Box Office Predictions for Spring 2012's Sequels
The year’s first franchise flick, Underworld: Awakening, is on course to become the top-grossing installment, but spring’s five-pack of sequels reads a recipe for disappointment. None are likely to outgross their predecessors, and though one has the potential to revive a long dormant franchise, but the remaining four are poised to pale in terms of earlier popularity. Ultimately moviegoers will decide if these properties warrant a revisit, but here are my early projections for the spring’s five sequels:
+ Journey 2: Mysterious Island [Warner Bros. 2/10] - $73M – 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth was a surprise summer hit, grossing a solid $101.7M domestically and $241.9M worldwide. However, that well-liked film arrived when Digital 3D seemed fresh, and the format’s floundering popularity is likely to have greater effect on Journey 2 than the switch in leading men. If anything, Dwayne Johnson is more of a box office draw than Brendan Fraser, but like recent sequels, the advertising comes across as just more of the same. On the plus side, barring a breakout hits in Big Miracle and The Phantom Menace 3D, February offers few options for children on winter break. Still, audiences were not exactly clamoring for a sequel, and kidpic follow-ups, with rare exceptions, tend to gross less. Foreign sales should be much stronger, but Journey 2: Mysterious Island could see $73M domestically.
+ Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance [Sony 2/17] - $83M – Though Ghost Rider rode to a cool $115.8M five years ago, it’s hailed as a prime example of how to not make a superhero movie. With a B-list character, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance will still attract loyal Marvel readers, but non-fans who felt burned by the 2007 movie are likely to take a pass this time. A-list superheroes like Batman and Spider-Man can survive mediocre installments, but a B-lister like Ghost Rider will struggle. Nicolas Cage’s recent string of flops and plummeting popularity won’t help matters either. The Marvel brand and President’s Day opening ensures a somewhat respectable run, but even with 3D surcharges, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance could max out around $83M domestically.
+ Wrath of the Titans [Warner Bros. 3/30] - $115M – Two years ago, Clash of the Titans piggybacked on the 3D popularity of Avatar and Alice in Wonderland, leading to a powerful $163.2M domestically and a smashing $493.2M worldwide. However, the film was generally panned by audiences and, like Journey 2, Wrath of the Titans will suffer from the current 3D backlash and its déjà vu feel. Warner Bros. has a strong history of selling spring actioners, and opening close to the all-important Easter period will certainly help sales. Yet with poor reactions the first film and titles like John Carter, Mirror Mirror and The Hunger Games attracting greater attention, the Sam Worthington sequel will need a miracle to match its predecessor’s monster gross. The one hope is that Wrath can fill the same pre-summer blockbuster void like Clash did in 2010. I expect buffo foreign numbers, but the domestic tally could tumble to $115M.
+ American Reunion [Universal 4/6] – $87M - Of the four spring sequels, this one has the best potential to become a solid hit. While it may not as revitalizing as Universal’s Fast & Furious and Fast Five duo, American Reunion could keep the dormant American Pie franchise alive. It’s been nearly eight years, but, unlike last year’s Scre4m, the filmmakers have devised a logical and compelling reason for another installment. The last film was 2003’s American Wedding which grossed $104.5M. Given the hiatus and consistent low-cost,
+ Scary Movie 5 [The Weinstein