This weekend, three new movies enter nationwide release, while How to Train Your Dragon and Kick-Ass are still in the mix. The Back-Up Plan arrives on approximately 3,600 screens at 3,280 sites, The Losers hits over 3,300 at 2,936 sites and Oceans flows onto around 1,250 screens at 1,206 sites. Each movie has at least one historical antecedent for the fourth weekend in April, which is typically not one of the busier times of the year.
The most obvious antecedent is for Oceans. On this same weekend last year, Walt Disney Pictures opened Earth as a tie-in with what environmentalists label as "Earth Day," April 22. Burning off some steam with a Wednesday launch, it ranked fifth that weekend with $8.8 million at 1,804 locations, and it went on to become the third highest-grossing documentary on record with $32 million. Lacking the freshness of Earth's gimmick and seemingly offering highly similar content, it should be an uphill battle for Oceans to match Earth, and that's reflected in its lower theater count and reduced interest from Box Office Mojo readers: in the "when will you see it" polling, Oceans came in at 8.5 percent for opening week versus Earth's 12.2 percent.
One also doesn't have to look that far back for a comparison to pregnancy comedy The Back-Up Plan. On this same weekend in 2008, Baby Mama struck the top spot with $17.4 million and went on to gross $60.5 million in total. It's safe to say Baby Mama was on the minds at distributor CBS Films when they postponed Back-Up Plan's due date to April 23, although the two pictures don't have exactly the same appeal, given that Back-Up Plan has been pushed as a traditional romantic comedy.
Fortunately, romantic comedy is the strongest genre for star Jennifer Lopez, but she's been off the radar for five years since her last splash Monster-in-Law. CBS television star Alex O'Loughlin (Moonlight) is also on hand for his first above-the-title billing with the hope of providing the male foil the genre usually needs to soar. Romantic comedies typically don't strike a chord with Box Office Mojo readers, and that's reflected in Back-Up Plan's 5.2 percent opening weekend score compared to Baby Mama's 12.6 percent two years ago.
Meanwhile, The Losers won't want to emulate XXX: State of the Union from 2005 among past mid-to-late April action pictures. However, one has to go all the way back to 1998 to find a spot-on antecedent for Losers. That's when action comedy The Big Hit was released, topping the box office with $10.8 million or the equivalent of nearly $18 million adjusted for ticket price inflation.
Distributor Warner Bros. has bounced The Losers around the release schedule, but landing on April 23 raised eyebrows, given its proximity to fellow comic-book adaptation Kick-Ass, which many deemed the stronger box office draw. If The Losers is supposed to be an also-ran in the wake of Kick-Ass, someone forgot to tell Warner Bros., which has mounted a colorful, action-packed marketing campaign and has secured a sizable release.
Though both appeal to males, The Losers, with its men-on-a-mission antics a la The A-Team, is perceived as a different genre than Kick-Ass to those uninitiated to the minutiae of the comic book world. Box Office Mojo readers don't appear to be nearly as excited about Losers as they were for Kick-Ass, but Losers' 14.2 percent opening weekend score is much better than From Paris with Love (9.2 percent) and a touch lower than Shooter (15 percent) among recent action pictures.