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2012 Preview: June

June 1st, 2012

As May ends and we look forward to June, we have some good news and some bad news to report from last month. First the bad news. Nearly every film missed expectations, sometimes by massive levels. The good news? The Avengers was a record-breaking hit and it managed to compensate for every miss of the month and May of 2012 was just as strong as May of 2011. Unfortunately, the month has ended on a low note and The Avengers is shedding theaters, so new releases will be really important for June's chances. There are two films that were supposed to open wide this month that are no longer doing so, although we did have one film moved up to replace G.I. Joe: Retaliation, but that still leaves just twelve films opening wide over the five weekends in June. This does include six films that have a real shot at earning $100 million or more at the box office, and three of those have a shot at $200 million. Prometheus is earning a ton of buzz and there are some that think it will be the biggest hit of the month. It might even be a $300 million hit. However, you can't count out Brave in the race to become the biggest hit of the month, as Pixar's average is over $250 million and $300 million is also not out of the question. It's hard to compare last June, because there were only four weekends last June, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon opened on the Wednesday before the July 1st long weekend, which throws off the numbers. If you consider Dark of the Moon a June release, then there were six $100 million movies and one $300 million this month last year. We will need nearly every film to match expectations in order for 2012 to continue to strengthen its lead on 2011.

Weekend of June 1st, 2011

The month kicks off with a one horse race, as Snow White and the Huntsman is the only truly wide release of the week. For Greater Glory is opening in several hundred theaters, but it likely won't have a serious impact at the box office. (On a side note, Piranha 3DD was originally going to open wide, but it is now only debuting in 75 theaters. Given its genre and early reviews, it likely won't survive there.) The lack of competition should help Snow White win the weekend and some think it will have a run similar to X-Men: First Class, which opened this weekend last year. Unfortunately, this is probably a little too optimistic. Additionally, last year had much better results from its holdovers with five films earning more than $10 million over the weekend. There's little hope for 2012 to start the month on a winning streak.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SnowWhiteAndTheHuntsman.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: June 1st, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality.
Source: Based on a Legend
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Royalty, Step-Family, Dysfunctional Family, Faked Death, War, Revolution, Sword & Sorcery, and more
Directed By: Rupert Sanders
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Ian McShane, and others
Production Budget: $100 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million

This is the second film based on the Snow White legend to open wide this year. (There have also been a few direct-to-DVD releases based on the same story.) Mirror Mirror opened with a much weaker release date and with much stronger competition. It still managed to earn about double its production budget worldwide so it is at least somewhat successful. Snow White and the Huntsman has a bigger budget, better release date, and opening weekend to itself, and arguably a bigger cast. Kristen Stewart became a household name thanks to the Twilight franchise, but she's also shown she can act in a number of other movies. (Into the Wild and Adventureland, to name just a couple examples.) She should help bring in young women and even some Twilight fanatics. Chris Hemsworth is Thor and is in the biggest movie since Avatar. He should help bring in some comic book fans and fans of Sword & Sorcery films in general. Charlize Theron doesn't have as many monster hits as those two, but this movie could push her career total past $1 billion. And if not, she'll get there with Prometheus. Ads for that movie could help this one a little.

There are some obstacles the film will have to overcome. For instance, the reviews are just 50% positive, and slipping. Also, the post-Memorial Day weekend is generally not a great one at the box office. I'm still very bullish about the film's chances to reach $100 million. If it can do a little better internationally, it could come close to $300 million worldwide, which would be more than enough to break even before the home market.

Weekend of June 8th, 2011

When it comes to maximizing box office potential, it is best for each weekend to have one potential blockbuster and one counter-programing release. This week, both the potential blockbuster and the counter-programing release have a shot at $200 million. Prometheus is earning buzz that suggests it should top $200 million with relative ease, but you can't count out Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted as a potential $200 million movie as well. The franchise hasn't been able to break that milestone yet, but the first two installments came very close. This weekend last year saw the release of Super 8. A great movie, but it started relatively slowly at the box office. Both new releases should top its $35 million opening with ease, and while last year had great depth (the top six films all earned $10 million or more), 2012 should come out on top.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Madagascar.WarnerBros.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: June 8th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild action and rude humor.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Animal Lead, Talking Animals, Circus, Road Trip, Directing Yourself, and more
Directed By: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon
Starring: Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock, Davif Schwimmer, Ben Stiller, and others.
Production Budget: $145 million
Box Office Potential: $175 million

The previous two Madagascar films both earned close to $200 million domestically and between $500 million and $600 million worldwide. Making the franchise into a trilogy must have been an easy decision for the studio. But will it be a mistake? On the positive side, the very early reviews are good and the buzz is strong, if not particularly loud. Plus, there haven't been a lot of animated films to come out this year. On the down side, it has to share its opening weekend with Prometheus, which is generating some of the strongest buzz of the summer and its early reviews are even better than this film's reviews are. Also, Brave's buzz is even stronger, despite opening two weeks later and it could earn Oscar worthy reviews. There is a chance this film will be lost in the crowd and only make $125 million. On the other hand, it could become the biggest hit in the franchise and top $200 million. I'm a little more bullish than most, but even I think that's too optimistic. Many analysts think it will struggle to match Kung Fu Panda 2, which made $165 million last year, but I think it will come close to matching its predecessors.

Prometheus

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ProjectPrometheus.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: June 8th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Robot, Corporation Malfeasance, Alien Invasion, 3D, Prequel, Delayed Sequel, Surprise Twist, and more
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $125 million, more or less
Box Office Potential: $250 million

Prometheus is a pseudo-prequel to Alien. Alien is widely considered to be the greatest Sci-fi Horror film of all time. Normally this would make the film a must see. Unfortunately, the Alien Franchise has been beaten into the ground recently with the last two films missing expectations and the two Predator crossovers being even worse. Fortunately, the ads for Prometheus have been excellent and the buzz has grown to a deafening level. This is easily the most talked about wide release for the month and the early reviews are promising. That doesn't mean it will be easily the biggest hit of the month. While its buzz is louder than Brave's buzz, family films rarely generate as much pre-release hype as action films do. Also, there is another potential monster hit opening the same weekend. Madagascar 3 and this film don't share a lot of crossover appeal, so the two films shouldn't steal a lot of moviegoers from each other, but they will steal screens from each other limiting the number of showings they can squeeze into a weekend.

I still think it will have the biggest opening of the month. It might even crack $100 million. However, an opening of $75 million and better than average legs is more likely.

Weekend of June 15th, 2011

Ideally, each weekend in summer there should be one potential monster hit and one counter-programing film. This weekend, there are two films, That's My Boy and Rock of Ages, but I'm not sure which one is the monster hit and which one is the counter-programing release. They might both cross $100 million, or perhaps neither will get there. That's My Boy stars Adam Sandler, who is practically Mr. $100 million with twelve $100 million hits to his credit. Tom Cruise stars in Rock of Ages and for a while, he had the record for most $100 million hits in a row and twice has had $100 million streaks of five films or more. However, both actors are no longer at the height of their box office drawing power. Jack and Jill was eviscerated by critics and missed expectations at the box office, while Tom Cruise has only had one $100 million hit in the past four years. Last year, Green Lantern opened with more than $50 million, which is a figure neither new release this year will match. However, their combined openings could top that film and Mr. Popper's Penguins. Perhaps 2012 will come out on top this week, but it could be close.

Rock of Ages

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: RockOfAgesMovie.WarnerBros.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: June 15th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, sexual content and pervasive language.
Source: Based on a Musical
Major Genre: Musical
Keywords: Musicians, Musical Business, Romance, Gratuitous Cameos, Author Adapting Their Previous Work, Ensemble, and more
Directed By:
Adam Shankman
Starring: Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta play the romantic couple at the center of the film, but there's a huge cast.
Production Budget: $70 million
Box Office Potential: $115 million

I'm having a little trouble judging the film's box office chances, as I grew up with a lot of the music used in the film, and nostalgia could cloud my judgment. On the other hand, I think the studio is counting on nostalgia to sell tickets. I won't be the film's only draw. This film began as a stage musical, which started in 2006 and has been playing on Broadway since 2009. It's had performances all over the country and the world, and has won awards. Turning it into a movie makes a ton of sense. The studio has certainly assembled a huge amount of talent to make it a success. Four of the past five films Adam Shankman has directed reached $100 million at the box office. This includes Hairspray, which is a similarly nostalgia inspired musical. Four of the main cast members have career box office numbers north of $1 billion, including Tom Cruise, who has been in the top 100 box office draws since the 1980s and is in seventh place all time. In fact, it's the two leads, Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta, who might have the least amount of box office drawing power.

I think the film should clear $100 million with ease. But again, there is a chance my judgment is clouded.

That's My Boy

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Facebook.com/ThatsMyBoyMovie
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: June 15th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for crude sexual content throughout, nudity, pervasive language and some drug use.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Sex Crimes, February / May Romance, Unexpected Pregnancies, Dysfunctional Family, Wedding Day, Bachelor Party, Stripping, and more
Directed By: Sean Andres
Starring: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $80 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

No matter how bad Adam Sandler's films are, they still seem to pull in $100 million time and time again. In fact, the few movies he's made that did earn good reviews failed at the box office. However, Jack and Jill was his worst movie ever. It was so bad, that a lot of people think that this film will pay the price. He co-star, Andy Samberg, has no real box office track record. He's only been the lead in one film, Hot Rod, which bombed, but had important supporting roles in I Love You, Man, and others. Still, he's really untested as a major box office draw. Maybe these two will combine their respective fanbases and That's My Boy will be a surprise hit. On the other hand, there is a chance this movie will be even weaker than Jack and Jill and the downward side of his career.

I think big hit is more likely than big bomb, but just reaching $100 million is the most likely scenario.

Weekend of June 22nd, 2011

There's one question that rises above all else for this weekend. Will Pixar bounce back with Brave? Will it be the biggest hit of the month and will it earn Oscar-worthy reviews? I'm optimistic in both regards, but there are also some reasons to be realistic in terms of box office chances. There are two other films opening wide this week. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is the more traditional counter-programing release and should find an audience among more mature moviegoers. There haven't been many films targeting this demographic released this summer, so it could benefit from the lack of competition. Meanwhile, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter could be a breakout hit like Wanted, or its appeal could be too limited to the nerd community and have a box office run similar to Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. This weekend last year saw Cars 2 and Bad Teacher combine for a solid one-two punch. I think this year will be stronger at the top, but the counter-programing films might struggle more. It could be a very close call on the year-over-year race.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ChernobylDiaries.WarnerBros.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: June 22nd, 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Likely aiming for an R-rating
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Alternate History, Young Child Dealing with the Death of a Parent, Civil War, Slavery, Vampires, 3D, Novel Adapted by Author, and more
Directed By: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell, and others
Production Budget: $70 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

Benjamin Walker plays Abraham Lincoln, who hunts vampires. The plot's more complicated than that, but that's the one sentence pitch.

By some measures, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is earning the most buzz of any June release, even more than Prometheus is earning. However, that's "Internet Buzz", and as we have seen time and time again, "Internet Buzz" doesn't always translate into big ticket sales. The movie does have Tim Burton behind it as a producer and Timur Bekmambetov as director, so it should be stylish above all else. However, Tim Burton's last film, Dark Shadows, was also a visual feast and that film still struggled at the box office. On the positive side, it doesn't have to deal with The Avengers.

This is a film that could make more than $150 million or less than $50 million and I wouldn't be surprised either way. Sadly, the lower end is much, much more likely.

Brave

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Disney.Go.com/Brave
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: June 22nd, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG for some scary action and rude humor.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Royalty, Arranged Marriage, Curses, and more
Directed By: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell
Starring: Kelly MacDonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $200 million
Box Office Potential: $250 million

And the Oscar goes to...

This is a running theme for Pixar films when it comes to the Monthly Previews, but considering their track record, it is not unwarranted. Even Cars 2 picked up a truckload of Annie Awards nominations, along with a handful of other nominations. Brave is a little outside the norm for Pixar. It's the first film of theirs with a female protagonist and the first period piece. The early buzz for the movie was strong and the marketing campaign looks incredible. Also, while Pixar hasn't had a female lead so far, Disney has several strong female leads in their collection and know how to market them. Some say it is harder to sell a film with a strong female lead to young boys than it is to sell a film with a male lead to young girls, and there's certainly evidence to back up that claim, but I think families will be clamoring to see this film. It should easily have the biggest opening of the week, while it could have the best legs of the month.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FocusFeatures.com/Seeking_A_Friend_For_The_End_Of_The_World
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: June 22nd, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for language including sexual references, some drug use and brief violence.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: End of the World, Road Trip, Romance, Ensemble, and more
Directed By: Lorene Scafaria
Starring: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, and many, many others
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million

An asteroid is set to hit the Earth and it is large enough to cause a mass extinction event. With the knowledge that the world is going to end, people go a little crazy doing all the things they'd never do if they would have to live with the consequences. At least most people do. Steve Carell plays a man who is a little more stoic about the situation, but with a little prodding, decides to drive across the country and reunite with his high school sweetheart. Keira Knightley plays his neighbor who is desperately trying to get to see her family one last time. The pair decide to travel together.

A comedy about the end of the world. Given that subject matter, it should be a black comedy, but the trailer feels more like a romantic comedy. There haven't been many mature comedies to come out this year, so this film should benefit from pent up demand. The buzz isn't loud, but it is positive. I'm not sure how well it will perform with critics. It is the directorial debut for Lorene Scafaria, who also wrote the film. However, she previously wrote Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which earned strong reviews, so there's reason to be optimistic. I don't think it will be a blockbuster, and it will likely start slow, but it should have the legs to become a solid midlevel hit.

Weekend of June 29th, 2011

There are four movies opening wide this week, but of these four films, none of them have a real shot at $100 million. In fact, there's a chance none of them will get halfway there. G.I. Joe: Retaliation was supposed to be the massive hit of the weekend, but it's been pushed back till next year, which leaves a big gap in the box office. So which film will fill it? Ted was bumped up to fill the hole, but it is a high-concept comedy with an iffy pedigree. Madea's Witness Protection is the latest from Tyler Perry, but his last two films missed expectations. People Like Us is a dysfunctional family drama starring Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks as brother and sister who didn't know the other existed. Finally there's Magic Mike, which is set in the world of male strippers. None of those sound like sure-fire hits. All four films combined will not make as much as Transformers: Dark of the Moon opened with last year. A couple might not open with as much as Monte Carlo did, which was the counter-programing release from last year. The month is going to end on a soft note.

Madea's Witness Protection

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: MadeasWitnessProtectionMovie.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: June 29th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some crude sexual remarks and brief drug references.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: White Collar Crime, Cross-Dressing, Fat Suit, Same Actor / Different Roles, Mafia, Dysfunctional Family, African-American, and more
Directed By: Tyler Perry
Starring: Tyler Perry, Eugene Levy, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

It's a Tyler Perry movie. There's not much more that needs to be said, as his track record at the box office speaks for itself. Granted, his last two films struggled, but his Madea films always do better. The big wildcard here is the source. This film is not based on a play. It's only the fourth film of his to not be based on a play, and his first Madea film not based on a play. I don't think it will have an impact at the box office, but if the movie bombs, this could be the one of the excuses people give after the fact.

Magic Mike

Trailer: Coming Soon
Official Site: MagicMikeMovie.WarnerBros.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: June 29th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive sexual content, brief graphic nudity, language and some drug use.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Autobiographical, Screenplay Written By the Star, Inspired By Real Life Events, Stripping, Romance, and more
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $5 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

There are some who think this will be the biggest hit of the week. I'm less sure. For every $100 million movie Steven Soderbergh has filmed, he'ss made a couple that struggled to get out of limited release. Channing Tatum's two previous films this year made a combined $200 million at the box office, but none of his previous four films earned $50 million. Alex Pettyfer has been in four films, and all four missed expectations. Some point to the success of 50 Shades of Grey and other "Mommy Porn" books do show that the target audience is large. However, those books are hits on ereaders, and people can read those in private, even when they are in public. Are the same women going to flock to theaters to see a movie about stripping when everyone will know what ticket they are buying? On the other hand, the film reportedly only cost $5 million to make, and if that is true, unless it is a disaster at the box office, it should earn a sizable profit.

People Like Us

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: DreamworksStudios.com/Films/People-Like-Us
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: June 29th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, some drug use and brief sexuality.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Inheritance, Dysfunctional Family, Unexpected Family, and more
Directed By: Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

This is a hard film to predict. It's the first film Alex Kurtzman has directed, although he has a lot of production and writing credits to his name. Chris Pine could become a household name thanks to the rebooted Star Trek franchise. However, that one film still represents close to half his career total. Elizabeth Banks has more than $2 billion in career box office earnings, but almost half of that has come from the three Spider-man films. In the last four years, the only film of hers to earn significantly more than $30 million was Role Models... and The Hunger Games. Can't forget that film. However, you also can't use that film's success to predict this film's chances.

It's a busy week and I think this film will slip between the cracks.

Ted

Trailer: Coming Soon
Official Site: TedIsReal.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: June 29th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Living Toys, Romance, Delayed Adulthood, Directing Yourself, Screenplay Written By Star, and more
Directed By: Seth MacFarlane
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Mila Kunis, and others
Production Budget: $35 million to $65 million, reports vary
Box Office Potential: $25 million

Mark Wahlberg plays a man, John, whose stuffed bear, Ted, comes to life thanks to a childhood Christmas wish. Decades later, he's still best friends with Ted, but Ted's behavior becomes a problem when John falls in love with Lori.

This film is the live action directorial debut for Seth MacFarlane. This is a risk. There have been success stories for animators going into live action. Brad Bird earned critical praise for Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, which was also a major hit at the box office. However, there have also been a number of failures. Neither BASEketball nor Office Space found an audience theatrically, even though the latter earned a lot more money on the home market. Buzz for this film is strong, but it was bumped up a couple of weeks after G.I. Joe: Retaliation was pushed back to next year, so the studio won't have as much time to prep its advertising campaign.

I think its reviews will be in the overall positive level, while there haven't been too many R-rated comedies to come out this year, so the demand could be there. (This will be especially true if That's My Boy bombs like some think it will.) On the other hand, it could get squeezed out by the competition and struggle to reach the top five during its opening. Regardless, it should find a following on the home market.


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Filed under: Monthly Preview, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Brave, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Rock of Ages, People Like Us, Ted, Snow White and the Huntsman, Piranha 3DD, Prometheus, That's My Boy, Magic Mike, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, For Greater Glory, Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection