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2007 Preview: May

May 1st, 2007

It's the first of May, which means it is the start of the summer blockbuster season. This year, May is dominated by sequels, and not just sequels; there are three monster franchises releasing their third installments this month. If these films were the only monster hits being released this month, I would assume that any of them would have little difficulty hitting $300 million; for that matter, all three would have a better than 50% shot at $400 million. However, it seems highly unlikely to have three $400 million movies open in one month, especially given there's never been two $400 million movies to open in the same year. But who knows, records have already fallen this year, so anything's possible. On a side note, there is a real gap between the big three and the rest of the new releases. There's a slim chance another sequel, 28 Weeks Later, could crack $100 million. However, it looks like the any of the big three releases will earn twice as much as all of the other films on this list will earn combined.

Interested in discussing these predictions? The join us in the forums.

Name: 28 Weeks Later
Studio: Fox
Official Site: FoxAtomic.com
Release Date: May 11, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and gore, language and some sexuality/nudity
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Post Apocalypse and Zombies, maybe
Production Budget: Unknown - reported at $15 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million
Notes: If there's any weekend in May that's a little soft, it's the second weekend of the month. It's like the first weekend in December; a bit of a dead spot in an otherwise brilliant time of year for the movie industry. Since there are no monster hits coming out this week, there are several movies hoping to become midlevel hits. Of the four or five trying to open wide that weekend, 28 Weeks Later has by far the best buzz. In fact, it might be the only film open that weekend with any real buzz. Because of this, it should open better than its predecessor, but won't have the same legs and overall it should earn roughly the same in total. On a side note, there are some people who think the Rage Virus does create zombies, or at least zombie like creatures (mindless automatons that run of base instincts). Others believe that since they are not dead when created and can be killed simply by starving them to death they should not be referred to as zombies. Personally, I feel this is a debate that's best left for the Fanboys and I'm staying out of it.

Name: Bug
Studio: Lionsgate
Official Site: BugTheMovie.com
Release Date: May 25, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for some strong violence, sexuality, nudity, language and drug use.
Source: Based on a Play
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Mental Illness, Returning Soldier, Gulf War, and Conspiracy Theories
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at under $20 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million
Notes: A film about the effects of paranoia and living in a world dominated by fear. This is a psychological drama with a very claustrophobic feel to it. Unfortunately, a lot of people feel it is being sold as a horror film and that will hurt its word-of-mouth and that in turn will hurt its box office. Knowing what the film is like before going into the theater will help, but the end results are still mixed. Also, by the time the film opens, all three of the monster hits will be in theaters and there's little to no chance this film will be able to stand above the crowd.

Name: Captivity
Studio: Lionsgate
Official Site: CaptivityTheMovie.com
Release Date: May 18, 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Aiming for R but might have to be recut from NC-17
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Fashion, Kidnapping, Surprise Twistand Serial Killer
Production Budget: Unknown - Reported at $17 million
Box Office Potential: $12.5 million
Notes: The most notable aspect of this movie might be the battles with MPAA over its advertising campaign. For those who don't know, the movie was advertised on billboards and on taxi cabs with advertising the MPAA didn't approve and said broke their rules and in an unprecedented move, banned AfterDark Films from submitting any films for ratings for a month. This has put the film's May 18th release date in jeopardy, but has given it a lot more publicity than it would otherwise have. As for the quality of the film, early word is not good. There's not enough gore to pull in the hardcore horror fans, it's not thrilling enough for a thriller, and the surprise twist isn't surprising. It might have one average weekend as counter-programming, but that's as good as it gets for the film.

Name: Delta Farce
Studio: Lionsgate
Official Site: LionsGate.com
Release Date: May 11, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Military Life and War
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at under $20 million
Box Office Potential: $17.5 million
Notes: This movie has almost no buzz, and what little there is, is almost entirely negative. (There's already some Razzie talk.) The film does have a number of good cast members like DJ Qualls and Danny Trejo, but while I like these guys, they don't have a good track record of carrying a film. The big lead for the movie is Larry the Cable Guy, who has only been in one other live action movie, but is quickly developing a reputation for being box office poison. If this one bombs, his upcoming films might go direct-to-DVD.

Name: The Ex
Studio: Weinstein Co.
Official Site: TheExMovie.com
Release Date: May 11, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, brief language and a drug reference
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Relationships Gone Wrong
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at under $20 million
Box Office Potential: $12.5 million
Notes: This film has a lot of bad omens surrounding it, most obvious of these are the name change and the several changes in its release date. It's rare that such events are good signs. And now there's word that it is going to be a limited release on the 11th with a planned expansion two weeks later. If that is the case, it might not even earn half of my prediction. On a side note, the film stars, among other people, Jason Bateman from Arrested Development, and this is also not a good sign. While I thought Arrested Development was brilliant, and I like Jason Bateman and the rest of the cast, not many movies starring alumni from that show have done well at the box office. Alia Shawkat was in Deck the Halls, Will Arnett was in Let's Go to Prison, Tony Hale was in Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, David Cross was in School for Scoundrels, while Jessica Walter was in Unaccompanied Minors. Sure, there have been a few hits mixed in with the misses, but the overall track record is not good. Hopefully things turn around and they all get plenty of work, because they deserve to be in bigger projects, but this film is unlikely to start that trend. Last minute update: The studio has confirmed a wide release on the 11th, but I'm not confident on the theater count. It could open in less than 2,000 theaters, and technically still be considered wide and I think that's the likely scenario.

Name: Georgia Rule
Studio: Universal
Official Site: GeorgiaRuleMovie.net
Release Date: May 11, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content and some language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Dysfunctional Family
Production Budget: Unknown - there are reports that is cost more than $50 million, but that seems high
Box Office Potential: $25 million
Notes: Lindsay Lohan plays Rachel, a rebellious wild child who drinks and swears and is totally uncontrollable. i.e., Lindsay Lohan on a slow night. In fact, it was during the filming of Georgia Rule that Lohan's behavior got so bad she received written complaints from the studio. There is some talk that this publicity might hurt the film's box office chances, and there may be something to that. During 2006, she starred in three movies, all of which were released after reports of problem behavior first bubbled up through the media, and combined they earned less than $50 million. This film seems unlikely to break that trend, but it should still perform better than her average from last year. As for her long term career prospects, she really needs to show people that her onscreen work is worth talking about more than her off screen antics.

Name: Home of the Brave
Studio: MGM
Official Site: MGM.com
Release Date: May 11, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for war violence and language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Returning Soldiers, War, Post Traumatic Stress Disoder
Production Budget: Unknown - Reported at $12 million
Box Office Potential: $1 million
Notes: This film has been pushed back so many times I have zero confidence that is will open wide on the 11th. It could be pushed back again, it could open in limited release instead, it could be swallowed into a temporal vortex and erased from history. Whatever the cause, I have a strong feeling that it won't have a wide release on the 11th. Even if it does open wide, I don't have a lot of hope for the film. The negative buzz has been following the film these past months and there are more than enough reviews from its Oscar-qualifying run to judge the word-of-mouth. (Especially harsh scorn has been heaped on "50 Cents" and his transition from rap to acting.) I'm trying to find positives for the film, but I'm drawing a blank.

Name: Lucky You
Studio: Warner Bros.
Official Site: LuckyYouMovie.com
Release Date: May 4, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language and sexual humor
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Poker
Production Budget: Unknown - reported at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million
Notes: A film designed to take advantage of the popularity of poker. I'm not surprised Hollywood is making a movie like this, I'm just surprised that there aren't more of them. The film was originally scheduled for an end-of-year release. An end-of-year 2005 release. Since then it has bounced around a lot and that suggests a lack of confidence by the studio. The final release date isn't terrible even with the competition as the film could be pretty good counter programming. But even then, the film will become a midlevel hit at best.

Name: Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End
Studio: Disney
Official Site: Disney.Go.com
Release Date: May 25, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action/adventure violence and some frightening images
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Pirates
Production Budget: $150 million - $250 million, reports vary
Box Office Potential: $435 million
Notes: My pick for biggest hit of the year. This film has a shot at breaking numerous records, including biggest opening weekend, biggest opening day, biggest Memorial Day long weekend, etc. It should also see a bit of a bounce with the critics as Dead Man's Chest was, while still better than average, a bit of a disappointment. A lot of fans of the first two movies were looking forward to an action-packed visual feast to wrap-up the franchise. However, while the film should satisfy the first part of that, there is now word that a fourth film could be in the works. If this one makes $400 million at the box office, it would be very hard to imagine the studio walking away from the franchise and there might be something in the works, sequel, prequel, spin-off, anything. Hell, make a crossover with Lord of the Rings and have Orlando Bloom play two roles. Disney will be willing to try anything to keep the money rolling in.

Name: The Salon
Studio: Freestyle Releasing
Official Site: SalonTheFilm.com
Release Date: May 11, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language and some thematic material.
Source: Based on a Play
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Beauty Industry
Production Budget: Unknown - reported at under $2 million
Box Office Potential: $1 million
Notes: Another film opening on this month that may or may not get a wide release. The indicators that it will get a limited release outnumber those that suggest the opposite, including the studio, the numerous delays (the film was made in 2005), etc. Even worse, the buzz surrounding the film is not strong as many people are complaining that it is too similar to Beauty Shop. If it does open wide, it will likely struggle to reach the top 10, but its low, low budget should result in a profit by its initial push into the home market.

Name: Shrek the Third
Studio: Dreamworks
Official Site: ShrekTheThird.com
Release Date: May 18, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG for some crude humor, suggestive content and swashbuckling action
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Royalty, Parody, Talking Animals, etc.
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at between $80 and $100 million
Box Office Potential: $425 million
Notes: The second of the big three, both chronologically and alphabetically. This one is nearly guaranteed to open with more than $100 million and is almost as likely to reach $400 million. The list of positives for this film are long and strong. It is the third film is a hugely popular franchise. It's a digitally animated film, and while that doesn't mean as much as it did a few years ago, that's still a big plus. Also, it is opening the weekend before Memorial Day, which is arguably the best weekend in the year to open a monster hit. Then again, there are some troubling signs. For instance, the buzz is not as high for this film as it was for the last one. Also, there is some talk that the franchise is running out of steam and that the choice to make both Shrek the Third and Shrek 4 (not to mention Shrek the Halls, the TV Christmas special), in such short order might have been a bad move. Trying to do too much at once may have hurt the quality of each film. I still expect this film to earn overwhelmingly positive reviews, just not the award-worthy level the previous two installments in the franchise did. As for the box office, I expect it to open better, maybe even hitting $125 million, but it won't have the same legs, ending with just under the $437 million Shrek 2 brought in.

Name: Spider-Man 3
Studio: Sony
Official Site: SpiderMan3.SonyPictures.com
Release Date: May 4, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Revenge
Production Budget: $258 million
Box Office Potential: $410 million
Notes: Summer gets off to a huge start with potentially the biggest hit of the year coming out on the first weekend of the month. ... Okay, there are three potential biggest hits of the year coming out in the month of May, but Spider-Man 3 is still a big deal. How big will this film be? I give it a 25% chance of breaking Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest's opening weekend record, and a better than 50% chance to crack $400 million at the box office. Will it be the biggest hit of the year? If you've read this far down, you know I'm predicting it won't be, but it will still finish its run in the top ten All-Time. On a side note, there have been some reports that the final budget is a little higher that the studio reports. Some have even claimed that with the P&A budget, the total cost to get this movie into theaters was $500 million. That's an insane amount of money and a figure the studio is vigorously denying, but even if that is accurate, there's a good chance that the movie would still earn a profit by its initial push into the home market.

- See also: Our complete preview of Spider-Man 3

Last minute update: the early reviews are strong, very strong, but not quite up to the level earned by the first two movies. This shouldn't have a major impact at the box office, but they may want to take a bit of a break before starting Spider-man 4.

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Filed under: Monthly Preview, Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Georgia Rule, Delta Farce, Bug, Lucky You, The Ex, Captivity, The Salon, Home of the Brave, 28 Weeks Later