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New in Theaters April 11: Draft Day, Oculus Rio 2

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By Chris Kavan - 04/10/14 at 06:59 AM CT

All hail the real American hero - The Captain returned and the box office domination was impressive to say the least. And I have a pretty strong feeling that for the rest of April, we're going to be hearing a lot more about The Winter Soldier. Who dared go up against the Marvel universe this weekend? We have an animated sequel, a spring-time horror offering and Kevin Costner hoping for some Moneyball with a football twist. Something tells me that none of the films will be able to match the might of Marvel's Phase 2 - but we'll see if they can at least offer up come compelling competition at the box office.

DRAFT DAY As I stated above, I'm pretty sure Draft Day is going after the Moneyball aesthetic but substituting football for baseball (and Brad Pitt with Kevin Costner). Now, Moneyball turned out to be one of the most successful baseball films of all time - making over $75 million by the time everything was done - it also garnered a handful of Oscar nominations in the process. Will Draft Day enjoy the same success? It is coming out at roughly the same time as the real NFL draft (a month away - May 8 - 10) and has the full support of the NFL behind it - but will any of that give the film a boost? Director Ivan Reitman is known more for goofy comedies (Ghostbusters, Meatballs, Evolution, Stripe and Twins - amongst others) than dramas - but at least he can come up with compelling characters. The success of this film is going to be whether Costner, along with co-stars Jennifer Garner, Chadwick Boseman (so good in 42), Frank Langella, Denis Leary and Terry Crews - can carry this sports drama. Football is pretty much strictly an American sport - so international returns on this one are probably going to be unremarkable. So it's going to be up to domestic returns to carry the film and that is going to depend on whether a football drama will offer up a compelling enough reason to see it in theaters.


RIO 2 Having never had the pleasure of seeing the first Rio as of yet, I can only go by how the first film performed. Rio has a nice run with a nearly $40 million opening and winding up with $143.6 million in the U.S. and a worldwide total of nearly $485 million. While those numbers aren't quite Pixar impressive, obviously the numbers justified another run with some colorful fowl friends in an exotic locale. This time the birds are flying from Rio and entering the wilds of the Amazon - which should provide some stunning visuals if nothing else. Vocal cast returning includes Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Jemaine Clement, George Lopez and Will i Am. Newcomes include the silky smooth talent of Bruno Mars along with other musical talent including Kristin Chenoweth, Rita Moreno and more standard actors Miguel Ferrer and Tracy Morgan. Music looks to play a big part in the film - and with the cast assembled, it looks like it will shape up to be a good experience. As a film for families - I have to say it looks better than the Peabody and Sherman film and while it will likely fall well short of The Lego Movie, it should have a decent run.


OCULUS There hasn't been a true horror film in theaters since January 17 when Devil's Due opened (to weak numbers). Horror fans are some of the most hard to pin down - terrible horror films sometimes do well, but others rightfully get little to no attention. Even once mighty franchises (Saw, Paranormal Activity) can get the cold shoulder. Oculus is not part of any franchise, though the story is not unfamiliar - a cursed object, a falsely-accused murder, things that go bump in the night. In this case the item is a mirror - one which harbors a terrible presence (demonic or otherwise) and, of course, it leads to people dying in some horrible fashion. It also leads to a man being accused of murder - a man whose sister sets out to prove he is innocent by proving the existence of these supernatural threats. Now, I'm a fan of good horror - The Conjuring surprised me in how effective it was and even Sinister gave me some nice chills. But Good horror is hard to find as 80% of the junk I see is, at best, mediocre and, at worst, laughable. Production values are usual low (while no available, Oculus is probably not too high - despite the presence of names I recognize like Katee Sackhoff and Rory Cochrane) - but that's the name of the game, the lower your budget, the better chance at getting a big return. Early reviews are largely favorable - but since most horror films are critic-proof anyway, that doesn't necessarily mean this will do better or worse than other horror films. We'll see if April can bring better returns than January - with nothing in the way of horror to choose from, it might do well for the sole reason it has no competition and horror fans are looking for something to sate their hunger.


The weekend brings a nice mix of genres - but I have a feeling that none have a chance at topping Winter Soldier, which should win the weekend for the second time. I'll be back on Sunday with the final results.

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