights history—and Warner Bros.' marketing has done a very good job highlighting the drama while also making the movie look exciting. One key component has been the use of Jay-Z song "Brooklyn (We Go Hard)," which seems like it was written specifically for the movie.
From an opening weekend perspective, the biggest drawback for the movie is its genre: the top openings for baseball movies belong to 2006 comedy The Benchwarmers ($19.7 million) and 2011 drama Moneyball ($19.5 million), meaning no movie centered around "America's pastime" has ever debuted north of $20 million. Based on the compelling story and strong marketing, it looks like 42 could set a new record, though only barely.
The first four entries in the Scary Movie spoof franchise ran from 2000-2006, and grossed an average of over $100 million each. The first movie primarily lampooned the Scream franchise, and remains the most successful with $157 million. As the franchise went on, the movies became a more general way to parody recent theatrical releases across all genres, though the focus did remain on horror movies. The final chapter, Scary Movie 4, opened to $40.2 million in April 2006 and went on to earn a very good $90.7 million. Around this time, though, the Friedman/Seltzer team began rolling out their spoof movies (Date Movie, Epic Movie, etc.), which became the genre norm for the latter half of the last decade.
Opening at 3,402 locations exactly seven years after the last entry, Scary Movie 5 is attempting to revive some of the franchise's former glory. This isn't the first time The Weinstein Company has attempted to do this: in 2011, they brought back the Spy Kids and Scream franchises after an eight and 11 year hiatus, respectively. Unfortunately, Scream 4 only opened to 54 percent of its predecessor's gross, while Spy Kids: All the Time in the World only retained 35 percent.
Scary Movie 5 could theoretically have avoided this decline, though the marketing just hasn't been all that convincing. Much of the focus has been around mocking the Paranormal Activity franchise: unfortunately, that series is on its way out, and it's already been skewered this year in A Haunted House (from original Scary Movie contributor Marlon Wayans). In a tacit acknowledgement of this, much of its material has transitioned to lampooning January horror hit Mama, though without a DVD release it's hard to imagine the movie is that broadly recognizable.
Finally, a major component of the marketing has been the gimmick casting of tabloid favorites Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan. Sheen and Lohan are overexposed, though—Sheen's FX show Anger Management has new episodes regularly, while nary a day goes by without another Lohan legal incident making the rounds—which means paying to see these two on the big-screen isn't a great value proposition.
All in, Scary Movie 5 will be lucky to open to half as much as the last Scary Movie, meaning an opening in the high-teen-millions is likely.
The Place Beyond the Pines and Trance also expand to moderate release this weekend, and both should be able to crack the Top 12. Starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, Pines reaches 514 locations after earning a strong $1.3 million in two weeks of very limited release. Meanwhile, director Danny Boyle's psychological thriller Trance expands to 438 theaters after averaging $32,786 at four locations in its opening last weekend.
In limited release, Terrence Malick movie To the Wonder opens at 18 locations, while drama Disconnect reaches 15 theaters.
Forecast (April 12-14) 1. 42 - $21.1 million 2. Scary Movie 5 - $17.6 million 3. The Croods - $14.9 million (-28%) 4. G.I. Joe 2 - $11.4 million (-45%) 5. Evil Dead - $10.7 million (-59%) 6. Jurassic Park 3D - $10.5 million (-44%)
Bar for Success Based on the history of baseball movies, 42 is in fine shape if it opens over $15 million. Meanwhile, Scary Movie 5 really ought to open higher than January's A Haunted House ($18.1 million).