Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 03-04-13

Scene from “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” with Channing Tatum and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Scene from “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” with Channing Tatum and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Eleanor Tomlinson in “Jack the Giant Slayer”

Eleanor Tomlinson in “Jack the Giant Slayer”

Steve Carell and Olivia Wilde in “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”

Steve Carell and Olivia Wilde in “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”

March movies: March came in like a boxoffice lamb, but there’s a lion waiting to spring into action this weekend.

Last weekend saw New Line Cinema and Legendary Pictures’ PG-13 rated 3D fantasy adventure “Jack the Giant Slayer” from “Superman Returns” director Bryan Singer open to about $28 million.

This weekend’s lion, Walt Disney Pictures and Roth Films’ PG rated 3D fantasy adventure “Oz The Great & Powerful” from “Spider-Man” trilogy director Sam Raimi is tracking through the roof with double-digit overall first choice scores. It’s tracking best with women over 25 and nearly as well with men over 25. That should translate into moms and dads bringing kids to “Oz” and the kind of giant boxoffice grosses Hollywood loves to see.

The Story: Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is a circus magician who’s transposed from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz. At first, Oscar thinks fame and fortune are his, but everything changes when he meets three witches – Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz ) and Glinda (Michelle Williams). They’re not convinced Oscar’s the great wizard everyone’s been expecting.

Also opening this weekend is Film District and Automatik Entertainment’s R rated action crime drama “Dead Man Down.” Directed by Niels Arden Opley (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”), it stars Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace and Dominic Cooper and is tracking best with under-25 females.

The Story: Victor (Farrell) a rising gangland player infiltrates the crime empire run by ruthless kingpin Alphonse Hoyt (Terrence Howard) intending to make Alphonse pay for destroying his once happy life. As he meticulously orchestrates his vengeance from his high-rise home, Victor watches and is watched by the mysterious Beatrice (Rapace), who lives in the apartment across from his and is seething with her own rage. After uncovering Victor’s dark secrets, Beatrice threatens to expose him unless he helps her carry out her own campaign of retribution.

Mar. 15 will also see two new wide arrivals competing for moviegoers’ time and money.

New Line Cinema’s PG-13 rated comedy “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” released through Warner Bros., is directed by Don Scardino (“30 Rock”) and is tracking best with under-25 males.

The story: Superstar magicians Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) have ruled the Las Vegas strip for years. But now times have changed and their show looks stale compared to guerilla street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey). To save their act, Burt must reconnect with what made him love magic in the first place.

TriStar Pictures’ R rated thriller “The Call” is directed by Brad Anderson (“Transsiberian”) and stars Halle Berry, Evie Thompson and Abigail Breslon. It’s tracking best and equally well with women over and under 25.

The Story: Telephone operator Jordan Baker (Berry) realizes when she gets a call from a kidnapped girl that she must confront a killer from her own past in order to save this girl’s life.

Two more wide releases are on deck for Mar. 22.

DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox’s PG rated 3D animated prehistoric comedy adventure “The Croods” is the story of the world’s first modern family. Directed by Kick De Micco (“Space Chimps”) and Chris Sanders (“How to Train Your Dragon”), it stars the voices of Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds and Emma Stone. It’s tracking best with men and women over-25 – the right audience of parents to bring kids to an animated family comedy.

“Croods” is DreamWorks Animation’s first release through Fox after being distributed for years by Paramount.

The Story: The world’s very first family begins the journey of a lifetime when the cave that’s always shielded them from danger is destroyed. Traveling across a spectacular landscape, what the Croods find is an incredible new world filled with fantastic creatures that changes their outlook forever.

The perfect counterprogramming to a family film is an action thriller, which is exactly what Film District has in the R rated “Olympus Has Fallen” from Nu Image and Millennium Films. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”), it stars Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman. “Olympus” is tracking best with 25-plus males and next best with men under 25.

The Story: The White House – known to the Secret Service by the code name “Olympus” &nash; is captured by a terrorist mastermind and the President’s been kidnapped. Mike Banning (Butler), a disgraced former Presidential guard, is trapped within the building. As the national security team scrambles to respond, they’re forced to rely on Banning’s inside knowledge to help retake the White House, save the President and avert an even bigger disaster.

March’s prospects of going out like a lion not a lamb will hinge on three films opening wide Mar. 29.

Paramount, MGM and Hasbro’s 3D sci-fi action adventure “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is directed by Jon Chu (“Step Up 3D”) and stars Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson. It’s too early for “Retaliation” to be on tracking surveys, but it’s likely to track best with men under and over 25.

The Story: The G.I. Joe team’s been framed for crimes that get them terminated by Presidential order. The team’s surviving members retaliate against the villainous Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) and the world leaders under his influence.

The franchise’s first episode, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” opened Aug. 7, 2009 via Paramount to $54.7 million and went on to gross $150.2 million in domestic theatres.

Open Road Films’ PG-13 rated sci-fi thriller “The Host” is directed by Andrew Niccol (“In Time”) and stars Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger and William Hurt. The film’s screenplay by Niccol is based on the novel “The Host” by Stephanie Meyer, who’s best known for her series of “Twilight Saga” best-sellers. “Host” like “Twilight” should track well with under-25 females.

The Story: A parasitic soul has been injected into the body of Melanie Stryder (Ronan) by aliens planning to take over Earth. After becoming the alien soul’s host, Melanie finds it unexpectedly bonds with her to help her free other similarly infected humans.

Lionsgate and The Tyler Perry Company’s PG-13 rated drama “Tyler Perry’s Temptation” is directed and written by Tyler Perry (“Madea’s Witness Protection”). Starring are Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Vanessa Williams, Brandy Norwood and Kim Kardashian.

The Story: Infidelity prompts complicated life changes for married marriage counselor Judith (Smollett-Bell) after she becomes involved in an obsessive relationship with a client.

Bottom line: “Oz The Great & Powerful” should live up to its title at the boxoffice.