As Easter weekend approaches at the box office, all industry eyes are on the opening of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which has the very real potential of having the 2nd biggest opening of the year so far, behind Oz The Great and Powerful.
In order to do so, the sequel would need to beat the current #1′s opening weekend, The Croods, which just earned $44.7 million in its debut. This certainly seems like a real possibility.
To recap, 2009′s G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra was met with high negativity from critics, earning a weak 34% on Rotten Tomatoes. It didn’t matter. When the original debuted in August 2009, it made an astonishing $54 million in its debut weekend, surpassing industry expectations. It went on to earn $150M domestically.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation was originally supposed to be released in June 2012, but was pushed to March 2013 in order to do more effects work. It’s also been said that the studio didn’t want to open the picture on the same day as Magic Mike, which featured Retaliation costar Channing Tatum. That may be code for… they wanted Tatum to be an even bigger star when this was released. Mission accomplished.
This film also brings in action vets Duane “The Rock” Johnson and Bruce Willis to the mix, alongside Tatum. Though most major reviews have yet to be published, word is that Retaliation is a major improvement over its predecessor.
So… this would all lead you to believe that it will outgross Cobra, right? Not so fast. For starters, a summer opening usually means the potential for a bigger opening weekend period and by moving its release date, Retaliation eliminates that factor. There is also some lingering competition from Olympus Has Fallen, which had a great opening over the weekend and may experience a relatively small decline.
And then there’s the fact that while a lot of moviegoers saw the original… a lot of them didn’t really like it that much. Therefore, those same moviegoers may not rush out to see the sequel, even if it is supposed to be an upgrade.
The ceiling for Retaliation could be something like a $60 million opening. That would be fantastic and Paramount and Hasbro would be popping champagne bottles for a gross like that. My feeling is it will struggle to match the $54 million brought in by Cobra in its inaugural weekend. It could even struggle to have 2013′s second biggest weekend and outpace the $44.7M that The Croods made. Anything below $40 million would be a major disappointment and might cause the brass at Paramount and Hasbro to start drinking for different reasons.
Ultimately, I will predict that G.I. Joe: Retaliation gets to the second biggest weekend of the year, but doesn’t match Cobra‘s gross.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation opening weekend: $49.5 million
Be sure to check back Wednesday for my full Easter box office predictions, as The Host and Tyler Perry’s Temptation also open and The Croods and Olympus Has Fallen enter their sophomore frames.