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Bloodbath: Which Films Risk Being The Blockbuster Casualties Of 2012?

by Oliver Lyttelton
February 2, 2012 4:09 PM
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"Taken 2"
Who's In It And What's It About? The sequel to the 2009 surprise hit, this sees the father of one of Liam Neeson's victims from the first film seeking revenge by kidnapping him, forcing his daughter (Maggie Grace) to embark on a rescue attempt. The brilliantly named Olivier Megaton directs.
What's The Risk Factor? "Taken" was a shock smash a few years back, opening to $25 million on Super Bowl weekend before riding to a domestic total of $150 million. Fox and Luc Besson have fought hard to get a sequel made, but can lightning strike twice? Neeson has proved his box office mettle again recently with "The Grey," and the original's well-liked, but is it likely to be a case of diminishing returns, particularly with an odd premise without the same instant appeal as the first film? Furthermore, can it hold its own in October, with competition from Judge Dredd, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis and Jason Statham either side of its release?
What's The Cost? Not a lot, but Neeson's sure to have had landed a killer paycheck, probably pushing the film to twice the original $25 million budget, so $50 million or so.
What's The Estimated Return On Investment? We can't see the film matching the $250 million gross of the original, although maybe that's just because we think the sequel sounds so terrible. There's no denying that Neeson's got a fanbase, so it won't be far off.
When? October 5th

"Total Recall"
Who's In It And What's It About? Len Wiseman ("Live Free and Die Hard") remakes Paul Verhoeven's Philip K Dick adaptation, with Colin Farrell taking over from Arnie, and Eva Mendes, Kate Beckinsale, Bill Nighy, Ethan Hawke and, as the villain Cohaagen, Bryan Cranston.
What's The Risk Factor? Our pick for the diciest prospect of the summer, this is a redundant remake of a film only twenty years old, which, from the Comic-Con footage we saw, has nothing new to add. Furthermore, it has as its lead Colin Farrell, who was never a big draw even in his heyday (his biggest hit was "S.W.A.T." in 2003, at $116 million), and who had a big flop last summer in "Fright Night." Most importantly, it's opening side-by-side with "The Bourne Legacy," which is aiming for the exact same audience, and is almost certain to trample all over it. It's not cheap either, and we just can't see it hitting a number that makes it profitable, short of Sony releasing some really killer footage. Don't be surprised if this ends up getting moved to a quieter 2013 slot -- it might at least manage "Underworld" or "Resident Evil" numbers with a January or September release date.
What's The Cost? Quotes have it as high as $200 million. We hope for Sony's sake that's off by at least half.
What's The Estimated Return On Investment? Best case scenario, the 3D helps it to do "Resident Evil: Afterlife" numbers internationally, but bear in mind that film hit in a quiet September at the height of 3D mania, so don't be surprised if this falls well short of that film's $300 mil total.
When? August 3rd

"World War Z"
Who's In It And What's It About? Brad Pitt stars in the Marc Forster-directed adaptation of Max Brooks' faux-oral history of a zombie plague. Mireille Enos, David Morse, Matthew Fox and James Badge Dale are in support.
What's The Risk Factor? Brad Pitt is about a solid box-office prospect as you could ask for, in commercial fare at least. But "World War Z" feels particularly risky in terms of his studio fare: a sweeping, epic horror flick aimed at the Christmas market, but one that's almost certain to carry a PG-13 rating. Paramount are probably hoping that the mega-grossing "I Am Legend" (nearly $600 million worldwide) leads the way, but that didn't have the high-falutin' socio-political aspirations that Pitt has talked about, and was also virtually unchallenged on release, whereas "World War Z" has to face off against "The Hobbit," "Kill Bin Laden" and "Django Unchained," among others.
What's The Cost? The film was nearly scrapped when Paramount got uneasy about the $125 million budget; it's unclear if that got trimmed down, or if partners Skydance helped make that more palatable.
What's The Estimated Return On Investment? We'd be very surprised if this did anything close to "I Am Legend" numbers; Pitt's biggest hit remains the $500 million "Troy," a more commercial prospect than this. That being said, Pitt rarely misses with a non-arthouse film, so no one's going to lose their job on this one.
When? December 21st

"Wrath of the Titans"
Who's In It And What's It About? In the sequel to the 2010 hit, Sam Worthington returns as Perseus to face off a rebellion by Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Ares (Edgar Ramirez) that aims to unleash the Titans. Liam Neeson returns as Zeus, God of Exposition, while Rosamund Pike, Toby Kebbell and Bill Nighy are among the new additions, and "Battle: Los Angeles" director Jonathan Liebesman takes over from Louis Leterrier.
What's The Risk Factor? "Clash of the Titans" proved a healthy hit two years ago, riding the post "Avatar" 3D wave to $500 million worldwide, so surely a sequel is something of a home run. But then, sequels tend to work best when people like the original, and you have to look pretty hard to find people who are professed fans of 'Clash.' All involved have promised a film that steps up from the original, but the filmmakers are once again going down the same 3D post-conversion that plagued the original. The process may have improved, but communicating that to audience isn't easy. Plus, the film now has stiff competition in March, when it once had that time to itself; "Mirror Mirror" opens on the same date, and "John Carter" and "The Hunger Games" will still be in theaters.
What's The Cost? The original was around the $125 million mark, and we can't imagine this being significantly more.
What's The Expected Return On Investment?  We're not saying this'll tank, but we can easily see the grosses dropping below the first one, enough so that Warners start to rethink a third installment.

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  • Damien | February 9, 2012 1:05 AMReply

    What does it matter whether The Help only took $35 million internationally? It still reigned in just over $200 million with a budget of $25 million. That's huge dollars.

  • padre | February 6, 2012 10:17 AMReply

    8. Love Will Smith. Like Sonnenfeld. Love the Men In Black movies. However, I'm strangely not feeling this sequel. The franchise just feels empty and "done" now. Maybe I'll get hyped for it later? Don't know. The whole thing feels off kilter. Smith seems like he is running scared back to this franchise, when there is no reason to be. He had a couple of flicks that mildly underperformed and he seems to have freaked out. There was no huge backlash against him, nor did any film of his truly bomb. But nevertheless, Smith seemed to be unnerved and avoided doing another movie for 4 years and then came back fleeing to a tired franchise. It makes no sense. 9. Even though she was cruelly snubbed this awards season, superstar and goddess Charlize Theron is set to have a VERY good year with the one-two punch of Prometheus and Snow White.

  • padre | February 6, 2012 9:46 AMReply

    4. Why is Judge Dredd even being made? Karl Urban deserves so much better than this. Hollywood has squandered his potential as the next Go To action star. 5. Gangster Squad looks tired and tiresome. And also in desperate need of a tailor since all the suits are hanging off the actors like potato sacks. Young Hercules is the real deal, potential superstar in waiting, but only if he quits clinging to this marginal indie stuff and embraces some mainstream, crowd pleasing movies. 6. GI Joe 2 looks more entertaining than it has any right to be and Channing Tatum seems to die early on. Bonus! 7. Are you trying to tell me that someone spent more than $125 million on The Great Gatsby?! LIES. That doesn't even make any sense. It's a dusty old book that puts all its readers to sleep, that is if anybody still bothers to read it anymore. There is nothing in that story that should cost more to film than Leo's lunch money.

  • padre | February 6, 2012 9:21 AMReply

    2. Nobody asked for a Spider-Man reboot. However, given that the beloved former franchise was pulling in near a billion dollars, they could show a blank screen, title it "Spider-Man" and still garner half a billion easy. 3. By the end of summer, Taylor Kitsch will either be the biggest superstar in the world or a pariah suffering a backlash the size of which not seen since the public rebelled against Jude Law being shoved down their throat in everything. (Note: I like Jude Law). Law's career never really recovered, nor similarly has Colin Farrell's.

  • Padre | February 6, 2012 8:58 AMReply

    Going to have to break this into parts, since 10 pages of text was stuffed into this article. Firstly: 47 RONIN is my MOST ANTICIPATED MOVIE OF THE YEAR!!! Your weak slights against SUPERSTAR Keanu Reeves leave you in ill favor with me and out of touch with current culture of worldwide Keanu lovefest. Even now he is in China conquering hearts and minds, plastered all over their local press and forging the One Ring: "All shall love me and despair!" If 47 Ronin, my most anticipated movie of the year, is anything less than thrilling and superlative, I shall be DEVASTATED! The entire year shall have been rendered null and meaningless! There would be no purpose or point to this year of cinema if 47 Ronin fails to live up to my hopes and desires. Don't let me down Carl Rinsch!

  • Olli | February 3, 2012 5:27 AMReply

    Funny that after changing the title from "John Carter of Mars" to "John Carter", they still use the JCM-Logo on every one-sheet and in every trailer.
    To me the JCM-trailers don`t look bad but they look kind of "been there - done that" which isn't the best way to lure me into my local multiplex.
    And for "Battleship" I don't have the slightest bit of hope that movie might be better than any "Transformers" film. Why? Because in the trailers it looks and sounds exactly like Tranformers. Only Peter Berg at the helm may surprise me as he did with "Hancock" and especially with "The kingdom".

  • brou | February 3, 2012 5:21 AMReply

    The new featurette for "John Carter" makes it look much more interesting :

  • Glass | February 3, 2012 3:06 AMReply

    If Transformers taught me anything about blockbusters with a laughable origin (toys/board games), it's that the whole thing is one killer trailer away from being a guaranteed smash. All it takes is one big trailer to give the word-of-mouth a 180°.

  • jimmiescoffee | February 3, 2012 1:52 AMReply

    'john carter' should be renamed 'bad investment from the company that brought you the sorcerer's apprentice, mars needs moms and prince of persia.'

  • Oogle monster | February 3, 2012 2:12 AM


  • Mony | February 2, 2012 10:43 PMReply

    Loved this, some parts were funny to read. Some of the films I agree are taking a huge risk, like John Carter - 300 million budget or more? that's crazy for a movie that looks weird. Mirror Mirror looks like crap, however, if they get the audience they are targeting for, it might do ok.

    Should be interesting to see what happens with these movies you have on the list.

  • Marko | February 2, 2012 10:32 PMReply

    So no possibility of Cloud Atlas bombing?

  • ter | February 2, 2012 6:13 PMReply

    The Great Gatsby will be a disaster critically, that's for sure. And I can't imagine the crowds coming out for a movie about the first world problems of the 1% either.

  • Nolan | February 3, 2012 2:51 PM

    I love the Great Gatsby, and would thoroughly enjoy a new, terrific film version, but the decision to film in 3D really leaves me questioning the integrity of the thing. What part of that book would need to be in 3D? What could possibly be enhanced by 3D? The opulence of Gatsby's mansion? Jordan's bad driving? It's just silly.

  • Oogle monster | February 2, 2012 10:40 PM

    Why are you so sure? When Baz is on point he really delivers... I think he will do a splendid job and prove all you haters wrong. And if all you got from The Great Gatsby is "first world problems of the 1%" then you should befriend Sparknotes or go back to high school- which ever is easier.

  • joshb | February 2, 2012 6:07 PMReply

    did you really just say, "let's not beat around the bush" right after commenting on Rhianna and Mrs. Andy Roddick's boobs?

  • Cde. | February 2, 2012 5:44 PMReply

    The article says that John Carter's budget was pushed by reshoots to a number closer to $300 million than the initial $200 million budget. As I understand it, they went above and beyond $300 million and it's closer to 400. Thus, the $700 million figure to make the studio consider a sequel.

  • Bryan | February 2, 2012 5:22 PMReply

    Jessica Biel's the other lead in Total Recall, not Eva Mendes.

  • Kendrick | February 2, 2012 10:41 PM

    Aren't they the same person? Talentless, boring, semi-hot, robots?

  • YOYOMA | February 2, 2012 5:45 PM

    Interchangeable, Bryan. 'TIS THE POINT.

  • sal | February 2, 2012 5:00 PMReply

    don't see why you have to be so hard on Battleship. Peter Berg always makes movies with dark humor.

  • Kert | February 2, 2012 4:57 PMReply

    "Furthermore, neither Stewart, Hemsworth nor Theron have ever been major draws outside their franchises." What franchises has Theron been a part of? Hancock was sold on Will Smith and Aeon Flux... well... lets not talk about that. Out of the three, Theron is the only A-list movie star who has managed to pull pretty good numbers for Monster and Young Adult, both of which capitalized on her name (she was the lead) and awards season. Young Adult will hit 20 mil soon and has already earned back its budget and hasn't even expanded overseas. I think it's only playing in 2 markets overseas.

  • Russell | February 2, 2012 4:32 PMReply

    Expecting Battleship to do well in the UK - Why? You think so little of us, as a nation of film goers, that we're all going to run off to pay to see that steaming pile - why playlist? WHY?!?

    ok, you're probably right

  • sp | February 2, 2012 4:25 PMReply

    I hope Benjamin Walker will have a huge hit with " Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. "
    He is very talented.

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