With the Oscars behind us, it feels like we can finally put 2015 to bed and look ahead. Not that there haven’t been plenty of movies to talk about released so far — Deadpool is closing in on $300 million, which nobody expected — but the Oscars tend to feel like the period on the sentence that is the cinematic year. Or the enraged exclamation point if you didn’t like who won. Anyway, onward into March!
Tina Fey had a surprisingly good holiday going up against the Star Wars juggernaut. Sisters didn’t blow the doors off the joint, but an $86 million gross on a modest $30 million budget with The Force Awakens swallowing everything in sight wasn’t a total disaster either. So why do I get the feeling Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is going to be? It feels like it’s come out of nowhere with not a lot of advance word, and it also doesn’t strike me as the kind of film people want to see Fey in. Word is she’s really good in it, so it’s no slam on her range, but given that her biggest hits as a headliner were lighter fare like Sisters and Baby Mama, a story set in Afghanistan during the war might not appeal to her audience.
Olympus Has Fallen got the jump on White House Down in the “President In Danger” sweepstakes of 2013, and was a bit of a surprise hit, finishing just shy of $100 million. So you knew it was just a matter of time until something else fell down for Gerard Butler to stab his way through. And much like the pattern the Die Hard films followed, London Has Fallen takes us from one confined location to one rather sprawling one. Surprisingly, this one actually cost less than the first film by about $10 million, not the norm for a sequel these days. But the early word is that it’s also less than the first film on several other fronts. It’ll probably still get a good response from fans of the first film and the action buffs, but it’s going to have to settle for second place this week.
Because, thanks to Disney, it looks like March is going to come in like a lion. And a lamb. And a rabbit, a fox, a sloth, and about a dozen other animals thrown in for good measure. There’s little doubt Zootopia is going to run away with the weekend — it’s projecting out to about $71 million for the three-day — and it’s been getting pretty glowing reviews so far. The sloth trailer they unleashed a few months ago has to be one of the most effective pieces of cinematic marketing I’ve ever seen; it absolutely killed every time I saw it in a theater. And it was also a sign that Disney knew they had something here. Why would they give up a dynamite gag like that in a trailer if they didn’t think they had plenty more to offer? That’s confidence right there, and it looks to be justified. It’s certainly the move this weekend I’m most excited about, and with not much family-friendly fare on the horizon — you could argue there’s really nothing until Disney’s own live-action Jungle Book in mid-April — this is sure to have a healthy run.
Or hop or crawl or whatever the case may be.