Box Office Pick’em: March 2013

Aaron has two wins under his belt in Box Office Pick’em so far, though the grand totals are pretty close. He chooses first in the March draft.

Pick #1: Aaron

Selection: ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’

Reasoning: Here’s something I never thought I’d say: Boy, am I glad for ‘Hansel & Gretel’. The foreign box office legs on that movie carried me through February. I really wanted to pick first in March, because ‘Oz’ is the first tentpole blockbuster of the year and I want in on it. Sure, it has a massive budget, but it also has Disney behind it. Kids everywhere are jonesing to see it, and the world is ready for some decent movies after the dreck of the first two months. I have a feeling that this will be a massive hit. Plus, it comes out early in the month, so a lot of its box office take will count against my March budget total.

Estimated Budget: $200 million

Pick #2: Luke

Selection: ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’

Reasoning: I know that a lot of the cumulative income for ‘G.I. Joe’ will not count for my March totals, but I’m looking at the big picture here. Yes, the first movie sucked absolute ass, but it made a ton of money. Not only that, when I saw ‘Hansel & Gretel’ in theaters, a four-minute clip/preview for ‘Retaliation’ played with the trailers and – I can’t lie – it looked like absolute fun. The action was great and the 3D was phenomenal. We’ve come a long way with our 3D conversions and this one looks fantastic. I don’t expect greatness from ‘Retaliation’, just fun. And I’m completely banking on everyone who saw the first movie to return for this one. Hell, Channing Tatum is rumored to be killed off early in the movie; how bad can it be?

Estimated Budget: $185 million

Pick #3: Aaron

Selection: ‘The Croods’

Reasoning: ‘Escape from Planet Earth’ was a no-name animated flick that fed off a drought of family-oriented movies in theaters. Even though I’m sure ‘The Croods’ will add a sizable chunk to my budget total, I’m willing to bet that parents will flock to this movie with their kids because, well, it’s the only choice out there. DreamWorks has been advertising it reasonably well, so I’m sure many kids have badgered their parents about the cave man movie. Do I think it looks any good? Not particularly. But, I think it’s a strategically important pick in March.

Estimated Budget: TBD (Note: Since ‘Flushed Away’, DreamWorks Animation productions have all been close to $150 million.)

Pick #4: Luke

Selection: ‘The Host’

Reasoning: When the teaser trailer for ‘The Host’ (no, not the awesome Korean monster flick, but the teen one starring ‘Hanna’) played at the press screening for ‘Breaking Dawn, Part 2’, every Twi-hard in the audience lit up with excitement. Their favorite hack trashy romance novel author has another film adaptation coming up. While I hate everything about ‘Twilight’ and want to see ‘The Host’ crash and burn, I’m somewhat intrigued by the movie’s director. Andrew Niccol has more potential than most, even if he rarely seems to meet it. ‘Gattaca’ was brilliant, but everything else that he’s directed since hasn’t lived up. The sociopolitical themes are there, but the execution falters. (See: ‘In Time’.) It’s my hope that Twi-hards, and Niccol hopefuls like myself, will fill theaters for ‘The Host’. And the $44 million budget is easily obtainable.

Estimated Budget: $44 million

Pick #5: Aaron

Selection: The Last Exorcism Part II

Reasoning: The first ‘Last Exorcism’ (yeah, I know it’s confusing that there can be a second “last,” but stay with me) was made for a measly $1.5 million. These low-rent horror movies make ridiculous amounts of money compared to their budgets. Even though the sequel has a beefier budget, it still promises to make boatloads of cash relative to the amount of money spent making it. This is a low-risk, high-reward pick for me and nothing more.

Estimated Budget: $5 million

Pick #6: Luke

Selection: ‘The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’

Reasoning: Yes, ‘Burt Wonderstone’ looks silly, and marketing has been non-existent, but it has a decent cast, a moderate budget and will be the first comedy to open since February’s uber-successful ‘Identity Thief’. I don’t expect much, but I believe that we can meet the budget and make something off it.

Estimated Budget: $30 million

Pick #7: Aaron

Selection: Tyler Perry’s Temptation

Reasoning: I’m trying to keep my budget expenses low, because I know that I’m going to get stuck with another big-budget release by the time this draft is over. So, I’m trying to maximize pure profit here, and nobody does that better than Perry. Whether or not I enjoy his movies is beside the point. He knows his audience and his movies rarely bomb. He uses modest budgets and usually makes back the initial investment on opening weekend. I’m hoping for the same thing here, especially because it comes out the last weekend in March.

Estimated Budget: TBD

Pick #8: Luke

Selection: ’21 & Over’

Reasoning: When I slipped into depression upon completing 30 years on planet Earth, a friend showed me the positive side. He said, “Don’t worry. You’re about to learn that 20-somethings are douchebags.” Now that I’m in my 30s, I have to agree. In my early 20s, I probably would have loved ’21 & Over’. Now I want nothing to do with it. Luckily, it was made on a low budget and there are plenty of douchebags out there that will go see it – not to mention the even douchier teens that will sneak in. This release is free money in my fantasy pocket.

Estimated Budget: $13 million

Pick #9: Aaron

Selection: ‘Admission’

Reasoning: Man, it’s always around picks eight or nine where you start to realize that you might be in trouble. I’m faced with big-budget monstrosities that could very well underperform and sink me, or unproven obscurities that could either turn out to be big hits or huge misses. I’m really banking on the likability of Paul Rudd and Tina Fey here. With so many R-rated comedies flooding movie screens that try to recreate the magic of the ‘Hangover’ box office, people might be clamoring for a PG-13 comedy. Then again, it could bomb. In that case, I’m guessing that the budget is pretty small so it won’t hurt me too bad.

Estimated Budget: TBD

Pick #10: Luke

Selection: ‘The Call’

Reasoning: ‘The Call’ looks like it’s about 20 years too late. It looks like ‘Speed’, if ‘Speed’ didn’t take place on a moving bus. Truthfully, it doesn’t look good, but the budget is more than enough to entice me. Since Aaron and I are both playing it safe this month, I feel like I’m going to be the dog that gets stuck with ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ on Pick #18, so I’ve got to keep my other budgets as low as possible. $13 million looks pretty reachable.

Estimated Budget: $13 million

Pick #11: Aaron

Selection: ‘Olympus Has Fallen’

Reasoning: Luke’s right. I’m not going anywhere near that giant movie with a giant budget. To be fair, I’ll dive on this big-budget grenade. Even though there’s some recognizable talent here, I really don’t have a lot of hope that ‘Olympus’ will be able to surpass its estimated $80 million budget. Something that may save ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ will be its foreign box office, which is something that I don’t think ‘Olympus’ will have much of, given its very American storyline about the White House under siege.

Estimated Budget: $80 million

Pick #12: Luke

Selection: ‘Dead Man Down’

Reasoning: It’s never good to play games emotionally, but I’m going to do it here. I’ve already seen ‘Dead Man Down’. The review embargo means that I can’t talk about it yet, but I will say this: Had it been backed by a bigger studio with more monetary muscle dedicated to marketing, I could see this being a big hit amongst adults. I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t hit its budget worldwide – especially with the internationally successful director of the original ‘Dragon Tattoo’.

Estimated Budget: $30 million

Pick #13: Aaron

Selection: ‘Stoker’

Reasoning: I like the idea of picking up a limited-release movie that will grow to a bigger distribution later on, especially one with the kind of hype and backing the ‘Stoker’ has. The hype started at Sundance and will continue to ripple along, this being director Park Chan-wook’s first English language film. It has the chance to do some big money in the Asian countries as soon as it’s released in foreign markets. With a small budget, I feel like ‘Stoker’ can do reasonably well during its theatrical run.

Estimated Budget: $12 million

Pick #14: Luke

Selection: ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’

Reasoning: I can’t hide it. I have a man-crush on Ryan Gosling. To have him return with the director of ‘Blue Valentine’ is a great thing, and the fact that its crime-based story and character is similar to ‘Drive’ has me excited. (Gosling played a stunt driver in ‘Drive’ and plays a motorcycle stunt rider in ‘Pines’.) I’m hoping that ‘Pines’ has generated some steam while making the film festival rounds.

Estimated Budget: $15 million

Pick #15: Aaron

Selection: ‘Spring Breakers’

Reasoning: I guess I’ll take ‘Spring Breakers’. Here’s hoping that the onslaught of YouTube marketing and copious amounts of Red Band trailers proclaiming once-pure actresses like Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens doing things you wouldn’t imagine them doing in a hundred years will get people into the theaters. I’m not hoping for a big, or even medium-sized return. I’m just hoping for enough box office to cover whatever it cost for James Franco’s blinged-out grill.

Estimated Budget: TBD

Pick #16: Luke

Selection: ‘Ginger & Rosa’

Reasoning: I assume that ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ and ‘Phantom’ will be the two huge bombs of March, so I’m taking the last indie movie for pick 16 to avoid getting stuck with both of them. I don’t know much about ‘Ginger & Rosa’ aside from its cast. Elle Fanning is light years ahead of her sister’s acting abilities, so I’ll gladly watch whatever she does. There’s no word on budget, but it must have a better chance of meeting it than ‘Jack’ or ‘Phantom’.

Estimated Budget: TBD

Pick #17: Aaron

Selection: ‘Phantom’

Reasoning: I’m sorry, Luke. I just can’t bring myself to pick ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’, even though it might do well overseas just like ‘Hansel & Gretel’ did. ‘Phantom’ looks like a bad direct-to-video war movie. Even the poster art has a generic early ’90s feeling to it. I love me some David Duchovny, but even though I know this movie will need major help at the box office to do me any good, I’m still not going to see it.

Estimated Budget: $18 million

Pick #18: Luke

(Forced) Selection: ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’

Reasoning: Because I have to.

Estimated Budget: $195 million

Luke’s Grand Net Total: $212,307,587

Aaron’s Grand Net Total: $337,983,159

Who do you think will win Box Office Pick'em in March?

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  1. Drew

    Looks like Aaron is going to pitch a shutout this year. If Luke couldn’t even take February, which was utterly up for grabs, and Aaron keeps picking first, I just don’t see Luke ever being able to win a single month. The only way it’s going to happen, is if Aaron makes a colossal mistake.

  2. Drew

    …yeah, but each month seems to have a clear-cut major blockbuster, that will earn close to a billion dollars. Also, you’ll be picking third, as well, and the second and third biggest movies of each month are going to be sevens. So, your second choice is going to effectively nullify Luke’s first choice. I’m thinking this is going to be a no-hitter, possibly even a perfect game. 🙂

    • Aaron Peck

      I’m mulling over an idea that would allow a person to pick first only 3 times in a row regardless of wins. 3 months in a row would be the max, then it would switch to the other person.

      • William Henley

        Sounds fair to me. However, this leads to the following issue:

        Jan, Feb, Mar – Aaron
        April, May, June – Luke
        July, August, Sept – Aaron
        Oct, Nov, Dec – Luke

        You have the advantage with summer blockbusters. Luke gets the advantage with the holiday cash grabs.

        The most fair thing would have been to trade out every otehr month – that way each has a summer month, and each has a holiday month. Of course, it may be too late for this.

  3. JM

    At the beginning of 2012, did anyone predict…

    $1.5B for ‘The Avengers’ and $1.1B for ‘Skyfall’?

    $875M for ‘Ice Age’ and $750 for ‘Madagascar’?

    $600M for ‘Life of Pi’ and $550M for ‘Ted’?

    $400M for ‘The Intouchables’?

    Which are the wild card movies of 2013?

    ‘Pacific Rim’?

  4. Drew

    Jane, yes, as a matter of fact, ‘Skyfall’ is the only one of those that far exceeded expectations. Just look at the previous ‘Ice Age’ film, and the foreign box office that it did, for one example.

    Going further, I believe it was you that said ‘The Avengers’ would earn over 3 billion. So, if anything, it underachieved. 🙂 The clear-cut billion dollar — or close to it — babies are practically pre-ordained. Only a major fuck up is going to prevent Aaron from taking the game ball to Cooperstown.

    • JM

      ‘Oz’ gives enough profit to pick ‘Man of Steel.’ Game over. Aaron wins.

      Will ‘The Hobbit’ cost the full budget, but have it profit cut off Dec 31?

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