The third weekend of April is packed with four new nationwide releases. Considering the strength of the past two weeks, and the historically slow nature of the box office in April, this weekend seems poised to deliver at least one or two misses.
The highest-profile release on April 18th is Transcendence, which stars Johnny Depp as a scientist who has his consciousness uploaded in to a supercomputer. The movie marks the directorial debut of Wally Pfister, who shot the last seven Christopher Nolan movies. Nolan is an executive producer on the movie, though his name is conspicuously absent from all marketing material (odd, given that his last three movies have combined to earn over $2.9 billion worldwide).
While the lofty sci-fi premise is generating some curiosity, Transcendence is lacking the kind of buzz one would expect from a major release like this. It doesn't help that Depp's brand has taken a hit in recent years due to his involvement in a number of critical flops like The Lone Ranger, Dark Shadows and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Ultimately, it would be surprising if this came close to last April's Oblivion ($89.1 million).
Opening on the Wednesday before Easter, Heaven Is For Real could continue the trend of faith-based movies over-performing at the box office. Based on the popular book of the same name, the true story stars Greg Kinnear as the father of a boy who claims he visited heaven during a near death experience. Ads for the movie include a call to action for group sales, which helped drive the success of Son of God and God's Not Dead. While there could be some fatigue setting in, this movie's story should be inspirational enough to generate solid business (Soul Surfer's $43.9 million is reachable). A Haunted House 2 arrives a little over a year after the first movie earned $40 million. It's unlikely that the spoof sequel matches that number: the found footage genre has taken a hit in the past year, and the movie's premise just isn't as fresh this time around.
After taking 2013 off, Disneynature is back on Earth Day with Bears. The first movie in the series, Earth, remains the highest-grossing one with $32 million, while Oceans and African Cats each fell short of $20 million. Bears may do a bit better than that, though it still won't make too much of an impact. April 25
With attention turning toward upcoming Summer releases, studios tend to avoid releasing major movies on the final weekend of April. Looking ahead, comedy The Other Woman and horror movie The Quiet Ones have a clear edge over Brick Mansions. The Other Woman stars Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton as three women who come together to get revenge on the philandering man that they're all involved with. While the movie doesn't seem to be breaking any comedic ground, the previews do at least feature plenty of strong jokes. It's also rare to see a cast headlined entirely by women, despite the fact that women attend movies as much (or more) than men do. If this becomes a girls-night-out choice, it should be a modest comedy hit.
Supernatural horror movie The Quiet Ones seems to have more potential than earlier April release Oculus. The creepy previews include the ever popular "inspired by actual events" tag, and feature plenty of unsettling imagery. If distributor Lionsgate gives this the right push, it could wind up close to similar titles like The Possession ($49.1 million) and The Woman in Black ($54.3 million). Brick Mansions stars Paul Walker in one of his final roles, which should generate some interest around this Luc Besson production. Otherwise, though, the District B13 remake doesn't have much going for it: for example, the movie's Parkour action style peaked at least five years ago, and feels played out at this point. It would be surprising if this earned more than $20 million or so.