Follow us on

2015 Preview: May

May 1st, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

April is over and there was good news and bad news. Good news: Furious 7 crushed the competition, and broke records along the way. Bad news: Furious 7 crushed the competition and no other April release will earn as much in total as Furious 7 earned during its opening day. Fortunately, Furious 7 was so strong that it carried April of 2015 to a draw when compared to April of 2014. May has a lot of similarities to April. The Avengers: Age of Ultron is expected to break records during its opening weekend and even the low end has it earning more than $1 billion worldwide. Unfortunately, no other film is going to come close to that figure. There are five other films with a potential to reach $100 million at the box office. The keyword there is "potential". There's a chance less than half of those five films will get to that milestone. And like last April, last May had much better depth with five films that reached $100 million, including four that surpassed $200 million. Age of Ultron will earn more than the combined totals of Maleficent, last month's winner, and X-Men: Days of Future Past, which placed second for the month. I am a little concerned about the lack of depth this month and this could cause May to lose in the month-over-month comparison in the end.

Weekend of May 1st, 2015

The Avengers: Age of Ultron poster

The Avengers: Age of Ultron opens the first weekend of the month and in a move that should surprise no one, there are no other wide releases coming out this week. There's only one wide release coming out the next week, Hot Pursuit, and it can be generously described as counter-programming. When the counter-programming doesn't come out till a week later, that's a sure sign studios are scared of just how dominant a film will be. They have every right to be scared, as Age of Ultron is expected to open with more than $200 million, potentially as much as $250 milllion. By comparison, this week last year was the weekend The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opened. It is very likely Age of Ultron will make more during its opening weekend than The Amazing Spider-Man 2 made in total. 2015 will win in the year-over-year comparison with ease, but I'm not sure how long that will last.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

The Avengers: Age of Ultron poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Marvel.com/Avengers
Distributor: Walt Disney
Release Date: May 1st, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive comments.
Source: Based on a Comic / Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Marvel Comics, Robots, End of the World, Hallucinations, and more
Directed By: Joss Whedon
Written By: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, and others
Production Budget: $330 million
Box Office Potential: $550 million

There's not much to say here, as The Avengers: Age of Ultron is the most anticipated film of the year, so many people reading this have already ordered their tickets online. In fact, many have probably already seen this, as midnight showings will have started by the time this story goes live, while it has been playing in some international markets for a week. These international markets give us a little insight into the film's box office potential here. Analysts were expecting an opening weekend haul of $180 million, more or less. On the low end, the film would struggle to get $160 million. On the high end, it could reach as much as $200 million. It matched the high end of expectations. This means, the film has a small chance to reach $600 million during its domestic run. Even the low end expectations have it topping $500 million domestically and $1.25 billion worldwide. The surprise success of Furious 7 is the only thing keeping this from being an unmitigated phenomenon. Age of Ultron will need to come close or perhaps even top its predecessor to be considered a true hit. That's a lot to ask for a film.

Last minute update: The reviews are in and at 75% positive, they are a step down from many other Marvel movies, but still great for a summer blockbuster. However, it seems the biggest complaint is Superhero Fatigue combined with the number of plot threads in this movie that reference other Marvel films. Eventually the Superhero genre will collapse from its sheer weight. That said, I don't think that will happen just yet, despite what some critics are saying about this movie.

Weekend of May 8th, 2015

Hot Pursuit poster

Like last weekend, there is only one release this weekend, and for the same reason. No one wants to pit their film up against The Avengers: Age of Ultron, even during its sophomore stint. Yes, this is a cut and paste job from the April monthly preview. It's nice when weeks are so similar I don't have to think of something new to say. Hot Pursuit is the counter-programming this week and it has a good chance of becoming a midlevel hit. It isn't going to be this year's The Heat, but I think it will do enough to break even sooner rather than later. This weekend last year was the weekend Neighbors opened with with nearly $50 million. There's a chance Hot Pursuit won't make that much in total, but even the high end of expectations isn't close to a $50 million opening. Fortunately, Age of Ultron will still be dominating the box office at this point, so 2015 should still come out ahead in the year-over-year comparison.

Hot Pursuit

Hot Pursuit poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: HotPursuitMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: May 8th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, violence, language and some drug material.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Organized Crime, Drug Cartel, Corrupt Cops, On the Run, Road Trip, Buddy Comedy, Death of a Spouse, and more
Directed By: Anne Fletcher
Written By: David Feeney and John Quaintance
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Hot Pursuit is playing counter-programming to Age of Ultron's sophomore stint. There's a chance Age of Ultron will earn more than $100 million during this weekend and there's no chance Hot Pursuit will be anywhere near that. On the other hand, it likely cost less than $40 million to make, so a $20 million opening will be enough to break even, eventually. Will it get there? I think so. Both Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara have shown they can be very funny. However, Reese Witherspoon is better known now for working in dramas and Sofia Vergara is better known for her TV work, so this is not a sure thing. It's going to need good reviews and strong word-of-mouth to thrive.

Weekend of May 15th, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road poster

There are two wide releases this week, both of which have a shot at $100 million. Mad Max: Fury Road is the reboot of a franchise that first started 55 years ago and hasn't had an installment in 30 years. This could be a gonzo action film that spawns a new franchise. Or it could be a disaster. I am optimistic it is the former, but part of me thinks that I should remain cautious. The second wide release is Pitch Perfect 2. The original wasn't a monster hit in theaters, but it was a huge hit on the home market and there's a chance the sequel will reach the century mark. This weekend last year, Godzilla opened with $93 million. There's almost no chance the two wide releases this year will earn that much and I don't think Age of Ultron will be able to make up the difference. This could lead to a loss in the year-over-year comparison, but it should at least be close.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: MadMaxMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: May 15th, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Post-Apocalypse, Australia, Escape, On the Run, Kidnap, Rescue, Development Hell, and more
Directed By: George Miller
Written By: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $150 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million

This film has been in production, in one form or another, for 25 years. Development Hell barely begins to describe it. When a script was finally greenlit, it was given a $100 million production budget, but early test screenings went so well that the studio gave the filmmakers another $50 million to pump up the action scenes. Given the early buzz, the film should at least cross $100 million domestically; however, it likely won't match its production budget at the box office. Its international box office potential seems even stronger, so we could see a new franchise being born this weekend. Apparently Tom Hardy is signed up for four films. That seems overly optimistic.

Pitch Perfect 2

Pitch Perfect 2 poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: PitchPerfectMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: May 15th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for innuendo and language.
Source: Based on a Non-Fictional Book / Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Romance, Underdog, Tournament, A Cappella, Singers, Musicians, Actor Making Directorial Debut, Directing Yourself, and more
Directed By: Elizabeth Banks
Written By: Kay Cannon and Mickey Rapkin
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $95 million

Pitch Perfect was a smaller film that relied heavily on word-of-mouth. It only opened in a few hundred theaters, which is usually a death sentence for a film, but instead it just missed opening in the top five and spent six of the next eight weeks in the top ten. Meanwhile on the home market, its DVD has placed in the top 30 for 52 non-consecutive weeks. This kind of success could result in Pitch Perfect 2 earning more than $100 million domestically. It has a large fanbase and if its reviews are as good as the first film's reviews were, then it could have a strong opening and long legs at the box office. On the downside... it is still a movie about A Cappella and I'm not 100% convinced the audience is large enough to get it to the century mark. I am more bullish than most, on the other hand, so keep that in mind.

Weekend of May 22nd, 2015

Tomorrowland poster

Tomorrowland and Poltergeist are the two wide releases coming out this Memorial Day long weekend. Many think Tomorrowland will be the second biggest hit of the weekend. Most also think it will make less in total than The Avengers: Age of Ultron will make during its opening weekend. Poltergeist is a horror remake and that's a genre that has really struggled for the past... decade or so? The buzz is strong enough that it should at least become a midlevel hit, but I seriously doubt it will do anything more than that. This weekend last year, X-Men: Days of Future Past opened with just over $90 million. I don't think the two new releases this year will earn that much combined over the weekend. Also, by this point, Age of Ultron won't be dominating the box office anymore, so 2015 will struggle in the year-over-year comparison.

Poltergeist

Poltergeist poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Foxmovies.com/Movies/Poltergeist
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: May 22nd, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense frightening sequences, brief suggestive material, and some language.
Source: Original Screenplay / Remake
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Hauntings, 3D, Shot in 3D, Killer Clown, Missing Child, Rescue, and more
Directed By: Gil Kenan
Written By: David Lindsay-Abaire
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Horror films rarely cross $100 million at the box office and horror remakes have a bad reputation after a number of misses, like Texas Chainsaw 3D, Fright Night, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, etc. (Although I still contend that the remake of Carrie is better than the original was.) There is some better than expected buzz here and that could help the film become a solid midlevel hit. However, I think that's as far as it will go.

Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Movies.Disney.com/Tomorrowland/
Distributor: Walt Disney
Release Date: May 22nd, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG for sequences of sci - fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language.
Source: Based on a Theme Park
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Time Travel, Child Prodigy, Inventor, and more
Directed By: Brad Bird
Written By: Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof
Starring: Britt Robertson, George Clooney, Raffey Cassidy, Hugh Laurie, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $190 million
Box Office Potential: $130 million

I'm not entirely sure how to describe this plot. Is Tomorrowland in the future? Is it an alternate dimension? Britt Robertson is a young lady who finds George Clooney and they travel to Tommowland where an advanced society tries to fix the problems of the present. However, their solutions go awry. The buzz is good and it should be a $100 million hit with relative ease. That said, live action family films are rarely monster hits, so I'm not overly optimistic about this film's chances. It's not going to match last year's Maleficent, for example. That said, if it can earn between $300 million and $400 million worldwide, it will break even eventually.

Weekend of May 29th, 2015

San Andreas poster

The final weekend of the month has two films, San Andreas and Aloha. San Andreas is a big-budget disaster movie and it has at least a shot at $100 million. It might pull a 2012 and become a surprise monster hit. Aloha is the latest from writer / director Cameron Crowe, who hasn't been that busy in recent years. It has been more than a decade since his last $100 million hit. This weekend last year was led by Maleficent with just under $70 million. I really don't see the two wide releases matching that. It looks like May is going to end with a loss in the year-over-year comparison.

Aloha

Aloha poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Facebook.com/AlohaTheMovie
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: May 29th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language including suggestive comments.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Romance, Hawaii, Military Life, and more
Directed By: Cameron Crowe
Written By: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Alec Baldwin, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

At one point, Cameron Crowe looked like he would be a huge name. Jerry Maguire was a monster hit in 1996 and he won an Oscar for his follow-up, Almost Famous. Vanilla Sky did get to $100 million, but that was still lower than expected, and since then, he hasn't had a lot of work. This film does have a really strong cast, but the buzz isn't where I would like it. It does have nearly a full month to change that, so don't write off this film just yet.

San Andreas

San Andreas poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SanAndreasMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: May 29th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense disaster action and mayhem throughout, and brief strong language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Disaster, Los Angeles, Rescue, and more
Directed By: Brad Peyton
Written By: There are six people credited with writing this movie. Six!
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Giamatti, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $100 million
Box Office Potential: $95 million

San Andreas was a hard movie to judge. On the one hand, it is a high-budget action movie opening at the end of May and its star, Dwayne Johnson, is coming off the biggest hit of his career. If this film can earn just half of what Furious 7 did, the studio will be overjoyed. On the downside, more than a few people have been comparing it to 2012, and not in a good way. It doesn't look particularly good and the six writers could mean it was written by committee rather than with a singular vision. 2012 earned weak reviews, but its global setting helped it become a monster hit worldwide. This film doesn't have that kind of scope, so it will rely a lot more on domestic numbers to break even. It at least has a shot at $100 million and with a little luck should do well enough worldwide to break even during its initial push into the home market. But I am a little worried that the film will flop out of the gate and become a complete miss. I choose to remain cautiously optimistic.


-

Filed under: Monthly Preview, Poltergeist, Mad Max: Fury Road, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tomorrowland, San Andreas, Pitch Perfect 2, Aloha, Hot Pursuit, Mad Max, Charlize Theron, Skylar Astin, Alec Baldwin, Elizabeth Banks, Brad Bird, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Cameron Crowe, Rosemarie DeWitt, Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Anne Fletcher, Paul Giamatti, Carla Gugino, Tom Hardy, Jared Harris, Chris Hemsworth, Nicholas Hoult, Scarlett Johansson, Dwayne Johnson, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Gil Kenan, Anna Kendrick, Hugh Laurie, Rachel McAdams, George Miller, Jeremy Renner, Sam Rockwell, Mark Ruffalo, Brittany Snow, James Spader, Emma Stone, Sofia Vergara, Joss Whedon, Reese Witherspoon, Britt Robertson, Brad Peyton, David Lindsay-Abaire, Damon Lindelof, Alexandra Daddario, Raffey Cassidy, Rebel Wilson, Kay Cannon, Mickey Rapkin, Brendan McCarthy, David Lindsay