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Friday, August 1, 2014



2014 Preview: June

Transformers: Age of Extinction poster

It is too soon to tell how May will end, as this story will be published before the weekend estimates came out. (Maleficent had an excellent start on Friday, unlike A Million Ways to Die in the West.) Overall, it was a good month with at least three movies that are on track to hit $200 million, but there was no really big winner for the month. It was nice and balanced. Unfortunately, last May there was a monster hit, Iron Man 3, and 2014 could not compete with that, so it lost ground to 2013. June hopes to turn things around and there are some reasons to be optimistic. All four weeks there is at least one film opening that at least has a shot at $100 million. There are even two films that at least have a shot at $300 million. Transformers: Age of Extinction should win the monthly box office race while How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a long shot to win, but I wouldn't be completely surprised if it did. Additionally, 22 Jump Street, Edge of Tomorrow, The Fault in Our Stars, and Think Like a Man 2 are all contenders for the century club. Not all of them will get to that milestone, but all of them at least have a short. Last June, there were three films that reached $200 million, including Man of Steel, which nearly reached $300 million. It looks like June of 2014 will be about as strong as June of 2013, more or less. If all films reach their potential, it could win the year-over-year comparison. Unless there are some shocking bombs, it shouldn't struggle so much that 2014 loses its lead over 2013 entirely.

Weekend of June 6th, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars poster

The first week of the month has two films, the potential blockbuster and the counter-programing release, which is how every week should be. However, this week is more than a little odd, as a lot of people think the counter-programing release will top the potential blockbuster. Edge of Tomorrow reportedly cost $178 million to make and stars Tom Cruise, so it should make at least $100 million, right? Maybe a few years ago that would be true, but even with a prime release date, expectations are muted. The Fault in Our Stars cost just $12 million to make and it is a romantic drama about teenage cancer patients falling in love. There's no way this movie will be a massive hit, right? Normally yes, but the buzz for this film is phenomenal. There is more good news, as neither of the two wide releases last year were $100 million hits, they barely earned $100 million combined. So even if the wide release this year opens on the low end of expectations, 2014 has a real shot to win in the year-over-year comparison.

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: EdgeOfTomorrowMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: June 6th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material.
Source: Based on a Book / Based on a Comic Book
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Alien Invasion, War, Time Travel, Special Effects, and more
Directed By: Doug Liman
Written By: Dante Harper, Christopher McQuarrie, Joby Harold, and Hiroshi Sakurazaka
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $178 million
Box Office Potential: $90 million

Tom Cruise plays an inexperienced soldier during an alien invasion. He is sent in on an important mission... and almost immediately dies. He then comes back in time and has to repeat the mission... and almost immediately dies again. This continues and he learns how to fight the alien invasion.

This is an interesting premise, but the buzz for Edge of Tomorrow is mixed. The early reviews are great, but the buzz is quieter than it should be. The buzz is about the same as it was for Oblivion, which earned about $90 million domestically. Edge of Tomorrow does have a better release date, but it also has a lot more competition in the proceeding / following weeks. It's a film that on paper should earn at least $100 million domestically with $200 million not out of the question. Unfortunately, the buzz suggests while it will come close to the century mark, it won't quite get there.

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheFaultInOurStarsMovie.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: June 6th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Cancer, Terminal Illness, Romance, Coming of Age, Writers, Recluse, Death of a Son or Daughter, and more
Directed By: Josh Boone
Written By: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, and John Green
Starring: Shailene-Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Willem Dafoe, and others
Production Budget: $12 million
Box Office Potential: $95 million

Shailene-Woodley and Ansel Elgort star as two teenagers dealing with cancer. In his case, he is cancer-free, but in her case, it is terminal, it is just a matter of when. The pair meet and fall in love, but she hesitates, because she knows when she dies, she will hurt him.

Normally a drama aimed at teens would have no chance at being anything more than a midlevel hit. In fact, The Fault in Our Stars feels more like an Indie drama that would start in limited release rather than a potential $100 million hit. However, the buzz is amazing... I think. I should point out that the author of the original novel, John Green, is one of the biggest names when it comes to the internet nerd community. I'm subscribed to a dozen or so YouTube channels that he and his brother Hank are part of, including Hankgames, where he is the most frustrating FIFA 2014 manager of all time. (He almost never checks the fatigue level of his players and he's lucky it hasn't cost him any serious injuries this season.) Because I'm so connected to the internet, it is really hard for me to determine what is Internet Buzz and what is Real Buzz. If the buzz I'm hearing is mostly just Nerdfighters talking amongst themselves, then the film will likely be just a midlevel hit. If this buzz is indicative of its drawing power in the real world, then it will hit $100 million with relative ease. I really want the latter to be true, but I think it is wise to be more conservative.

Weekend of June 13th, 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2 poster

The second weekend of June has two potential monster hits, both of which are sequels. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is one of two films opening this month that should earn at least $200 million and there are some who think it will be the biggest hit of the month. On the low end, not everyone thinks it will match the original at the box office, but I think that's pessimistic. 21 Jump Street was a surprise hit, both at the box office and with critics. It will be interesting to see if 22 Jump Street can match its predecessor's quality. And if it does, will it have a chance of matching its box office run? This weekend last year, Man of Steel opened with $116.62 million over the weekend, which is more than either new release will make this year. In fact, it might be more than both new releases make combined this year.

22 Jump Street

22 Jump Street poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: 22JumpStreet-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: June 13th, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity and some violence.
Source: Based on a TV Show / Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: College, Undercover, Football, Narcotics, Buddy Cop, and more
Directed By: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Written By: Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, and Rodney Rothman
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 million and $60 million
Box Office Potential: $135 million

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum return as undercover cops, this time in college. While the pair are working the same case, they work separate angles and soon wonder if their partnership can survive.

21 Jump Street earned amazing reviews and was a surprise hit at the box office. It opened with almost as much as it cost to make, so it is not a shock that a sequel was made. 22 Jump Street hopes to match its predecessor, both with critics and at the box office. It is far too soon to judge what the critics will think, but the buzz suggests the film has a close to 50/50 shot at getting there. Anything below $100 million would be a huge disappointment, while opening with more than $50 million and getting past $150 million isn't out of the question.

How to Train Your Dragon 2

How to Train Your Dragon 2 poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: HowToTrainYourDragon.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: June 13th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor.
Source: Based on a Book / Sequel
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Dragons, Vikings, Dysfunctional Family, and more
Directed By: Dean DeBlois
Written By: Dean DeBlois
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $150 million to $200 million
Box Office Potential: $275 million

How to Train Your Dragon was a surprise hit, more so with critics than at the box office. A $217 million domestic run on a $165 million production budget is strong, but not unexpected. However, earning 98% positive reviews is incredible, regardless of expectations. No one goes into film seriously predicting a movie will earn 99% positive reviews. (Amazingly, it was only the second best animated film of the year that year, losing out to Toy Story 3, which did actually earn 99% positive reviews.)

How to Train Your Dragon 2 opens this month and it should be among the best-reviewed films of the summer, and possibly one of the biggest hits as well. I would be shocked if this film didn't at least match its predecessor, while earning $300 million isn't out of the question. There hasn't been a family film since Rio 2 (I'm not counting Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, because no one saw it in theaters). So there's a huge demand for a big family release. There also isn't another family film till Planes: Fire and Rescue, which is hardly in the same league as How to Train Your Dragon 2, so it could have really long legs. Granted, I am a little more bullish than most, but I think it will at least earn as much as The LEGO movie and could become the first $300 million hit of the year.

Weekend of June 20th, 2014

Think Like a Man Too poster

This is the weakest weekend in June with two films, neither of which has any hope of becoming a monster hit. Think Like a Man 2 could become a $100 million hit. It would just need to top its predecessor by 10% to reach that milestone. On the other hand, there are some who think it will fail to match the first film by a larger amount than that. Jersey Boys is the latest from Clint Eastwood and a few years ago this would have made it a significant player at the box office, but his last few films missed expectations at the box office. This weekend last year saw the openings of Monsters University and World War Z, which opened with $82 million and $66 million respectively. There are some who don't think the two films opening this weekend will make $82 million and $66 million during their entire runs, and they will very likely struggle to match that combined total. It looks like 2014 will lose in the year-over-year comparison again.

Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: JerseyBoysMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: June 20th, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout.
Source: Based on a Musical / Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Musicians, Music Industry, Singers, Ensemble, Biography, Author Adapting Their Own Work, and more
Directed By: Clint Eastwood
Written By: Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Starring: John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Michael Lamenda, Vincent Piazza, Christopher Walken, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million

Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice adapt their stage musical for the big screen telling the story of The Four Seasons, and I really hope I don't have to explain who they are. It is directed by Clint Eastwood, who has won Oscars for his directing, but his last two movies failed to earn overall positive reviews. The buzz isn't strong. It isn't bad, but it isn't very loud either. Granted, given its target audience, I didn't expect really loud buzz, but it still needs to grow significantly during the coming weeks if it has a shot at being a hit at the box office. If the film's reviews are good, it will likely have very long legs. On the other hand, it could be another Rock of Ages. I hope it is the former.

Think Like a Man Too

Think Like a Man Too poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SonyPictures.com/Movies/ThinkLikeAManToo
Distributor: Sony Picture
Release Date: June 20th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material.
Source: Original Screenplay / Based on a Book / Sequel
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Romance, African-American, Relationship Advice, Relationships Gone Wrong, Ensemble, Voiceover, and more
Directed By: Tim Story
Written By: David A. Newman, Keith Merryman, and Steve Harvey
Starring: Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Terrence J, Jerry Ferrara, Gabrielle Union, Michael Ealy, Taraji P. Henson, Romany Malco, Meagan Good, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at between $20 million and $30 million
Box Office Potential: $100 million

A follow-up to Think Like a Man, which was based on a book by Steve Harvey. I'm not sure if Think Like a Man Too is still based on that book or if it is an original screenplay based on the characters that originated in the movie. Regardless, while critics didn't really like the first movie, audiences on Rotten Tomatoes gave it an 80% positive rating. This suggests audiences will be willing to revisit these characters and that should help this film's box office chances. It also has a better release date, but arguably stronger competition, at least at the time the movie opened. The Avengers opened two weeks later, but it had two weeks with almost nothing to challenge it at the box office. Think Like a Man Too might not open in first place opening below How to Train Your Dragon 2's sophomore weekend at the box office. On the other hand, it might open surprisingly well and clear $100 million before it drops out of the top ten. Personally, I think it will reach $100 million, but only after the studio gives it a little boost to get it there.

Weekend of June 27th, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction poster

The month ends with just one film opening wide, Transformers: Age of Extinction. The first three films in the franchise have pulled in more than $1 billion domestically, but they have also earned terrible reviews. It will be interesting to see if the box office numbers continue to impress, or if the reviews finally catch up to the franchise. This weekend last year, both The Heat and White House Down opened, they were part of a group of five that each earned more than $20 million over that weekend. Transformers: Age of Extinction should be the first film of the year to open with $100 million, which will certainly help 2014 in the year-over-year comparison. On the other hand, the depth this weekend will likely be really, really poor. I'm still giving the advantage to 2014 in the year-over-year comparison.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Transformers: Age of Extinction poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TransformersMovie.com
Distributor: Paramount Release Date: June 27th, 2014
MPAA Rating: Not yet rated - Very Likely PG-13
Source: Based on TV Show / Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Live Action Cartoon, Robots, Alien Invasions, Corporate Malfeasance, Government Corruption, Single Parents, Dinosaurs, Special Effects, and more
Directed By: Michael Bay
Written By: Ehren Kruger
Starring: Optimus Prime, Galvatron, Grimlock, and a bunch of boring humans
Production Budget: Reported $165 million
Box Office Potential: $305 million

The fourth installment in the Transformers franchise introduces the Dinobots, which could be cool, but given the track-record so far, this film is likely going to suck. Revenge of the Fallen is widely considered the worst movie to earn more than $400 million domestically, Dark of the Moon is arguably the worst movie ever to earn $1 billion worldwide, although On Stranger Tides is also in competition for that honor. Even the best movie, the first Transformers, is only good for a popcorn flick. Unless Age of Extinction is by far the best movie in the franchise, the best it can hope for is "good for a popcorn flick". On the other hand, if the film makes anything less than $250 million, it will be a disappointment and it could lift the franchise's average earning over $350 million. I think it will earn just over $300 million, but only after the studio gives it a little boost over-the-top.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2014-06-01

Movies 
 Edge of Tomorrow
 The Fault in Our Stars
 22 Jump Street
 How to Train Your Dragon 2
 Jersey Boys
 Think Like a Man 2
 Transformers: Age of Extinction