The weather forecast looks great for Hollywood this weekend.
"Noah" is primed and ready to make it rain at the box office. Industry watchers predict an opening weekend in the neighborhood of at least $30 million for the big-budget Old Testament epic, which stars Russell Crowe in the title role.
"Sabotage," Arnold Schwarzenegger's third action vehicle since returning to movies, doesn't stand a chance against the storm.
"Noah" pairs Crowe with acclaimed filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, the Academy Award-nominated writer/director behind "Black Swan," "The Wrestler" and "Requiem for a Dream." Early screenings for evangelicals elicited mixed reactions, with many praising the film's dramatic scope while others bristled against the liberties taken with the (albeit very short) story found in the Bible.
Reviewers, from Drew McWeeny at HitFix to Ray Subers at Box Office Mojo, pointed out that the kind of cultural conversation led by "Noah" should help propel box-office success. "Noah" floated on a 76 percent Rotten Tomatoes score on Friday (March 28).
The third time is unlikely to be the charm for action-movie legend Arnold Schwarzenegger — those first two starring vehicles since leaving office as California's governor were box-office bombs. "Sabotage," a gritty drug-enforcement tale from "End of Watch" writer/director and "Training Day" writer David Ayer, isn't likely to make more than $10 million this weekend.
"The Last Stand" opened with $6.2 million last January. "Escape Plan" followed suit in October with $9.8 million. To be fair, "Escape Plan" (which costarred Schwarzenegger's old friend and Planet Hollywood partner Sylvester Stallone) made $137.3 million around the world. With supporting performances from Sam Worthington, Malin Akerman, Joe Manganiello and Terrence Howard, "Sabotage" could earn decent numbers overseas.
Last weekend's #1 film, "Divergent," is likely to take the #2 spot this weekend. Unlike many failed young-adult adaptations, the film's $68.7 million domestically thus far was plenty to guarantee a follow-up for Lionsgate's would-be successor to "The Twilight Saga" and "The Hunger Games." "Muppets Most Wanted" should ease down a notch to #3, with Arnold's "Sabotage" needing to best "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" and the ever-expanding "The Grand Budapest Hotel" to make the top 5.
In limited release, Michael Pena stars as the title character in "Cesar Chavez," a biopic about the historic Latino icon. The film was directed by Diego Luna, the Mexican actor known for his acclaimed performances in "Y tu mamá también" and collaborations with Gael García Bernal. "Cesar Chavez" opens in just under 700 theaters, while "God's Not Dead" will expand into more than 1,100 on the strength of the $12.9 million the Christian-themed drama has earned thus far.