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Saturday, August 23, 2014



2014 Preview: May

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 poster

It has been a great year so far and April was again a strong month. The box office was led by Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as it became the second film of the year to reach $200 million, while Rio 2 is on pace to become the seventh $100 million hit of the year. Big picture, 2014 has already hit $3 billion, which isn't a record for this time of the year, but it is $250 million ahead of 2013. That streak ends in May. Don't get me wrong. There are six films opening this month that at least have a shot at $100 million and two of those should earn more than $200 million and there are two others that at least have a shot at that milestone. Leading the way is The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which is looking to top The Winter Soldier and become the second biggest hit of the year so far. Its main competition this month is X-men: Days of Future Past, while Godzilla also has a shot at $200 million. Unfortunately, this month last year, Iron Man 3 earned more than $400 million, while two other films took in $200 million and seven films in total reached the century mark. That is going to be really hard to replicate this year and 2014 will likely lose some of its lead over 2013. Fortunately, 2014 has such a big lead that unless the box office really slumps, it will end the month with at least a small lead over 2013.

Weekend of May 2nd, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 poster

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 kicks off the official start of the summer blockbuster season and it has the weekend to itself. (I thought Walk of Shame would be opening wide, but last week's theater count estimate was just 50.) This should help the film maximize its box office potential. Bad news, it simply won't match Iron Man 3 at the box office. In fact, it likely won't match its predecessor. Because 2014 is competing with Iron Man 3, it is almost guaranteed that 2014 will to come up short in the year-over-year competition by a large degree. Obviously 2014 won't lose its entire lead over 2013 this weekend, but it could be a rather large drop-off.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheAmazingSpiderMan.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: May 2nd, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence.
Source: Based on a Comic Book / Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Corporate Malfeasance, Revenge, Terminal Illness, Genetic Engineering, 3-D, Shot in 3-D, Marvel Comics, and more
Directed By: Marc Webb
Written By: James Vanderbilt, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Stan Lee, and Steve Ditko
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $200 million to $255 million
Box Office Potential: $225 million

The sequel to the reboot to the record-breaking franchise that began in 2002, which isn't that long ago. If you love Spider-Man, you are in luck, because Sony is cranking out four more after this one. (Granted, two are spin-offs for Venom and the Sinister Six.) This is partially because Sony Pictures has struggled lately and this franchise and James Bond are the only two franchises they have that are capable of becoming monster hits. This is also partially because if they don't make the movies, Disney reclaims the movie rights, and that's something Sony can't afford. On the other hand, if this movie misses expectations, they might be willing to sell the rights back. It is for this reason that I kind of hope the movie struggles. Also, they took a story about an everyday kid who is thrust into extraordinary circumstances and must learn to be a hero... and turned it into another destiny story. It has more in common with Harry Potter than it does with the original comic book.

That said, The Amazing Spider-Man did very well at the box office and The Amazing Spider-Man 2's international debut was nearly as strong. Given its release date, it should start out faster and could become the first $100 million opener of the year, but I think Spider-Man fatigue will set in sooner rather than later.

Last Minute Update: More and more reviews have come in and the film's current Tomatometer Score is has fallen to below 60% positive. This is acceptable for a summer blockbuster, but well below the first film. This will likely have a negative effect on the film's box office chances and I've reduced my prediction from $250 million to $225 million.

Weekend of May 9th, 2014

Neighbors poster

The second weekend of May is widely considered one of the weakest weekends in the summer blockbuster season. The first weekend usually has such a monster hit coming out that studios don't want to risk releasing another potential monster hit so soon. This time around, two of the three films definitely fit under the "counter-programming" label, to put it mildly. However, Neighbors is earning strong enough buzz, not to mention early reviews, that it at least has a shot at $100 million. Moms' Night Out, on the other hand, will be very lucky to earn half of that and not every source has the film opening wide. Finally there's Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return. This is the first film released by Clarius Entertainment, which means it has no track record to suggest it can open a film wide, plus the buzz is terrible. It has a better than expected cast, but the animation looks really cheap. On a side note, there are some who think Chef will expand wide enough to earn more than either of the two smaller films. This weekend last year, The Great Gatsby opened with just over $50 million and it was still unable to earn first place. This year, all three wide releases combined might not earn $50 million, while The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will suffer a relatively steep sophomore stint decline. 2014 is going to lose in the year-over-year comparison.

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: DorothyOfOz.com
Distributor: Clarius Entertainment
Release Date: May 9th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG for some scary images and mild peril.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: You Can't Go Home Again, Animal Lead, Talking Animal, Witches, Scarecrows, Good vs. Evil, Food, and more
Directed By: Will Finn and Daniel St. Pierre
Written By: Adam Balsam, Randi Barnes, and Roger Stanton Baum
Starring: Lea Michele, Hugh Dancy, Megan Hilty, and others
Production Budget: $70 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

An adaptation of one of the many sequels to The Wizard of Oz. The first book came out in 1900 and was written by L. Frank Baum. He wrote a dozen more books in the franchise and there have been countless other books added to the franchise. This book was written in 1989 by Roger Stanton Baum, L. Frank Baum's grandson. Unfortunately, all of this history likely won't help it at the box office. It is the first film to be released by Clarius Entertainment and they are planning on releasing it in a saturation level theater count (3,000 or more theaters) but there isn't nearly enough buzz to suggest it will work. Most of the buzz has been centered on how cheap the animation looks. It certainly doesn't look anywhere near as good as a Pixar movie, but it doesn't look as good as secondary releases like The Nut Job either. The only good news is the lack of direct competition, because by the time it hits theaters, Rio 2 will have been out for a month. However, that's not enough to be bullish about this film's chances. In fact, there are some predicting it will open below the Mendoza line and disappear before the end of the month.

Moms' Night Out

Moms' Night Out poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: MomsNightOutMovie.com
Distributor: Sony (through the TriStar label)
Release Date: May 2nd, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG for mild thematic elements and some action.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Dysfunctional Family, Missing Child, Gangs, Motorcycle Gangs, Faith-based, and more
Directed By: Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin
Written By: Jon Erwin and Andrea Gyertson Nasfell
Starring: Sarah Drew, Trace Adkins, Sean Astin, Patricia Heaton, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $10 million to $20 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

Three women decide to go out on the town for some fun, which means leaving their kids with their respective husbands. Hilarity ensues. At least that's what the filmmakers are hoping for. The trailer makes the movie look rather derivative and I'm not sure it will entice moviegoers. Its buzz is among the quietest for any wide release coming out in May. Lack of star power is also an issue, although there are not many movies opening in May designed to appeal to women, so that will help at least a little bit. It likely won't help enough to become a midlevel it. But it also likely didn't cost a lot to make.

Neighbors

Neighbors poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Neighbors-Movie.com/
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: May 9th, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Neighbors from Hell, New Parents, Colleges, Frats, and more
Directed By: Nicholas Stoller
Written By: Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien
Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $95 million

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play a married couple who have a new child. They get new neighbors, which sounds great, until they realize it's an off-campus frat house, led by Zac Efron. Soon the two groups get into a rivalry.

This is an R-rated comedy and there have been many such films to become hits over the past several years, including Old School, Superbad, The Hangover, etc. Superbad is most interesting as a comparison, because it and Neighbors both star Seth Rogen, who certainly has star power when it comes to this genre. Zac Efron, on the other hand, is still trying to shed his Disney image. He's a good enough actor to do so, but it is still too soon to say he's done that completely. His most recent movie, That Awkward Moment, struggled at the box office. However, it was a bad movie with a bad release date. Neighbors' early reviews are 100% positive and the buzz is strong. In fact, it could be strong enough to get to $100 million. That would be a nice bonus for the overall box office, but I think it is wise to be a little more conservative than that.

Weekend of May 16th, 2014

Godzilla poster

The weekend before Memorial Day is historically one of the best weekends of the year to release a movie and there is a true potential monster hit opening this weekend looking to take advantage. Godzilla promises to stay more inline with the original Gojira than the 1998 American version. Moviegoers seem to be poised to reward this decision, as the film has great buzz. Million Dollar Arm, on the other hand, is pure counter-programming. The buzz isn't bad, it is just much quieter than the competition. Star Trek Into Darkness was the only wide release to open this weekend last year. Godzilla might match it at the box office, but that seems a little unlikely, while Million Dollar Arm won't pick up the slack. 2014's losing streak is likely to continue to three weeks.

Godzilla

Godzilla poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: GodzillaMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: May 16th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence.
Source: Original Screenplay / Remake
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Reboot, Foreign Language Remake, Development Hell, Kaiju, 3D, Shot in 3D, Visual Effects, and more
Directed By: Gareth Edwards
Written By: David Callaham, David S. Goyer, Max Borenstein, and Shigeru Kayama
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $160 million
Box Office Potential: $205 million

I really want this movie to succeed, because I'm a fan of Kaiju films. (I'm not an aficionado, but a fan.) However, I'm also worried that my desires are clouding my judgment. The most recent Kaiju film, Pacific Rim, didn't do that well at the box office. It earned $400 million worldwide, but on a $190 million budget, so unless it did really well on the home market, it won't break even any time soon. Granted, Godzilla has a much better release date than Pacific Rim had, plus it also has stronger buzz. $200 million isn't a sure thing, but I think it has a better than 50/50 chance of getting there. On the high end, it could compete with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for biggest hit of the month. On the low end, it might not match its $160 million production budget. I think the high-end is more likely, but I might be too bullish here.

Million Dollar Arm

Million Dollar Arm poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Movies.Disney.com/Million-Dollar-Arm
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: May 16th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG for mild language and some suggestive content.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Inspirational Sports, Baseball, Cricket, Underdog, Reality TV, Inspired By Real Life, Culture Clash, Romance, and more
Directed By: Craig Gillespie
Written By: Thomas McCarthy
Starring: Jon Hamm, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, Lake Bell, and others
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at under $10 million and $30 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million

Million Dollar Arm is the latest in a long line of inspirational sports movies based on real life events. In it, Jon Hamm plays an agent who is about to lose his job when he has an idea. Travel to India to to see if any cricket players have what it takes to become baseball pitchers. He finds two prospects, played by Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal.

The term, "counter-programming" certainly applies to this film. However, while the buzz isn't very loud, the buzz isn't bad either. Most people think it will be a sappy sports story, but there's a market for those films. It might also do better internationally than most other baseball movies, because of its international flavor. I don't think it will be a monster hit, but it should become a midlevel hit and earn a profit sometime on the home market.

Weekend of May 23rd, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past poster

This weekend is the Memorial Day long weekend. Historically, this is one of the best weekends of the year at the box office, if not the best weekend of the year. There will be a number of holdovers that get a boost at the box office, but X-Man: Days of Future Past will very likely come out on top. In fact, it is one of three films that has a shot at becoming the biggest hit of the month. It is also the third of five Marvel movies coming out this year. The counter-programming of the weekend is Blended, the latest Adam Sandler comedy. Given his track-record, getting to $100 million isn't unlikely, but not everyone is convinced it will get there. Last year, there were three wide releases, all of which eventually earned $100 million or more at the box office. Fast and Furious 6 led the way with nearly $100 million during its opening weekend. It looks like 2014's losing streak will be extended to four weeks.

Blended

Blended poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: BlendedMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros. Release Date: May 23rd, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Blind Date, Single Parents, Family Vacation, Gratuitous Cameos, and more
Directed By: Frank Coraci
Written By: Clare Sera and Ivan Menchell
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Adam Sandler, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $50 million to $70 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

A Romantic Comedy starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. In this film, they are a pair of single parents who have a disastrous blind date, but afterward find themselves on a family vacation in Africa together. They previously starred in a Romantic Comedy called 50 First Dates, which incidentally was the last Drew Barrymore movie to crack $100 million at the box office. This one should end that streak, as Adam Sandler has had nine $100 million hits since that movie, including his last film, Grown Ups 2. The buzz isn't as strong as some of his past films, but I'm hoping the reviews will be decent. 50 First Dates was one of Adam Sandler's best movies and if this film can do the same, it should reach the century mark.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: X-MenMovies.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: May 23rd, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language.
Source: Based on a Comic / Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Marvel Comics, Mutants, Time Travel, Robots, Political, Political Corruption, Same Role / Multiple Actors, Dystopian, and more
Directed By: Bryan Singer
Written By: Simon Kinberg, Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Stan Lee, and Jack Kirby
Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Michael Fassbender, Ian McKellen, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $225 million
Box Office Potential: $245 million

One of the best X-Men comic stories is turned into a movie. This story is both a sequel to the X-Men: First Class, as well as The Wolverine and includes both the younger and older versions of a number characters, due to time travel elements. X-Men: Days of Future Past has some of the best buzz of the month. Not only is the buzz loud, it is nearly universally positive. On the other hand, the franchise isn't on the same level as Spider-Man or The Avengers. It could become the biggest hit in the franchise, but still not win the month. If it doesn't become the biggest hit in the franchise, it will lose money, if its reported production budget is truly that large. Fortunately, it is opening during one of the biggest weekends of the year and it should open with $100 million over the four-day weekend while reaching $200 million is on the low end of expectations.

Weekend of May 30th, 2014

Maleficent poster

The weekend after a major holiday is obviously not the best time of the year to release a blockbuster; however, the weekend after Memorial Day is still part of the summer holidays for a lot of people going to school, so it should still be a strong weekend for new releases. In fact, there are some who think both new releases will earn more than $100 million and the top new release, Maleficent, could crack $200 million. Snow White and the Huntsman is a close comparison, but this film's buzz is better. A Million Ways to Die in the West is the latest film written, directed, and starring Seth MacFarlane. His previous such film was Ted, so analysts should be bullish about this film's chances. However, this film is a Western and that genre isn't as potent at the box office as contemporary films are, so it likely won't reach the same heights. It could reach $100 million, on the other hand. The same weekend last year had two wide releases, Now You See Me and After Earth, both of which opened with less that $30 million. I think the two wide releases this year will crush those numbers and 2014 should finally end its losing streak.

Maleficent

Maleficent poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Movies.Disney.com/Maleficent
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: May 30th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images.
Source: Original Screenplay / Based on a Fairytale
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Villain's Point of View, Prince / Princesses, and more
Directed By: Robert Stromberg
Written By: Linda Woolverton, John Lee Hancock, and ten others involved in the previous stories this movie is based on
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Ella Purnell, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $200 million
Box Office Potential: $180 million

This movie looks at the point of view of one of Disney's most iconic villains, Maleficent, played by Angelina Jolie, with Elle Fanning playing Princess Aurora.

Maleficent's buzz is good, for the most part. The most common complaint is that some people think it feels too much like Snow White and the Huntsman. I don't think that will hurt this film, plus that film earned $150 million domestically and $400 million worldwide, so it is hardly an insult. This one will likely earn better reviews than Snow White earned, plus the studio is on a winning streak breaking the record for fastest studio to reach $1 billion worldwide. I think it has a shot at $200 million, but I am more bullish than most.

A Million Ways to Die in the West

A Million Ways to Die in The West poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: AMillionWays.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: May 30th, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for strong crude and sexual content, language throughout, some violence and drug material.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy / Western
Keywords: Relationships Gone Wrong, Romance, Prostitution, Native American, Hallucinations, Gangs, Intentionally Anachronistic, Directing Yourself, Screenplay Written By Star, Scene in End Credits, Gratuitous Cameos, and more
Directed By: Seth MacFarlane
Written By: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, and Wellesley Wild
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, and others
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $50 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million

Seth MacFarlane's previous film was Ted, which was a rather high-concept comedy that cost $50 million and was a bit of a risk for the studio. It opened with more than $50 million and finished with more than $200 million domestically and $500 million worldwide. Given that, analysts should be a lot more bullish over this film's chances. Granted, it is a Western, which is not a genre that has had a ton of success recently. It's been more than 50 years since that genre dominated the box office. It is also in the sub-genre I call Intentionally Anachronistic, which are films that use elements from different time periods. In this case, they do it for laughs, which is what Your Highness tried, but failed. I still think it will earn more than $100 million, as fans of R-rated comedies will be wanting something after Neighbors. Keep in mind, I am more bullish than most.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2014-05-01

Movies 
 The Amazing Spider-Man 2
 Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
 Moms' Night Out
 Neighbors
 Godzilla
 Million Dollar Arm
 Blended
 X-Men: Days of Future Past
 Maleficent
 A Million Ways to Die in The West