The buzz, the craze, the madness around the latest instalment of the Star Wars series titled Star Wars: The Force Awakens is enormous enough to overwhelm anyone. The movie has finally had its premiere and this weekend it opens wide in North America. The discussions have already begun on what kind of records the movie could be breaking. The best weekend earnings ever seen in the month of December in North America is $84.6 million when the much anticipated The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey released three years back. That is a record which will fall easily. Along the way, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is also likely to grab a lot of other smaller records, like the biggest opening day of December, the biggest second opening day of December etc etc. But will it surpass the all-time opening weekend earnings of $208.8 million set by Jurassic World as recently as in June 2015? Will it surpass the highest box-office collections in North America of $760.5 million set by Avatar? Will it cross $2 billion in worldwide collections, a feat managed only by two movies so far? Such are the questions that are being asked on the ‘Force’ behind the latest Star Wars film. Such is the excitement and enthusiasm that one might be forgiven to have forgetten that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is not the only movie being released this weekend. Surprised? Seems crazy, doesn’t it, to go head-to-head with one of the biggest phenomena of Hollywood? Well, two movies have dared to hit the theatres at the same time as J.J. Abrams’ movie. And since the world is talking about Star Wars, I choose to throw a bit of limelight on the other two newcomers.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip
It’s another franchise movie that is ready to battle with Hollywood’s beloved Star Wars franchise. The chipmunk Alvin and his gang are coming to the theatres for the fourth time. following up on their 2007, 2009 and 2011 releases. To be honest, I stopped watching the movies of this series after the first one itself, though quite clearly, there are others who are still enjoying them. The 2007 movie Alvin and the Chimpunks had been a huge success, earning $361 million worldwide on a production budget of $60 million, which made the need of a sequel quite evident from the perspective of the studio 20th Century Fox. Guess what, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel was an even bigger success, earning $443 million worldwide on a production budget of $75 million. So a third movie followed in 2011, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked which earned the lowest of the three, but still, with $342 million worldwide collections on a production budget of $75 million, was another big hit for the studio. Now none of these movies have great ratings; in fact, the reviews are quite terrible. But they seem to have a good enough fanbase who may not rate the movies highly, but enjoy the opportunity for a family outing that it provides. The fourth edition seems to have come a bit late, but it ain’t afraid to compete with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It is releasing in about 3,600 theatres over the weekend, as against the estimated 4,100 theatres for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For those who do not have any interest in the sci-fi fantasy movie (shockingly, there would be a few!), and also those who plan to go to the movies with their little kids, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip might be the only other option that will interest them. The little chipmunks do have some serious guts!
Comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler star in director Jason Moore’s next flick since the success of Pitch Perfect in 2012. This one is called Sisters and as you would have guessed, Fey and Poehler are playing sisters in the movie. It’s an R-rated comedy movie, which aims to completely stand out from the sci-fi Star Wars and the family comedy Alvin and the Chipmunks. The movie revolves around a house party that the two sisters decide to throw before their parents sell their family home. The movie will be targeting the adult women crowd, which we have seen successfully work in recent past because it’s a section that is not well catered to. But the word-of-mouth will be important for this one. It is releasing across more than 2,900 theatres in North America which is a good reach, but how well the marketing team has worked in creating an interest in the Fey-Poehler partnership will get tested this weekend. Sisters has no franchise pull, and it’s presence could get so easily overshadowed by the other two movies who would have had bigger marketing budgets. But a good word-of-mouth and strong reviews might find the audience getting interested as the weekend draws to a close. Universal Pictures has done little wrong this year, and it might be relying on its good luck charm to get Sisters to a better opening than what many might estimate.
It’s a big task to release a movie against something like Star Wars: The Force Awakens that would have a much bigger budget for production as well as promotions. But I can see why Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip and Sisters would have fancied a shot. They provide a different option to Star Wars to those who prefer to live in a world without lightsabers; but do they provide a better option, that is the question on which the fate of these movies would get decided. We’ll know how things stand once the weekend comes to an end. But no matter how it goes, these two movies should be remembered as those who were brave (or foolish?) enough to take on Star Wars.