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Weekend Box Office: Divergent Soars, Muppets Most Wanted Falls

A new weekly segment where I predict how much money films will make at the Box Office this weekend.

Update Sunday 3/23 - Weekend Actuals

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The weekend actuals are in, courtesy of Box Office Mojo, and I got 4/5 right!

1. Divergent - $56 million. This prediction was spot on, within $1 million of the actual. This is enough for Divergent to be considered a success (if nowhere near as successful as The Hunger Games), and thanks to its mid-range budget of $85 we can except to see its sequel, Insurgent, in 2015.

2. Muppets Most Wanted - $16.5 million. While I guessed the order correctly, the Muppets sequel took in much less than I expected (I was off by 8.5 million). It will have a hard time making back it's $50 million budget domestically.

3. Peabody and Sherman - 11.7 million. This one was much closer, off by just 1.3 million. The film held pretty strongly against the Muppets, but still has a way to go to make back it's hefty $145 million budget.

4. 300: Rise of an Empire - 8.6 million. Another good prediction, off by just 1.4 million. The 300 sequel fell steeply from last week, but the film has still made $93 million so far, headed past its $110 million budget.

5. God's Not Dead - 8.5 million. Here's the one that came out of nowhere, the christian film surprised me by breaking the top 5.


Original Predictions: 

1. Divergent - $57 million. Based on the popular young adult novel, Divergent hopes to follow in the footsteps of Twilight and The Hunger Games to become the next big franchise. Despite it's underwhelming and generic looking trailers, and its poor critical receptions (35% on Rotten Tomatoes), Fandango is reporting that there is plenty of interest in this film. I'm expecting a big opening weekend followed by a sharp drop next week.

2. Muppets Most Wanted - $25 million. The 2011 Muppets Movie was a hit, making $88 million at the domestic box office, but with a few exceptions, most sequels to family movies make less than their predecessor. With this, and the fact that it's facing a lot of competition from a surprisingly strong performance by Peabody and Sherman, expect a slightly disappointing opening weekend for the Disney sequel.

3. Peabody and Sherman - $13 million. After surprisingly taking first place last weekend with $21 million, this film has held up pretty well, and will compete for the same family audience as Muppets Most Wanted. Expect another 30% drop for a respectable third weekend in release.

4. 300: Rise of an Empire - $10 million. After a 57% fall last weekend, the sequel to 300 will have another steep drop this week, especially since it's facing tough competition from Divergent for audiences hungry for action. 

5. Need for Speed - $8 million. After a disappointing opening weekend  last week (Third place with $17 million), I expect what interest there was to have waned for this film. It should fall about 50%.

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In other news, Frozen just broke another record for DVD/Blu-Ray sales, selling 3.2 million discs in it's first day of release (March 18).

 

Check back next week to see how close my predictions were to the actual numbers, and for another round of Box Office Predictions.

Review: Need For Speed

Like Fast and Furious meets Rush without coherent dialogue or plot

Aaron Paul gets behind the wheel. Watch a Behind the Scenes Clip above.

Need for Speed is the upcoming movie adaptation of the popular video game series of the same name. It seems like a cynical move, cashing in on a pre-established brand name and the success of the Fast and Furious franchise. Yet with director Scott Waugh (Act of Valor) and Emmy-winner Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), it seemed like they might be able to pull off a smart, car-racing drama, in the vein of Ron Howard's under-appreciated Rush. The result, however, is filled with some awesome racing sequences, and lots of cliches.

What worked: The car races are loud, intense, and a hell of a lot of fun. Waugh opted to film all of the car stunts practically, even putting his actors through stunt driving school to get shots of them actually driving. It pays off in the action sequences, as does his guerrilla style of shooting. You can tell that the expensive car you are watching is really flipping through the air with an expensive camera strapped onto it. There is a stunt about midway through (that has kind of been spoiled in the marketing) that will make your jaw drop, and it makes the climax seem a little underwhelming in comparison. There were also some really gratifying moments of triumph were the music sweeps over you. Finally, Aaron Paul is good as the talented and stern racer, though he is given pretty simple dialogue to work with. 

What didn't work: Almost all of the dialogue is pretty bad, and the plot doesn't make any sense. That's 100% not the reason anyone goes to see Need for Speed, though, so it doesn't really matter. The movie falls into a lot of generic action movie cliches, especially when it comes to the romantic subplot with Imogen Poots (That Awkward Moment). The comedic relief from Scott Mescudi (aka "Kid Cudi") and Michael Keaton (Bettlejuice) is weird and it falls a little flat. And, although it is to be expected, this film has the most blatant product placement since The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I'm talking about 5% of the movie being devoted to closeups of the car logos, and people going on about how great that brand's cars are.

Overall, Need for Speed is just OK. The plot and dialogue are mediocre, but the action is really great, especially the racing scene at the midpoint of the movie. The visuals of the film are made even more impressive because of the fact that all of the stunts were preformed without the use of CGI. Check it out if you're in the mood for some dumb, nonsensical, car-racing fun.

Need for Speed comes out March 14th.

Rating: 2/5 Stars