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Saturday, August 2, 2014



2014 Preview: July

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes poster

Overall, June was not good. Most films matched expectations, or came close enough that there weren't major disappointments. However, it looks like How to Train Your Dragon 2 will miss expectations by more than $100 million. This was such a massive amount that 2014 lost its lead over 2013 and not even Transformers: Age of Extinction's $100 million opening was able to turn things around. Looking forward to July, there's not a lot of good news. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes might be the only film coming out during July that will reach the $100 million milestone, but on the high end, it might reach the $200 million mark. There are a few others that have a shot, but are not favored to reach the century mark. On the other hand, there are more films that may or may not open / expand wide and even if they do, they will likely have no real impact at the box office. By comparison, last July, Despicable Me 2 was the top draw and finished with more than $350 million. There were also four other films that surpassed $100 million at the box office. It seems practically impossible for 2014 to match those numbers and will likely finish the month behind last year's pace. Overall, 2014 isn't doing poorly, but the summer has been much weaker than the spring was, so we've gone from potential record breaking year to merely average.

Weekend of July 4th, 2014

Tammy poster

The first week of the month is Independence Day long weekend. Often times, there's a huge box office hit opening this week, but not this year, as Transformers: Age of Extinction is expected to dominate during its second weekend of release. There are three wide releases and two potential wide expansions hoping to not get lost in Transformers' shadow. The wide releases are led by Tammy, which is earning the best buzz and has a shot at $100 million. After all, if Melissa McCarthy can lead Identity Thief past $100 million, this film should at least have a chance to do the same. Deliver Us From Evil isn't earning the same buzz and horror films rarely have breakout success, rarely. The final wide release is Earth to Echo, a live-action family film, which is a genre that usually struggles. Worse still, the buzz involves mostly comparing it to other, better movies. Begin Again and America: Imagine a World Without Her are the two potential wide expansions. America is a documentary and those rarely find a measure of mainstream success; however, this one is preaching to the choir, a choir that has been willing to buy tickets in the past. Begin Again has a higher maximum, but it also has a lot more direct competition. By comparison, this weekend last year was the weekend Despicable Me 2 debuted. There's no way any of the new releases this year will be able to compete. I'm pretty sure all five of them combined won't be able to compete with Despicable Me 2.

America: Imagine a World Without Her

America: Imagine a World Without Her poster
Trailer: Coming Soon
Official Site: AmericaTheMovie.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: June 27th, 2014 (Limited release)
Release Date: July 2nd, 2014 (Expands wide)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violent images.
Source: Based on Real Life Events, sort of
Major Genre: Documentary
Keywords: Political, AgitProp, Slavery, Alternative History, Civil War, Directing Yourself, Screenplay Written By Star, Voiceover, and more
Directed By: Dinesh D'Souza and John Sullivan
Written By: Dinesh D'Souza and John Sullivan
Starring: Dinesh D'Souza, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $10 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million

I already said a lot about this film on Friday, so I don't need to rehash too much now. There are still not a lot of reviews to judge the film, so that won't help. However, we do have the film's opening weekend numbers, so we can compare those to 2016 and take an educated guess about its chances at the box office. The film made just under $40,000 in three theaters during the weekend, compared to just over $30,000 in one theater for 2016. A per theater average of $13,000 is still very good for a documentary, but without time or a major political event to build word-of-mouth, I don't think the wide expansion will go terribly well. It won't be as bad as America's Heart and Soul, for instance, but it also likely won't live up to 2016 either.

On a side note, anyone who compares slavery in the United States to indentured servitude loses the right to be taken seriously on any political topic.

Last minute update: The film's expansion was moved from the 4th to the 2nd, which makes less sense in terms of theme, but more sense in terms of box office potential.

Begin Again

Begin Again poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: BeginAgainFilm.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: June 27th, 2014 (Limited release)
Release Date: July 2nd, 2014 (Wide expansion)
MPAA Rating: R for language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Musicians, Singers, Music Industry, Big Break, Romance, Relationships Gone Wrong, and more
Directed By: John Carney
Written By: John Carney
Starring: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine, and others
Production Budget: Reportedly under $10 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

Keira Knightley stars as an amateur singer / songwriter whose relationship with her boyfriend, Adam Levine, ends when he gets successful. She then meets Mark Ruffalo, a music producer, who helps her find her voice. Meanwhile, Mark Ruffalo has to deal with his estranged daughter, Hailee Steinfeld.

The reviews have improved since Friday reaching 74% positive, which suggests it could find an audience in wide release. Likewise, it made more than $40,000 in five theaters during its opening night and over $130,000 over the full weekend giving it the best per theater average of the weekend. This suggests potential to expand wide. Unfortunately, there are five films opening or expanding wide this weekend and I don't think this one will be able to escape the crowd.

Deliver Us From Evil

Deliver Us from Evil poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: DeliverUsFromEvil-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: July 2nd, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, grisly images, terror throughout, and language.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Police Procedural, Religious, Possessed, and more
Directed By: Scott Derrickson
Written By: Scott Derrickson, Paul Harris Boardman, Ralph Sarchie, and Lisa Collier Cool
Starring: Eric Bana, Olivia Munn, Edgar Ramirez, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

A supernatural horror movie that is "based on a true story". The film is based on a book by a cop who claims he investigated a case involving demonic possession. I hate it when films try to sell stories as if they were based on a true story when clearly they are not. It's lazy marketing, which suggests the film itself isn't as marketable. Granted, this isn't always the case and there are rare exceptions. But in my mind, this is a troubling sign. Additionally, it's a horror movie and those rarely have breakout success. On the positive side, it is co-adapted and directed by Scott Derrickson, who previously made Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, so he has experience in this genre. Finally, the film likely cost $20 million to make, or less, so it doesn't need to be a massive hit to break even.

Last minute update: The film opens tomorrow and there are still no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. That's a bad sign.

Earth to Echo

Earth to Echo poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: CallHimEcho.com
Distributor: Relativity
Release Date: July 2nd, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG for some action and peril, and mild language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Friendly Alien on Earth, Coming of Age, Scene Filmed by Character, and more
Directed By: David Green
Written By: Henry Gayden and Andrew Panay
Starring: Astro, Teo Halm, Reese C. Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at between $30 million and $40 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

A live action family film about a group of kids who find a friendly alien on Earth. It was developed by Disney, but the worldwide rights were sold to Relativity. That's not a good sign. Clearly Disney thought it wasn't worth sinking a P&A budget into the movie and cut their losses. The buzz is quiet, which isn't a bad sign for a family film, at least not as bad as it would be for a tentpole release. However, the buzz I did read was mostly people are complaining that the film feels like a collection of parts from other similar films patched together. The reviews are only mixed, which won't help improve the situation. Additionally, the genre has struggled at the box office for a long time. If a family film isn't animated, it almost never finds breakout success. Finally, of the three wide releases, this one is the most likely to get lost in the crowd.

Tammy

Tammy poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TammyMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: July 2nd, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for language including sexual references.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Fired, Infidelity, Relationships Gone Wrong, Dysfunctional Family, Road Trip, Written By Star, Directing Yourself, and more
Directed By: Ben Falcone
Written By: Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

Married couple Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy co-wrote the screenplay while Ben Falcone makes his directorial debut. Melissa McCarthy stars as the titular Tammy, a woman who wrecks her car, gets fired from her job, and finds out her husband is cheating on her. She decides she needs to get away for a while, but her only way out of town is with her grandmother, Susan Sarandon, who wants to go to Niagara.

Of the three wide releases this week, Tammy is earning the best buzz. This is in no small part due to Melissa McCarthy, who has proven she has what it takes to carry a comedy. Additionally, R-rated comedies have been very strong at the box office these past few years and Bridesmaids and The Heat proved you could put women in the lead roles of an R-rated comedy and moviegoers will go. Granted, I'm in the minority here, but I think this film will be a surprise $100 million hit.

Weekend of July 11th, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes poster
There is only one wide release coming out this week, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which will very likely become the biggest hit of the month. It is the only film coming out this month that has a shot at $200 million and I would be a little surprised if it didn't at least match the original at the box office. It does have a better release date and no competition to speak of, plus the early reviews are very encouraging. This weekend last year, there were two wide releases, Grown Ups 2 and Pacific Rim, but the box office was led by Despicable Me 2. All three films earned over $30 million at the box office and combined pulled in $120 million. I think Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will easily perform better than the number one film did last year, but I don't think 2014 will have the same depth leading to yet another loss in the year-over-year comparison.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: DawnOfApes.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: June 11th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief strong language.
Source: Remake / Sequel
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Animal Lead, Animal Gone Wrong, Post-Apocalypse, War, and more
Directed By: Matt Reeves
Written By: Mark Bomback, Rich Jaffa, Amanda Silver, and Pierre Boulle
Starring: Andy Serkis, Toby Kebbell, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $120 million
Box Office Potential: $190 million

A sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a film that earned excellent reviews and $176 million at the box office. It comes as no surprise that the studio would make a sequel with that result. The sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, takes place after the virus has wiped out most of the human race and with the humans and apes in a war to determine which species will be the dominant species on the planet. The buzz is strong, it is easily the strongest for the month, while its reviews are currently better than the original's reviews were. (Although that could change really easily.) There is also no direct competition either. In fact, there were a couple of other films that were supposed open or expand wide this week, but both moved release dates recently. On the high end, the film could top $200 million by a significant margin. On the low end, the film could fail to match its predecessor. I think the higher end is more likely.

Weekend of July 18th, 2014

Planes: Fire and Rescue poster

There are four movies opening wide this week, maybe. The first of these films, alphabetically, is And So It Goes, which is the second release from Clarius Entertainment this summer. The first one did so poorly that I'm not 100% convinced they will be able to find 2,000 theaters willing to show this movie. Although if they do, it should perform a lot better. Planes: Fire and Rescue is a follow-up to Planes, which made more at the box office than most people thought it would. If this one does just a little bit better, it could crack $100 million at the box office. On the other hand, most people think is won't be able to match its predecessor. The Purge: Anarchy is another sequel that will likely not match its predecessor. The buzz just isn't there. Finally there's Sex Tape, which is the latest in a long line of R-rated comedies. This weekend last year, there were also four wide releases, led by The Conjuring. I really don't think any film opening this weekend will pull in $40 million and I don't think 2014's depth will be as strong as 2013's either. It looks like 2014 is going to lose on the year-over-year comparison yet again.

And So It Goes

And So It Goes poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: AndSoItGoesTheMovie.com
Distributor: Clarius Entertainment>
Release Date: July 18th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual references and drug elements.
Source: Original Screenpay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Real Estate, Autumn Years, Unexpected Family, Dysfunctional Family, Misanthrope, December, Romance, Directing Yourself, and more
Directed By: Rob Reiner
Written By: Mark Andrus
Starring: Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, Sterling Jerins, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

Michael Douglas stars as a misanthrope whose estranged son drops off his granddaughter, Sterling Jerins, whom he didn't know existed. He turns to his neighbor, Diane Keaton, to help take care of her. The film is directed by Rob Reiner, who has directed some absolute classics, but not recently. His last movie that earned overall positive reviews was The American President, which came out nearly 20 years ago. In that same time frame, he's had more misses than hits at the box office. Finally, I'm not 100% sure And So It Goes will earn a truly wide release. All this adds up to a really low box office potential.

Planes: Fire and Rescue

Planes: Fire and Rescue poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Movies.Disney.com/Planes-Fire-And-Rescue
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: July 18th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG for action and some peril.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel / Spin-off
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: In a Plane, Animated Inanimate Objects, Disaster, Rescue, and more
Directed By: Roberts Gannaway
Written By: Jeffrey M. Howard, Roberts Gannaway, Peggy Holmes, and John Lasseter
Starring: Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Julie Bowen, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

Planes was originally envisioned to be a direct-to-DVD spin-off of Cars. However, part way through production, Disney decided to up the budget to $50 million and release it in theaters. A lot of people wondered if that was a mistake. The critics thought it was, but its box office numbers disagree. Planes: Fire and Rescue has a bit of an uphill battle to climb, because while the average moviegoer liked the movie more than the average critic, it still didn't win over a lot of fans. It does have a better release date and there's no direct competition, but I still don't think it will match the original at the box office. It will probably do well enough to break even and if the merchandizing is strong, it will earn another sequel.

The Purge: Anarchy

The Purge: Anarchy poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: BlumHouse.com/Film/ThePurgeAnarchy
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: July 18th, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for strong disturbing violence, and for language.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Dystopia, Spree Killer, Gangs, On the Run, Home Invasion, Survival Horror, and more
Directed By: James DeMonaco
Written By: James DeMonaco
Starring: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Michael K. Williams, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $3 million to $10 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million

I don't have high hopes for this movie. The first film was a surprise hit earning $34.06 million during its opening weekend allowing it to take top spot. However, it didn't make that much for the rest of its run. That's terrible legs. Additionally, this is not just because of the genre, as its reviews were a mere 38% positive. Worse still, its audience reaction was worse than its reviews, albeit by 1 percentage point. When only 37% of people who saw the movie liked it, it spells disaster for the sequel. It is very unlikely The Purge: Anarchy will live up to its predecessor, even if the reviews are significantly better. On the other hand, even if it makes as much in total as the original made during its opening weekend, it will likely still break even, because its production budget is likely less than $10 million.

Sex Tape

Sex Tape poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SonyPictures.com/Movies/SexTape
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: July 18th, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Mid-Life Crisis, Amateur Porn, Dysfunctional Family, Internet, Teenage Sex Comedy, and more
Directed By: Jake Kasdan
Written By: Kate Angelo
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel play a couple who have been married for ten years. Add in their kids, and their love life as gone stale. To spice things up, they decide to make a sex tape, for private use only. However, it accidentally gets out in the public domain and they desperately try and get it back.

I have a question. Does the screenwriter not know what the internet is or how it works?

The buzz for Sex Tape is solid, but not spectacular. There is another R-rated comedy coming out this month, so it won't have the market to itself. The two stars have good box office drawing power, but not enough to think it will be a surprise $100 million hit. On the other hand, you can't dismiss the possibility either.

Weekend of July 25th, 2014

Lucy poster

The month ends with a trio of wide releases, maybe. The Fluffy Movie is a concert film and those almost never open or expand wide. However, after the success of Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, you can't dismiss the possibility. Hercules is the second film to tackle this legend to come out this year alone and the buzz is certainly better than last time. On the other hand, it is not good enough to suggest it will be a breakout hit. Lucy will likely be the biggest hit of the weekend and will solidify Scarlett Johansson as an action star. If it does, it will also raise her paycheck level to the point where Marvel won't make a Black Widow movie. They are notoriously cheap. This weekend last year there was only one wide release, The Wolverine, which made more than $50 million during its opening weekend. No movie opening this weekend will open with $50 million. There's a chance two of the three films won't make $50 million in total.

The Fluffy Movie

The Fluffy Movie poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TransformersMovie.com
Distributor: Paramount Release Date: June 27th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for suggestive material and sexual references.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Concert / Performance
Keywords: Stand-up comic, Hispanic, and more
Directed By: Manny Rodriguez
Written By: Gabriel Iglesias
Starring: Gabriel Iglesias
Production Budget: Estimated at under $10 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million

Gabriel Iglesias is a very popular stand-up comic, but I'm not sure he's popular enough to justify releasing a concert movie in theaters. On the other hand, Kevin Hart has had a couple of recent hits, so maybe the genre is experiencing a resurgence in popularity.

Hercules

Hercules poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: MightyHercules.com
Distributor: Paramount Release Date: July 25th, 2014
MPAA Rating: Not yet rated - Very Likely PG-13
Source: Based on Comic that is Based on a Legend
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Sword and Sandal, Independent Comics, Mercenaries, War, and more
Directed By: Brett Ratner
Written By: Ryan Condal, Evan Spiliotopoulos, Steve Moore, and Admira Wijaya
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $110 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million

This is the second film based on the Hercules legend to come out this year. The first, The Legend of Hercules is one of the most expensive bombs of the year, and one of the worst movies as well. This Hercules should perform a whole lot better, both with critics and with moviegoers. However, there are two points that need to be mentioned. Firstly, even if this Hercules earns a little more during its opening weekend than The Legend of Hercules did in total, it will still be a bomb. If this Hercules finishes domestically with just over what Legend made worldwide, it would still struggle to break even on the home market. So topping Legend is a really low bar. Secondly, the stench of Legend might hurt it at the box office enough to miss even this low box office potential.

Lucy

Lucy poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: LucyMovie.com
Distributor: Universal Release Date: July 25th, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Dystopia, Organized Crime, Gangs, Corrupt Cops, Narcotics, Smugglers, Super Soldier Serum, Revenge, and more
Directed By: Luc Besson
Written By: Luc Besson
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $90 million

Before I get into the movie, I must talk about the poster. On the post it says, "The average person uses 10% of their brain capacity. Imagine what she could do with 100%". It is easy to image. She could do epilepsy. An epileptic seizure happens when the brain cells fire uncontrollably. That 10% brain capacity is a myth that just won't die and it drives me nuts.

Moving on... Scarlett Johansson stars at the titular Lucy, a woman living in a dystopian future. She is forced to become a drug mule, but when the drugs leak into her system, they give her super powers. Out of all of the films on this month's list, I think Lucy is the film I want to see the most. It's either this film or Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I do like seeing films with strong female leads and I hope this film does well so more such movies are made in the future. There are some good signs. The buzz is strong and Scarlett Johansson has a lot of star power thanks in part to her role as Black Widow in the The Avengers. It is also written and directed by Luc Besson, who isn't a stranger to the action genre. Granted, some of his most recent movies haven't won over critics, and those that do, like The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec did, they still struggle at the box office. Many think it will finish in the $60 million range, but I think it will be a surprise hit. However, I am in the minority, so keep that in mind.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2014-07-01

Movies 
 Deliver Us from Evil
 Earth to Echo
 Tammy
 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
 Planes: Fire and Rescue
 The Purge: Anarchy
 Sex Tape
 Hercules
 Lucy