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2006 Preview: July

July 1st, 2006

Neither of June's potential monster hits lived up to expectations, and that's a trend that everyone hopes doesn't continue into July. There is only one real monster hit in the making this month, and it opens right away. But while the rest of the month is decidedly weaker, there are still several other movies that should earn more than $100 million.

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

Name: The Ant Bully
Studio: Warner Bros.
Official Site: TheAntBully.com
Release Date: July 28, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild rude humor and action
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Adventure
Genres: New Kid in Town, Revenge
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $75 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million
Notes: Digitally animated movies used to come out once, maybe twice a year. Now we have two of them coming out within a week of each other. At this rate, the next traditionally animated movie to come out of a major Hollywood studio will be such a novelty that, if it has a decent script and cast, it will be a huge hit. It is likely that this movie won't do as well as Monster House partially because it is the second film coming out, and partially because it simply doesn't look as good (or at the very least, the advertising doesn't look as good). I'm also a little concerned about the cast. There seems to be a number of big names who are inexperienced at voice work (Julia Roberts for instance). When it comes to animated movies, casting people with experience over name recognition is the way to go. Right now I am taking a wait and see approach, but I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

Name: Clerks II
Studio: Weinstein Co.
Official Site: Clerks2.com
Release Date: July 21, 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Aiming for an R-Rating.
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Delayed Adulthood, Food, and Gratuitous Cameos
Production Budget: $5 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million
Notes: The latest from Kevin Smith has him returning to his roots with a sequel to his first, and some argue best film, Clerks. While Kevin Smith has a rabid fanbase, especially on the Internet, he hasn't been able to expand that base with his subsequent films and $30 million seems to be his cap. Fortunately, that is more than enough to guarantee a healthy profit. In fact, Weinstein Co. has already covered the production costs with it sales to foreign markets so all the film has to do is cover its P&A budget, which I expect should be no more than $20 million. If this number is accurate, then the film should earn a profit before it finishes it domestic run, which is something only one in ten films can do. Add in DVD sales that will dwarf its theatrical run, and you have a massive success for the studio. One last note, the film was originally scheduled to open on August 18th, but was moved up a month to take advantage of the buzz generated from its showing at Cannes. This was a very smart move since August 18th is the release date Snakes on a Plane, and while Clerks II should crush that film with the critics, they both share a lot of the same Internet fanbase and Snakes on a Plane will likely be hyped more by the studio.

Name: John Tucker Must Die
Studio: Fox
Official Site: MySpace.com
Release Date: July 28, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Relationships Gone Wrong and Revenge
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $25 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million
Notes: One of the lesser films of the summer. That is not to say it will be bad or unprofitable; it will just be lost in the shuffle of hits like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Miami Vice. There's a lot of star power in this film, at least for the target demographic, with stars like Sophia Bush from One Tree Hill, Jesse Metcalfe from Desperate Housewives, Britney Snow from American Dream, and singer Ashanti among others. Depending on how they market it, it could have crossover appeal in terms of gender, and the potential to be a sleeper hit. However, even its best cast scenario has it finishing well below $100 million.

Name: Lady in the Water
Studio: Warner Bros.
Official Site: LadyInTheWaterMovie.WarnerBros.com
Release Date: July 21, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some frightening sequences
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Genres: Secret Magic and Monster Movie
Production Budget: $75 million
Box Office Potential: $150 million
Notes: Return to form, or near fatal blow to his career. Almost everyone is expecting this movie to be one of those extremes for M. Night Shyamalan with very few predicting anything in the middle. On a side note, the box office potential above is a weighted average of the two extremes with $200 million being the upper range and $80 million the lower. Fortunately for the studio, the former is more likely than the latter. Curiosity will be a huge drawing force for this movie, more than the two stars, but the key will be word-of-mouth. Any amount of bad buzz could kill this movie before its opening weekend is halfway over. And quite frankly, it is too soon to tell how likely that is.

Name: Little Man
Studio: Sony
Official Site: LittleMan-Movie.com
Release Date: July 14th, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor throughout, language and brief drug references
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Unexpected Families and Organized Crime
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million
Notes: First of all, this is a blatant rip-off of a classic Bugs Bunny cartoon short called Baby Buggy Bunny. There is even a scene in the trailer that is nearly identical to one in the cartoon (Marlon Wayans shaving while smoking a cigar). And since that cartoon has already been released on DVD, there is literally no reason for me to want to watch this movie. On the other hand, as White Chicks proved, there's an audience for these movies. The film won't be a big hit, but it will earn more than enough to show a profit while guaranteeing the Wayans will get more chances to make terrible movies.

Name: Little Miss Sunshine
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Official Site: No Website
Release Date: July 26, 2006
MPAA Rating: R for language, some sex and drug content
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Dysfunctional Family and Road Trip
Production Budget: $8 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million
Notes: This film is not opening wide, this much is guaranteed; however, it is one of two limited releases coming out this month that should expand enough to earn some mainstream success. After a weaker than expected teaser trailer, the full trailer sold me on the movie, but I was already anticipating the film thanks to the cast. In the cast are several of my personal favorites including Steve Carell from The 40-Year Old Virgin, Toni Collette who has as much Indie Cred as any actress today, Alan Arkin, Greg Kinnear, and others. This will not be a huge hit, but will do very well for a limited release and after the home market should easily cover the $10.5 million the studio paid for the distribution rights.

Name: Miami Vice
Studio: Universal
Official Site: MiamiVice.com
Release Date: July 28, 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence, language and some sexual content
Source: Based on a TV Show
Major Genre: Action
Genres: Undercover
Production Budget: Reported at roughly $125 million, but that seems high
Box Office Potential: $75 million
Notes: Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx step into the roles made famous by Don Johnson and ... that other guy in the quintessential 80s TV series, Miami Vice. The studio obviously think this film will be the last big blockbuster of the summer, but that's what they thought about Stealth and The Island as well. After watching the trailer and TV spots, I have a horrible feeling this film will have a lot in common with those two films, both with the critics and with moviegoers. But Michael Mann has yet to make a real dud, so I'm holding out some hope still. One last note on that budget, while Michael Mann tends to produce expensive movies, that figure is still about 50% more than I was expecting. But multiple sources give similar figures, so until the studio releases an official figure, that's the best we can get.

Name: Monster House
Studio: Sony / Amblin Entertainment
Official Site: MonsterHouse-Movie.com
Release Date: July 21, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG for scary images and sequences, thematic elements, some crude humor and brief language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror, but for Kids
Genres: Hauntings
Production Budget: Unknown - could be anywhere from $70 million to $170 million
Box Office Potential: $150 million
Notes: The first thing that comes to mind with this movie is, why isn't it being released in October. It seems like a perfect Halloween tie in. The latest digitally animated film uses the same process that was used in The Polar Express, but since the characters are purposefully more cartoonish, it doesn't produce that creepy, Uncanny Valley reaction in people. While that should help the film, there is a nearly complete lack of buzz surrounding it and that will surely hurt the film's weekend opening. Granted, The Polar Express didn't get off to a great start either, but it had the legs to overcome. However, even if this film has better reviews, the lack of holiday tie-in will keep it to more normal legs.

Name: My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Studio: Fox
Official Site: MySuperEx.com
Release Date: July 21, 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content, crude humor, language and brief nudity.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Relationships Gone Wrong, Revenge, and Super Hero
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $60 million
Box Office Potential: $100 million
Notes: This is one of those movies I was really looking forward to seeing, until I saw the trailer. The premise sounds great: man meets woman, they start dating, man dumps woman, woman turns out to be a Super Hero, woman uses her powers to make man's life a living hell. I was expecting the guy to be a jerk and the film a little female-Fantasy revenge flick. (As opposed to male fantasy, which involves remote controls that let you slow-mo female joggers.) But from the trailer it appears the Super Hero isn't a woman scorned, but a psycho, and this isn't some anti-woman bias, anyone who throws a shark and their ex and his new girlfriend is mentally unbalanced. (On a side note, I hope the CG in that scene isn't in the final shot, because it was bad enough to be jarring.) Trying to judge the buzz, it is apparent that I am not alone in this assessment, but there's still plenty of people interested in this movie and it could have enough to cross the $100 million mark, but it will be close.

Name: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Studio: Disney
Official Site: Pirates.Movies.com
Release Date: July 7th, 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of adventure violence, including frightening images.
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Adventure
Genres: Pirates and Visual Effects
Production Budget: $150 million - $200 million, reports vary
Box Office Potential: $325 million
Notes: Biggest hit of the month, summer, and year. At least that's what the consensus seems to be. The original was a bit of a throwback, not only in its swashbuckling theme, but also into its box office run. The film opened with $46.63 million, which is good, but not great, but it had legs most films would kill for, ending with a multiplier of 6.55, which is virtually unheard of today. This film will open much faster, possibly breaking records in the process, but it won't last nearly as long in theatres, ending with roughly the same number of tickets sold. On the other hand, the film could bomb, which means the studio will be stuck with a $150 million albatross, which it will have to find some way to salvage. One last note on the budget, there are several sources that put the budget at both $150 million and $200 million, this confusion comes from the fact that this film and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End were filmed simultaneously so it is hard to separate the two films' budgets.

Name: A Scanner Darkly
Studio: Warner Bros.
Official Site: WIP.WarnerBros.com
Release Date: July 7, 2006
MPAA Rating: R for drug and sexual content, language and a brief violent image.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Thriller
Genres: Faulty Memory and Film Noir
Production Budget: $20 million
Box Office Potential: $5 million
Notes: This film has a lot of strikes against it. First of all, it's based on a story by Philip K. Dick, who was an amazing writer, but his novels are hard to translate into films. Even ones that succeed in that difficult task are rarely big box office hits. Secondly, the film is rotoscoped, which is not a production method commonly used. Granted, it produces striking images, but striking is not a word usually used to describe mainstream box office hits. Third, it looks like it will be a limited release, or a semi-wide release at the most. While mainstream box office success might not be in the film's future, it could become an indie favorite / cult classic, as well as a strong seller on the home market. Last minute note: The film is in fact opening in limited release, not only limited release, but the dreaded Select Cities. Its box office potential has been reduced accordingly.

Name: Scoop
Studio: Focus Features
Official Site: ScoopMovie.net
Release Date: July 28, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual content
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Genres: Hauntings and News
Production Budget: $4 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million
Notes: Director Woody Allen returns to the other side of the camera with this movie, which is also a return to the genre that made him famous. It also marks back-to-back films where he has worked with Scarlett Johansson, a woman he recently described as, "Sexually overwhelming." And that probably explains why he cast her in his last two movies. While the film won't get a wide release, it could still outperform Match Point, or at least outperform most films he's released in the past two decades. Hopefully, it will earn enough money, and critical praise, to silence the critics who have said Woody Allen had lost his touch.

Name: You, Me and Dupree
Studio: Universal
Official Site: YouMeAndDupree.com
Release Date: July 14, 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content, brief nudity, crude humor, language and a drug reference
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Delayed Adulthood
Production Budget: Unknown - predicted at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $110 million
Notes: As part of the Frat Pack, Owen Wilson has compiled an impressive box office career. However, he's never really been the main draw for a movie, previously having usually starred with bigger names like Jackie Chan in the Shanghai series or Vince Vaughn in last year's Wedding Crashers. The studio is obviously hoping You, Me and Dupree will repeat that latter film's success, but that doesn't seem likely at this point. The buzz is not as strong, and not as positive with most people taking a wait and see approach. Part of the problem is the supporting cast, none of whom have much drawing power at the moment. I still think the film will be a hit, just not a massive blockbuster.

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Filed under: Monthly Preview, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, You, Me and Dupree, Monster House, Miami Vice, Little Miss Sunshine, Little Man, Lady in the Water, John Tucker Must Die, Clerks II, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Scoop, A Scanner Darkly, The Ant Bully