Follow us on

2011 Preview: June

June 1st, 2011

After a strong May in which most weekends saw growth year-over-year, there is finally some real optimism at the box office. Will that continue this month? It might be tough, as last June was actually pretty good, all things considered. It was certainly busier. This time around there are only seven wide releases, but the lack of competition should help each individual film reach its full potential, and there's a chance five of the seven films will earn more than $100 million at the box office. If less than three of them reach the century mark, it would be a huge shock. On the other hand, there's nothing opening this month that will compare to Toy Story 3, which earned more than $400 million last year. The only one that has a real shot to come close is Transformers: Dark of the Moon. However, since that film opens on a Wednesday the 29th of June and the Friday is the 1st of July, it is more of a July release and we will preview it at the beginning of next month.

Weekend of June 3rd, 2011

There's only one wide release opening on the first weekend of June, but it could be a monster hit. Not only is X-Men: First Class part of one of the biggest comic book franchises of all time, it also is earning amazing reviews. So far they are 97% positive. Granted, it is still early and there are only 34 reviews so far, but that's still amazing. In comparison, this week last year there were four wide releases, but none of them were big hits and there's a chance First Class will earn more by itself than those films did combined. Add in the much stronger holdovers, and 2011 should earn a solid win.

X-Men: First Class

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site:
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: June 3rd, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language.
Source: Based on a Comic Book
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Mutants, Boarding School, New Guy / Girl in School, Prequel, Ensemble, Gratuitous Cameos, Marvel Comics, and more
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and about 800 other people, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $120 million
Box Office Potential: $175 million

This film tells the origins of Professor Xavier's School for the Gifted, and given the performance of the franchise so far, it should come as no surprise that it is one of the most anticipated films of the month. Even if it is the weakest release in the franchise, it could still end up being the second-biggest hit of the month. On the other hand, it wouldn't have to beat the franchise's average by much to lift the domestic total for the franchise past the $1 billion mark.

So which end is more likely? On the one hand, the film does have a huge cast with a good mix of up-and-coming stars and established actors. On the other hand, it's hard to argue any of of them is an A-list box office draw. It is directed by Matthew Vaughn, whose three previous films have all earned more than 75% positive Tomatometer Scores. On the other hand, all three of his films have been box office disappointments and have missed expectations. It does have no direct competition opening the same weekend, or any competition, but some of the advance buzz has been, "Do we really need another X-Men movie?"

I think the lack of competition, the built in fanbase, and the impressive reviews will win out in the end and while I don't think it will reach $200 million, you can't dismiss the possibility either.

Weekend of June 10th, 2011

This weekend is a very typical summer weekend with one potential blockbuster, Super 8, plus one counter-programing release, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer. The lack of crossover appeal between the two films could help them both reach their full potential, but that might not be enough. This time last year we had two potential blockbusters, one that overperformed and another that didn't. I don't see Super 8 beating The Karate Kid and Judy Moody has no shot at matching The A-Team. This means 2011 will have to rely on holdovers to keep the winning streak alive. That's never a good position to be in, but it still might be enough for the win.

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site:
Distributor: Relativity
Release Date: June 10th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild rude humor and language.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Coming of Age, Summer Vacation, Visual Effects, and more
Directed By: John Schultz
Starring: Jordana Beatty, Heather Graham, Parris Mosteller, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $15 million to $25 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

The counter-programing for the week. This film reminds me of Ramona and Beezus and Aliens in the Attic and since those films made nearly identical amounts at the box office, it makes my job a whole lot easier. However, since those two films only made a little more than $25 million, it doesn't bode well for this film's chances. In fact, one could argue it has weaker box office potential as Judy Moody's cast doesn't have the same drawing power as those two films. The lead actress, Jordana Beatty, is new to the business, while both Selena Gomez and Ashley Tisdale were stars in TV shows aimed at the same target demographic as their movies. On the low end, Judy Moody could make less than $15 million in total, or it could open with more than $15 million. Either way, becoming a mid-level hit is likely the best the film can hope for.

Super 8

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site:
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: June 10th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and some drug use.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Disaster, Monster, Alien Invasion, Government Conspiracy, Ensemble, and more
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Riley Griffiths, Amanda Michalka, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $45 million
Box Office Potential: $135 million

This film could be a potential monster hit. However, there are more than a few troubling signs. First of all, a lot of people are calling it a prequel to Cloverfield due to the connection to J.J. Abrams and the similarities in advertising. (Both films have a very secretive ad campaign.) Being easily compared to another movie is rarely a good thing, especially one that is still fresh in moviegoers' minds and missed expectations at the box office. On the other hand, the two films J.J. Abrams has directed both topped $100 million with ease, while there are few people in Hollywood with more clout than Steven Spielberg, who is producing.

If X-Men: First Class is a monster hit and holds on as well as early reviews suggest it could, then Super 8 might be squeezed out at the box office. On the other hand, the film reportedly only cost $45 million to make, which is tiny compared to a lot of summer blockbusters, and there's pretty good chance it will open with that much, while the summer holidays will help it hit $100 million with relative ease.

Weekend of June 17th, 2011

This could be a great weekend, or it could be an unmitigated disaster. There's a chance the counter-programing film could reach $100 million, but there's also a chance neither film will hit that milestone. On the one hand, Jim Carrey has a proven track record at the box office with total domestic ticket sales of nearly $2.5 billion. On the other hand, Mr. Popper's Penguins is a family film, and is not going after his usual demographic. Likewise, comic book movies are huge and the last several years they've produced countless hits that have earned $100 million or $200 million or more at the box office. On the other hand, Green Lantern is definitely a second-tier comic in terms of widespread popularity. Best case scenario, they both hit $100 million and combined they top $300 million. Worst case scenario, they make less than half that total and neither hit $100 million. There's even more bad news, as they will need to match the best case scenario, as this time last year Toy Story 3 opened with more than $100 million on its way to a $400 million final tally. There's almost no way this weekend will produce a win on the year-over-year comparison.

Green Lantern

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site:
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: June 17th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence.
Source: Based on a Comic Book
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: D.C.Comics, Friendly Alien on Earth, Origin Stories, and more
Directed By: Martin Campbell
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sargaard, Mark Strong, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $120 million
Box Office Potential: $150 million

Wow. There is some... divergent opinion on this film's box office chances. Like almost all comic book movies, this film has some rabid supporters who think it will be the biggest comic book movie of the year and on par with the Iron Man or even Spider-Man. On the other hand, many think it will bomb, or at the very best struggle to match its production budget. So that gives us a range of under $100 million to over $400 million.

Evidence supporting the high end seems rather limited. There are few major comic book releases this year, so the direct competition is not as strong as it would have been in years passed. Additionally, Green Lantern does have a history that stretches back decades. Conversely, it is a decidedly second-tier comic book and if Superman Returns can barely make $200 million, I don't see this film earning more than that. Also, it opens just two weeks after X-Men: First Class, which is earning a lot more buzz and incredible reviews. Granted, X-Men is coming out two weeks before Green Lantern, but if you compare Green Lantern's buzz today with X-Men's from two weeks ago, it is still much weaker. In fact, by some measures, Captain America is earning stronger buzz than Green Lantern, and it doesn't open for nearly two months.

Overall, I think the evidence points to the film making enough money to show a profit, but not enough to justify a franchise.

Mr. Popper's Penguin

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site:
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: June 17th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG for mild rude humor and some language.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Dysfunctional Family, Inheritance, Animal Leads, Corporate Life, Mid-Life Crisis, and more
Directed By: Mark Waters
Starring: Jim Carrey, Madeline Carroll, Carla Gugino, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $75 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million

Jim Carrey stars as a man struggling to balance time with his kids and work, with the latter always winning out. However, his priorities change when he inherits a group of penguins from his dad.

The film is based on a popular book and Jim Carrey has been in a number of very popular kids movies over the years (Lemony Snicket, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, as well as animated films like A Christmas Carol, and Horton Hears a Who). This film could be a surprise $100 million hit, but the buzz is quite weak. Granted it is a kids movie and these tend to not have nearly as much advance buzz. However, it opens the week before Cars 2, and that film is already outpacing this one in terms of buzz. In fact, Cars 2 is the film's biggest competition and by the time it opens families might be more interested in saving their money to see Pixar's latest offering.

Or it could have a really impressive ad campaign and surprise analysts by earning more than $100 million. I think it is more likely that it will be overshadowed and mostly ignored.

Weekend of June 24th, 2011

Two wide releases come out the final weekend of June, one of which could become the biggest hit of the year. Cars 2 is the latest release from Pixar and with Kung Fu Panda 2 missing expectations, there's certainly pent up demand for a massive animated hit. The only other film opening wide this week is Bad Teacher, which is not earning nearly the same level of advance buzz. However, the success of Bridesmaids shows you can't dismiss the film's chances at success either. The biggest hit this time last year was actually the second weekend of Toy Story 3, and neither of the two new releases were monster hits. This could help 2011 recover some ground it lost the week before and June should end on a high note, especially once Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon opens on the 29th. But more on that film next month.

Bad Teacher

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site:
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: June 24th, 2011
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Inspirational Teacher, Romance, Relationships Gone Wrong, Inappropriate Role Models, and more
Directed By: Jake Kasdan
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel, Lucy Punch, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million

Just a few months ago, I figured this film would make about $50 million. It felt too much like Bad Santa and R-rated comedies starring women tend to under-perform at the box office. Then Bridesmaids opened and while it hasn't reached $100 million yet, it will get there. Maybe it's time to rethink the common wisdom regarding R-rated comedies and women. On the other hand, there's little hope Bad Teacher will match Bridesmaids, as it will still have to deal with the comparisons. Perhaps if this film earns equally impressive reviews, it will have a shot. But I wouldn't be willing to bet on that.

I'm also a little worried about the drawing power of the cast and crew. It is directed by Jake Kasdan, whose previous film was Walk Hard, which bombed at the box office despite its strong reviews. Cameron Diaz has earned nearly $3 billion at the box office, but much of that has come from the Shrek franchise, which hardly counts when it comes to judging a person's box office drawing power. Justin Timberlake's two biggest hits were for films he only provided voices for, and his third was part of a large ensemble. Jason Segel has had a few hits with Judd Apatow, while Lucy Punch is better known in her native England than here.

It might surprise, but becoming a mid-level hit is probably as good as it will get.

Cars 2

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site:
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: June 24th, 2011
MPAA Rating: G for General Admissions.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Auto Racing, Mistaken Identity, Secret Agent, Spoof, 3D, Gratuitous Cameos, Ensemble, and more
Directed By: John Lasseter and Brad Lewis
Starring: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Jason Isaacs, Thomas Kretschmann, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $150 million
Box Office Potential: $275 million

I'm not going to start with, "And the Oscar goes to...", which is my usual go-to line when it comes to Pixar films. The reason for this is simple, the original Cars was the weakest film from Pixar. Although to be fair, 74% positive reviews is still very strong and identical to the eventual Oscar winner, Happy Feet. (I still think Cars was robbed and the main reason it didn't earn better reviews and the Oscar was unreasonably high expectations due to the Pixar brand.)

I do think Cars 2 will perform better than its predecessors for a few reasons. Firstly, and most obviously, it has five years of inflation behind it and if it just sells the same number of tickets, it will reach $300 million. Also, the biggest digitally animated hit of the year so far is Kung Fu Panda 2, which missed expectations. Thirdly, the first film was less about auto racing than it was about small town life, which is a tough sell. Meanwhile, this film is an international Secret Agent Spoof centered on a case of Mistaken Identity. That should be easier to sell to families.

It should become the biggest hit of the month with ease, and it could become the biggest hit of the year, if it beats expectations with about $325 million and the two potential monster hits of next month, Transformers and Harry Potter, both miss expectations. It will be hard, but one can't dismiss it as a possibility.


Filed under: Monthly Preview, Green Lantern, Cars 2, Bad Teacher, X-Men: First Class, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, Super 8, Mr. Poppers's Penguins