2014 Preview: August

Guardians of the Galaxy poster

July was... well... let's just pretend it didn't happen. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes did well, but week after week 2014 fell further behind 2013 in the year-to-date comparison. At the moment, we are roughly $400 million behind last year's pace and while I don't think August will continue the losing streak, there's really no chance August will put a dent in that number. It looks more and more likely that Guardians of the Galaxy will be a hit, especially given its early reviews, but it could be the last $100 million hit till October, if the bad buzz surrounding Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles turns into bad ticket sales. Last August there were two films that reached $100 million, plus two others that came close. This August might match that, while the biggest film this year should top the biggest film from last year. I think the slump 2014 is suffering through will end the first weekend and overall I think it will cut the deficit a little bit. That said, summer 2014 will still end as one of the worst recent summers at the box office.

Weekend of August 1st, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy poster

August looks to get off to a fast start with Guardians of the Galaxy potentially breaking the record for biggest August weekend. That is obviously the high end of expectations, but even the low end has it dominating the two wide releases from this weekend last year. Meanwhile, the other new release of the week, Get on Up, could become a surprise midlevel hit. Overall, 2014 looks stronger than the same weekend last year, so the slump 2014 is in should finally end.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Marvel.com/Guardians
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: August 1st, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language.
Source: Adventure
Major Genre: Based on a Comic
Keywords: Marvel Comics, Heist, End of the World (Galaxy?), Alien Abduction, Orphan, Smuggler, Hitman, Bounty Hunter, Mercenary, Animated Plant, Animal Lead, Talking Animal, Redemption, Ensemble, and more
Directed By: James Gunn
Written By: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman, Dan Abnett, and Andy Lanning
Starring: Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $170 million
Box Office Potential: $205 million

This is the final film in the The Avengers Phase Two and it is by far the riskiest, because it is so unusual. It is the strangest of the Marvel properties given their own movie. (And will remain so until Doctor Strange deals with some of his more bizarre foes.) The movie was also written and directed by James Gunn, who doesn't have a great record at the box office. (Slither is a great movie, but it didn't even cover its P&A budget worldwide.) Fortunately, the buzz is strong and amazingly, the early reviews are even better. Hell, there are now 25 positive reviews out of 25 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, so calling them "early reviews" is a not quite accurate. On the down side, a lot of the buzz is "Internet Buzz" and it is notoriously hard to turn "Internet Buzz" into actual ticket sales. On the high end, the film might open with more than $80 million and become the final $200 million hit of the summer. On the low end, the film could open with half of that and struggle to get to $100 million. The evidence suggests the higher end is much more likely, but I'm worried my opinion is clouded by what I want to happen.

Last minute update: The reviews continue to be strong and are currently 90% positive, while the buzz has grown a little making $200 million more likely. I've increased the box office potential from $175 million to $205 million.

Get on Up

Get on Up poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: GetOnUpMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: August 1st, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for for sexual content, drug use, some strong language, and violent situations.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Biography, Musicians, Singers, Music Industry, Big Break, Romance, Relationships Gone Wrong, African-American, Addiction, Family Affair, and more
Directed By: Tate Taylor
Written By: Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, and Steven Baigelman
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis, Keith Robinson, Octavia Spencer, and others
Production Budget: Eastimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Chadwick Boseman stars in this Biopic of James Brown. He previously starred in the Biopic of Jackie Robinson, 42, so we could be witnessing the beginning of an actor dealing with really weird typecasting. Get on Up is definitely playing second fiddle to Guardians of the Galaxy, but the buzz is strong enough to suggest it could thrive in the counter-programming role. Unfortunately, as I'm writing this, there are no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, so it is hard to tell if the buzz will translate into ticket sales and if the ticket sales will translate into strong word-of-mouth.

Last minute update: The reviews are in and they are more than 80% positive, which is great news. The film will likely still be stuck in counter-programing, but I've upped the box office potential from $45 million to $55 million as a result of the strong reviews.

Weekend of August 8th, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles poster

Every year, one week in August the summer blockbuster season simply ends. This might be the week it ends this year. It all depends on whether or not Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles can overcome the bad buzz. At the moment, I don't think it will, at least not completely, but it also shouldn't completely bomb. There are also three more wide releases hoping to avoid the crash: The Hundred Foot Journey, Into the Storm, and Step Up All In. None of them are expected to come close to $100 million. In fact, all three combined might not earn $100 million. This weekend last year there were four wide releases, three of which opened with more than $20 million and one of them, We're the Millers, finished with $150 million. I don't think the new releases from 2014 will match that, but if Guardians of the Galaxy opened really well and holds on this week, 2014 might eke out of a win in the year-over-year comparison.

The Hundred Foot Journey

The Hundred Foot Journey poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: 100FootJourneyMovie.com
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: August 8th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, some violence, language and brief sensuality.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Immigration, Food, Professional Rivalry, France, Indians, Romance, Interracial Romance, and more
Directed By: Lasse Hallstrom
Written By: Steven Knight and Richard C. Morais
Starring: Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Om Puri, Charlotte Le Bon, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $25 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

This film tells the story of an Indian family who moves to France and decides to start a restaurant, an authentic Indian restaurant, right next door to a Michelin-starred French restaurant run by Helen Mirren. Watching the trailer, I got a The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel vibe and I think this film could turn into a sleeper hit. There certainly hasn't been a lot of films aimed at a more mature demographic that have come out this summer. And So It Goes bombed, so there's an opening for The Hundred Foot Journey, especially if its reviews are strong. At the moment, it is too soon to tell if that will be the case, but I remain cautiously optimistic.

Last minute update: It looks like the reviews will be mixed. Hopefully they won't weaken and the box office potential won't slip.

Into the Storm

Into the Storm poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: IntoTheStormMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: August 8th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense destruction and peril, and language including some sexual references.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Disaster, Weather, Field Scientists, Visual Effect, Ensemble, and more
Directed By: Steven Quale
Written By: John Swetnam
Starring: A bunch of tornadoes and some pointless humans
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

Into the Storm is earning some of the worst buzz out of all of the wide releases in August with several commenters comparing the trailer to a SyFy original movie. Ouch. Given that buzz, the lack of real star power, and the competition coming out this week, it is very unlikely that the film will be able to find an audience. On the other hand, given the special effects in the trailer, it likely didn't cost a lot compared to other special effects driven action films.

Step Up All In

Step Up All In poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: StepUpMovie.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: August 8th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language and suggestive material.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Dancing, Underdog, Romance, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Ensemble, Professional Rivalry, 3D, Shot in 3D, and more
Directed By: Trish Sie
Written By: John Swetnam
Starring: Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Stephen 'Twitch' Boss, Misha Gabriel, Izabella Miko, Alyson Stoner, Adam Sevani, and others
Production Budget: Estimate at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million

This is the fifth film in the Step Up dancing franchise. The franchise's domestic box office numbers have been in steady decline since the first film, but the international numbers have made up for that short come, mostly. Speaking of international numbers, the film has already debuted in several international markets earning $18.6 million so far. This is a little lower than Revolution's pace, so it will likely see a dip in its worldwide total. Then again, unless it falls by nearly half, the film will break even eventually. If it falls less than 10%, then it will break even before the home market.

Last minute update: The early reviews are trickling in and they are very positive, easily the best in the franchise. If this keeps up, maybe it will bounce back at the box office. I'm increasing the box office potential from $30 million to $40 million.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TeenageMutantNinjaTurtlesMovie.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: August 8th, 2014
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Very likely aiming for PG-13
Source: Remake / Sequel / Based on a Comic / Based on a TV Show
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Animal Lead, Animal Gone Wrong, Mutants, Martial Arts, Live Action Cartoon, Reboot, and more
Directed By: Jonathan Liebesman
Written By: Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, Evan Daugherty, Peter Laird, and Kevin Eastman
Starring: Megan Fox, Johnny Knoxville, William Fichtner, Tony Shalhoub, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $125 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

This is the last potential summer blockbuster hit, and not everyone thinks it will reach $100 million. There are certainly some reasons to be pessimistic. This includes the competition opening a week before. Additionally, for a film that cost $125 million to make, the buzz is really quiet. Worse still, a lot of the buzz that we are hearing is negative and focuses more on the changes made for this movie from the source material. That said, is it by far the biggest release of the week. In fact, it is the biggest release from August 8th till October, so it is legs could be stronger than average. Additionally, since the studio spent so much making it, they will give it a strong push in terms of marketing. I think it will cross $100 million, perhaps after a little push by the studio. It won't be enough to justify a sequel, not unless it does much better internationally, or the merchandizing is really lucrative.

Weekend of August 15th, 2014

Let’s Be Cops poster

There are three wide releases coming out this week, two of which could be solid midlevel hits, maybe one of them will even be a surprise $100 million hit, maybe. Probably not. The Expendables 3 is the third installment in the franchise. Its domestic box office fell considerably from the first to the second installment. If it can bounce back, it will be a $100 million hit. If it continues to fall, it might struggle to top $50 million. Let's Be Cops is a buddy cop comedy about two guys who go to a costume party dressed as cops and get mixed up in a real crime. The Giver is an adaptation of a Young Adult novel about a dystopian future. This is a crowded genre and many of them have failed to make an impact at the box office. This weekend last year, there were four wide releases, two of which bombed. On the other hand, there were five films that earned more than $10 million over the weekend, so there was strong depth. I expect the top of the box office this year will be better than last year, but I'm not sure it will be strong enough to overcome last year's depth. It should be close.

The Expendables 3

The Expendables 3 poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheExpendables3Film.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: August 15th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language.
Source: Original Screenpay / Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Mercenaries, Ensemble, Arms Dealer, Faked Death, Revenge, Written By Star, and more
Directed By: Patrick Hughes
Written By: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, and Sylvester Stallone
Starring: Ronda Rousey and about several dozen guys
Production Budget: Reported at $90 million
Box Office Potential: $70 million

The Expendables 3 is the third installment in The Expendables franchise. The first film earned just over $100 million domestically, while the second one fell by 17.5% to $85 million. Some think this film will bounce back, others think the declines will accelerate. I'm a little more inclined to believe the more pessimistic predictions. The buzz is quieter this time around and a lot more negative. Many fans of the first two movies are very angry over the PG-13 rating. The novelty of the first film has worn off. Additionally, the movie was leaked online this week and many think this will have a real negative effect on the box office. Worse case scenario has the film earning under $50 million. Best case scenario has the film earning just over $100 million. I think the lower end is a little more likely, but there's a lot of uncertainty here.

The Giver

The Giver poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheGiverFilm.com
Distributor: Weinstein Co.
Release Date: August 15th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for a mature thematic image and some sci-fi action/violence.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Dystopian, Young Adult Adaptation, Unnamed Character, Government Corruption, Faulty Memory, Retro Black and White, and more
Directed By: Phillip Noyce
Written By: Michael Mitnick, Robert B. Weide, and Lois Lowry
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $25 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

The Giver is an adaptation of a Young Adult novel set in an dystopian future. ... There are a lot of similar movies that have come out recently or are coming out in the near future. Many will earn terrible reviews. Many will struggle at the box office. Many will do both. This film looks like it will end up in the last category. The buzz is pretty quiet with a lot of fans of the book complaining about the changes made to it in the adaptation process. Also, the film looks and feels too much like other similar films that have come out, so it is unlikely to draw in those who haven't read the book. Worse still, it is the smallest of the three wide releases this week and will likely get lost in the crowd.

Let's Be Cops

Let’s Be Cops poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: LetsBeCops.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: August 13th, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for language including sexual references, some graphic nudity, violence and drug use.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Buddy Cop, Fake Cops, Delayed Adulthood, Romance, Undercover, Organize Crime, Mistaken Identity, Interracial Romance, and more
Directed By: Luke Greenfield
Written By: Luke Greenfield and Nicholas Thomas
Starring: Damon Wayans Jr., Jake Johnson, Rob Riggle, Nina Dobrev, Andy Garcia, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson play two friends who go to a costume party dressed as cops and people think they are the real deal and treat them with more respect than they normally get. ... Let's face it, more respect than they deserve. As a result, they decide to continue to pretend to be cops and soon real cops, and real bad guys, believe they are the real thing. Hi-jinx ensues.

This is an R-rated comedy coming out late in summer. There have been a few such films that become surprise hits, like The 40-Year Old Virgin. On the other hand, opening this late in summer is never a good sign. If the studio had a lot of faith in the film, they would have given it a better release date. There are some troubling signs, including a director who doesn't exactly have a great track record at the box office. Likewise, neither Damon Wayans Jr. nor Jake Johnson have a lot of experience carrying a movie. On the other hand, the film likely didn't cost a ton to make, so it won't need to be a huge hit to be financially successful.

Weekend of August 22nd, 2014

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For poster

By this point in the month, the summer blockbuster season is definitely over. There are three wide releases, but the best any of them can hope for is becoming a midlevel hit. This is too bad, as there are two films coming out this week that I'm interested in seeing, but the release date suggests the studios are not happy with the final outcome. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is the follow-up to Sin City, which was a solid midlevel hit when it came out... in 2005. The time it took to get this film made and the weak release date suggests something went wrong. Up next is If I Stay is an adaptation of a Young Adult novel, which is a very common source for movies recently. It is not a dystopian action film, so it won't become a Hunger Games level hit, but since The Fault in Our Stars topped $120 million, perhaps this film can at least become a midlevel hit. Then there's When the Game Stands Tall, an inspirational sports story based on real life events. There are even more of these than there are adaptations of Young Adult novels. This film is the smallest of the three films opening wide this week and has the weakest buzz. High school football is popular in many parts of the United States, but that's the biggest selling point going for it. This weekend last year there were three wide releases, none of which managed to earn more than $10 million during their opening weekend. On the high end, all three wide releases this year will make more than $10 million during the weekend. It could be a good year for 2014 in the year-over-year comparison.

If I Stay

If I Stay poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: IfIStayMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros. Release Date: August 22nd, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Young Adult Novel, Coming of Age, Musician, Near Death Experience, Romance, First Love, Death of a Parent, Death of a Sibling, Coma, Hospitals, and more
Directed By: R.J. Cutler
Written By: Gayle Forman and Shauna Cross
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Jamie Blackley, Mireille Enos, Joshua Leonard, Jakob Davies, and others
Production Budget: Rumored at $10 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Chloë Grace Moretz stars as Mia Hall, a young lady about to graduate and who has to decide if she wants to follow her passion as a musician or be with her boyfriend. However, while on a drive with her family, they are in an accident and all of them are killed, except her, maybe. She's left in a coma and has a near death experience where she has to decide whether or not she wants to live or die. The buzz for this movie is low-key, but rather positive. It won't perform as well as The Fault in Our Stars did. It doesn't have John Green helping promote it, for one thing. Also, the release date is weak. That said, it likely didn't cost a lot to make either and if it can open with $10 million or more, it will be a financial success.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SinCity-2.com
Distributor: Weinstein Co. Release Date: August 22nd, 2014
MPAA Rating: Not yet rated - Very Likely R
Source: Based on Comic / Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Segments, Gambling, Revenge, Politicians, Political Corruption, Stripper, Hallucinations, Relationships Gone Wrong, Surprise Twist, Film Noir, Retro Black and White, Visual Effects, Faulty Memory, Ensemble, Author Adapting Their Own Work, Sequel with Star Recast, and more
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller
Written By: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller
Starring: Too many to list
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller finally get the sequel to Sin City into theaters this week, nearly a decade after the first film was released. Sin City earned great reviews and became a solid midlevel hit. It is unlikely that Sin City: A Dame to Kill For will match its predecessor at the box office, even if you don't take into account ticket price inflation. The length of time between the first and the second installment is just too long to think the film will be as big of a hit as the original film was. On the other hand, it is the biggest release of the week and assuming this film cost about as much as the first film did, it will likely make enough to at least break even sometime on the home market.

When the Game Stands Tall

When the Game Stands Tall poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: WhenTheGameStandsTall.com
Distributor: Sony Release Date: August 22nd, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic material, a scene of violence, and brief smoking.
Source: Based on a Factual Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Inspirational Sports, Inspirational Coach, Football, High School Sports, and more
Directed By: Thomas Carter
Written By: Scott Marshall Smith and Neil Hayes
Starring: James Caviezel, Laura Dern, Michael Chiklis, Alexander Ludwig, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

An inspirational sports movie about a high school football team that had a 12-year, 151-game winning streak. It looks at the team that suffered the schools first loss in more than a decade and how that affects the team. How can you make a movie about a team with a 151-game winning streak dramatic? If the trailer is any indication, it is by loading it with every sports cliché out there. The buzz for this film is among the quietest of any wide release for the month and even during a week without any potential $100 million hits, it will likely fail to stand out.

Weekend of August 29th, 2014

As Above, So Below poster

This is Labor Day long weekend and historically Labor Day long weekend is the weakest long weekend of the year. (The only real competition comes from psuedo-long weekends, like Columbus Day.) This year there are two films slated to open wide, neither of which is earning a lot of buzz. As Above, So Below is a horror / thriller, which is a genre that has done well on Labor day, so perhaps it won't bomb. But it is also a Found Footage film, and that subgenre is mostly played out. The November Man is earning what is arguably the quietest buzz out of any film opening wide this month. In fact, it's buzz is quieter than some limited releases opening earlier in the month. This weekend last year, the number one film was One Direction: This is Us, but arguably the biggest release was Instructions Not Included. Overall, three films earned more than $10 million during the three-day weekend. This year, I don't think any films will manage that feat.

As Above, So Below

As Above, So Below poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: AsAboveSoBelowMovie.com
Distributor: Universal Release Date: August 29th, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence/terror, and language throughout.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Found Footage, Underground, Paris, Archeology, and more
Directed By: John Erick Dowdle
Written By: John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle
Starring: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $10 million or less
Box Office Potential: $25 million

As Above, So Below is a found footage film set in the catacombs of Paris, France, where a group of archeologists try to discover what is below the mass grave that are the catacombs of Paris. At this point, any film that is a found footage film has an uphill battle. The Labor Day long weekend could help, as the target audience has rewarded horror films that have opened on this weekend in the past. Three of the five biggest Labor Day weekend debuts are for horror films, including the current champ, Halloween. I don't think this film will break the record. In fact, it likely won't make as much in total as Halloween made during its opening weekend. Then again, it likely cost very little to make, so this would be enough to break even sometime on the home market.

The November Man

The November Man poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheNovemberMan.com
Distributor: Relativity Release Date: August 27th, 2014
MPAA Rating: Not yet rated - Was originally rated R, but looks like it will be recut and resubmitted for a PG-13 rating
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Development Hell, Secret Agent, CIA, Out of Retirement, One Last Job, Political, Government Corruption, and more
Directed By: Roger Donaldson
Written By: Michael Finch, Karl Gajdusek, and Bill Granger
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Luke Bracey, Olga Kurylenko, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million

Pierce Brosnan plays an ex-CIA agent who comes back out of retirement for one last job, only to learn this job has him facing off against his former protégé. Like I said, the buzz for this film is very quiet and it has the worst release date of the summer. I think the studio is letting this film die, rather than spend any more money promoting it.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2014-08-01