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2009 Preview: July

July 1st, 2009

June gave us some unexpected hits in The Proposal and The Hangover, as well as expected hits like Up, not to mention the biggest hit of the year, so far, in Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen. However, despite this, 2009 lost a bit of ground to 2008, and this will likely continue this month, as this month last year saw the release of The Dark Knight. This year we have a couple of potential $300 million hits, but nothing likely to perform on that scale. Then again, I only predicted Dark Knight would make $250 million, so we could be surprised again this year. The box office is certainly hot, and is currently running more than 12% ahead of last year's pace.

Weekend of July 3rd, 2009
Two wide releases are opening this week, both on the Wednesday, to take advantage of the July 4th holiday. Having July 4th, Independence Day, land on the Saturday is kind of a waste, but it should still help the box office numbers, which is good news for all involved. One of these releases is almost guaranteed to reach $100 million in total, while the other has a good shot at that milestone. We could also have the fifth $200 million movie of the year coming out this week, which would put 2009 just one behind last year's total. Speaking of last year, while neither film will likely match Hancock's opening, combined they should help 2009 maintain its lead over 2008.

Name: Ice Age - Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Distributor: Fox
Official Site: IceAge3.com
Release Date: July 1, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild rude humor and peril
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Dinosaurs, 3-D, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - Reported at $90 million
Box Office Potential: $225 million
Notes: The Ice Age franchise becomes a trilogy this month, and the studio is hoping it can continue its growth seen in the past installment. Opening on a Wednesday will likely result in a lower weekend haul than The Meltdown's $68 million debut. However, thanks to the July 4th long weekend, it could reach $100 million by Monday. The 3-D aspect, and the higher ticket prices that come with that, should help its bottom line, while the early reviews are a good sign. The first movie earned very good reviews, especially for a kids film. The second movie wasn't as strong, but still above average for the target audience. It looks like this movie will finish somewhere in-between for its Tomatometer score, while it should become the biggest hit of the three at the box office. Like I said, it could reach $100 million in five days, but even if it takes a couple more, $200 million is likely, while $250 million isn't out of the question. Last minute update: the early reviews have soured and are now just 38% positive. This should not hurt the film with its target audiences, but with direct competition just two weeks away, it could hurt its legs and I'm lowering its box office potential from $225 million to $200 million.

Name: Public Enemies
Distributor: Universal
Official Site: PublicEnemies.net
Release Date: July 1, 2009
MPAA Rating: R for gangster violence and some language
Source: Based on a Novel that is Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Gangsters, Epilogue, Organized Crime, FBI, Cops vs. Robbers, and more
Production Budget: $100 million
Box Office Potential: $90 million
Notes: This film is a lot more difficult to predict, as it doesn't have two previous installments to judge things by. It does have an impressive cast, led by Johnny Depp, who plays John Dillinger. Opposite him is Christian Bale, who plays Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent assigned to capture him. Both men are amazing actors and have starred in some of the biggest films of the last few years. However, both have spotty records when it comes to box office numbers outside their respective franchises. Usually this is because their choice in film roles is a little eclectic. I'm Not There was never going to be a major hit, for instance. This film could be a major hit, as the buzz appears to be building at the right time. Its early reviews are currently at 67% positive, which is strong enough to be a selling point, but that could change as more reviews are added to Rotten Tomatoes. On the other hand, it will be the counter-programming choice at the box office, as many families will be heading to theaters to check out Ice Age - Dawn of the Dinosaurs, while Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen will still be a major draw. On the high end, it could add to 2009's list of $100 million movies, and it will need to come close given its meaty production budget.

Weekend of July 10th, 2009
Just two wide releases compared to last year's selection of three such films. Both films could be surprise hits. Both could bomb badly. I think we will see one major hit, one mid-level hit, and one film rise from limited release to be a cult hit on the home market.

Name: Blood: The Last Vampire
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Film
Official Site: BloodTheMovie.com
Release Date: July 10, 2009 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody stylized violence
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Vampire, Demons, Undercover, New Girl in School, Live Action Cartoon, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $20 to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $1 million
Notes: This film is not getting a wide release. Also, it's simply the wrong genre to survive limited release, but there is some buzz growing that this film could earn a run similar to Let the Right One In. It's too early to tell if the reviews will be a major selling point, but the Anime is was based on won a few awards and is a big hit among enthusiasts. Going live action might be a risk, and it is unlikely to expand wide, but it could find a more receptive audience on the home market.

Name: Bruno
Distributor: Universal
Official Site: TheBrunoMovie.com
Release Date: July 10, 2009
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity and language
Source: Based on a TV series
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Fashion, Mockumentary, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $20 to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million to $150 million
Notes: Sacha Baron Cohen is quickly becoming one of my most hated people in the business, at least when it comes being a box office analyst. Borat had its theater count slashed just before it opened, and I slashed my expectations along with it. However, it set records during its opening, and is arguably my biggest error ever as a box office analyst. His next film, Sweeney Todd, was another movie where I was totally stumped when trying to assess its box office potential. This film could open with more money than Borat earned during its opening week ($40 million or more), but there's little chance it will have the same legs. On the low end of expectations, it could open with less than Borat did ($25 million or so) and still suffer from quick declines. I think $100 million is likely, especially given the buzz, but I think Sacha Baron Cohen's notoriety will make creating another movie like this impossible. On a side note, the movie was originally rated NC-17; however, a lot of people are expressing the opinion that this was done intentionally to garner publicity when the MPAA handed down its ruling. I would not rule out that possibility. In fact, I'm 100% sure that was at least a partial consideration by the filmmakers when they submitted their original cut of the film. I don't know if that will work at the box office, but the Unrated DVD / Blu-ray should be a massive seller on the home market.

Name: I Love You, Beth Cooper
Distributor: Fox
Official Site: ILoveYouBethCooperMovie.com
Release Date: July 10, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language, some teen drinking and drug references, and brief violence
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: I'm going to have to watch this one to come up with keywords
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $20 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million
Notes: Paul Rust stars as the school valedictorian who uses commencement speech of profess his love for Beth Cooper. Surprisingly, she doesn't blow him off and decides to take him out on a date. It's almost like a cross-class romance, but set in High School. This has some potential to be strong counter-programming and it could be a mid-level hit, depending on the reviews. Other factors in the film's box office chances include the talent on both sides of the camera, which is mixed. Paul Rust's box office numbers can best be described as insufficient; there's just not enough information here to judge his box office drawing power. Hayden Panettiere has more box office numbers, but they are mixed. She's part of Heroes, which is a very popular show still, but she hasn't been in a $100 million movie since Remember the Titans. The film is directed by Chris Columbus, who has made some of the biggest hits ever made, but this movie won't have Harry Potter fans lining up. It has a slim, slim chance of breaking out like Superbad, but a midlevel hit like Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is much more likely. The above box office potential is a weighted average of those two extremes. However, even the lower number should be enough to keep studio happy.

Weekend of July 17th, 2009
This time last year, The Dark Knight opened with $158 million, which set the record for opening weekend. That record won't be broken this year, as the biggest film this weekend opens on the Wednesday, but we could have a $300 million hit on our hands.

Name: (500) Days of Summer
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Official Site: FoxSearchlight.com/500DaysOfSummer
Release Date: July 17, 2009 (limited)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual material and language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Romance, Non-Chronological, and more
Production Budget: Unknown
Box Office Potential: $5 million
Notes: There are some sources that have this film coming out wide on the 17th, but most do not. If it does open in limited release, it could become a sleeper hit and reach $5 million, $10 million, or more. However, there's a better chance it will struggle to reach $1 million. Even if it opens wide, I doubt it will be a huge hit. As much as I love Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, their track record at the box office is too spotty to expect this movie to be a breakout hit. Looking at the early reviews, I really want to see this movie, but I will probably have to wait till the home market to do so.

Name: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Official Site: HarryPotter.com
Release Date: July 15, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG for scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality
Source: Based on a Book and a Sequel
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Boarding School, Secret Magic, and more
Production Budget: 150 million Pounds or $250 million American
Box Office Potential: $300 million
Notes: Harry Potter. Already one of the biggest franchises of all time, and it still has three more installments to come out. There's so little I need to say about this movie when talking about its box office potential. After five installments, we know its box office potential is between $250 million and $325 million with a slight bias toward the high end. The last two films topped $290 million, and I think this movie will cross the $300 million mark, but barely. By 2011, the franchise will have made close to $2.5 billion domestically, and more than $7.5 billion worldwide. Amazing.

Weekend of July 24th, 2009
Things start to get busy this weekend with up to four films opening wide (although at least one film is likely going the limited release route). Compared to the same weekend last year, the new releases seem stronger, but it is likely that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will repeat as box office champion.

Name: The Answer Man
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Official Site: AnswerManMovie.com
Release Date: June 26, 2009 (Video-on-Demand)
Release Date: July 24, 2009 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R for language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Writers and more
Production Budget: Unknown
Box Office Potential: $1 million
Notes: Some sources have this film coming out wide, but that seems unlikely at this point. In fact, since it has already been released on VOD, this is practically impossible and even reaching $1 million at the box office seems hopelessly optimistic. I'm am looking forward to seeing this film, mainly because of the cast (which includes Kat Dennings, who I am a huge fan of) but I likely won't get a chance to see it till the home market.

Name: G-Force
Distributor: Disney
Official Site: Disney.Go.com/DisneyPictures/Gforce
Release Date: July 24, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild action and rude humor
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Talking Animals, Animal Leads, Secret Agents, 3-D, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $60 to $80 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million
Notes: The story of what happens to a secret agent after he or she has been "forcibly retired" is not new, but there a lot of creative possibilities to mine from that set up. The big hook here, however, is the fact that these secret agents are trained animals. I have to admit, I am stumped when it comes to this film's box office chances. On the one hand, it's a kids movie opening in the middle of summer. On the other hand, the trailer looks truly terrible, even for a kids movie. Back to the original hand, it is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and released by Disney, and both have reputations for box office success. Back to the second hand, it is one of six kids movies coming out within a seven week period and that level of competition is just too strong. There is a impressive list of names in the cast, both live action and doing voice work, while the director, Hoyt Yeatman, is making his directorial debut after a career in special effects that netted him two Oscars, including a special technical award. However, its box office chances come down to marketing and word-of-mouth, more the former than the latter. This is good news, as it is likely that this film will have better ads than reviews. Best case scenario has the film become an $100 million hit with ease. Worse case scenario has it failing to live up to the lower end of production budget predictions. I think the competition is just too great and the low end is more likely. Even so, it will probably show a profit sometime during its lucrative home market run.

Name: Orphan
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Official Site: Orphan-Movie.WarnerBros.com
Release Date: July 24, 2009
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent content, some sexuality and language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Evil Kids, New Girl in School, Unexpected Families, Surprise Twist, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $20 to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million
Notes: Releasing a horror film in summer can work as counter-programming, and by the end of July most of the blockbuster hits are already shedding theaters, so there's an opening here. Also, the "creepy little girl" sub-genre of horror seems to be quite popular at the moment, and the trailer is very effective. That said, these films are rarely $100 million hits, and even $75 million might be asking too much. But it is unlikely that it cost a whole lot to make, so $50 million will be more than enough to make the studio happy. Even $30 million, which is the low end of expectations, could lead to a profit, eventually.

Name: The Ugly Truth
Distributor: Sony
Official Site: TheUglyTruth-Movie.com
Release Date: July 24, 2009
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content and language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: TV Industry, Relationship Advice, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $30 to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million
Notes: Katherine Heigl stars as Abby, a TV producer, who has to deal with a new personality on her morning show, Mike, played by Gerard Butler. At first they hate each other, but he offers her advice to win the man of her dreams, and in the process they fall in love. No, that's not a spoiler, as it is a romantic comedy, so that was the inevitable conclusion. The real question is whether the two leads have the chemistry to carry the movie, despite its obvious clichés? Too soon to tell, but the trailers are not promising. I don't think it will be a terrible movie compared to most in its genre, nor will it rise above. At first I figured it would be a solid mid-level hit, but after the success of The Proposal, I've raised my expectations of this movie, and now I think it has a small chance at reaching $100 million at the box office. It could also struggle to hit $50 million, and the above figure is merely an average of those two extremes, which are both equally possible.

Weekend of July 31st, 2009
The worst week of the month when it comes to figuring out box office potential. Depending on the sources you look at, there could be two or three films opening wide this week. Or four or five. Or even six. There's no way all six films will open wide. In fact, I doubt more than two will and there are only three that have a remote possibility of doing so. For instance, if the official site says its opening in limited release, opening on another date, or there isn't even an official site, then I'll wait. As for the overall box office potential, it is possible that no film will top last year's number one film, or the number one new release. However, the combined strength could help 2009 maintain pace with 2008 and that's more important.

Name: Aliens in the Attic
Distributor: Fox
Official Site: AliensInTheAtticMovie.com
Release Date: July 31, 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Likely Aiming for PG
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Family Vacation, Friendly Aliens, Alien Invasion, and more
Production Budget: Reported at $60 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million
Notes: A film about a family on vacation where the kids find a friendly alien living in the attic. However, he's just one member of a landing party and the rest of them have less benevolent reasons for coming to Earth. This film was originally set for a February release, but was pushed back till late July. Normally being pushed back it a bad sign, but late July for a kids movie is a much better release date than mid-February. That said, the trailer was not that interesting, focusing too much on one aspect of the movie (the alien mind control fight) and I don't think it will be a major hit. The battle of the High School Musical co-stars could be more interesting than the movie itself. Will this Ashley Tisdale movie outperform 17 Again, which starred Zac Efron, or the upcoming Bandslam, which stars Vanessa Hudgens? We will soon find out.

Name: The Collector
Distributor: Freestyle Releasing
Official Site: TheCollector-Movie.com
Release Date: July 31, 2009 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive sadistic bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Heist, Life on the Outside, Serial Killer, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $5 million
Notes: An ex-con looking to repay a debt targets the home of his new rich boss. But the heist doesn't go as well as planned, because when he gets there he finds the family kidnapped by a sadistic serial killer called "The Collector" who has set up a series of elaborate traps to kill off his victims. Now it is up to the would-be robber to become the hero. Reports have this film opening in limited release; at least most do, and given its distributor, this seems likely. It is just the wrong genre to believe it can survive in limited release, while there are some at least superficial similarities between this movie and Saw that will hurt the film's box office chances further. If it does open wide, it could earn more than any other Freestyle Releasing film has ever made at $20 to $30 million, but if it opens in limited release, chances are it will not reach $1 million in total.

Name: Funny People
Distributor: Universal
Official Site: FunnyPeopleMovie.com
Release Date: July 31, 2009
MPAA Rating: R for language and crude sexual humor throughout, and some sexuality
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Dramatic Comedy or perhaps Comedic Drama
Keywords: Terminal Illness, Stand-Up Comics, Gratuitous Cameos, and more
Production Budget: $70 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million
Notes: The obvious choice for number one new release of the week, but it might not be the massive box office powerhouse its cast and crew are normally part of. It is directed by Judd Apatow, whose first two movies reached $100 million. It stars Adam Sandler, who has had seven $100 million hits in his last nine films, and Seth Rogan, who has averaged more than $100 million in his box office career so far. However, is it more of a dramatic turn for Adam Sandler, and he hasn't had much luck at the box office with these films and his last three films earned less than $100 million combined. (In fact, of his last five films that failed to reach $100 million, three were dramas, one was animated, and the other was just a cameo.) So I was thinking, "mid-level hit," despite the cast and crew. Then I heard some of the buzz. There are no reviews online yet, but there's a lot of buzz, including Oscar buzz. Best Original Screenplay, Best Lead Actor, and more. (They are including ten films in the Best Picture Category, which could give this film an opening.) This film could open with $50 million and have strong enough legs to take it to $200 million in total. That's probably too optimistic, but just under $40 million for an opening and $125 million in total is not.

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Filed under: Monthly Preview, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, G-Force, Public Enemies, The Ugly Truth, Brüno, Funny People, Orphan, (500) Days of Summer, Aliens in the Attic, I Love You, Beth Cooper, The Collector, Blood: The Last Vampire, The Answer Man