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Wednesday, August 27, 2014



2013 Preview: July

For the most part, June was a really strong month at the box office with nearly every film either matching expectations, or at least coming close enough to call it a victory. Looking forward, there are a dozen films opening wide in July, more or less. One of them, The Smurfs 2, is opening on a Wednesday, so I'm going to hold off talking about that movie till the August preview. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain is opening in less than 1000 theaters, but it has a shot at reaching the top ten during its opening weekend. If we include both of them, there are twelve films, but I think it is better to stick with the ten truly wide, truly July openings. Of these, Despicable Me 2 is clearly going to be the biggest hit at the box office. It could become the second biggest hit of the year so far. It is not the only film that could be a $100 million hit. In fact, there are six films opening in July that I think have a better than 50% chance of reaching that level. There is currently only one film that I think won't at least become a midlevel hit. By comparison in 2012, there were three $100 million movies, led by The Dark Knight Rises, but the rest of the new releases struggled. There's no chance any movie opening this month will top $400 million, in fact, it is quite possible no film will get to $300 million. That said, 2013 has a lot better depth, so it might come out on top in the end.

Weekend of July 5th, 2013

Independence Day Long weekend is a great weekend to launch a blockbuster hit and there are two films competing for top spot: Despicable Me 2 and The Lone Ranger. Despicable Me 2 should at least match its predecessor and on the high end could top $300 million. On the other hand, while the studio is hoping The Lone Ranger will do as well as the Pirates of the Caribbean did, most think it will struggle to make too much more than half of its production budget. Finally, I think Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain will open with significantly less than $10 million finishing with under $20 million. That's great for a stand-up comedy concert film, but not enough to compete with even the smallest wide release of the month. Meanwhile, this weekend last year saw the opening of The Amazing Spider-man, as well as a couple of other less substantial films. 2013 should be better on top and better in terms of depth leading to a comfortable win in the year-over-year comparison.

Despicable Me 2

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: DespicableMe.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: July 3rd, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor and mild action.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Secret Agent, Romance, First Love, Relationship Gone Wrong, Mad Scientist, Adopted Family, Scenes in Edit Credits, Coming of Age, and more
Directed By: Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud
Screenplay By: Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul
Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Russell Brand, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher, Benjamin Bratt, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $100 million to $150 million
Box Office Potential: $275 million

Despicable Me cost just $69 million to make, which is low for a digitally animated movie, but it pulled in $540 million worldwide. It comes as no surprise that a sequel is coming out this month and a spin-off is planned for next year. This time around, Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to track another super villain. At first he refuses, because he has to be a father to Margo, Edith, and Agnes, but later reconsiders.

The film's early reviews are strong, almost exactly as strong as the first film's reviews were. And since this is a sequel, it will be easier to market to kids, and their parents. Look for a much bigger opening and strong enough legs to take it past $250 million and maybe all the way to $300 million.

The Lone Ranger

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Disney.Go.com/The-Lone-Ranger
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: July 3rd, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material.
Source: Based on a TV Show
Major Genre: Western
Keywords: Native American, Secret Identity, Government Corruption, and more
Directed By: Gore Verbinski
Screenplay By: Ted Elliott, Justin Haythe, and Terry Rossio
Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Barry Pepper, Helena Bonham-Carter, and others
Production Budget: $225 million
Box Office Potential: $145 million

Clearly the studio is hoping this film will have the same success at the box office as the Pirates of the Caribbean films did. It does share its star, director, and one of its screenwriters. Those films earned an average of $300 million domestically, which is completely out of reach. In fact, it will likely struggle to earn half that much. Since it likely cost more than $300 million to make, including prints and advertising, it will have to be a much bigger hit internationally to have a chance of breaking even.

Weekend of July 12th, 2013

There are two possible monster hits opening this week; however, both films also have a chance of becoming bombs. Grown Ups 2 is the sequel to Grown Ups, which is the biggest live-action hit in Adam Sandler's career, going by worldwide numbers. However, his last two live action movies failed to find audiences and this film could continue that trend. Pacific Rim is about giant Mechs fighting giant Kaiju monsters. This film is designed to induce nerdgasm in internet geeks. However, we've seen time and time again that it is hard to translate internet buzz into box office numbers. Both have at least a 50% chance to top $100 million. I think Pacific Rim will be the bigger of the two films, but I'm worried my enthusiasm is clouding my judgment. This weekend last year there was only one wide release, Ice Age: Continental Drift, which opened with $46.63 million. I don't think either new release will make that much this year. On the other hand, both films should open with more than $30 million and this depth should help 2013 come away with the win.

Grown Ups 2

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: GrownUps2-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: July 12th, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and suggestive content, language and some male rear nudity.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Midlife Crisis, Last Day of School, Ensemble, Gratuitous Cameos, Screenplay Written By Star, and more
Directed By: Dennis Dugan
Screenplay By: Tim Herlihy, Adam Sandler, and Fred Wolf
Starring: Adam Sandler and every other actor who he has ever worked with
Production Budget: Estimated at $75 million to $100 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

There used to be a solid rule with Adam Sandler movies. If they earned good reviews, they bombed. If the critics hated them, they thrived at the box office. However, his last two movies, Jack and Jill and That's My Boy, both failed with critics and at the box office. Perhaps this means Adam Sandler is no longer critic-proof or perhaps it means his fanbase has matured and have moved on. If it weren't for this trend, I would expect Grown Ups 2 to do roughly the same business as Grown Ups. After all, its trailers are not significantly worse than the first film's trailers were. I still think it will top $100 million at the box office, but one can't dismiss the possibility that it will bomb earning less than $75 million domestically and due to a production budget that is high for a comedy, it won't break even any time soon.

Pacific Rim

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: PacificRimMovie.WarnerBros.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: July 12th, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: End of the World, Visual Effects, Robots, Kaiju, Creature Feature, and more
Directed By: Guillermo Del Toro
Screenplay By: Guillermo Del Toro and Travis Beacham
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, and others
Production Budget: Reported $180 million
Box Office Potential: $150 million

Please don't suck. Please don't suck. Please don't suck. Please don't suck.

I really want this film to be a huge hit for two reasons. Firstly, it's a big-budget live action movie with giant Mechs vs. Kaiju monsters. How awesome is that? Secondly, it is directed by Guillermo Del Toro, who has been trying to make a big-budget adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness, but no studio is willing to make a $200 million R-rated movie. If this film is a massive hit, he might have the clout to get the movie made, and he is practically the only director I trust with this material. Unfortunately, it is the biggest wildcard of the month. It could literally make $100 million or $200 million and I wouldn't be shocked. I think the higher end is slightly more likely than the lower end, but there is a lot of uncertainty.

Weekend of July 19th, 2013

The third weekend in July is the busiest weekend of the month with four wide releases. However, only one of them, Turbo, has a good shot at $100 million. Red 2 could also make $100 million; after all, Red made just over $90 million three years ago, so it wouldn't have to sell too many more tickets to get to that milestone. The Conjuring's buzz is growing at the perfect time, but it will likely be just a midlevel hit. ... And then there's R.I.P.D.. The Dark Knight Rises opened this weekend last year with $160.89 million There's almost no chance any of the four new releases will earn that much during their entire run, while it is just as unlikely that the four of them will make that much combined over the weekend. 2013 is going to take a beating in the year-over-year comparison.

The Conjuring

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheConjuring.WarnerBros.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: July 19th, 2013
MPAA Rating: R for sequences of disturbing violence and terror.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Hauntings, Paranormal Investigation, Based on an UNTRUE Events, Possession / Exorcism, and more
Directed By: James Wan
Screenplay By: Carey W. Hayes and Chad Hayes
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Mackenzie Foy, Joey King, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Kyla Deaver, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $13 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson star as a married couple who are paranormal investigators. They try and help a family, Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston and their five daughters, Mackenzie Foy, Joey King, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland and Kyla Deaver, who are tormented by spirits within their homes.

I think this film could be a sleeper hit. It is horror movie opening in summer and these generally don't become blockbusters. However, the buzz is growing at the perfect time, while the reviews are amazing. The Purge is going to finish with $65 million and I think this film should top that, thanks in part to the amazing early reviews. There is a lot of competition this week, but The Conjuring is the only R-rated movie, so it should have that market to itself, more or less. (Red 2 and R.I.P.D. do share some of this film's target demographic.) I am a little more bullish than most, but I have a good feeling about this movie.

Red 2

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Red-TheMovie.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: July 19th, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for pervasive action and violence including frenetic gunplay, and for some language and drug material.
Source: Based on a Graphic Novel / Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Hitmen, Terrorist, Out of Retirement, Love Triangle, and more
Directed By: Dean Parisot
Screenplay By: Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber
Starring: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $60 million to $80 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

Red opened in 2010 earned good reviews and finished its box office run with $90 million domestically and nearly $200 million worldwide. I'm not surprised in the least Red 2 is coming out this month. I'm a little surprised Red 3 is scheduled to come out in 2014. That seems hasty. Perhaps this film will top its predecessor and become a surprise $100 million hit. However, there have been a lot of action films to come out this year and many of them struggled. Bullet to the Head, The Last Stand, A Good Day to Die Hard, etc. The last one is the most important, because it also stars Bruce Willis. Worse case scenario has this film earning $50 million, which would put the third film's future in jeopardy, unless it is a much bigger hit internationally. On the high end, it could earn more than the original film and pull in $100 million. Most think the lower end is more likely, but I think $75 million is a relatively safe bet.

R.I.P.D.

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: RIPD.com/
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: July 19th, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, sci-fi/fantasy action, some sensuality, and language including sex references.
Source: Based on Comic
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Haunting, Friendly Ghost, Buddy Cop, End of the World, Dark Horse Comics, and more
Directed By: Robert Schwentke
Screenplay By: David Dobkin, Phil Hay, and Matt Manfredi
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise Parker, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $130 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million

Ryan Reynolds stars as a cop who is killed in the line of duty and is then recruited by Mary-Louise Parker to become a member of the R.I.P.D., an organization that deals with rogue ghosts. He's partnered with Jeff Bridges, the gruff veteran, and the pair do the job, but soon learn something major is up and it could be the end of the world.

On the one hand, there's nothing really wrong with the trailer and the film has a good cast. On the other hand, many, many, many people have noticed similarities between this film and Men in Black. Even if this turns out to be unfair, it is still going to hurt the film's box office chances, because perception is just as important as reality when it comes to marketing. It has some of the weakest buzz of the month and with a $130 million production budget, it will need a big box office run to break even. If it earns more than half of its production budget domestically, I would be shocked.

Turbo

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TurboMovie.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: July 17th, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild action and thematic elements.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Animal Lead, Talking Animals, Auto Racing, Misc. Racing, and more
Directed By: David Soren
Screenplay By: Darren-Lemke, Robert D. Siegel, and David Soren
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peņa, Samuel L. Jackson, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $100 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

Ryan Reynolds provides the voice for Theo, a snail who is obsessed with speed and racing. He wants to be the fasted snail ever, but after a freak accident in which Nitrous Oxide is fused with his DNA, he becomes faster than the average Indianapolis 500 car.

The buzz for this film is not great, but then again, the same was said about Epic, but that film went on to earn more than $100 million at the box office. Kids movies in general don't generate a lot of buzz. On the other hand, Epic was the first digitally animated film of the summer, so it had no direct competition at the box office. Turbo has to deal with Despicable Me 2, which opens just two weeks before this film does, while The Smurfs 2 opens two weeks later, both of which are bigger movies. I think this film will top $100 million, but I am a little more bullish that most people.

Weekend of July 26th, 2013

The Wolverine is the only major release of the week, while The To Do List is playing the counter-programming role. The Wolverine is a sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: The Last Stand. Hugh Jackman's performance as Wolverine is one of the most popular super hero performances of all time, but it will need to have better reviews that its two predecessors had in order to win over moviegoers. That shouldn't be too hard. The To Do List will be, at best, counter-programming. At worst, it won't even open wide. It wouldn't be the first CBS Films' release to debut in limited release. Last year, the biggest film of the weekend was The Dark Knight Rises, with $62.10 million during its sophomore stint. I don't think The Wolverine will match that. On the other hand, it will crush last year's two new releases, The Watch and Step Up Revolution, both of which bombed. So will 2013 top 2012 in the year-over-year comparison? I'm not sure. It should be close.

The To Do List

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Facebook.com/TheToDoListMovie
Distributor: CBS Films
Release Date: July 26th, 2013
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic dialogue, drug and alcohol use, and language - all involving teens.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Loss of Virginity, Graduation, Coming of Age, Teenage Sex Comedy, and more
Directed By: Maggie Carey
Screenplay By: Maggie Carey
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Alia Shawkat, Sarah Steele, Bill Hader, Rachel Bilson, and others
Production Budget: $1.2 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

Aubrey Plaza stars as an academically overachieving high school student who is about to head to college. Her two friends, Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele, take her to a college party. It is there she realizes she has no idea how to relax and party, so she decides to do everything sex and party related before she goes to college.

This film has a really good cast and there have been some recent R comedies with females leads that scored with moviegoers. That could help it become a midlevel hit. On the other hand, CBS Films doesn't have a great track record at the box office and it might open in limited release. Opening in limited release is never easy and it could stumble out of the gate and never make it to $1 million. The above box office potential is a weighted average of the two extremes.

The Wolverine

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheWolverineMovie.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: July 26th, 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Likely Aiming for PG-13
Source: Based on a Comic / Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Romance, Organized Crime, Mutants, Marvel Comics, and more
Directed By: James Mangold
Screenplay By: Mark Bomback, Scott Frank, and Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Hugh Jackman and others
Production Budget: Reported at over $100 million
Box Office Potential: $150 million

Hugh Jackman returns as Wolverine in this true sequel. This is not only a sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which was a prequel, but also The X-Men: The Last Stand. After the number of deaths in The Last Stand, Wolverine heads to Japan to clear his mind, but he has a past there and it catches up to him.

On the one hand, this could be the last monster hit of the summer and it could clear $200 million. On the other hand, the last film's reviews were not good and a lot of fans are probably on a wait and see approach. Until reviews start coming in, it is really hard to predict the film's chances. On the low end, it could struggle to top its production budget. On the high end, it could push past $200 million.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2013-07-01

Movies 
 Despicable Me 2
 The Lone Ranger
 Grown Ups 2
 Pacific Rim
 The Conjuring
 RED 2
 R.I.P.D.
 Turbo
 The To Do List
 The Wolverine