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2007 Preview: September

September 1st, 2007

After a record-breaking summer, we come to the worst month of the year. There are a few films that look promising, but for the most part the month is filled with projects that should probably never been given the greenlight to begin with. September is a dumping ground for failed projects, and like most similar times of the year, it is crowded with 20 movies that at least have a shot at opening or expanding wide over a period of just four weeks. Five new releases a week is far too many, even if they were all high quality at least half will fail just due to the competition.

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

Name: 3:10 to Yuma
Studio: Sony
Official Site: Lionsgate.com
Release Date: September 7, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for violence and some language
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Western
Keywords: Outlaws
Production Budget: $50 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million
Notes: One of the few films coming out this month that has a shot at earning critical praise, in fact, so far it has earned 100% positive reviews, (albeit with just ten critics reporting so far). On the other hand, it is a remake of a 50-year old western and neither remakes nor westerns are big box office draws at the moment. The last time a western cracked $100 million at the box office was in 1994 with Maverick while remakes have performed better at the box office, they've only produced one $100 million hit this year and only one all of last year. Add in two stars that, while talented, haven't exactly been major box office draws lately. Russel Crowe peaked in 2000 with Gladiator but has been in a steady decline since A Beautiful Mind came out a year later. On the other hand, Christian Bale is known more for taking challenging roles in smaller films and outside of Batman Returns hasn't had a major hit where he was in the lead. Opening on the worst weekend of the year won't help things, but good word of mouth should help it last longer than most September releases do.

Name: Across the Universe
Studio: Sony
Official Site: SonyPictures.com
Release Date: Limited - September 14, 2007
Release Date: Wide Expansion - September 21, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some drug content, nudity, sexuality, violence and language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Musical
Keywords: Vietnam War
Production Budget: Reported at $45 million, but that seems high
Box Office Potential: $5 million
Notes: This film uses a number of Beatles songs to tell the story of three people who get involved in the peace movement during the Vietnam War. It's an interesting, but flawed concept. With real musicals, the songs are tailored to the story, not the other way around. Trying to do it the other way around means a lot of the songs feel forced, like they were jammed into place just cause they needed a place to put Hey Jude. Even worse, the early word is the execution is equally flawed as the concept, so much so that the film was recut to make it more commercial. (There are some that would say the behind-the-scenes intrigue is more compelling than the movie itself, and I wouldn't be able to argue against that position.) I don't expect the film to earn strong reviews, but it could do reasonably well during its opening week in limited release, but I don't think it will survive its first expansion on the 21st.

Name: The Brave One
Studio: Warner Bros.
Official Site: TheBraveOne.WarnerBros.com
Release Date: September 14, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language, and some sexuality
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Revenge
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated between $50 and $60 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million
Notes: On paper this film looks like it has high potential. But if it lived up to its potential, why was it moved from a July release date to September? Then again, Jodie Foster was able to open Flight Plan with nearly $25 million back in 2005 and rode that film till it nearly reached $90 million. The early buzz on this film isn't as strong as the buzz Flight Plan earned, nor is the trailer as effective, (but the reviews should be better). If it does manage more than $20 million during its opening weekend, and I think it should, it should walk away with first place opening, her third in three years, and a solid run at the box office. It could even open with $30 million and end its run with $100 million; however, I wouldn't put money on it. While this is not a movie generating a lot of buzz now, I think it will be one of the higher quality films and has sleeper hit potential.

Name: The Brothers Solomon
Studio: Sony / Screen Gems
Official Site: SonyPictures.com
Release Date: September 7, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for language and sexual content
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Delayed Adulthood
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated between $20 and $30 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million
Notes: I would put this film in the same category as Knocked Up and Superbad, as it is another R-rated Comedy without much star power. But unlike those two films, I don't have much faith in this film's box office chances. First of all, the September 7th release date is terrible, and it's not the only bad release date the film has had. This leads me to believe that the studio has low expectations and that will result is less advertising to push the film. Perhaps is people recognize Will Arnett from his recent spat of comedies and the ad campaign is aggressive enough it could become a midlevel hit. Or it could pull a Hot Rod and disappear after a couple weeks. The later seems more likely, unfortunately, but it should still find a bigger audience on the home market, especially if they release an Unrated DVD. (On a side note, the Unrated DVD seems to be a theme for many September releases this year.)

Name: Cover
Studio: The Bigger Picture
Official Site: None
Release Date: September 21, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual situations and language, violence and some drug content
Source: Origial Screenplay
Major Genre: Suspense
Keywords: Gay
Production Budget: $3.6 million
Box Office Potential: $1 million
Notes: It is unlikely that this film will open wide this month. In fact, several sites don't even have it opening at all this month. Some sites don't even have the film in their database, which makes it especially difficult to research. Odds are if it doesn't open wide that it will have a very difficult time expanding and will likely end with less than $1 million. Even if it does open wide it will be in very few theaters and will struggle just to hit $10 million.

Name: Dragon Wars
Studio: Freestyle Releasing
Official Site: Dragon-Wars.com
Release Date: September 14, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and creature action.
Source: Based on a Traditional Legend
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: I'm not sure. Would you consider a dragon a monster or a creature?
Production Budget: $32 million or $75 million, see notes.
Box Office Potential: $10 million
Notes: This South Korean import tries to make inroads into the domestic market. The last film to try this was The Host, but that went... poorly. This film should have a better shot at box office success since it isn't a foreign language release, but with a distributor that has only managed to push one film to the 8 digit level, there's not a lot of high hopes here. In fact, it might not even get a truly wide release. It could become a surprise hit, but even the best case scenario has the film earning less than the $50 million it made back in its native market. On a side note, the movie's official budget was $32 million, but with the new technology developed by the studio to create the creatures the actual costs were reportedly $75 million. However if this technology were used to make other films, then it would not be accurate to assign the full cost to this movie. So even if the film struggles here, it should make enough worldwide to show a relatively strong profit.

Name: Eastern Promises
Studio: Focus Features
Official Site: FocusFeatures.com
Release Date: Limited - September 14, 2007
Release Date: Wide Expansion - September 21, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for strong brutal and bloody violence, some graphic sexuality, language and nudity
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Suspense
Keywords: Organized Crime
Production Budget: 25 million pounds or $50 million American
Box Office Potential: $40 million
Notes: From the people who brought you A History of Violence. There's a real chance this film will be buried by the comparisons to that film as it has the same director, the same lead actor, the same sub-genre, the same violent edge, it even has nearly the same release date. That said, A History of Violence did very well taking into account its domestic, international and home market numbers. It is its home market numbers that are important as it shows the film's word-of-mouth grew and people who discovered it on DVD are more likely to see this movie in the theaters. This film should open better and have an easier time expanding, and if it can earn a bit of Oscar buzz, maybe even top its production budget domestically. The level of violence combined with a more mature target audience will prevent the movie be becoming anything more than a midlevel hit, but that should be enough to make the studio happy.

Name: Feast of Love
Studio: MGM
Official Site: FeastOfLoveFilm.com
Release Date: September 28, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity and language
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Divorcee Romance, Lesbian, etc.
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated between $20 and $40 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million
Notes: Ugh. MGM. This studio is in such a losing streak recently that I'm starting to think it will never get out. Here they have a film with an amazing cast including Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Selma Blair, and others, but unless the marketing it strong and able to emphasize the film's attributes, I fear moviegoers will be put off. This film has a very similar feel as Love Actually did, but I don't that film would have made half as much at the box office if the ads were not as compelling. And given MGM's recent history, I have no reason to believe the ad campaign will anything but generic and ineffective.

Name: The Game Plan
Studio: Disney
Official Site: GamePlanMovie.com
Release Date: September 28, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild thematic elements
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Unexpected Families and Football
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated between $40 and $60 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million
Notes: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson tries to transform from wrestler, to action star, to family film star. ... I'm not sure about this one. Then again, if Vin Diesel can turn The Pacifier into a $100 million movie, The Rock should be able to earn more than a few dollars in this one. Don't get me wrong, I don't for a second think this movie will make $100 million, especially with a September release date, however, it should make enough to make the studio happy and could become the biggest hit of the month. The advertising push is starting to heat up, its target audience will be looking for a film to watch to celebrate surviving the month of school, and generally speaking, there's really no direct competition for the film. So look for the film to become a midlevel hit while ensuring everyone involved will continue to get more work.

Name: Goal 2: Living the Dream...
Studio: Disney
Official Site: BVIMovies.com
Release Date: September 28, 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - likely aiming for PG
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Soccer
Production Budget: $33 million (its share of the $100 million production budget for the trilogy)
Box Office Potential: $1 million
Notes: Why? Why is this movie getting a theatrical release? The first one made a mere $4 million in theaters, does anyone think this one will make significantly more? What distributor would be crazy enough to risk money pushing this film wide? What theater owner would be crazy enough to book it? The first film made $3.70 million during its run in the U.K. while Goal 2 only made $2.26 million. Using that as a guide, Goal 2 will make about $2.62 million here, however, after losing a bundle, I suspect Disney will do only what they are contractually obligated to do, which will mean even less advertising, even fewer theaters, etc. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they dumped the movie in just a few hundred theaters without any advertising leaving it to make less than $1 million in total.

Name: Good Luck Chuck
Studio: Lionsgate
Official Site: Lionsgate.com
Release Date: September 21, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for sequences of strong sexual content including crude dialogue, nudity, language and some drug use
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Curses
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated between $20 and $40 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million
Notes: Ugh. This movie has all of the warning signs of a flop. Its two stars who don't exactly have a good record when it comes to carrying a film. Its release date is among the worst of the year, not to mention the busiest weekend of the month. And to top it all off, there has been a massive change in the marketing strategy of late. Early ads were all about Dane Cook and him being a good luck charm, and his ability to take advantage of it. Now the ads are focusing on Jessica Alba and playing up the romance angle. Granted, I think more Jessica Alba is a good thing, but unless there were massive reshoots to change the actual movie, this is just false advertising. It also shows the studio has very little faith in the film's chances at the box office, and that will likely result in a less aggressive ad campaign and perhaps even a lower theater count. The film could surprise, but there's no evidence that I've seen to suggest it will.

Name: The Hatchet
Studio: Anchor Bay
Official Site: HatchetMovie.com
Release Date: September 7, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody horror violence, sexual content, nudity and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Teenage Slasher
Production Budget: Unknown - Could be less than $1 million
Box Office Potential: $1 million
Notes: It is very likely that this movie will only be a wide release if you redefine the term wide. I don't see it opening in more than 1000 theaters and like other horror films that have come out this year, it could struggle to film those theaters during its opening weekend before it disappears altogether. On the other hand, early buzz from genre fans are saying this could be the best old school teenage slasher horror film to come out in years and it could surprise at the box office. However, like many other films on this month's list, it will probably have to wait till the home market and an Unrated DVD to find an audience.

Name: The Hunting Party
Studio: Weinstein Co.
Official Site: TheHuntingPartyMovie.com
Release Date: Limited - September 7, 2007
Release Date: Wide Expansion - September 21, 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Source: Based on a Magazine Article
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Journalists
Production Budget: Unknown - could be anything from $20 to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million
Notes: Richard Gere stars in a movie that is based on real life events that is starting out in limited release before expanding wide. ... Hmm, that sounds familiar. This film should have a similar run, although as we get closer to Award Season, it could generate some Oscar buzz and that could help it last in theaters longer. Of course, for it to generate any buzz, it will need to show some legs first. Odds are it will have trouble doing either, barely cracking 8 digits during its run while only receiving minor award season talk and probably no serious Oscar buzz.

Name: Into the Wild
Studio: Paramount Vantage
Official Site: IntoTheWild.com
Release Date: September 21, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for language and some nudity
Source: Basde on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Mid-life Crisis?
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $10 million
Box Office Potential: $5 million
Notes: One of a few films this month that may or may not earn a wide release. Since the film is being released by the specialty arm of Paramount, a limited release is more likely. However, if it can earn some Oscar buzz, it could expand wide, or at least wider during the following weeks. I don't think the film has what it takes to be nominated for any of the major awards, but it could grab a nod for cinematography, for instance, but that's probably not enough to help it expand wide.

Name: The Kingdom
Studio: Universal
Official Site: TheKingdomMovie.com
Release Date: September 28, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for intense sequences of graphic brutal violence, and for language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Terrorism
Production Budget: $80 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million
Notes: An ensemble drama with an award winning cast that deals with a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia. Done well, this could be a compelling film. But if it was done well, why was it pushed back till September? For that matter, why was its original release date late April? Jamie Foxx leads the cast, which includes fellow Oscar winner Chris Cooper, as well as Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, and others, and he's on a hot streak with three critical and box office hits in the last three years. However, one of his recent misses was Jarhead, which was about the first Gulf War and it is the film of his that is most similar to this one. Early buzz is good, possibly even Oscar worthy, but there's still some concern that the political environment is such that a film about terrorism might be a tough sell for moviegoers. This is especially bad news for a film that cost a reported $80 million to make. It could surprise and be the biggest hit of the month, but it could also earn less than half of what it cost to make. At this point, I think the evidence suggest the later is slightly more likely.

Name: Lust, Caution
Studio: Focus Features
Official Site: FocusFeatures.com
Release Date: September 28, 2007
MPAA Rating: NC-17 for some explicit sexuality.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: World War II
Production Budget: $15 million
Box Office Potential: $5 million
Notes: Ang Lee's follow-up to Brokeback Mountain. This hotly anticipated film was recently slapped with the dreaded NC-17 rating, but instead of bowing to pressure to cut it, the film will be released as is. I applaud this decision, but I fear it will make it very difficult for this film to earn the box office the early buzz suggests it should, after all, the highest grossing NC-17 to this point is Showgirls at a mere $20.25 million. Also, it's a foreign language film, and there's a good chance it will only get a limited release to begin with. Granted, the same can be said for Bad Education and it managed to earn more than $5 million. Best case scenario has the film breaking records and earning $25 million or so, but it will need massive Oscar buzz to get there. Worst case scenario has it crash out of the gate and earning less than $1 million. Most likely scenario has it battling Bad Education for fifth place on the NC-17 chart, but it will perform better in and around its native market as well as European markets like France and Italy.

Name: Mr. Woodcock
Studio: New Line
Official Site: WoodcockMovie.com
Release Date: September 14, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, thematic material, language and a mild drug reference
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: ???
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated between $20 - $40 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million
Notes: Ugh. It's like Billy Bob Thornton is intentionally trying to kill his career. Mr. Woodcock is essentially the same character he played in Bad Santa and in The Bad News Bears and in School for Scoundrels making this the fourth time he's play the same character in four years, and the declining box office numbers show audiences have grown tired of his antics. Add in massive reshoots and no less than 5 release dates and you have all the ingredients for a bomb. Maybe, just maybe it will be able to avoid that fate, but there's little to suggest it will do any better than second during its opening and should fade very, very fast.

Name: Resident Evil: Extinction
Studio: Sony / Screen Gems
Official Site: SonyPictures.com
Release Date: September 21, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for strong horror violence throughout and some nudity
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Post Apocalypse, Mutant, Zombies
Production Budget: $45 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million
Notes: Here's a franchise that I think has worn out its welcome with moviegoers. The films were never big hits, in fact, I didn't think the first Resident Evil earned enough to justify a sequel in the first place. Granted, the second film did earn more at the box office, but with a drop in quality. This leads me to believe that that film represents the peak of interest for the franchise. It is possibly this film will earn slightly more in raw dollars thanks to inflation, but that would require the film earn better reviews and better word-of-mouth, a bit better end product. On the other hand, I think it will fall substantially like Blade: Trinity did, only with not as far to fall. A moderate production budget and an Unrated DVD could help the film break even, eventually, but I don't think the studio will press their luck any further by making another installment.

Name: Shoot 'Em Up
Studio: New Line
Official Site: ShootEmUpMovie.com
Release Date: September 7, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive strong bloody violence, sexuality and some language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Hitmen
Production Budget: $30 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million
Notes: This film is the epitome of style over substance. A crazy amount of action with a plot so thin is seems pointless to pad it out to a full sentence. Paul Giamatti wants to kill a baby and Clive Owen going to stop him. Although just saying, "Guns, guns! Lot of guns!" works just as well. It could the same business as Smokin' Aces, or maybe a bit more, as it has the same vibe of super cool action and guaranteed mayhem, but should hopefully earn better reviews and have stronger legs. Even if it does top that film's theatrical run, it won't find its full audience till it hits the home market and the Unrated DVD comes out. Speaking of Unrated, the film is struggling to get the MPAA to give it a R-rating and if it doesn't get it soon, it might be delayed. Last minute update: It does in fact have an R-rating now.

Name: Sydney White
Studio: Univeral
Official Site: MySpace.com
Release Date: September 21, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language, sexual humor and partying.
Source: Based on a Fairytale
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: College
Production Budget: $16.5 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million
Notes: Amanda Bynes stars in another modern retelling of a classic story as she was in the Shakespearean retelling, She's The Man. So far she's been the lead in two previous films, She's The Man and What a Girl Wants, and those two both opened with just over $10 million and both finished with roughly $35 million. This film I think could perform better thanks to Amanda Bynes performance in Hairspray. That film, and its $100 million box office performance, should help boost her profile have that should have a positive effect on the Sydney White's box office; however, it won't be enough to overcome the weaker release date. Then again, with a production budget reportedly at just $16.5 million, it won't need to make more to show a profit and ensure Amanda Bynes will get more work, but she'll still be looking for her big breakout hit. One last note, my prediction might be a little optimistic as I am rooting for the film as I am a fan of Amanda Bynes, Danny Strong, and other members of the cast.


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Filed under: Monthly Preview, The Game Plan, Resident Evil: Extinction, The Kingdom, The Brave One, Good Luck Chuck, Mr. Woodcock, Across the Universe, Into the Wild, Eastern Promises, Shoot 'Em Up, Sydney White, D-War, Se jie, The Feast of Love, The Brothers Solomon, The Hunting Party, Goal! 2: Living the Dream..., Cover, Hatchet, 3:10 to Yuma