Weekend Box Office (April 18 - 20, 2014)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Johnny Depp leads a pack of new releases that will give North American ticket buyers a number of different options over the Easter holiday session. Meanwhile, sequels from earlier in April will continue to register well with crowds.

Warner Bros. unleashes its sci-fi thriller Transcendence with Depp taking center stage in a film that features the popular star taking a rare trip into the future. The PG-13 pic marks the directorial debut of Wally Pfister, Christopher Nolan's long-time cinematographer. Morgan Freeman also stars. Last year saw many original futuristic sci-fi films open near the $30-40M range such as Tom Cruise's Oblivion ($37.1M), Pacific Rim ($37.3M), and Matt Damon's Elysium ($29.8M). Then there was the critically-panned After Earth with Will Smith which bowed lower to $27.5M.

Transcendence has been earning poor reviews, though not as dreadful as those for the Smith family project. The plot for the artificial intelligence story does not come through entirely in the TV spots which may make some people pass. Depp's starpower is being counted on big time to open this picture since there are few other bells and whistles here to make it sell. But his name has not helped much with recent efforts on projects that were not too good to start with. International results should be better. Audiences have spent heavily on action movies over the past two months so yet another one is not really needed right now. Landing in over 3,400 theaters including IMAX venues, Transcendence may open to roughly $25M this weekend.

Solo successes come and go, but 2014 has been a true breakout year for faith-based hits and the latest one is already off to a hot start. The drama Heaven Is For Real, a true account of a little boy's near-death experience, has been slotted into Easter weekend on purpose to tap into a large moviegoing audience hungry for relevant and uplifting content that speaks to them at a key time period on the calendar. The PG-rated film opened Wednesday to a solid $3.7M ranking number one nationwide and is well-positioned to connect with its target audience some more over the days ahead. Budgeted at $12M, the pic is pleasing customers too so good buzz should help over the holiday frame. Now playing in 2,417 locations, Heaven is For Real may take in about $16M for the weekend and $21M over five days.

Marlon Wayans hit comedy gold with A Haunted House last year in January with a strong $18.1M debut for the low-budget spoof. Now part 2 comes out to try and make this into a franchise like his older brother Keenan created with Scary Movie with back-to-back installments in 2000 and 2001. A Haunted House 2 should appeal, again, to older teens and young adults looking for mindless fun and have a solid urban youth turnout. It's not as original of an idea this time around so the opening may be smaller. Open Road is releasing the R-rated entry into 2,310 theaters and may capture around $14M this weekend.

Disney's nature division returns with another animal doc right around Earth Day with Bears. The G-rated entry should appeal to the same audience that has come out in solid numbers for past films of this type in late April. Reviews have been positive, John C. Reilly narrates, and the NatGeo crowd should show up. Opening in 1,720 locations, Bears might gross about $7M this weekend.

A pair of April sequels will still rake in some solid coin with Easter weekend moviegoers. Two-time leader Captain America: The Winter Soldier may slide by 50% in its third round to about $21M which would propel Disney to a domestic cume of $195M with the worldwide tally getting to within striking distance of the $600M mark with this weekend's debut in Japan.

Fox's Rio 2 opened on par with its predecessor from three years ago but has been pulling in solid numbers all week with many schools on break. Good Friday will help so a weekend decline of about 40% may result. That would put Rio 2 at around $24M for the weekend with a cume of $76M overall. It has a shot at taking the number one spot if Depp doesn't pull in the crowds.

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Watch the NEW trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past.

For a review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier visit The Chief Report.

LAST YEAR An A-list star who rose to fame in the 80s used sci-fi to take over the number one spot with the futuristic action film Oblivion which bowed to $37.1M. The Universal release starring Tom Cruise went on to capture $89.1M domestically and $286M worldwide. Holdovers followed with the hit baseball drama 42 dropping to second with $17.7M for Warner Bros. and Fox's The Croods finishing third with $9.2M. Rounding out the top five were the sequels Scary Movie 5 and G.I. Joe: Retaliation with $6.2M and $5.8M, respectively.


Last Updated: April 17, 2014 at 2:20PM ET

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