Traditionally, April has never been one of the biggest months to open a movie, but that all changed a few years ago when the Fast & Furious franchise started finding success in the spring months. The next installment in that high-octane franchise, The Fate of the Furious, doesn't hit theaters until April 14, but this weekend, moviegoers will have three new films arriving in wide release, Sony's animated adventure Smurfs: The Lost Village, Warner Bros.' comedy remake Going In Style and PureFlix's The Case For Christ. None of these will (probably) be able to stop last weekend's winner, The Boss Baby, which will likely repeat atop the box office with $25.2 million.
Box Office Mojo reports that Smurfs: The Lost Village, which marks the franchise's return to fully animated movies, instead of live-action/CGI hybrids, is expected to open in roughly 3,400 theaters, with Going in Style estimated to open in 3,000 theaters, while The Case for Christ is believed to debut in 1,100 theaters. As of now, only Smurfs: The Lost Village has enough reviews on Rotten Tomatoes for a rating of 33%, with just eight positive reviews out of 24, but we'll have to wait and see what the critics think of Going in Style and The Case for Christ. We're predicting that Smurfs: The Lost Village will make it a slightly close race, opening with $22.4 million in third place behind The Boss Baby and Beauty and the Beast ($23.5 million).
If this projection is accurate, this opening weekend projection for Smurfs: The Lost Village will fall directly between the debuts of its predecessors. 2011's The Smurfs, which blended the animated Smurfs with live-action characters played by Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and Hank Azaria, debuted with $35.6 million en route to a $142.6 million domestic take and $563.7 million worldwide take, from just a $110 million budget. The 2013 follow-up The Smurfs 2 didn't fare quite so well, opening with just $17.5 million, with a $71 million domestic take, although it still fared well in international territories, with a worldwide gross of $347.5 million from a $105 million budget.
A year after The Smurfs 2 debuted, Sony Pictures Animation announced that the franchise was going back to its animated roots, with a fully-animated tale and a new voice cast which includes Demi Lovato as Smurfette, Rainn Wilson as Gargamel, Joe Manganiello as Hefty Smurf, Jack McBrayer as Clumsy Smurf, Danny Pudi as Brainy Smurf and Mandy Patinkin as Papa Smurf. In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her best friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures to find a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does. Embarking on a rollercoaster journey full of action and danger, the Smurfs are on a course that leads to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history!
We're predicting that Going in Style opens in fourth place with $11.6 million, with Ghost in the Shell rounding out the top 5 with $8.4 million. Oscar winners Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby), Michael Caine (The Cider House Rules, Hannah and Her Sisters) and Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) team up as lifelong buddies Willie, Joe and Al, who decide to buck retirement and step off the straight-and-narrow for the first time in their lives when their pension fund becomes a corporate casualty, in director Zach Braff's comedy Going in Style. Desperate to pay the bills and come through for their loved ones, the three risk it all by embarking on a daring bid to knock off the very bank that absconded with their money.
The film also stars two-time Oscar nominee Ann-Margret (Tommy, Carnal Knowledge) as Annie, a grocery cashier who's been checking Al out in more ways than one. Joey King (Wish I Was Here) stars as Joe's whip-smart granddaughter, Brooklyn; with Oscar nominee Matt Dillon (Crash) as FBI Agent Hamer; and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future trilogy) as the guys' lodge buddy, Milton. John Ortiz (Silver Linings Playbook) also stars as Jesus, a man of unspecified credentials who agrees to show the guys the ropes, and Peter Serafinowicz (Guardians of the Galaxy) as Joe's former son-in-law, Murphy, whose pot clinic connections may finally prove useful. Zach Braff (Garden State) directs from a screenplay by Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent).
The Case for Christ likely won't crack the top 10 this weekend, which will be rounded out by holdovers Power Rangers ($7.8 million), Kong: Skull Island ($5.2 million), Logan ($3.6 million), Get Out ($2.9 million) and Life ($2.1 million). Also opening in limited release are Magnolia's Alive and Kicking and Cezanne et moi, Neon's Colossal, Parade Deck's The Eyes, Fox Searchlight's Gifted, IFC's Graduation, Well Go USA's Mine, STX Entertainment's Their Finest, Shout! Factor's The Ticket, FilmRise's Truman Screen Media's The Void and Funimation's Your Name. It isn't clear at this time if any of these films are planning to expand nationwide in the weeks ahead.
Looking ahead to next weekend, Universal's highly-anticipated sequel The Fate of the Furious will open nationwide, going up against the Open Road Films animated comedy Spark. Also opening in limited release is the Indican horror film 7 Witches, Abramorama's documentary Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, The Orchard's documentary Jeremiah Tower, Bleecker Street's action-adventure The Lost City of Z, Sony Pictures Classic's dramatic thriller Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, Music Box Films' drama A Quiet Passion, Under the Milky Way's drama The Student and Roadside Attractions' drama Tommy's Honour. Take a look at our predictions for the weekend of April 7, and check back Sunday for the box office estimates.