We’re barely into spring, but this is really the last weekend before summer. Movie summer, that is, as Furious 7 drops next weekend and is likely to curb stomp everything in its path until that little art film Avengers: Age of Ultron bows at the beginning of May. So this is likely the last chance for a decent box office haul for anything without the names “Diesel” or “Marvel” on it until Memorial Day. Let’s see who’s taking advantage of it.
I saw a stand-up for Home in the lobby of one of my local theaters and honestly thought it was an advert for the theater chain featuring its mascot. That’s how cheap this looks. Yet there are the posters boasting “From the creators of Dragons and The Croods.” Well, yeah, director Tim Johnson was an executive producer on the first How to Train Your Dragon, but a better indicator of what to expect is that he also directed Antz, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas and Over the Hedge. But slapping those on a poster isn’t going to get anybody in the door. The voice of Jim Parsons might, but he’s stuck in what looks like the result of a story conference that answers the question, “What if we re-made E.T. and made him really annoying?” Of course, the target audience is going to see bright colors and hear funny sounds and be diverted for a couple of hours, and it’s the only real kids movie around right now, but I get the feeling Dreamworks isn’t going to be putting “From the creators of Home” on any posters any time soon.
Get Hard is already getting considerable flack over what many perceive to be its racist and homophobic sense of humor. The clumsy double entendre of a title and the trailers seem to indicate the critics haven’t been too far off the mark, and I can only think it was the sizable bankability of Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart that got this thing off the ground at all. Ferrell and Hart are usually good for a $20 to $30 million opening on their own, so there’s no reason to think this is going to open to tumbleweeds, especially since there really isn’t another go-to comedy out there right now. But how far — and humorously — over the line this goes, and the reaction to it, will determine if this has legs or not. The mass audience usually isn’t as sensitive about things like this, so I doubt the controversy will hurt it. Me, I just don’t think it looks funny, never mind the uncomfortable nature of its humor.
But the really buzz-worthy film this weekend is the one opening on the fewest screens, partly because it’s opening on any screens at all. It Follows debuted at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and got picked up by The Weinstein Company for what looked like a direct-to-video release. But the film got booked at a few more festivals and started garnering some really good reviews, so much so that TWC dropped it into a few theaters a couple of weeks ago. That went over so well — to the tune of $40,000 per screen — that today, on the date it was originally scheduled to premiere on VOD services, It Follows is getting a 1,200 screen release. That’s about a third of what the other two releases are getting, but that’s also a major home run for this horror film. Now say it with me: “Horror films open.” This one has a lot of good word of mouth, what looks like a killer premise, and — I’m sensing a theme here — no real competition in its genre. I won’t go so far as to say it wins the weekend, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it did. And seeing as it cost all of $2 million, it could have a good Friday night, close Saturday morning and turn a huge profit. No horror story there.