Follow us on

2015 Preview: August

August 1st, 2015

Fantastic Four

It is still a little too soon to tell how July will finish, as we don't have any numbers for the final weekend at the time of writing. We know Minions was a monster hit and that Ant-man will be a financial success. However, until we see how Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation does, it will be impossible to call the month a true success. If Rogue Nation bombed this weekend, then the month is only a partial success. It would also mean the summer of 2015 could be coming to an abrupt end. As for August, only Fantastic Four has a better than 50/50 chance of reaching $100 million; although some people think Straight Outta Compton also has a shot at that milestone. Besides those two, only a couple of other films even have a realistic shot at becoming midlevel hits. Worse still, last August was amazing with Guardians of the Galaxy breaking records. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles also did better than expected with a domestic haul of nearly $200 million. No release this August is going to match that figure. There's a good chance the top two releases combined won't do so. Fortunately, 2015 has a sizable lead over 2014, so even a soft month will keep 2015 ahead in the year-over-year comparison.

Weekend of August 8th, 2015

The Fantastic Four poster

The first weekend of August is busy, but at least it is not as busy as earlier reports. At the beginning of July, there were reports that there would be six wide releases coming out. Two have since either been rescheduled or reduced to a limited release. Even so, four films are too many to think all of them will find an audience. Fantastic Four is the biggest by a considerable margin and the only film opening this month that I'm confident will earn more than $100 million. Ricki and the Flash could be a solid midlevel hit. On the other hand, Shaun the Sheep is a kids movie based on TV show that most people here have never heard of. Finally, The Gift is the first release from STX Entertainment, and new distributors often struggle. This weekend last year was led by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with $65.58 million. No film will match that figure this year. None of the three smaller films will earn that much in total. The month is going to start on a losing note.

Fantastic Four

The Fantastic Four poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FantasticFourMovie.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: August 7th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, and language.
Source: Based on a Comic Book
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Marvel Comics, Reboot, Origin Story, Alternative Dimension, and more
Directed By: Josh Trank
Written By: Josh Trank, Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg, Stan Lee, and Jack Kirby
Starring: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $122 million
Box Office Potential: $115 million

This is the third film in the Fantastic Four franchise, which launched in 2005, but it is a reboot and not a true sequel to the two earlier films. There are already plans for a sequel to come out in 2017. Not only that, but there's talk of a Fantastic Four / X-Men cross-over. Obviously the studio has high hopes for this film's box office chances; however, I think that might be premature. The first two movies earned weak reviews and were not massive hits at the box office. Furthermore, "reboot" is a term that is scaring away moviegoers and the buzz isn't positive enough or loud enough to compensate. I don't think it is going to truly bomb and should come close to its production budget domestically, so if it is just a little bigger at the international box office, it will break even eventually. Normally that wouldn't be enough to go ahead with a sequel, but the studio might have to just to keep the rights. On the other hand, should the film bomb, the rights will be sold back to Marvel / Disney by the end of the month.

Last minute update: A review embargo is up for the film, so we won't get anything until the day before it is released. That's a really bad sign. On the other hand, I wasn't expecting a good movie, so I'm not changing my box office potential.

The Gift

The Gift poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: GiftMovie.com
Distributor: STX Entertainment
Release Date: August 7th, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Los Angeles, You Can't Go Home Again, Bullying, Directing Yourself, Screenplay Written by the Star, Actor making Directorial Debut, Troubled Pregnancy, Revenge, and more
Directed By: Joel Edgerton
Written By: Joel Edgerton
Starring: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, and others
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $10 million to $20 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

I am not bullish about this film's chances, as there are very few positives to look at. It is the first film directed by Joel Edgerton, which is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, fans of his acting might be more interested in seeing the film, because it is his directorial debut. On the other hand, people might avoid the film, because he hasn't done this before. It is also the first film released by STX Entertainment and I'm fairly certain that's a bad thing. If it were the first film released wide by STX Entertainment, after years of releasing films in limited release, then it could be exciting. However, we've recently seen a distributor jump into wide releases like this and it wasn't pretty. On the positive side, the film's early reviews are 100% positive. On the negative side, there are only eight reviews, so they could turn negative really fast. Finally, this is arguably the smallest film of the four wide releases this week. Maybe it will be a sleeper hit. For the sake of STX Entertainment, hopefully it will be a sleeper hit.

Ricki and the Flash

Ricki and the Flash poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: RickiAndTheFlashMovie.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: August 7th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material, brief drug content, sexuality and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Dysfunctional Family, Wedding, Musicians, Music Business, Singer, Romance, Interracial Romance, Family Affair, Relatives playing Relatives, and more
Directed By: Jonathan Demme
Written By: Diablo Cody
Starring: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Audra McDonald, Rick Springfield, and others
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

This film was written by Diablo Cody, who has earned an Oscar. It was directed by Jonathan Demme, who has earned an Oscar. It stars Meryl Streep, who has earned three Oscars and roughly 3 million nominations. (I might be exaggerating things a little there.) Why isn't the buzz for this film much louder than it is? It debuts in less than a week, but I've heard almost no buzz about this movie. I still think it has a shot at being a sleeper hit earning more than $50 million at the box office, but there's also a chance it will fizzle out before getting halfway there. The above box office potential is a weighted average of those two extremes.

Last Minute Update: The estimated theater count for this film is in and it is just 1,800. Because of this, I'm reducing its box office potential from $45 million to $30 million.

Shaun the Sheep

Shaun the Sheep poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ShaunTheSheep.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: August 7th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor.
Source: Spin-Off
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Animal Lead, Limited Dialogue, Life on a Farm, Faulty Memory, Fashion, and more
Directed By: Mark Burton and Richard Starzack
Written By: Mark Burton and Richard Starzack
Starring: Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, and others
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $40 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

Shaun the Sheep is the latest stop-motion animated film from Aardman Animations. This studio has an amazing track record when it comes to quality, but only one of their releases has earned $100 million here. There's no way this film will come close to the century mark. Firstly, it is a stop-motion animated film and while I love the artform, it is not commercial enough to become a major hit. Secondly, it is based on a kids TV show that isn't a big hit here. Those are two big strikes against the movie's box office chances. I would love for this to be a big hit here, as I'm a fan of the studio's work. However, if The Curse of the Were-Rabbit could only make $56 million here, I can't see how this film will come even close to that amount, even with its so far perfect reviews. The film managed $20 million in the U.K., which is great for the size of that market, but I'm worried it won't make that much here. I'm a little more bullish, but not by a lot.

Weekend of August 14th, 2015

Straight Outta Compton poster

Every August, there is a game you can play called, "When will summer end?" There's a chance Fantastic Four will bomb and summer will have ended before we get to this week. If we avoid that fate, then there's a greater than 50/50 chance it will end this week. There's only one potential $100 million hit this week, Straight Outta Compton, but I'm not that bullish on the film's chances. (Although it is being released by Universal, so I can't dismiss its chances either.) On a side note, the film was directed by F Gary Gray and there's some buzz that he could be offered the director's chair for Black Panther, should this film do as well as some are expecting. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. should be a solid midlevel hit, but no more than that. Meanwhile, I'm not 100% convinced Underdogs will open truly wide. This weekend last year was definitely the weekend summer ended, as none of the three wide releases topped $20 million. The new releases this year will perform better, but I don't think they will do well enough to keep up with last year's holdovers. It should be very close, but I think 2015 will fall just short of 2014 in the year-over-year comparison.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ManFromUncle.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: August 14th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action violence, some suggestive content, and partial nudity.
Source: Based on a TV Show
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: 1960s, Cold War, Commies, Nazis Outside of World War II, Terrorism, KGB, CIA, and more
Directed By: Guy Ritchie
Written By: Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram
Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $75 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Had this film come out a couple of years ago with a decent release date, I would have expected it to make at least $100 million, maybe even $150 million. After all, Guy Ritchie was coming off back-to-back monster hits with the two Sherlock Holmes films. However, it has been four years since the second of those films came out and I don't think the buzz has lasted that long. Additionally, I'm not sold on the box office drawing power of the two leads. That said, I liked the trailer and it has a good chance of becoming a midlevel hit. Should it perform better internationally, it could break even early in its home market run and earn a sequel.

Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: StraightOuttaCompton.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: August 14th, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, strong sexuality/nudity, violence, and drug use.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: 1980s, 1990s, Hip Hop, Music Business, African-American, Black Urban, Gangs, Biography, and more
Directed By: F Gary Gray
Written By: Andrea Berloff and Jonathan Herman
Starring: O'Shea Jackson, Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Paul Giamatti, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $85 million

This film tells the real-life story of N.W.A. from their beginnings to the eventual break up. Movies based on the real-life stories of musicians are very common; in fact, two such movies came out last summer. Neither Jersey Boys or Get on Up were able to become midlevel hits and for a long time I thought Straight Outta Compton would do about the same. However, the buzz is growing at the perfect time and it is now earning the loudest buzz of any film opening this week and only second to Fantastic Four for the whole month. The film's buzz is not only loud, but many think it could be a critical success as well. There's only one review on Rotten Tomatoes, so it is too soon to say one way or another, but it is positive. Originally, I figured the film would earn about $50 million to $60 million, but there are many people who think it has a chance for topping $100 million. I'm still not that bullish, but I've upped the box office potential as a result. Let's hope I'm not being swept up by unreasonable enthusiasm.

Last minute update: More reviews have come in and they are 90% positive. That's great news for the film's chances and I'm bumping the film's box office potential from $75 million to $85 million.

Underdogs

Underdogs poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Facebook.com/UnderdogsFilm
Distributor: Weinstein Co.
Release Date: August 14th, 2015
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Likely PG
Source: Based on a Short Story
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Soccer, Living Toys, Undefeated, Professional Rivalry, Romance, Love Triangle, Voiceover, and more
Directed By: Juan Jose Campanella
Written By: Juan Jose Campanella, Roberto Fontanarrosa, Gastón Gorali, Eduardo Sacheri, Michael Broadbridge, and David Burgess
Starring: Ariana Grande, Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Morrison, and others
Production Budget: $22 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million

This is a digital animated film from Argentina. It is about a undefeated foosball player, Matthew Morrison, who is challenged by the greatest soccer player of all time, Nicholas Hoult. While they were both kids, the foosball player beat the soccer player at foosball and this was the only defeat in the soccer player's career, so Nicholas Hoult wants a chance to avenge his one defeat. Also, the foosball figures come to life.

This is a second-tier digitally animated film that may or may not open truly wide. It is also a soccer film and the sport just isn't that popular in the United States. There's a chance this film will open outside of the top five and disappear before the end of the month. Even the high end has it barely topping its production budget here.

Weekend of August 21st, 2015

Sinister 2 poster

There are three wide releases this week, including Sinister 2, which was just moved up from August 28th after being moved there last month. Two release date changes that close together isn't a good sign, but it should still win the weekend box office race. On the other hand, Hitman: Agent 47 is a delayed sequel, reboot, remake... re-imaging? I think I'm missing an industry buzz term there. Regardless of what it is being called, it is the second movie adaptation of the Hitman video game franchise. Its predecessor wasn't a big hit and the buzz suggests this one will be even weaker. Finally, American Ultra is an R-rated stoner comedy. There is precedence for films like this doing well in theaters. For example, The Pineapple Express or the entire Harold and Kumar franchise. I don't think it will match those films, but I do think it will perform better on the home market and make a profit before too long. This weekend last year, If I Stay was the biggest new release with $15.68 million, while Guardians of the Galaxy returned to the top of the chart with $17.20. I don't think any of the new releases this year will match those numbers. There's a chance none of them will earn more than $10 million over the weekend. 2015 is likely going to lose in the year-over-year comparison by quite a margin.

American Ultra

American Ultra poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: AmericanUltraTheMovie.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: August 21st, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexual content.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action / Comedy
Keywords: CIA, Secret Agent, Sleeper Agent, Faulty Memory, False Identity, Rogue Agent, Romance, Stoner Comedy, and more
Directed By: Nima Nourizadeh
Written By: Max Landis
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Connie Britton, Topher Grace, and others
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

Jesse Eisenberg plays a stoner, who is planning on proposing to his girlfriend, Kristen Stewart. However, he's not really just a slacker working in a convenience store. He's a sleeper agent whose mind has been wiped. The CIA decides he's too dangerous to be an asset and decides to terminate him, but Connie Britton activates him so that he will have a fighting chance to defend himself.

I'm really hoping the reviews for this movie are good, as it is a goofy enough premise that if done well could be a really fun movie. However, if the studio thought this was the case, why would they release it so late in August?

Hitman: Agent 47

Hitman: Agent 47 poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: HitmanAgent47.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: August 21st, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for sequences of strong violence, and some language.
Source: Based on a Video Game
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Hitman, Genetic Engineering, Super Soldier, Corporate Malfeasance, Reboot, and more
Directed By: Aleksander Bach
Written By: Skip Woods and Michael Finch
Starring: Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto, and others
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million

The first Hitman came out in 2007. It only cost $17.5 million to make and earned just under $40 million domestically and very close to $100 million worldwide. That's a good return on the investment, but not enough to be considered even a midlevel hit and not enough to get its planned sequel off the ground. It is strange that just seven years later they would try to reboot a failed franchise. On the other hand, it isn't strange that this movie is being dumped into theaters at the end of summer. That's a sure sign that the studio doesn't have a lot of faith in the movie.

Sinister 2

Sinister 2 poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Facebook.com/SinisterMovie
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: August 21st, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, bloody and disturbing images, and language.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Scary Kids, Demon, Possession, Child Murderer, Familicide, Sequel Without the Original Stars, Unnamed Character, Single Parent, Twins, Family Affair, Relatives Playing Relatives, and more
Directed By: Ciaran Foy
Written By: Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill
Starring: Shannyn Sossamon, James Ransone, Nick King, and others
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at under $10 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

I'm of two minds when it comes to Sinister 2. The first film earned good reviews and pulled in just over $40 million on a $3 million budget. I am not at all shocked there is a sequel. However, while some horror franchises grow after their initial installment, this isn't always the case. For instance, The Last Exorcism cost even less to make and earned a little bit more at the box office; however, the sequel collapsed at the box office earning less in total than its predecessor earned during its opening weekend. I fear this could happen to Sinister 2. It might actually do better than the first film did, but I think somewhere in-between is the most likely result.

Weekend of August 28th, 2015

We Are Your Friends poster

The final weekend of August is a mess. There were five films that were at one time scheduled to open wide, but one of them moved up a week, one of them was pulled from the schedule, one has bounced around a number of release dates, and another has been reduced to a limited release. This leaves We Are Your Friends as the only film I'm more than 50% sure is opening wide this week. Even if it is the only true wide release of the week, it's chances of box office success are mixed, at best. I've seen three different release dates for No Escape, including one in September, and both reports that it is opening wide and reports that it is opening in limited release. If it is opening this week, it is very likely that it is not opening truly wide, so I'm skipping it. This weekend last year was Labor Day long weekend. The best new release was As Above, So Below, which only managed fourth place with $8.63 million. We Are Your Friends should top that. However, the number one film last year was Guardians of the Galaxy, with $17.08 million. There's a chance We Are Your Friends won't make that in total.

We Are Your Friends

We Are Your Friends poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: WAYF-Movie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: August 28th, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, drug use, sexual content and some nudity.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Electronica, Musician, Big Break, Mentor, Romance, Love Triangle, Relationships Gone Wrong, Los Angeles, and more
Directed By: Max Joseph
Written By: Max Joseph, Meaghan Oppenheimer, and Richard Silverman
Starring: Zac Efron, Wes Bentley, Emily Ratajkowski, Vanessa Lengies, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

Zac Efron plays a young man trying to break into the DJ scene. He is mentored by an experienced DJ, Wes Bentley, but when he becomes close to his mentor's girlfriend, Emily Ratajkowski, his relationship with his mentor sours. This film's release date isn't the worst release date in the year, but it is among the five weakest weeks to release a new wide release. If the studio had high hopes for the movie, they wouldn't be releasing it this weekend. Even if I'm right about No Escape opening semi-wide and this film having the weekend practically to itself, there's little hope that it will become even a midlevel hit.


-

Filed under: Monthly Preview, Fantastic Four, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Metegol, Ricki and the Flash, No Escape, Hitman: Agent 47, Straight Outta Compton, Sinister 2, We Are Your Friends, Shaun the Sheep, War Room, The Gift, American Ultra, X-Men, Harold & Kumar, Sherlock Holmes, Hitman: Agent 47, Meryl Streep, Jason Bateman, Jamie Bell, Wes Bentley, Connie Britton, Henry Cavill, Jonathan Demme, Scott Derrickson, Joel Edgerton, Zac Efron, Jesse Eisenberg, Rupert Friend, Paul Giamatti, Topher Grace, F. Gary Gray, Mamie Gummer, Rebecca Hall, Armie Hammer, Nicholas Hoult, Michael B. Jordan, Toby Kebbell, Kevin Kline, Stan Lee, Vanessa Lengies, Kate Mara, Zachary Quinto, Guy Ritchie, Shannyn Sossamon, Kristen Stewart, Lionel Wigram, Hannah Ware, Diablo Cody, Miles Teller, Jack Kirby, Simon Kinberg, Mark Burton, Alicia Vikander, Nima Nourizadeh, Elizabeth Debicki, Matthew Morrison, Jason Mitchell, Josh Trank, Max Landis, Skip Woods, David Burgess, James Ransone, Ciaran Foy, Nick King, C. Robert Cargill, Rick Springfield, Andrea Berloff, Corey Hawkins, Juan Jose Campanella, O'Shea Jackson, Jr., Emily Ratajkowski, Audra McDonald, Michael Finch, Aleksander Bach, Ariana Grande, Max Joseph, Meaghan Oppenheimer, Richard Starzack, Jeremy Slater, Eduardo Sacheri, Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes