Easter isn’t really a big movie holiday like Memorial Day and 4th of July and Christmas. It usually falls around somebody’s spring break, so it’s not like the studios need to specifically target it, as they’ve been sprinkling spring releases all around it anyway. It’s also still relatively non-commercialized and non-secularized (but compared to Christmas, what isn’t), so a lot of people just don’t see it as a day to pack up the family and head to the multiplex. Not that there’s not a bevy of new releases today, but none of them are really going to pose a threat to holdovers The Winter Soldier and Rio 2.
One of them got an early start, opening on Wednesday, and it’s the one film actually somewhat related to the holiday. Heaven Is for Real pretty much says it all right there in the title, and really, the people that are going to see this are the ones who need the least convincing that its title’s assertion is true. They’re going to be told they’re right, and that’s fine, I guess, although you’d think they get enough of that affirmation every Sunday. Assuming, of course, they go to church every Sunday like they’re supposed to. In any case, this clearly isn’t a film meant for me or anybody who thinks like me, so I’m content to let these few lines in this paragraph be the extent of thought I put into it. I’ll figure out if Heaven is for real when I’m done experiencing things I can actually see.
Next up is a film that should make anyone legitimately question the existence of a kind and benevolent god. I didn’t think the first A Haunted House made enough money to make anyone think about a sequel, but I guess taking in $40 million on a $2.5 million budget is enough to give it another go. A Haunted House 2 only cost $500,000 more, so they sure are spending those profits wisely. Look, there’s no need for any kind of heavy scrutiny here. This thing is not even ninety minutes long, which means plenty of showings per day, and it’s aiming for a target so low that nothing short of the prints exploding into flames and burning down theaters is going to stop this from turning a profit. Besides, every generation needs to be subjected to its own Scary Movie franchise, so here you go.
A lot of people forget that Walt Disney had nearly as much success with his True-Life Adventures films as he did with his animated features. They won him eight Oscars, including three for Best Documentary Feature, and if he had to shove a bunch of innocent lemmings off a cliff to get the job done, well, who are we to question genius? In any case, it’s nice to see Disney attempt to honor that history of nature filmmaking with its Disneynature banner, and while their films haven’t met with the same award success as Uncle Walt’s films, they’ve been successful enough for Disney to keep making them. Which brings us the roundabout way to Bears, which promises gorgeously filmed images of cute little bears amid sweeping vistas and reassuringly narrated by John C. Reilly. If you don’t want your kids thinking about Heaven (or Hell, if A Haunted House 2 is on your radar for some reason), this is probably your go-to pick this weekend. Assuming the bears aren’t pushed off cliffs as well.
When’s the last time a Johnny Depp film crept into theaters? Because that’s sure what it feels like Transcendence has done. I haven’t seen a single theatrical trailer for this, and it only feels like the TV campaign has ramped up in the last week or so. It’s Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman! These aren’t no-names! Well, the director is, unless you keep up with who Christopher Nolan’s go-to cinematographer is. But you’d still think Depp and Freeman would buy a little more buzz, unless the studio knows this isn’t very good and doesn’t want to sink good advertising money into polishing this thing up. Do minimal promotion and hope Depp’s enough to get you a decent opening weekend. Of course, this cost $100 million, so we’re not talking A Haunted House 2-style “just happy to be here” opening weekend being enough. Still, it’s the one release this weekend that’s perked even a bit of interest for me.
I might just go shove myself over a cliff instead.