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2005 Preview: May

May 1st, 2005

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May! The beginning of the lucrative Summer Box Office Season! I know what you're thinking, summer doesn't really begin till mid-June, but for the movie industry summer official begins on the Memorial Day long weekend, and just between you and me, it unofficial begins on the first full weekend of the month. So that means every weekend there's a monster release - one that has people excited since it was first announced. This month such films include Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and ... hold on a second, I'll think of another ... Nope. That's pretty much the only monster film being released this May. Don't get me wrong, every week there's a potential $100 million hit being released, but that's nothing compared to 2003 when 4 films released in May hit $200 million and two others made $100 million.

Name: Crash
Studio: Lions Gate
Official Site: CrashFilm.com
Release Date: May 6th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language, sexual content and some violence.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Genres: Human Relationships,
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $45 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million
Notes: A massive ensemble cast highlights this story of racial tolerance that takes place over a 24-hour period. On the one hand, this film has quite the pedigree and its director was recently nominated for won an Oscar, albeit for writing. On the other hand, it may only open in a little over 1,000 theaters and is going up against two much bigger movies. It might be best if the film was reduced to a more limited release and used word of mouth to build an audience throughout summer.

Name: House of Wax
Studio: Warner Bros.
Official Site: HouseOfWaxMovie.WarnerBros.com
Release Date: May 6th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R for horror violence, some sexual content and language.
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Horror
Genres: Serial Killer
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $70 million
Notes: Some call the 1953 version with Vincent Price the greatest 3-D movie of all time. This movie stars Paris Hilton, which pretty much sums up its potential with the critics. At the box office it should be another story, as the hot cast should pack them in for at least the first weekend.

Name: Kicking and Screaming
Studio: Universal
Official Site: KickingAndScreamingMovie.com
Release Date: May 13th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic elements, language and some crude humor.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Soccer
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $35 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million
Notes: Not too long ago I would have assumed this film was a guaranteed $150 million movie with eyes towards $200 million. After the surprise success of Elf, Will Ferrell looked like he would be the biggest comedy star around. But then Anchorman missed expectations and it looked as if his appeal might not be as strong as first thought and, more importantly, not strong enough to overcome the drag the soccer theme would have. It should still open in first place by a huge margin, but might get crushed by the competition the next weekend, therefore making a huge profit but failing to become one of the monster hits of the year.

Name: Kingdom of Heaven
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Official Site: KingdomOfHeavenMovie.com
Release Date: May 6th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence and epic warfare.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action / Adventure
Genres: Ancient History or Medieval depending on what you consider the 12th century.
Production Budget: $110 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million
Notes: This is obviously meant to be one of the monster hits of 2005, however, the genre has not done well over the past year. Troy struggled at the box office, King Arthur made less than half its production budget back and Alexander did even worse. Speaking of Troy, this is Orlando Bloom's first movie since that one but I'm not sure if that helps or hurts the film's chances. On the one hand Orlando Bloom is a huge star thanks to Lord of the Rings and the Pirates of the Caribbean. On the other hand, he's dangerously close to being typecast and his career, and this film, could suffer because of that. I have a hard time believing Kingdom of Heaven will top Troy, but like that movie, this one should perform much better on the international market.

Name: The Longest Yard
Studio: Paramount
Official Site: LongestYard.com
Release Date: May 27th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, violence, language and drug references.
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Football
Production Budget: $70 million
Box Office Potential: $150 million
Notes: Should be the biggest Comedy of the summer and may even overtake Big Daddy as Adam Sandler's biggest hit of his career. Opening on Memorial Day will help the film start big, really big, but there are a few problems that will keep the film down. For instance, the remake label may cost it some dollars as remakes have been in a year-long slump. Also costing the film dollars will be the extreme competition as the film goes against Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith's sophomore weekend. In the end the film will probably just miss out of making a profit domestically, but due to the Football theme and Adam Sandler's lack of drawing power outside the states, it will have to wait to the home market to show a significant profit.

Name: Madagascar
Studio: Dreamworks SKG
Official Site: Madagascar-TheMovie.com
Release Date: May 27th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG - for mild language, crude humor and some thematic elements.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Animated
Genres: Digital Animation
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $75 million
Box Office Potential: $100 million
Notes: This could be the digitally animated film that official kills the genre's winning streak. It's going to be the third choice of a lot of people and unlike other digitally animated films, this one doesn't appear to have the adult appeal. And it's that adult appeal that made Finding Nemo a massive hit, for instance. I figure the film has a 50/50 shot at hitting the $100 million milestone, but it could also easily land $25 million on either side as well.

Name: Mindhunters
Studio: Dimension
Official Site: Mindhunters-TheFilm.com
Release Date: May 13th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence/strong graphic images, language and sexual content.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Genres: Surprise Twist and Serial Killer
Production Budget: $27 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million
Notes: This film has been sitting on the studio shelf for three years and now it's opening on the busiest weekend in May. Either the studio has a lot of confidence in the movie, or they want to have plausible deniability when they bury it. There's not one proven box office draw in the cast and a couple that are definitely box office poison, which will hurt the film's chances. There was a time when this film was set for a direct-to-DVD release, and it performance at the box office could be weak enough that it should have taken that route. On a side note, the film has had at least 12 release dates so far so there's no guarantee that it will actually make it to theaters until the opening credits begin to role.

Name: Monster-In-Law
Studio: New Line
Official Site: MonsterInLaw.com
Release Date: May 13th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sex references and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: In-Laws
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $45 million
Box Office Potential: $70 million
Notes: The counter programming choice of the week, but unlike most other weekends in May, the top two choices have a lot of crossover appeal. That means the two films will cannibalize their audience from each other and unfortunately for the studio this film will be the second choice of most people. There are some interesting aspects to the cast. Firstly, it's the first film for Jane Fonda is 14 years. And then there's the Jennifer Lopez / Michael Vartan failed relationship connection: Jennifer Lopez's ex Ben Affleck, is getting married to Michael Vartan's ex, Jennifer Garner. How's that for Tabloid Trivia?

Name: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Official Site: StarWars.com
Release Date: May 19th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and some intense images.
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Sci-Fi
Genres: Visual Effects and Revenge
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $115 million
Box Office Potential: $450 million
Notes: The biggest movie of the year, probably by quite a margin. This film is scaring the competition so much that no other film is opening wide that weekend. In fact, there are only a couple of limited releases willing to go against Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Worse case scenario, the film brings in $300 million and earns a solid profit, but everyone will still focus on what a disappointment it was. Pie in the sky, the film more than doubles that, breaking Titanic's record in the process. I'm also betting that the film breaks the $1 billion barrier at the worldwide box office. Since Return of the King managed that feat I've made that prediction at least twice and both films have failed to live up to the challenge. If that happens this time I'm officially cursed.

Name: Unleashed
Studio: Focus Features
Official Site: UnleashedMovie.com
Release Date: May 13th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violent content, language and some sexuality/nudity.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action / Adventure
Genres: Martial Arts
Production Budget: $43 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million
Notes: This British / French co-production promises to be the morst intense film of May. This intensity is what will draw fans into the theaters, but it will also keep away many people as well. The film has already opened in a few international markets, most notably France where it earned $5.5 million, a midlevel hit at best. Also worth noting, Jet Li has developed quite a following stateside, which should help the film earn a bigger opening box office than it would otherwise. But like most of his films, it will suffer greatly during its second weekend.

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Filed under: Monthly Preview, Star Wars Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith, Madagascar, The Longest Yard, Monster-in-Law, Crash, Kicking and Screaming, Kingdom of Heaven, House of Wax, Danny the Dog, Mindhunters