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2017 Preview: August

August 1st, 2017

Annabelle Creation

July is over and we should all be happy about that. Granted, there were some positive results we can talk about. Spider-Man: Homecoming is a huge hit and Despicable Me 3 will pull in a sizable profit before it reaches the home market. There were also a couple of other $100 million hits and a midlevel hit or two; however, overall, 2017 wasn’t able to compete with 2016 and the box office finally lost its lead over last year. 2017 started the summer about $200 million ahead of 2016, but will finish July about $100 million behind last year’s pace. August doesn’t look any better. There are a couple of films that have a reasonable shot at $100 million, The Dark Tower and Annabelle: Creation, as well as a few that should be solid midlevel hits. However, last year we had Sausage Party and Don’t Breathe, both of which nearly hit $100 million, then we had midlevel hits like Pete’s Dragon, Kubo and the Two Strings, and War Dogs. I don’t know if 2017 will be able to compete with that. ... Now some of you are thinking I forgot about Suicide Squad. Trust me, I will never forget that movie. I ignored it to make a point. Even without Suicide Squad, I don’t think 2017 will make up the deficit it has with 2016. With Suicide Squad, it is going to be a disaster. I want to be optimistic, but there’s no evidence to suggest I should be.

Weekend of August 4th, 2017

The Dark Tower

Every year at this time, we get to play a game called, “When will summer end?” We usually get one weekend of summer-like box office result. Sometimes we get two weeks. Sometimes we get none. This year, we might not even get that. Neither Atomic Blonde nor The Emoji Movie are having summer-like openings, so if The Dark Tower and Annabelle: Creation fail to turn things around, then summer is already over and we just don’t know it yet. Will The Dark Tower stop summer from ending? Maybe. When the movie was first announced, there was a lot of buzz, as the Stephen King books they are based on are quite popular. However, the buzz hasn’t really grown since then. Also coming out this week is Detroit, which opened in limited release last weekend and is expanding wide this weekend. I’m not 100% sold this is going to work out. Finally there’s Kidnap, which is supposed to open wide, but I’m getting a serious Phoenix Forgotten vibe off it. Even if it does open truly wide, most think it will open near the Mendoza Line, if not below it. This weekend last year, Suicide Squad opened with $133 million. That’s more than any film opening in August will earn in total. 2017 is going to get absolutely destroyed in the year-over-year comparison.

The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheDarkTower-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: August 4th, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material including sequences of gun violence and action.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Western
Keywords: Cowboys in Modern Times, Post Apocalypse, Alternative Dimensions / Parallel universe, Supernatural, Good vs. Evil
Directed By: Nikolaj Arcel
Written By: Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, Anders Thomas Jensen, Nikolaj Arcel, Stephen King
Starring: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey
Production Budget: Reported at $60 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

This film is based on the book series of the same name by Stephen King. There have been a lot of people itching for the books to be turned into movies for almost as long as they have been in print. When this film was first announced, there was a lot of positive buzz. This buzz grew when Idris Elba was cast in the lead role. ... Since then, the buzz has been stuck in neutral. As late as the beginning of July I was assuming the film would earn $100 million domestically. Last week I thought it would have close to a 50/50 chance at $100 million. Now, I think it will have to settle for $75 million. That said, the film only cost $60 million to make, so a $75 million domestic run and a similar run internationally will allow it to break even early in its home market run. In other words, I’m predicting it will become a solid hit, but not a summer hit.

On a side note, the film has been in development for a decade, which is more than long enough to qualify as Development Hell, so just getting into theaters is a feat. If it can get close to $100 million domestically, then Sony Pictures will be ecstatic.

Detroit

Detroit
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Detroit.Movie
Distributor: Annapurna Pictures
Release Date: July 28th, 2017 (Limited Releases)
Release Date: August 4th, 2017 (Expands Wide)
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and pervasive language.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Detroit, 1960s, African-American, Police Standoff, Police Shooting, Beat Cops, Riots, Corrupt Cops
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow
Written By: Mark Boal
Starring: John Boyega, Algee Smith, Jason Mitchell, Anthony Mackie
Production Budget: $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

Kathryn Bigelow is an Oscar-winning director and this film is based on real life events. This smells like Oscar-bait to me. Additionally, its reviews are Oscar-worthy. So the studio is clearly betting Awards Season buzz will help it at the box office.

Unfortunately, there are a few elements that will likely hold it back. Firstly, its opening weekend in limited release was great, earning $350,000 in 20 theaters. However, The Big Sick had an even better opening in limited release and it wasn’t able to really thrive when it expanded wide. Secondly, Awards Season doesn’t begin in earnest till November, so it is too early to rely on Awards Season buzz. Finally, there’s already a backlash brewing describing the film as “misery porn”. There are some arguing that it exploits the brutality of the real world events without contextualizing them.

Kidnap

Kidnap
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Kidnap-Movie.com
Distributor: Aviron Pictures
Release Date: August 4th, 2017
MPAA Rating: R for violence and peril.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Kidnap, Missing Child, Car Chase, Car Accident, Delayed Release, Development Hell
Directed By: Luis Prieto
Written By: Knate Gwaltney
Starring: Halle Berry
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

This is one of several films stuck in Development Hell due to the financial issues Relativity went through. It was shot in 2014 and pushed back several times till they lost the rights to the movie. Now it is being released by Aviron Pictures. If you don’t know who that is, don’t feel bad, as this is their first release. Some are referring to the company as Clarius under a different name, as both are run by the same executive. Hopefully Aviron doesn’t have the same luck as Clarius did, or they will be gone before their The Strangers reboot is scheduled to be released in 2018. If Kidnap opens below the Mendoza Line, it will certainly hurt the company’s chances of booking films in the future. On a positive side, since they didn’t produce it, but merely bought the distribution rights after Relativity lost them, they are likely not on the hook for a substantial amount of money and this investment might pay off.

Weekend of August 11th, 2017

Annabelle Creation

The second weekend of August has two wide releases, Annabelle: Creation and The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, both of which are sequels. Annabelle: Creation will probably be the bigger hit, but because Annabelle earned really weak reviews, it will likely hurt this film’s box office chances, at least a little bit. Likewise, The Nut Job was simply terrible, but lack of direct competition should help its sequel become a midlevel hit. Also opening this week is The Glass Castle, but it appears to be opening semi-wide and not truly wide. This weekend last year, there were also two wide releases and a semi-wide release. In total, these three films earned just over $60 million during the weekend, which is more than the three releases this year will earn. Worse still, last year was led by Suicide Squad with over $40 million. 2017 is going to get crushed by 2016 in the year-over-year comparison, again.

Annabelle: Creation

Annabelle: Creation
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: AnnabelleMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: August 11th, 2017
MPAA Rating: R for horror violence and terror.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Horror
Keywords: Living Toys, Supernatural, Monks and Nuns, Orphan, Orphanage, Death of a Son or Daughter, Prequel
Directed By: David F. Sandberg
Written By: Gary Dauberman
Starring: Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at under $10 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

Annabelle: Creation is the prequel to Annabelle, which in turn was a spin-off from The Conjuring. Annabelle’s reviews were only 29% positive, while this film’s early reviews are 100% positive. I haven’t seen an improvement like that since Ouija (7% positive) and Ouija: Origin of Evil (83% positive). Unfortunately for Annabelle: Creation, Ouija: Origin of Evil earned significantly less than its predecessor earned and it is likely Annabelle: Creation will also underperform its predecessor. That said, the film likely cost under $10 million to make and it will likely earn more than that opening day, so it will be very profitable.

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature

Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheNutJob.com
Distributor: Open Road
Release Date: August 11th, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG for action and some rude humor.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Animal Lead, Talking Animals, Food, Land Developer, Amusement Park, Government Corruption, Mayor
Directed By: Cal Brunker
Written By: Cal Brunker, Bob Barlen, Scott Bindley
Starring: Will Arnett, Gabriel Iglesias, Jeff Dunham, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, Jackie Chan, Sebastian Maniscalco, Kari Wahlgren
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

The first film earned awful reviews and it is very likely these terrible reviews will hurt this film’s chances at the box office. It could be a slight decline and remain a midlevel hit, or it could collapse and be a late summer bomb. I think the former is more likely, simply because there’s no real competition for the rest of the summer. At least I think that’s going to be the case.

Weekend of August 18th, 2017

Hitman’s Bodyguard

Another week and another two wide releases. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is an action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. Logan Lucky is a comedy ensemble about a family committing a heist in order to end a family curse. (On a side note, I have seen a source claim The Adventures is opening wide, but this is not the case.) This weekend last year, there were three new releases that earned more than $10 million each. In fact, there were six films that earned $10 million or more over the weekend. This year, there will be three films, maybe four films that earn more than $10 million. 2017 is going to lose in the year-over-year comparison, again.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

The Hitman’s Bodyguard
Trailer: Coming Soon
Official Site: TheHitmansBodyguard.movie
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: August 18th, 2017
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and language throughout.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Action
Keywords: Bodyguard, Hitmen, Internal Affairs, Car Chase, Special Ops, Witness Protection
Directed By: Jeff Wadlow
Written By: Tom O'Connor
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Samuel L. Jackson plays a hitman who is set to testify against a European dictator. The dictator puts a price on his head and it is up to Ryan Reynolds to protect him. However, Ryan Reynolds is special forces and trained to protect people from hitmen. He’s encountered Samuel L. Jackson on the job several times in the past, so the two hate each other, which will make the job a whole lot harder.

That seems like a winning idea for a movie and the cast is good. However, the film is written by a screenwriter with only one previous writing credit and the director has only directed two movies before. Also, if the execution was solid, then why is the film coming out in late August? It is the bigger of the two films opening this weekend and that should help it become a midlevel hit. However, there is also a chance both films bomb, thus truly ending the summer.

Logan Lucky

Logan Lucky
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: LoganLuckyMovie.com/
Distributor: Bleecker Street
Release Date: August 18th, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and some crude comments.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Curses, Auto Racing, Heist, North Carolina, Dysfunctional Family
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Written By: Rebecca Blunt
Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Three siblings decide to rob a bank with a complicated heist in order to break a family curse. This film has a good cast, a talented director, and its early reviews are 100% positive. However, it is being released by Bleecker Street. So far, this distributor has only had three films earn more than $10 million at the box office and no film has earned more than $20 million. Add in the weak release date, the direct competition, etc. and there’s a good chance it won’t be a big hit. I think it will be the distributor’s biggest hit, so at least that’s something.

Weekend of August 25th, 2017

Leap!

... Yuck. The last weekend in August is a complete mess. There have been no less than eight films that have been, at one time or another, scheduled to be released wide this week. After spending some time researching, there is no film that I’m 100% sure will open wide. Not a single film. That said, we can’t just ignore this week, so we have to pick at least a couple of films that have the best shot at opening in the top five. All Saints is not opening wide, but it is a faith-based film and even playing in a 1,000 theaters could be enough to open in the top five. Or it could open below the Mendoza Line. Birth of the Dragon is being released by BH Tilt, who have never released a film truly wide and only have one film earn more than $10 million. This might be their second $10 million, but that isn’t a sure thing. The final film I’m going to talk about is Leap!. Polaroid was pushed back till December to make room for this film, so that suggests the studio actually cares about the movie. On the other hand, it is being released by Weinstein Co. and their track record for the past couple of years is devastating. This weekend last year, Don’t Breathe opened with $26.41 million. That might be more than the combined totals of all three films on this list. Once again, 2017 is going to lose the year-over-year comparison.

All Saints

All Saints
Trailer: Coming Soon
Official Site: AllSaintsMovie.com
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: August 25th, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Faith-Based, Religious, Refugee
Directed By: Steve Gomer
Written By: Steve Armour
Starring: John Corbett
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $10 million to $20 million
Box Office Potential: Under $10 million

Long-time readers know how much I hate faith-based films. They are notoriously, frustratingly difficult to predict. We’ve had two big faith-based releases this year, The Shack, which opened with just over $16 million, and The Case for Christ, which finished with under $15 million. If you asked most people at the beginning of the year, I think The Case for Christ would have been the favorite to win that race, as it is based on one of the most popular Christian apologetics books. Like I said, this genre is frustratingly difficult to predict.

On the low end, All Saints will fail to open even semi-wide and will be nothing more than a footnote at the box office. Even if it does manage a semi-wide release, it could open with less than $1 million and disappear from theaters a couple of weeks later. On the high end, the film could open with $10 million and stick around in theaters till October. Nearly all of the evidence points to this film opening semi-wide. Meanwhile, the lack of real competition is the film’s biggest strength at this point. It might actually be the widest release of the week. I’m still not overly bullish about the film’s chances, but would be a little surprised if it didn’t at least earn a spot in the top ten.

Birth of the Dragon

Birth of the Dragon
Trailer: Coming Soon
Official Site: http://www.bhtiltpublicity.com/
Distributor: BH Tilt
Release Date: August 25th, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for martial arts violence, language and thematic elements.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Genre: Action
Keywords: Biography, 1960s, San Francisco, Martial Arts, Martial Arts Master
Directed By: George Nolfi
Written By: Stephen J. Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson
Starring: Philip Ng, Yu Xia
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million

This movie is about a real life event in Bruce Lee’s life where he challenges a martial arts master. The film is earning some serious blow back because the first cut of the film focused more on Bruce Lee’s white friend than on Bruce Lee himself. The studio has recut the film as a result, but it is hard to imagine how you fix a problem like that without cutting the film to barely feature-length. The are two reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which is more than most August releases already have, but they are are both negative. Granted, it is still very early, so there’s time for the buzz and the reviews to turn around, but at the moment, things do not look good.

Leap!

Leap!
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Facebook.com/LeapMovieOfficial
Distributor: Weinstein Co.
Release Date: August 25th, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG for some impolite humor, and action.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Ballet, Dancing, Orphan, Orphanage, Inventor, Paris, Runaway, France, 1880s, Coming of Age, Big Break, 3-D, 3-D - Shot in 3-D, Development Hell, Delayed Release
Directed By: Eric Summer, Eric Warin
Written By: Carol Noble, Eric Summer, Laurent Zeitoun
Starring: Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan, Nat Wolff
Production Budget: Reported at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million

This film was supposed to open wide in April, but like so many other Weinstein Co. films, it was pushed back at the last minute. It was moved at the last minute again, but this time around, it was moved forward from August 30th to August 25th. The distributor even moved a film out of the August 25th slot to make room for Leap! Is this a good omen for the film? Possibly. It could still be moved again, or it could be dumped into theaters with no studio support bombing as a result. On the positive side, its early reviews are very good and if it does as well here as it did in the U.K., then it could make $25 million becoming the biggest hit of the weekend. The above prediction is a weighted average of the two extremes.

Filed under: Monthly Preview, The Dark Tower, The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, Kidnap, The Glass Castle, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Birth of the Dragon, Annabelle: Creation, Ballerina, Logan Lucky, Detroit, All Saints, The Adventurers, Halle Berry, Samuel L. Jackson, Will Arnett, Kathryn Bigelow, Jackie Chan, John Corbett, Idris Elba, Elle Fanning, Katherine Heigl, Stephen King, Anthony LaPaglia, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Maniscalco, Matthew McConaughey, Miranda Otto, Ryan Reynolds, Maya Rudolph, Steven Soderbergh, Channing Tatum, Akiva Goldsman, George Nolfi, Anders Thomas Jensen, Riley Keough, Nikolaj Arcel, John Boyega, Mark Boal, Dane DeHaan, Stephanie Sigman, Adam Driver, Nat Wolff, Kari Wahlgren, Jason Mitchell, Cal Brunker, Gabriel Iglesias, Luis Prieto, Jeff Dunham, Stephen J. Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson, Bob Barlen, Jeff Wadlow, Knate Gwaltney, Jeff Pinkner, Gary Dauberman, Laurent Zeitoun, Tom O'Connor, David F. Sandberg, Yu Xia, Philip Ng, Talitha Bateman, Eric Summer, Rebecca Blunt, Eric Warin, Carol Noble, Scott Bindley, Algee Smith, Steve Gomer, Steve Armour