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2009 Preview: June

June 1st, 2009

So far we are one month into summer, and it looks like we will have six $100 million movies already (as I'm writing this, only two are confirmed, while three more should reach that milestone over the weekend.) However, June doesn't look as strong, either compared to last month, or the same month last year. It's not entirely bad, and we could have the bigget movie of the year opening this month, but don't expect six more $100 million movies. In fact, there's a chance we won't get half that many.

Weekend of June 5th, 2009
The first week of June is the busiest, with four films coming out; however, only two of them are opening truly wide, while one is a limited release that has a shot at expanding down the road. None look like they have a shot at topping the biggest release of last year. In fact, they might not top the second biggest release of last year. This means June will likely start off in a weaker position on the year-to-year comparison, which is quite a change from most of the rest of 2009.

Name: Away We Go
Distributor: Focus Features
Official Site: AwayWeGoMovie.com
Release Date: June 5, 2009 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Road Trip, Pregnancy, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at under $10 million
Box Office Potential: $5 million
Notes: Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski star as a young couple expecting their first child when his parents move out of the country, and they decide there's nothing keeping them where they live. This is the impetus to move, but where? So they decide to travel to friends and family looking for a place to call home. Based on a screenplay by first time writers Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, the film is directed by Sam Mendes. There was a substantial amount of buzz surrounding this film for a while. However, early reviews are just mixed. Sadly, this is not an unusual event, as in all of 2008 there wasn't a single summer limited release with substantial buzz that was able to build on that buzz and expand wide, or even just earn a real measure of mainstream success. This film has a shot, but it could also struggle just to reach $1 million. The above box office potential is a weighted average of the two extremes.

Name: The Hangover
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Official Site: HangoverMovie.com
Release Date: June 5, 2009
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, sexual content including nudity, and some drug material
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Blackouts, Las Vegas, Bachelor Party, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - predicted at $20 to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million
Notes: Four friends head to Las Vegas for one of the group's bachelor party, but when three of them awake the next day, they can't find the groom-to-be, they can't remember what happened the night before, and they can't figure out where the baby came from. The film stars Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, and Zach Galifianakis, none of whom have a lot of box office success, at least not as leads. On the other hand, the director has been responsible for a trio of solid mid-level hits (and one bomb, which we won't discuss). Early reviews are perfect so far, but the key word is, "early," as there are only five of them at the moment. Even so, this is a good sign, and there's a good chance the film will be a solid mid-level hit, with an outside chance it could be profitable during its domestic run; that depends a lot on how much it cost to make and its P&A budget. This is certainly what the studio is hoping for, as there are reports they've already given the go-ahead for a sequel. (On a side note, I look far too much like Zach Galifianakis in this movie. I look like what he would look like if he let himself go.)

Name: Land of the Lost
Distributor: Universal
Official Site: LandOfTheLost.net
Release Date: June 5, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and for language including a drug reference
Source: Based on a TV series
Major Genre: Adventure / Comedy
Keywords: Time Travel, Visual Effects, Dinosaurs, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - reported at $100 million
Box Office Potential: $100 million
Notes: This could be the second biggest hit of the month, and still not cross $100 million at the box office. The movie stars Will Ferrell as Park Ranger Rick Marshall, who, along with his assistant, Holly, and survivalist, Will, use a time machine to travel through time and space and arrive in a strange land and are chased by a T-Rex through most of it. The filmmakers were obviously going for a rousing mix of comedy and adventure, but the trailer suggests they didn't make it. Will Ferrell is playing the same character he's played countless times before, while the same can be said of Danny McBride. Almost none of the jokes really work, and the action seems too random to be adventurous. Normally I would check the film's Tomatometer score to see if this impression of the trailer accurately reflects the quality of the movie, but so far there are no reviews. That said, Will Ferrell still has a lot of box office drawing power, and as long as there's a strong marketing push, it should benefit from summer holidays enough to reach $100 million. I don't think it will do the same internationally, which means it might take a while to repay its weighty production budget. On the other hand, there is a possibility that it won't be the biggest hit of the week, especially if The Hangover's early reviews hold up and the weak trailer is an omen for even weaker reviews.

Name: My Life in Ruins
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Official Site: MyLifeInRuins.com
Release Date: June 5, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Vacation, and others
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million
Notes: The studio is obviously hoping that Nia Vardelos can recapture her Big Fat Greek Wedding magic with this movie. In fact, it is likely that the only one hoping this will happen more than the studio is Nia Vardelos herself. After My Big Fat Greek Wedding broke records by becoming the highest-grossing romantic comedy and the highest grossing independent film of all time, many thought Nia Vardelos was destined for superstardom. That hasn't been the case. The TV show based on the movie lasted just seven episodes, her next movie bombed, and outside of a few guest shots on My Boys, she hasn't done anything in five years. If all of the elements of this film work, then it could be a solid mid-level hit. It doesn't have the potential to earn $241 million, but I think the studio would be happy with $50 million. However, it's opening in just over 1,000 theaters, and so far its reviews are weak. It doesn't appear to be a terrible movie, but like most romantic comedies, it's rather predictable and feels manufactured as opposed to natural. There's still a chance it could open strongly enough to expand and reach its full potential, but it is more likely that it will struggle out of the gate and exit theaters before reaching $10 million. The above potential is a weighted average or the two extremes.

Weekend of June 12th, 2009
The second weekend of June has two films, and quite frankly I'm not entirely sure which one will be the bigger hit. In fact, there's a reasonable chance they will both be misses, as neither has a trailer that is exactly selling the movie very well. One of them better be a hit, or there's no way the box office will be able to keep up with last year's pace.

Name: Imagine That
Distributor: Paramount
Official Site: ImagineThatMovie.com
Release Date: June 12, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild language and brief questionable behavior
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Dysfunctional Family, Workaholics, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $40 to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million
Notes: I'm of two minds on this movie. On the one hand, Daddy Day Care earned $104 million back on 2003. On the other hand, Meet Dave earned less than $12 million last year. Looking at the trailer, I don't think this movie will be significantly better than those two movies were. It feels very predictable and a little too similar to Bedtime Stories for my liking. That said, Eddie Murphy still has box office clout, and even his family films have a shot at $100 million at the box office. I'm not saying this one would get there, but I wouldn't be too surprised if it did.

Name: The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
Distributor: Sony
Official Site: CatchTheTrain.com
Release Date: June 12, 2009
MPAA Rating: R for violence and pervasive language
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Heist, Hostage, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $60 to $80 million
Box Office Potential: $95 million
Notes: A Remake of the 1974 film, which starred Robet Shaw and Walter Matthau as the lead hijacker and the cop trying to stop him. This time around those roles will be played by John Travolta and Denzel Washington respectively. Both men have been nominated for multiple Oscars, and Denzel Washington has won, twice. However, these are roles the two men have played before, and this is causing quite a bit of bad buzz. The original was so good that there's little hope this movie will be able to live up to its predecessor in terms of critical response. That said, Denzel Washington films tend to be solid performers, and John Travolta is on one of his better streaks with three $100 million movies out of his last four tries. I don't think this one will get to that milestone, but it should be close enough to make the studio happy.

Weekend of June 19th, 2009
Another week without an obvious monster hit. Both movies could reach $100 million, I guess, but it is more likely that neither will. The only good news is this time last year both new releases also struggled somewhat, so 2009 shouldn't lose ground on 2008 over the weekend.

Name: The Proposal
Distributor: Disney
Official Site: TheProposal.Movies.Go.com
Release Date: June 19, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, nudity and language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Boss from Hell, Immigration, Marriage of Convenience, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $30 to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million
Notes: Okay. I admit it. I'm a fan of romantic comedies. I'm a fan of Ryan Reynolds. I'm a fan of Sandra Bullock. So clearly I'm looking forward to this movie. However, while I'm not the only one in this position, I think I'm in the minority here. Sandra Bullock hasn't had a $100 million hit in nearly a decade, while Ryan Reynolds is coming off his first such hit, but he was clearly just one part of an ensemble cast. His biggest hit where he was the lead came in 2005, and that earned $65 million. The last three films where he was the lead earned in the mid-$30 million range, which are hardly massive box office numbers. So you have two leads, neither of whom are hot at the box office, hoping their chemistry will create something better than their combined box office drawing power. Given the genre, a solid mid-level hit is the most likely outcome, while it could surprise and grab $75 million on the high end. Even half that should be enough to show a profit, eventually, while it should be a bigger player on the home market, especially with rentals.

Name: Year One
Distributor: Sony
Official Site: YearOne-Movie.com
Release Date: June 19, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, brief strong language and comic violence (Edited. Originally rated R for some sexual content and language)
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Religious, Road Trip, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - Reported at $75 million, but that seems high
Box Office Potential: $95 million
Notes: This film has an amazing pedigree. It's produced by Judd Apatow, it's directed by Harold Ramis, it stars Jack Black and Michael Cera, as well as a host of other comedic talent in smaller roles. It's giving off a serious Life of Brian / History of the World, Part I vibe, which are two movies I absolutely love. So why didn't I laugh during the trailer? Sure, there are some moments that are kind of funny in a silly way, but there were no real laughs. Perhaps it was just a weak trailer. Perhaps the movie isn't one that you can cut up and show 10-second clips of and generate the same kind of laughs as these scenes would in full context. Or perhaps it just isn't funny. I really hope that isn't the case, but regardless I think it will open well at the box office, given the star power here. If the reviews are better than the trailer, than it should reach $100 million; otherwise it could struggle to reach half of that.

Weekend of June 26th, 2009
The biggest film of the month opens this weekend. In fact, what could be the biggest hit of the year opens this week. There is a good chance that Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen will open with more than the combined openings of the two new releases from last year, and both of those films were major hits. After three soft weeks at the box office, this will be welcome news.

Name: Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen
Distributor: Paramount
Official Site: TransformersMovie.com
Release Date: June 24, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, language, some crude and sexual material, and brief drug material
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Robot, Alien Invasion, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - Reported at $200 million
Box Office Potential: $350 million
Notes: At this point 2009 might be on pace to break the record for most $100 million movies (it depends on how some of the potential hits above perform). However, at this point we are still looking for our first $300 million movie. Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen should be that movie. It better be that movie, as there's not a lot of other contenders for the rest of the year (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the only one that immediately jumps out as a $300 million movie). On the plus side, Transformers was one of the biggest hits of 2007 and it showed surprising legs for such an obvious Fanboy flick. On the downside, the movie wasn't that good, as it substituted loud special effects and manic action for real storytelling and character depth at times. I expect the same to be true here. However, I expect the movie to open even faster and $100 million over the weekend is likely; at least it would be if it weren't opening on a Wednesday. Only one film has ever opened on a Wednesday and still earned $100 million over the weekend, and that was an unusual case. From Wednesday to Sunday, the film could make as much as $150 million, but if the film's quality isn't at least on par with the original, it might not make as much as that for the rest of its run. Hopefully the quality won't be an issue.

Name: My Sister's Keeper
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Official Site: MySistersKeeperMovie.com
Release Date: June 26, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic content, some disturbing images, sensuality, language and brief teen drinking
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Medical and Hospitals
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $30 to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million
Notes: The counter-programming to Transformers' blockbuster. On the one hand, most moviegoers heading to the theaters this weekend won't even consider this movie as an option, and there's a chance Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen could make more in one day that this film makes in total. On the other hand, there's not a lot of crossover appeal between the two movies, and without direct competition, this movie could be a solid mid-level hit. I don't think it could be more than that, even if it had the weekend to itself, because the trailer makes it feel like a emotionally manipulative film, which it likely is, and many people are looking for escapism. (This desire for escapism is made more acute by the economic situation.) As long as the reviews are in the overall positive territory, it should do well at the box office.

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Filed under: Monthly Preview, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, The Hangover, The Proposal, The Taking of Pelham 123, Land of the Lost, My Sister's Keeper, Year One, Imagine That, Away We Go, My Life in Ruins