Studios really need to be more careful when they title their films. This weekend at the box office just screams the inevitable headline: “The Losers is a loser for Warner Bros.” To be fair, the title isn’t an original, but rather the name of the popular Vertigo comic book about a group of mercenaries who wage war on the CIA. Still, with Zoe Saldana, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Chris Evans as its marquee names, The Losers will have a challenge going up against the star wattage of Jennifer Lopez’s movie return in the romantic comedy The Back-Up Plan. Even then, neither film is likely to nab the top spot in theaters. Should it resonate with its core female audience, The Back-Up Plan has a better shot at number one. But more likely, that honor will go to How to Train Your Dragon, which in its fifth weekend in theaters should score better than either new release or, for that matter, last weekend’s winner Kick-Ass.
Why the box office malaise? Well, despite the fact that last year at this time Screen Gems’ Beyoncé Knowles thriller Obsessed bowed to $28.6 million, the weekend is often a downer for the month. Most kids are back in school and the studios are gearing up for their big summer tent-poles kicking off in May. This weekend should be no different and another first place title for Dragon will prove it.
1. How to Train Your Dragon: $14 million
It might have missed the top spot last weekend by a meager $200,000, but this animated kid flick is proving to be a solid juggernaut for the spring movie-going season.The movie has now grossed over $160 million and should cross $200 million by the end of its run. Not bad for a movie that upon its debut had shareholders downgrading Dreamworks’ stock.
2. The Back-Up Plan: $12 million
Nascent studio CBS Films needs a hit with The Back-Up Plan, their second release. (The first one, Extraordinary Measures, bombed back in January with a dismal $6 million opening weekend.) The studio is much more bullish about Back-Up. They screened it for exhibitors at ShoWest and are counting on Lopez’s fans – who drove Monster-in-Law and Maid in Manhattan to solid-grossing hits – to embrace J.Lo as a relatable protagonist who gets artificially inseminated, then falls in love with Alex O’Loughlin (television’s Moonlight). The PG-13 rated film from director Alan Poul is more likely to open to numbers similar to 2004’s Shall We Dance, which bowed to $11.7 million. But that turned into a $58 million grosser, and I think the studio would be cheering if Plan reached that goal.
3. Kick-Ass: $11 million
Eking out a box office win last weekend with $19.8 million, the R-rated Kick-Ass didn’t seem to live up to the fan-boy hype that had been surrounding the movie since last year. Now everyone is waiting to see how the film will hold during its second weekend in theaters. Considering Lionsgate included its Thursday 10 p.m. and midnight showings in its three-day gross, a second weekend take of $11 million would be solid. Anything more and they should be ecstatic. Remember, the movie cost only$28 million and has grossed $24 million as of Wednesday.
4. The Losers: $10 million
There doesn’t seem to be much heat around this movie at all. And it doesn’t help that the box office has been chock full of action and violence in the past few weeks with Kick-Ass, Clash of the Titans, and even Date Night. I think Warners will be lucky to hit double-digits this weekend.
5. Date Night: $10 million
Let’s give the fifth spot to Date Night. The Steve Carell-Tina Fey starrer has grossed over $50 million in two weeks of release, only falling 34 percent its second weekend in theaters. Should the movie lose another 40 percent of its value, it will still land in the top five for the frame. Not bad for two TV comedy stars!
Also playing: Disney will open Oceans on 1,200 theaters today in honor of Earth Day. Last year, the studio bowed the documentary Earth to a weekend gross of $8.8 million. Expect around $5 million for this doc narrated by Pierce Brosnan.