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2012 Preview: August

August 1st, 2012

July was another bad month with five of the seven films missing expectations. Only one matched expectations, or came close enough to call it a victory, while another film is too close to call. 2012 is still ahead of 2011, but that margin did shrink last month, despite the performance of The Dark Knight Rises, which earned $300 million during the month. Looking ahead to August, there are fourteen films opening wide, maybe fifteen, making it the busiest month in a long time. Of those releases, five or six have a shot at $100 million, while none will get much beyond that point. Maybe The Bourne Legacy will be a surprise hit and match the average of its predecessors, but most analysts wouldn't be willing to bet money on that. By comparison, last August only had two films that topped $100 million, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Help. I don't think any film opening this August will match those two films, but we have much better depth this time around. Hopefully we will be able to extend our lead this month, unlike the last two months.

Weekend of August 3rd, 2011

I'm a little torn on which film will be the big hit this weekend. Common sense says Total Recall should dominate Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. After all, one is an action-oriented sci-fi film, while the other is a live action kids' movie. The former genre includes some of the biggest hits of all time, while the latter genre very rarely manages to reach beyond a midlevel hit. However, it just isn't generating enough buzz to be sure it will win the weekend. Combined, they won't make as much as Rise of the Planet of the Apes opened with last year. In fact, individually, they might not make as much in total as Rise of the Planet of the Apes made during its opening weekend. There's almost no chance 2012 will win on the year-over-year comparison.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: DiaryOfAWimpyKidMovie.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: August 3rd, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG for some rude humor.
Source: Based on a Book / Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Dysfunctional Family, Sibling Rivalry, Animated Sequences, Summer Vacation, and more
Directed By: David Bowers
Starring: Zachary Gordon, Robert Capron, Grayson Russell, Karan Brar, Peyton List, Laine MacNeil, and others
Production Budget: $22 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

The first Diary of a Wimpy Kid opened in 2010 and managed to earn $64 million. Rodrick Rules came out the next year, but its box office slipped to $52 million. Both films were very profitable, so it should come as no surprise that the franchise was extended to a trilogy. There's not much new to say about Dog Days. It does have a better release date and that should help its ticket sales. However, there was quite a drop from the first to the second film, so that might not be enough to compensate. I don't think it will be the better of the two new releases during its first weekend, but thanks to its family friendly nature, it should have better legs and last long enough to top $50 million, which will likely result in yet another Diary of a Wimpy Kid film, likely in 2014.

Total Recall

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: WelcomeToRecall.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: August 3rd, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity, and language.
Source: Based on a Book / Remake
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Mutants, Faulty Memory, Visual Effects, Terrorism, Surprise Twist, Secret Identity, Politics, Corporate Malfeasance, and more
Directed By: Len Wiseman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $138 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

A gritty remake of Total Recall. This sounds like it could be a really good film. The original short story is excellent and the first movie was very funny. However, a gritty reboot could take the core of the story and present it in a way that isn't so obviously easily comparable. It puts its own twist on the story. Unfortunately, there's no early reviews to judge whether or not making the movie gritty was a success. On the other hand, I can investigate the buzz, and it is not good. Firstly, there's not a lot of buzz and a a film like this needs buzz. Secondly, what buzz there is is rather negative. A lot of people are complaining about the PG-13 rating and they are making fun of and complaining that the original didn't need to be remade. Finally, the film won't thrive on star power alone. Colin Farrell has starred in some big movies, but his overall track record at the box office is mixed. His most recent wide release was another remake, Fright Night, and that film bombed at the box office.

There is a chance this film will make less than Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days does overall, but it should at least start faster.

Last minute update: There are a few reviews trickling in, and they are not good. Had the film's reviews been as strong as its predecessor's were, then I would have raised my prediction to $100 million. That's likely out of reach now.

Weekend of August 10th, 2011

The Bourne Legacy should own the weekend. In fact, it should be the number one film of the month. It isn't the only wide release of the week, as Hope Springs and The Campaign are also opening this week. (There are some sources that say Nitro Circus will open wide, but not all sources agree. If it does open wide, it would be the first film from the studio to do so.) Since all three wide releases are going after different target audiences, there is a chance all three will be solid hits. However, it is quite rare for three films to open and not have at least one of them slip between the cracks. Last year, this was the weekend The Help opened and that film was a huge hit. However, it started slow, so 2012 has an advantage over 2011 during the weekend. Let's hope that is the case, because we could really use a win.

The Bourne Legacy

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheBourneLegacy.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: August 10th, 2012
MPAA Rating: for violence and action sequences.
Source:
Based on a Book / Sequel
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Secret Agents, Government Corruption, Sequels Without Their Stars, Midquel? and more
Directed By: Tony Gilroy
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, and others.
Production Budget: Reported at $90 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million

The Bourne Identity was based on the first of a series of books by Robert Ludlum. There were only three books in the series, but after the success of the first film, a fourth book was written: The Bourne Legacy. Now that book is being loosely adapted into a movie. This makes sense as the franchise has been really solid at the box office; however, continuing a franchise after its star leaves is a big risk. When they rebooted X-men with a new cast, the film earned stellar reviews, but it still failed to live up to its predecessors at the box office. A decade of inflation should prevent it from becoming the weakest film in the franchise, but I wouldn't be shocked if it were close.

The Campaign

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheCampaignMovie.WarnerBros.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: August 10th, 2012
MPAA Rating: for crude sexual content, language and brief nudity.
Source:
Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Politics, Political Campaign, Corporate Malfeasance, Government Corruption, and more
Directed By: Jay Roach
Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, and others.
Production Budget: Reported at $56 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

An R-rated comedy. There have been a ton of those to hit theaters this summer, but only one of them, Ted, has been a real hit. Will this be the second such hit of the summer? Or will it add to the list of misses? There are some reasons to be optimistic. Firstly, Jay Roach, Will Ferrell, and Zach Galifianakis, have all had major success in this genre over their careers. Meet the Parents, The Hangover, Talladega Nights are just a few examples they've been a part of. This film could easily make $100 million. It could make twice that, or it could make half of that. After all, The Watch and That's My Boy both bombed.

I think it will cross $100 million, but I also think it will be very close. I hope I'm underestimating its appeal, but I'm a little worried the politics could be a turn off. Some swing states have already dealt with tens upon tens of millions of dollars in campaign ads, and they might be sick of elections by next week.

Hope Springs

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: HopeSprings-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: August 8th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic content involving sexuality.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Romance, Relationship Advice, Relationships Gone Wrong, Autumn Years, December / December Romance, Therapy, and more
Directed By: David Frankel
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell, and others.
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at between $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

This film could be a major sleeper hit. It reunites David Frankel and Meryl Streep, who previously made The Devil Wears Prada. That film only made $27 million during its opening, but came very close to reaching $125 million in the end. That's the kind of legs most films can only dream off. Likewise, Julie & Julia had strong legs at this time of year in 2009 and Momma Mia! was a surprise hit in 2008. Steve Carell has also shown he can lead a film like this, as Crazy Stupid Love earned good legs last year. This film might do the same, especially since it is aimed at a more mature target demographic. These moviegoers rarely rush out to see a film's opening night, but they are more likely to see a film later in its run. Pie-in-the-sky, this film could have a similar run as The Help, plus anything with Meryl Streep in it has a least a shot at earning Oscar nominations. I don't think it will get to the century mark, but it could be a surprise hit and you can't ignore the possibility it will reach that milestone.

Weekend of August 17th, 2011

Every year at this time, we play a guessing game. "When will summer end?" Usually there's one or two weeks in August that are more like the typical summer blockbuster season before the box office collapses and it becomes a dumping ground. This year, it appears that the summer blockbuster season is extended by one week. The Expendables was a bigger than expected hit and The Expendables 2 will very likely lead the weekend. It is not the only film with the potential to reach $100 million at the box office. ParaNorman is the last animated film coming out till Finding Nemo's 3D re-release in mid-September, so it could have very good legs. However, it is a darker kids film, and those usually don't reach $100 million. The Odd Life of Timothy Green is also going after a family audience, but its chances are much weaker. Sparkle is coming out after Whitney Houston's death, so her fans might rush out to see it right away, but I don't think it's appeal with be very wide. Last year there were also four wide releases, but all of them bombed to one degree or another. Two of the four wide releases have at least a small shot at $100 million, so 2012 should win with relative ease.

The Expendables 2

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheExpendables2Film.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: August 17th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence throughout.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Mercenaries, Ensemble, Martial Arts, Mixed Martial Arts, War, Revenge, Screenplay Written By Star, and more
Directed By:
Simon West
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, and many others
Production Budget: $100 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

Everyone from The Expendables is back, plus Jean-Claude Van Damme... and someone else whose name I won't mention. The group of mercenaries goes on another mission and it goes wrong. Now they are looking for revenge, and to stop five tons of plutonium from getting into the wrong hands. The original movie was a $100 million hit theatrically and a big hit on the home market. If this film's reviews are the same as before, I expect this film will also be a $100 million hit. It should start faster (about $40 million) but fall faster as well. There is a slim chance the franchise will see strong growth, but most expect it will earn a nearly identical amount at the box office.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Disney.Go.com/The-Ddd-Life-Of-Timothy-Green
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: August 15th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG for mild thematic elements and brief language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Unexpected Family, Life in a Small Town, and more
Directed By: Peter Hedges
Starring:
Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, CJ Adams, and others
Production Budget: $40 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton learn they can't have a child of their own, so they write all the things they wanted in their child on pieces of paper, stick them in a box, and then bury that box in their back yard. After a storm, they find a 10-year old son CJ Adams. This film is clearly aimed at families, but I don't think it will be a hit. Firstly, it is sharing its opening weekend with ParaNorman, which is the bigger family film. Also, live action family dramas rarely find success at the box office. It might be the weakest of the four films opening this weekend, especially since it is opening on Wednesday, which will dilute its Friday through Sunday numbers.

ParaNorman

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ParaNorman.com
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: August 17th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG for scary action and images, thematic elements, some rude humor and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Haunting, Curses, 3-D, Bullies, and more
Directed By: Chris Butler and Sam Fell
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $60 million to $80 million
Box Office Potential: $85 million

A lot of people are comparing this film to Coraline and Monster House, which makes sense, as all three are animated films that are aimed at kids, but all have strong horror elements to them. The previous two films did well at the box office, but never were able to reach the century mark. I think this one will come closer, but still fall a bit short, as the horror elements will prevent younger kids from going to the movie. Also, while I'm a big fan of Stop-motion animation, the evidence is clear that these films rarely come close to $100 million. Even if ParaNorman becomes Focus Features' biggest hit, it might still need a good run on the home market to break even. I think it will, but I'm a little more bullish than most.

Sparkle

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Sparkle-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: August 17th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic content involving domestic abuse and drug material, and for some violence, language and smoking.
Source: Original Screenplay / Remake
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Musicians, African American, Sibling Rivalry, Dysfunctional Family, Father's Footsteps, Music Industry, Romance, Relationships Gone Wrong, Big Break, Posthumous Release, Domestic Abuse, Narcotics, Gangs, and more
Directed By: Salim Akil
Starring: Jordin Sparks, Whitney Houston, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter, Mike Epps, Derek Luke, and others
Production Budget: $10 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

A remake of the 1976 film of the same name. It's been updated, slightly. The original was about a girl group set in the 1950s and was loosely based on the Supremes. Meanwhile this one is about a girl group set in the 1970s and has more of a Motown sound. The buzz around this movie is rather quiet. It is a posthumous release for Whitney Houston and there is some talk that her untimely death will boost the film's box office chances. There is also a chance that fans of American Idol in general and Jordin Sparks in particular will want to see this movie. Given the lack of buzz, and the crowded release date, I just don't see it being a big hit. On the other hand, the production budget is really low, so that should help the studio break even early on the home market run.

Weekend of August 24th, 2011

And this week summer ends. There are three movies opening this week, and none of them are on track to become even midlevel hits. The Apparition is a late summer horror film and most years there is a similar release that does acceptable business, but they very rarely rise above a midlevel hit. Even in a group of weak releases, Hit and Run feels weaker than the competition. On the other hand, Premium Rush actually looks good enough to be a midlevel hit. My biggest worry is the release date. Last year there were a trio of new releases, all of which bombed from one degree to another. That might happen again this year as well. 2012 might come out a little ahead, but don't get overly excited.

The Apparaition

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheApparitionMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: August 24th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for terror/frightening images and some sensuality.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Paranormal Investigation, Hauntings, Academics, and more
Directed By: Todd Lincoln
Starring: Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $17 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

A group of students perform a scientific experiment meant to prove that if people believe in a psychic phenomenon enough, it will become real. They succeed. However, what they create kills one of them and later comes after the rest. It's an interesting premise, but I'm not sure how well it will pay-off, as there's not a lot of information to judge. It is writer / director Todd Lincoln's first feature-length film. Ashley Greene doesn't have a lot of box office success outside of the Franchise that made her famous and the same can be said with Tom Felton. Maybe both will be big stars, but so far it is too soon to judge. Sebastian Stan also doesn't have a huge number of films to compare. Finally, the week after this film comes out, The Possession comes out, and that film is earning louder and stronger buzz. It reportedly cost just $17 million to make, so it should break even, but it won't be a major hit, or even a midlevel hit.

Hit and Run

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: HitAndRunMovie.com
Distributor: Open Road
Release Date: August 22nd, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language including sexual references, graphic nudity, some violence and drug content.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Revenge, Witness Protection, Fugitive, Road Trip, Life on the Outside, Directing Yourself, Screenplay Written By Star, and more
Directed By: Dax Sheppard and David Palmer
Starring: Dax Sheppard, Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $15 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million

Written and co-directed by Dax Sheppard. His track record at the box office and with critics is not good. His previous writing / directing effort was Brother's Justice, which earned zero positive reviews and was practically a direct-to-DVD release. There are some sources that say this film will be a limited release. Even if it does open wide, I don't think it will make much of an impact at the box office and will be one of the many R-rated comedies to struggle at the box office this summer.

On a side note, who thought it was a good idea to have an extended prison rape joke in the trailer? Is that really a good marketing idea?

Premium Rush

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: PremiumRush.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: August 24th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence, intense action sequences and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Bike Messengers, On the Run, Corrupt Cops, Gangs, and more
Directed By: David Koepp
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

This is the only film opening this week that I'm interested in. In fact, I'm more interested in this film than most of the potential $100 million hits of the month. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a bike messenger given a package for immediate delivery. But before he can hand it over, he's stopped by Michael Shannon, a cop, who demands the package. When Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character refuses to hand it over, all hell breaks loose and he's being chased all over New York by people trying to kill him. The trailer makes it seem like an awesome thriller and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon are two actors that instantly make a movie more appealing in my opinion. However, you still have to look at that release date and wonder if something went horribly wrong. I think it will be the biggest hit of the weekend, but it will still struggle just to become a midlevel hit.

Weekend of August 31st, 2011

The last weekend in August is actually Labor Day long weekend, which is traditionally one of the weakest long weekends of the year. There are two wide releases coming out this week, Lawless and The Possession. There are some examples of horror films opening on Labor Day weekend that have found success, like Jeepers Creepers, but this success is usually relative to a small production budget. Lawless has an amazing cast, but if the studio thinks the end product is as good as its cast, why didn't they give it a better release date. Finally, For a Good Time Call... is also coming out this week, but it is debuting in limited release before expanding the weekend after. I'm more interested in that film than the two wide releases opening this weekend. Last year, none of the new three releases earned more than $10 million; however, The Help led the way with $14.59 million. The new releases should be better this year compared to the wide releases from last year and we should pull out a victory.

Lawless

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Lawless-Film.com
Distributor: Weinstein Co.
Release Date: August 29th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Prohibition Era, Organized Crime, Gangs, Revenge, Ensemble, and more
Directed By: John Hillcoat
Starring: Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

A Prohibition Era film about a war between two groups of bootleggers. The cast includes many great actors, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, and many others. It is also aimed at a more mature target demographic, which hasn't had a lot of films to look forward to this month. The Debt was the biggest new release this weekend last year and it managed to top $30 million at the box office, which is probably what this movie will end up with as well. That might be enough to break even, depending on its production budget.

The Possession

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ThePossessionMovie.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: August 31st, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material involving violence and disturbing sequences.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Possession, Based on an Untrue Story, Medical and Hospitals, Religious, Children Dealing with Divorced Parents, and more
Directed By: Ole Bornedal
Starring: Jeffery Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Natasha Calis, Madison Davenport, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $17.5 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Jeffery Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick are a recently divorced couple, but they are still on friendly terms. One day, he takes his two daughters, Natasha Calis and Madison Davenport, to a garage sale where Natasha buys a strange box. She becomes obsessed with figuring out how to open it, but when she does she frees an evil force that possesses her. Only one film has ever opened with more than $20 million during the three-day portion of the Labor Day long weekend, and that was a horror film (Halloween). The Genre tends to do well during this weekend with three of the top five openings. I don't think it will be the biggest opener of all time, but it could find a spot in top five.


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Filed under: Monthly Preview, The Apparition, Total Recall, Premium Rush, Hope Springs, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, The Bourne Legacy, The Possession, The Expendables 2, ParaNorman, The Campaign, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Lawless, Sparkle, For a Good Time, Call, Hit & Run, Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D