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2005 Preview: August

August 1st, 2005

The Dog Days of Summer. Not sure why they are called that, but it could have something to do with all the movie releases that look like dogs. What these films lack in quality, however, they are making up for in quantity, with between 13 and 17 movies being released over the four weeks. (There are few films that may or may not get wide releases and another couple that will likely get pushed back.) With this much competition, all but a few will likely bomb and most look like huge mistakes. After reading the list of predictions, head here to discuss them with other movie fans.

Name: The 40 year-Old Virgin
Studio: Universal
Official Site: The40YearOldVirgin.com
Release Date: August 19th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R for pervasive sexual content, language and some drug use.
Source: Original Script
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Dicorcee Romance
Production Budget: Unknown - but whatever the budget was, they went over
Box Office Potential: $50 million
Notes: Of all the movies opening wide this month, The 40 Year-Old Virgin is the one I'm most worried about. On the one hand, the movie should be the funniest of the bunch with a great cast, including Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Kat Dennings and more. The writing should also be stellar with Steve Carell and Judd Apatow co-writing the script. The latter was the creator of both Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared. However, using those two shows as a guide, The 40 Year-Old Virgin will earn critical praise before getting cancelled halfway through the first showing. In all seriousness, the film does have some pretty tall hurdles to leap; first of all, none of the stars have really carried a film before, secondly, it's Judd Apatow's directorial debut and lastly mid-August is a bad time to open a movie. Even so, the film should do well enough to make the studio happy.

Name: The Brothers Grimm
Studio: Miramax
Official Site: Miramax.com
Release Date: August 26th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for violence, frightening sequences and brief suggestive material.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action / Adventure or Comedy
Genres: Con Men
Production Budget: Originally $75 million, with budget overruns $80 million or more
Box Office Potential: $0
Notes: That's right, I'm predicting this film will make no money at the box office. Zip! Zilch! Nada! Nothing! The reason is simple: this movie will never been seen in theatres. It's obvious to anyone who follows his career that Terry Gilliam is cursed. Brilliant for sure, but cursed nonetheless. The filming of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was plagued by freak storms, injuries, illness, and was eventually abandoned. Good Omens didn't even get that far as the funding fell through. The Brothers Grimm had the funding but was delayed, twice, and then the funding was cut by MGM. Miramax then stepped in and saved the project, but even that didn't stop the problems that cause a such a long delay that Terry Gilliam was able to complete another movie in the meantime. And while it looks like that's all in the past, don't be fooled. I don't know what, but something will stop this movie's theatrical release. Floods, locusts... even if it takes the hand of God to come down and pluck the film from the projectors, this movie will never be seen! OK, that's a tad overly dramatic. If the film ever does make it to the theatres I suspect it would make $40 million,(mostly thanks to the bad release date - had it kept its July release date it could have made $100 million). However, fans of Terry Gilliam will rush out and buy several million copies of the DVD the week it hits the home market and the film will eventually show a profit, or at least come close enough that he will get more work in the future.

Name: The Cave
Studio: Sony
Official Site: SonyPictures.com
Release Date: August 26th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense creature violence.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Genres: Rescue or Marooned
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million
Notes: This film looks very similar to Pitch Black, at least it has that kind of vibe to me. Partially because Cole Hauser was in both, but mostly it has to do with the scotophobic response it's meant to induce in the audience. I don't expect this film to earn as strong reviews as Pitch Black, nor will it be as successful at the box office. On a side note, there is a similar movie from Britain called Descent; by all reports it is a much superior film, however, if The Cave flops then it is unlikely a distributor will take a risk on this movie, meaning it won't get a release date here.

Name: The Chumscrubber
Studio: New Market
Official Site: TheChumscrubber.com
Release Date: August 5th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language, violent content, drug material and some sexuality.
Source: Original Script
Major Genre: Drama
Genres: Kidnap and Dysfunctional Families
Production Budget: Unknown - reported at $6.8 million
Box Office Potential: $4 million
Notes: One of the films that may or may not get a wide release, it seems unlikely that it will given the usual film the studio normally handles. And if it does open wide it will likely only play in 1,200 - 1,500 theaters. If it doesn't manage that, then its box office potential will drop accordingly. On the plus side, the film has some serious indie cred and even if it opens in limited release should be able to earn at least some mainstream success. Update: The film is getting a limited release and I've adjusted my prediction accordingly.

Name: The Constant Gardener
Studio: Focus Features
Official Site: TheConstantGardener.com
Release Date: August 26th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language, some violent images and sexual content/nudity.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Genres: Whistleblowers
Production Budget: $25.5 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million
Notes: Great story, great cast, the director's previous work was critical smash City of God so all signs point to a big hit. Unfortunately, the early buzz is almost all negative. The biggest weakness is the writing; the dialogue is just not convincing and that hurts almost every other aspect of the movie. One last note, the $10 million box office potential factors in the odds this film will get a wide release, which are not good at this point. If it doesn't get a wide release look for $4 million. If it does it could earn $30 million, but the former seems more likely at this stage.

Name: Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
Studio: Sony
Official Site: SonyPictures.com
Release Date: August 12th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R for pervasive strong crude and sexual humor, language, nudity and drug content.
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Prostitution
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $25 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million
Notes: Arguably the least necessary sequel of the summer. The original was a minor hit back in 1999, despite earning pitiful reviews. This film will likely earn the same weak reviews, but won't have as easy a time at the box office. One reason is the film's star, Rob Schneider, who has arguably less starring power now than he did more than 5 years ago. Which brings up another problem: 5 years is a long time for a sequel, too long really as the gap kills any interest in the first film. On the other hand, the film could surprise analysts and have a repeat performance, but that seems highly unlikely at this point.

Name: The Dukes of Hazzard
Studio: Warner Bros.
Official Site: DukesOfHazzard.WarnerBros.com
Release Date: August 5th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for Sexual content, crude and drug related humor, language and comic action violence.
Source: Based on a TV Show
Major Genre: Action / Adventure
Genres: Car Chase
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $53 million
Box Office Potential: $85 million
Notes: The studio is probably hoping this film will hit $100 million, but I think it will struggle to reach the same level as fellow 70s TV Show adaptation, Starsky & Hutch. One of the problems is the changes made in the feel of the movie. The Duke Brothers are not as clean cut, and let's face it, much dumber than on the show. Also, the humor is cruder and more sexually charged than the original, so much so that the actor who played Cooter is asking fans of the show to avoid the movie. Another wildcard with the movie is the effect Jessica Simpson will have on the box office. She is really famous, but not for being an actor. For that matter, she's not famous cause she's a singer either, she's most famous for starring in a Reality TV show and saying really dumb things. Speaking of which, if I hear her say, "I think something bounced up into my undercarriage!" one more time, I'm going to resort to violence. In the end, the controversy surrounding her latest music video should tip the balance and help the box office but not enough to hit $100 million. Update: With Underclassman moving to September, this film has the weekend all to itself, which should help at the box office.

Name: Four Brothers
Studio: Paramount
Official Site: FourBrothersMovie.com
Release Date: August 12th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language and some sexual content.
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Drama
Genres: Revenge
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million
Notes: A loose remake of The Sons of Katie Elder, which starred John Wayne and Dean Martin; this version has been modernized and set in Detroit. Out of all the films that are getting wide releases this month, this looks like one of the three than should garner critical praise; the others are The Great Raid and The Brothers Grimm. For director John Singleton, this is a chance to make a more personal movie after doing commercial fare like 2 Fast 2 Furious. It won't make nearly as much as that film, the subject matter alone will cause that. But also, it is opening on a very busy weekend with three other wide releases.

Name: The Great Raid
Studio: Miramax
Official Site: Miramax.com
Release Date: August 12th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong war violence and brief language.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Action / Adventure
Genres: World War II
Production Budget: $50 - $70 million, reports vary
Box Office Potential: $40 million
Notes: This film has been sitting on the studio shelf for more than 2 years, and that almost never works out. Granted, the delays were business related and had nothing to do with the quality of the film, but it still is not a positive development. Another portent of failure is the most recent release date chance; the film went from early December and the middle of Award Season to mid-August and the beginning of the Dog Days of Summer. On the other hand, it's a great story and the movie has an amazing cast. But I just can't help shake the feeling the film will struggle at the box office.

Name: Red Eye
Studio: Dreamworks
Official Site: RedEye-TheMovie.com
Release Date: August 19th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence, and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Genres: Hitman
Production Budget: $44 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million
Notes: Wes Craven hopes to bounce back from cursed, which really struggled at the box office. This film has the advantage simply because it didn't suffer from the same immense level of studio interference. In fact, there wasn't even a script re-write. While they are using Wes Craven's name to advertise the movie, it is more of a Hitchcock suspense film than a Wes Craven slasher. Add in Rachel McAdams, who is becoming a sturdy box office draw, and you have the makings of a midlevel hit.

Name: Romance and Cigarettes
Studio: United Artists
Official Site: None
Release Date: August 19th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R for sexual content including some strong dialogue, and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Musical
Genres: Not sure
Production Budget: Don't know
Box Office Potential: Haven't got a clue
Notes: Out of all the movies being released this month, this one stumped me the most. It's a musical about a Blue-Collar Man torn between his Wife and his Mistress. The film is directed by John Tuturro, who is more famous for his acting. Also making matters more complicated, there are mixed reports on whether the film will get a wide release or not. Early buzz, what little there is, is encouraging, but the film will probably be too, "out there" to find a mainstream audience.

Name: The Skeleton Key
Studio: Universal
Official Site: TheSkeletonKeyMovie.com
Release Date: August 12th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, some partial nudity and thematic material.
Source: Original Script
Major Genre: Horror
Genres: Secret Magic and Haunted House
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $40 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million
Notes: The last horror film to open was Dark Water, which failed to make much of an impact. I can't see this film having much more going for it. I doubt Kate Hudson has more drawing power than Jennifer Connelly, but the voodoo angle may provide more thrills than mysterious black water. Also hurting the film is the competition, there are four movies opening wide that weekend, and none of them seem like the obvious choice to be the number one film. This one won't have the worst opening, but it's unlikely to have the best legs either.

Name: Supercross
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Official Site: SupercrossMovie.com
Release Date: August 19th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for language and some sexuality.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action / Adventure
Genres: Miscellaneous Sports
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million
Notes: Pushed back from the 10th to the 19th, which is the busiest weekend of the month. There are four or five films opening wide that week and this film will be the fourth choice for most moviegoers. There is also word that the film will only open in 'Select Cities', which will reduce the box office potential to $1 million, or less.

Name: Valiant
Studio: Disney
Official Site: Disney.Go.Com
Release Date: August 19th, 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated G for General Admission
Source: Original Script
Major Genre: Animated
Genres: Digital Animation and World War II
Production Budget: $40 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million
Notes: This is a tough film to predict. It has already been released in a few major markets but that's only making the prospects even more cloudy. The film earned about $15 million in the U.K., which is equivalent to $75 million stateside. However, the strong U.K. presence in the film suggests it should do better in that market relative to here. For example, Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason (admittedly an extreme example) made $60 million in the U.K. and only $40 million here. Then again, Digital Animation films, even the bad ones, have shown a consistent ability to hit $100 million stateside. I'm predicting $60 million, but it could get anywhere from $40 million to $140 million and it wouldn't shock me at all.

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Filed under: Monthly Preview, The 40 Year-old Virgin, The Dukes of Hazzard, Four Brothers, Red Eye, The Skeleton Key, The Brothers Grimm, The Constant Gardener, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Valiant, The Cave, The Great Raid, Supercross, Romance and Cigarettes, The Chumscrubber