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2012 Preview: July

July 1st, 2012

June was not a good month. Of the twelve films that opened wide last month, only four beat expectations by any serious margin, while there were seven that we know will fail to match expectations and one that's too close to call. That's a really bad record. Granted, 2012 still has a huge advantage over 2011, but it did shrink over the month of June. Looking forward to July, we get mixed signals. On the one hand, last July there were two monster hits, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which I'm considering a July film even though it opened on June 29th, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Those two films combined earned more than $700 million. This time around the only guaranteed monster hit is The Dark Knight Rises and I don't think there are many analysts bullish enough to think it will make $700 million by itself. That's not to say analysts aren't bullish on the film's chances. Some think it will top The Avengers at the box office. If it fails to reach $500 million, it would be seen as a disappointment. On the other hand, last year there were four other films that topped $100 million, while this year there are only six other films, period, and only two of those, The Amazing Spider-man and Ice Age: Continental Drift, are sure things to hit $100 million. There is a chance The Dark Knight Rises will earn more than the rest of the wide releases earn combined. And if this movie bombs, there's little hope for the rest of the month. But that won't happen, right?

Weekend of July 6th, 2011

The first weekend in July will belong to The Amazing Spider-man. The other two films, Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D and Savages, are counter-programing, at best. The Amazing Spider-man is a reboot of the Spider-man franchise, which has pulled in more than $1 billion domestically and almost $2.5 billion worldwide. If this film is as strong as its predecessors, then the month will start with a massive, massive win. Katy Perry is the latest in the recent line of 3-D concert movies, which was started by Hannah Montana / Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds, but only Justin Bieber: Never Say Never has come close to matching Miley's numbers. Savages is Oliver Stone's latest film, but strangely, it is not generating a lot of buzz. Comparing this weekend to last year is a bit tricky. Last year the Independence Day long weekend landed a week earlier than it does this year, so we are technically comparing it to July 8th, which was a much, much weaker weekend. We won't match Independence Day 2011, but we should win handily on the year-over-year comparison.

The Amazing Spider-man

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheAmazingSpiderman.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: July 3rd, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of action and violence.
Source: Based on a Comic / Sequel / Reboot
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Secret Identity, Marvel Comics, 3-D, First Love, Visual Effects, Child Abandonment, and more
Directed By: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, and others
Production Budget: $220 million
Box Office Potential: $275 million

The Spider-man franchise broke records and helped revive the comic book super hero genre. The success of X-Men and then Spider-man was the first proof that Marvel Comics' main line of characters could be turned into mainstream hits. Since then, they've had hit after hit after hit after hit earning $4 billion at the domestic box office and $9 billion worldwide, and that's before you add in The Avengers.

Marvel films are incredibly popular right now and The Amazing Spider-man could be another $400 million hit. However, I'm not hearing a lot of buzz for this movie. In fact, I'm hearing more buzz for The Dark Knight Rises, which doesn't come out till two weeks later. A lot of people are questioning the decision to reboot the franchise so soon after the third installment of the previous franchise came out. We've already mentioned the reason for this. Disney owns Marvel, but they don't have the movie rights to characters that were already sold off prior to the sale. So Sony still has the movie rights to Spider-man, for instance. But, if Sony doesn't make a movie every so often, they will lose the rights to those characters and they will revert back to Marvel / Disney. This is the reason why this movie was made, why Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was made, why they are working on a sequel to Daredevil, etc.

Is this a wise move? For Spider-Man? Probably, but I'm not so sure. Sony is likely risking more than $300 million (product budget plus global P&A budget) while Disney will reap the benefit of increased comic book and merchandise sales without risking a dime. If The Amazing Spider-man doesn't earn at least $200 million domestically and $500 million worldwide, I would be a little surprised. That should be enough to earn a profit, which is good news for the Sony, because the studio has had a rough time these past few years. But it might not be enough to risk another $300 million on a sequel.

Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: KatyPerryPartOfMe.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: July 5th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG for some suggestive content, language, thematic elements and brief smoking.
Source: Based On Real Life Events
Major Genre: Concert
Keywords: Pop Music, Musicians, Music Industry, 3-D, Biography, Big Break, Religious, and more
Directed By: Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz
Starring: Katy Perry
Production Budget: $2 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million

On the one hand, Hannah Montana / Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. On the other hand, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience and Glee. The film could go in either direction. It could make more than $75 million, or it could make less than $25 million and I wouldn't be surprised. On the one hand, Katy Perry has a bigger fanbase than the Jonas Brothers and you can't see her on TV each week like Glee. On the other hand, unlike Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber, Katy Perry doesn't have the weekend to herself and she's playing the counter-programing role. $50 million is probably a pretty safe bet, and assuming the studio doesn't spend a crazy amount of money on P&A, that should be more than enough to break even sooner rather than later.

Savages

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SavagesFilm.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: July 6th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for strong brutal and grisly violence, some graphic sexuality, nudity, drug use and language throughout.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Narcotics, Organized Crime, Kidnap, Revenge, Rescue, Love Triangle, Corrupt Cops, Returning Soldier, Voiceover, Film Noir, and more
Directed By: Oliver Stone
Starring: Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million

Oliver Stone has won three Oscars, one for writing and two for directing. So why am I not hearing a lot of buzz for this film? Granted, he's never been a major box office draw and only one film of his has pulled in more than $100 million. Also, the cast doesn't have a whole lot of star power. Taylor Kitsch has been in two previous films this year, both were higher profile, and both bombed. I think it is fair to say Aaron Johnson is untested at the box office. Likewise, Blake Lively can best be described as, "up and coming". Benicio Del Toro's last film to reach the century mark was Traffic. Uma Thurman's was Batman & Robin. John Travolta's last three films have disappointed, and there's a pretty serious downward trend overall. Emile Hirsch has had more success in limited release than in wide release. Only Salma Hayek has had success with her most recent film. It was moved up to a summer release by the studio, so perhaps they think they have a hit on their hands, and the early reviews are positive, but I wouldn't get too excited.

Weekend of July 13th, 2011

There's good news for Ice Age: Continental Drift. It's the only wide release of the week. It is also a few weeks since Brave opened up, so families will be looking for something new. This should help maximize this film's box office chances. On the other hand, this is the fourth film in the Ice Age franchise, it is possible moviegoers have grown tired of the characters. Additionally, while there are no films opening wide this week, Ice Age: Continental Drift has to compete with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, which opened this week last year. That film managed nearly $170 million during its opening weekend and there is a chance Ice Age won't make that in total. It would take a minor miracle for 2012 to come out ahead in the year-over-year comparison.

Ice Age: Continental Drift

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: IceAgeMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: July 13th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG for mild rude humor and action/peril.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Animal Lead, Talking Animals, 3D, Pirates, On a Boat, Prehistoric Times, and more
Directed By: Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier
Starring: Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, and others.
Production Budget: Estimated at $100 million to $125 million
Box Office Potential: $225 million

Ice Age: Continental Drift is the fourth installment in the Ice Age franchise. None of the previous three cracked $200 million, but the last two came very, very close. Even if this film just sells the same number of tickets, it will reach that milestone, so it is at least reasonably likely. On the other hand, the franchise is suffering from declining Tomatometer scores and there's a chance families who didn't like the previous one will give this one a pass, at least till the home market. Fortunately, the film's early international numbers are excellent and include some animated records falling. Because of this, I'm bumping my prediction from $205 million to $225 million.

Weekend of July 20th, 2011

Like the previous week, there's only one wide release this week. Unlike last week, this one release is almost guaranteed to be a monster hit, beyond a monster hit. The Dark Knight Rises will easily be the biggest hit of the month and there are some who think it will be the biggest hit of the year. There is a chance it will make more during its opening weekend than the entire box office did last year. If 2012 doesn't win the weekend, then the entire month will be a write-off.

The Dark Knight Rises

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheDarkKnightRises.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: July 20th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language.
Source: Based on a Comic / Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Vigilante, Terrorism, Fugitive, and more
Directed By:
Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, and others
Production Budget: $250 million
Box Office Potential: $535 million

At the beginning of the year, there were many who considered The Dark Knight Rises as the most anticipated film of 2012. Granted, there were some rumblings that The Avengers might be the bigger film, but for most this was the number one on their list. Now that The Avengers has smashed records, there's two ways this film could go. On the one hand, The Avengers might have been the appetizer, while this film will be the main course. On the other hand, The Dark Knight Rises might suffer in comparison to that film, which will hurt it at the box office. Additionally, it will have a hard time living up to The Dark Knight, which not only had unbelievably positive reviews, but also in a morbid way, it benefited from the death of Heath Ledger. The actor's untimely passing was huge news and brought a lot of publicity to the film. Finally, in the comic, Bane isn't that interesting a character. He's only a major villain because, spoiler alert, he broke Batman's back. His personality and motivations can't carry a movie, without serious changes.

I think The Dark Knight Rises will start off faster than The Dark Knight, but I don't think it will have the same level of reviews and it therefore won't have the same legs. It will end up selling fewer tickets, but thanks to inflation come out a little ahead domestically. Additionally, thanks to the growth of the international box office, it will crack $1 billion worldwide with relative ease.

Weekend of July 27th, 2011

July ends with a pair of wide releases, Step Up Revolution and The Watch. Neither of of these films has the potential to be a monster hit, although The Watch could crack $100 million. It is very likely The Dark Knight Rises will dominate the box office for a second weekend in a row and might become just the second film to top $100 million during its sophomore stint. This is good news, as the new releases likely won't compete with last year's one-two punch of Cowboys and Aliens and The Smurfs.

Step Up Revolution

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Facebook.com/StepUp4.3D
Distributor: Summit
Release Date: July 29th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some suggestive dancing and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: 3D, Dance, Cross-Class Romance, Romance, Land Developer, Civil Disobedience, and more
Directed By: Scott Speer
Starring: Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

The Step Up films have never been big hits, but they made enough to keep the franchise in theaters. The most recent installment went the 3D route, but while that added to the cost of the movie, it didn't help it at the domestic box office, so Disney dropped the franchise. However, Summit thought the franchise still had life, so they picked up Step Up Revolution. Will this turn out to be a wise choice? I'm not convinced. The film lacks star power, there's little buzz, and dance movies rarely break out of their target audience. On the other hand, it likely didn't cost a lot to make, so it won't need to be a huge hit to break even.

The Watch

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: JoinTheWatch.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: July 27th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for some strong sexual content including references, pervasive language and violent images.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Alien Invasion, Buddy Comedy, Dysfunctional Family, and more
Directed By: Akiva Schaffer
Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $55 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, andRichard Ayoade star as four suburbanites who are bored with their lives so they form a Neighborhood Watch to add some excitement, or at least as an excuse to get away from their families. However, when Aliens attack, they might be Earth's best hope.

I have mixed feelings about this film. On the one hand, the four lead actors have all been part of incredibly funny movies and TV shows in the past and three of the four of them are no strangers to $100 million hits. On the other hand, three of the four have had some big misses as well. (The exception to both is Richard Ayoade, but that's because he's basically making his Hollywood debut with this film.) Also, the film's production was troubled with a number of different directors and stars attached over the past four years or so. In the end they went with Akiva Schaffer, whose only previous film was Hot Rod. Finally, it is an R-rated comedy, and that genre hasn't done well this year. American Reunion, The Dictator, That's My Boy have all failed to find audiences. Ted finally broke that losing streak, but the market is still weak overall. I think this one will be the better than average compared to the other recent releases, but I don't think it will crack $100 million. There are some who are more bullish than I am, so keep that in mind.


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Filed under: Monthly Preview, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Savages, The Watch, Step Up Revolution, Katy Perry: Part of Me