March 2023 box office preview: 5 franchise sequels should give the month a healthy boost

March isn’t just going to come in like a lion and leave like a lamb, because it’s going to feel more like summer at the box office. Indeed, there are no less than five franchise sequels this month, including our second superhero movie of the year. Read on for Gold Derby’s March 2023 box office preview.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods” (Warner Bros.)  – March 17

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The second superhero sequel of 2023 puts Zachary Levi back into the cape of … well, he doesn’t exactly have a name quite yet, but he does have a family of fellow orphans with superpowers. This time around, they must face the daughters of Atlas, as played by Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler (“West Side Story”), who are causing havoc for the Shazam family’s Philadelphia hometown. The earlier movie opened with $53.5 million in April 2019, and there’s little reason why “Fury of the Gods” can’t perform similarly or do better, considering how well the first movie was received. This one might be all about the reviews and early reactions with “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” quickly losing business.

john wick chapter 4
john wick chapter 4

John Wick: Chapter 4” (Lionsgate) – March 24

After a number of delays, Keanu Reeves returns to his action role that has successfully launched a franchise with spinoffs, including the upcoming streaming series “The Continental,” and Ana de Armas’ “Ballerina.” The first “John Wick” opened with $14 million and made $43 million domestic in 2014, but 2019’s “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” (don’t ask) opened with $56.8 million. Sure, there’s been four years of anticipation build-up for “Chapter 4,” but it’s also opening the weekend after “Shazam!,” and there’s a lot of competition this month. Even so, expect this one to also open in the $40 to 50 million range.

SEE 2022 box office hits: Every movie that made more than $100 million

Creed III
Creed III

Creed III” (MGM) – March 3

Kicking off the month of March, Michael B. Jordan returns for his third film as Adonis Creed, son of Rocky Balboa’s nemesis Apollo Creed, this chapter also being Jordan’s directorial debut. Joining him as his old friend and future ring rival, Damien “Dame” Anderson, is Jonathan Majors, fresh off his debut in the MCU as Kang the Conqueror. This should also be good for a $40 to 45 million opening weekend, and we’ll have more about that in this week’s box office preview on Wednesday.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” (Paramount) – March 31

After four weeks of sequels, we get a fantasy adventure-comedy based on the popular role-playing game that brings together the unlikely ensemble cast of Chris PineMichelle RodriguezRegé-Jean Page (“Bridgerton”), Hugh Grant, Justice Smith and Sophia Lillis. And of course, as the title states … dragons! This is a daring move from Paramount to try to make another movie based on “Dungeons & Dragons” after the 2000 bomb, but this has stronger marketing, so it could open with between $25 and $30 million.

scream vi
scream vi

“Scream VI” (Paramount) – March 10

Continuing the month’s sequels with the sixth movie in the hit horror franchise created by the late Wes Craven in the mid-90s. Filmmaking collective Radio Silence return from 2022’s “Scream,” bringing back Courtney Cox from the original franchise, Melissa Barrera from the previous movie, as well as Jenna Ortega, who has become super-hot in the past year due to Netflix’s “Wednesday.” (Ortega is also hosting “Saturday Night Live” this month.) Hayden Pannetiere returns from “Scream 4,” joined by Jack Champion from “Avatar: The Way of Water.” The new movie takes Ghostface out of Woodsboro, California and brings him to New York City. The last movie opened with $30 million in Jan. 2022 in the midst of the Omicron surge, and “Scream VI” should do at least that amount or better.

“Demon Slayer: To the Swordsmith Village” (Crunchyroll) – March 3

This month’s anime offering from Crunchyroll is the next “Demon Slayer” movie, following up 2021’s hit “Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train,” which opened with $22.8 million in just 1,605 theaters in April 2021, just as theaters were reopening post-pandemic. That’s a great achievement, showing that this property has a solid fanbase that could help this one as well. (Again, we’ll have more about this in the weekend preview on Wednesday.)

“65” (Sony) – March 10

One of the month’s non-sequels is this sci-fi thriller starring Adam Driver as an astronaut whose spaceship crashes on earth in 65 million BC, where he faces dinosaurs. It offers a similar high-concept premise as the recent “Cocaine Bear,” but it comes from Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, the writers of the “Quiet Place” movies, making their directorial debut. Unfortunately, this one is going to rely on people knowing about it, and going up against “Scream VI” doesn’t leave a lot of room for business from genre fans. This one is more likely to make between $13 and $15 million.

Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre
Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre

“Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre” (Lionsgate) – March 3

Filmmaker Guy Ritchie and his long-time collaborator Jason Statham reteam for this action-comedy that was produced by late STXfilms and has been sitting on the shelf for a good year. It co-stars Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes, Hugh Grant and Josh Hartnett, but Lionsgate just announced its release a few weeks back, so we’ll have to see if moviegoers can get past that clunky title to give this a look.

“Champions” (Focus Features) – March 10

Woody Harrelson stars in Bobby Farrelly‘s solo feature film directing debut – yes, that would be the brother of the Oscar-nominated Peter Farrelly of the famous “Farrelly Brothers” – as a disgraced Iowa basketball coach forced by the court to train a group of Special Olympics athletes with Kaitlin Olson from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” playing the sister of one of the players.

SEE Grab the popcorn and sound off in our movie forums

And then we get to a few movies that may be released wide or semi-wide or not wide at all.

“Children of the Corn” (RLJEfilms) – March 3

Filmmaker Kurt Wimmer (“Equilibrium”) writes and directs a new adaptation of Stephen King‘s terrifying novel about kids in Nebraska who start to massacre the adults in their rural town, controlled by some unknown force.

“Moving On” (Roadside Attractions) – March 17

Just a month after starring in the comedy hit, “80 for Brady,” Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin reteam for this comedy from Paul Weitz (“American Pie,” “About a Boy”) about two estranged friends who decide to get revenge on the widower they blame for their friend’s death.

“A Snowy Day in Oakland” (POC Studios) – March 17

Kim Bass‘ urban dramedy stars Nicole Ari Parker (“And Just Like That…”) as LaTrice, a San Francisco psychologist trying to move on with her life after breaking up with her psychiatrist boyfriend and business partner, opening a private practice in Oakland.

“Inside” (Focus Features) – March 17

Willem Dafoe stars as an art thief who breaks into a luxury apartment and then gets trapped inside when the alarms go off. The English-language debut by Greek filmmaker Vasilis Katsoupis is a terrific showcase for the talents of the four-time Oscar nominee.

“A Good Person” (MGM) – March 24 (limited), March 31 (wide)

Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman star in this new original drama from Zach Braff (“Garden State”), a film involving tragedy and addiction, with Pugh playing Allison, a young woman whose fatal car crash sends her down the spiral of opioid addiction. Freeman plays the father of one of those killed in the crash, who is also facing his own alcohol addiction, while caring for his newly-orphaned granddaughter (Celeste O’Connor from “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”).

“The Lost King” (IFC Films) – March 24

Sally Hawkins stars in Stephen Frears and Steve Coogan‘s first collaboration since 2013’s “Philomenia,” Hawkins playing Philippa Langley, a woman who becomes obsessed with the life of King Richard III after seeing him played on stage by Harry Lloyd (“Game of Thrones”).

“Spinning Gold” (Variance Films) – March 31

This biopic about the late Neil Bogart, founder of Casablanca Records – home for many disco hits in the ‘70s, as well as the rock band, Kiss – is directed by Bogart’s son, Timothy Scott Bogart. It stars Jeremy Jordan as the older Bogart, as well as Michelle Monaghan, Jay Pharoah and Chris Redd from “Saturday Night Live,” Dan Fogler, and a string of modern-day recording stars playing the likes of George Clinton, Donna Summers, and Gladys Night.

“A Thousand and One” (Focus Features) – March 31

A.V. Rockwell‘s drama stars Teyana Taylor as Inez, a mother who kidnaps her son Terry out of the foster care system and tries to create a life for them in New York City. The movie won the prestigious Grand Jury prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

“Space Oddity” (Samuel Goldwyn) – March 31

Kyra Sedgwick makes her own directorial debut with this romantic comedy, starring Kyle Allen as a young man planning a one-way trip to Mars, and Alexandra Shipp as Daisy, the woman who convinces him to stay on earth.

Next month will be the last before the lucrative summer box office season.

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