Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Movie Preview: July 2013

I usually like to submit these monthly previews right before the first weekend, but that became a little difficult with my schedule on Independence Day week and the ensuing weekend, so this July preview is a bit late, thus making the first weekend more of a review than a preview, but so be it. After a slow start to the year, this Summer has been on fire as May broke the all-time May record and this past June broke the all-time June record. Helping this past June out were huge debuts every weekend. The Purge in week one opened up to almost twice as much as people thought. Man of Steel and Monsters University were big like expected in weeks two and three, while World War Z in week three smashed even the most generous of predictions. Finally The Heat in week four opened to nearly $40 million which was also a touch higher than expected. July has already started off with a bang, but there will need to be several huge surprises in order to win the July record, which has always been the biggest month of the year in the past. At an early look the current schedule isn't looking too promising as far as records go, but it still should be another positive month.

July 3rd - 7th - 

Like I said, the first weekend of July started out with a band and that was due to the release of Despicable Me 2. The first Despicable Me became a surprise hit back in the summer of 2010 by opening up to $50 million and ending at $250 million. In doing so, it put Illumination Entertainment on the map, thus expanding the animated movie genre even more. It also pulled all the right strings with it's lovable characters, great story, and hilarious minions. The minions became so popular that in advertising Despicable Me 2, they put those minions front and center and for the longest time all fans new were those minions and yet despite not knowing anything about the story, fans were still excited. Yes, more about the movie was eventually advertised and having seen the movie I can say that they played on all the popular aspects of the first movie without changing much and while sometimes that can be risky, it definitely worked out as audiences stormed the theaters to see it throughout the five-day weekend giving it the highest five-day gross ever for an animated movie at $143 million. With reviews (mine included) saying it is just as good as the first, it will hold very well throughout the rest of the summer and may even challenge Iron Man 3 for the highest grossing movie of the year.

While Despicable Me 2 was tearing it up in the box office over Independence Day, The Lone Ranger was sucking it up. Sadly the project was a disaster waiting to happen ever since it's inception, this because of the high price it took to make it and the low demand for the Western genre. The Lone Ranger had a budget of $250 million which is a disaster because no Western movie has ever earned more than $200 million in the domestic box office. Even the popular True Grit remake and Django Unchained didn't get there, although they were fine not making that because their budgets were approximately $200 million less than Lone Ranger. The Lone Ranger was made by the people who did Pirates of the Caribbean and they advertised that heavily to try to buck the Western trend, but it didn't work. The Lone Ranger's three-day total was just under $30 million with a five-day total just under $50 million. Reactions were mixed. The general audience gave it a luke-warm reception on average while the critics ripped it apart. For a movie that cost $250 million, it's final total will be really disappointing as it will probably barely top $100 million. Overseas totals could help it, but probably not since international audiences typically don't jump for Westerns.

Finally, the surprise of the week was Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain. The movie is simply a stand-up comedy concert brought to the big screen and those types don't happen very often and when they do, they usually don't make a ton of money because really they don't need to. However, Kevin Hart showed his rising popularity by helping this movie get all the way to $17 million in its first five days. That is already the fifth highest grossing stand-up comedy concert ever and it's been out less than a week. Not bad at all.

July 12th - 14th - 

Outside a huge surprise from one of the two newcomers this week, the second weekend of July should be taken once again by Despicable Me 2. If this is the case, then the two newcomers will be in a close battle for second place and honestly it is looking like that crown will be taken by Grown Ups 2. The first Grown Ups came out three years ago in the Summer of 2010 and combined the comedic forces of Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider. While Adam Sandler is not loved by everyone, he certainly has a pretty big following that always shows up to his movies, when they are not rated R of course. Grown Ups opened to a really good $40 million on its way to $162 million and was pretty well liked among the Adam Sandler fan club and turned out to be his second highest grossing movie ever behind only Big Daddy. Grown Ups 2 brings everyone but Rob Schneider back I would expect it to earn numbers similar to the first one, at least for opening weekend.

If July is going to break the July record, Pacific Rim is probably the movie that needs to break out big time, but whether it will or not is questionable. Right now I wouldn't be surprised to see it fall to third place this weekend behind Despicable Me 2 and Grown Ups 2. Audiences have been loaded with action movies recently and may be a bit burnt out at this point, which could be the cause of both White House Down and The Lone Ranger flopping. Pacific Rim is billed as an original sci-fi movie, which really is questionable as it looks like a combination of Power Rangers, Transformers, and Godzilla. The huge thing it does have going for it is the fact that it is directed by Guillermo del Toro and he has a very strong track record, so perhaps audiences may see it as what Transformers would've been like if it actually had a good director.

July 19th - 21st - 

The third weekend of July sees four new nationwide releases and none of them has a clear advantage over the other and honestly if none of the four break out, Despicable Me 2 or one of the two movies from the previous week could take the top spot. My personal thought, though, is that if any movie winds out on top out of the newcomers it will be Red 2. Red, standing for Retired Extremely Dangerous, if you haven't seen it, is an action comedy that came out in October of 2010. It was a surprise hit that month and because of that had really good legs and nearly made it to $100 million after only opening to $20 million. Red 2 brings back much of the original cast, namely Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker, and John Malkovich, while adding Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Byung-hun Lee, David Thewlis, and Neal McDonough. Thus it promises much of the same fun action and humor as the first while providing much more. The first has a decent enough fan base that should provide this movie with a run similar to the first one, while having the advantage of being a Summer movie instead of a Fall movie that could make it even a touch  bigger.

Providing some good counter programming to Red 2 will be Dreamworks' latest animated movie Turbo.  It does come at a somewhat problematic time as there will be many family audiences still enjoying Despicable Me 2 and plenty of others looking forward to Smurfs 2. A movie about a snail may be hard-pressed to get audiences out, but that could be Dreamworks' problem with advertising. There are two different routes that it could take. The first is the route of Dreamworks movie from earlier this year in The Croods, which opened to $40 million on it's way to $180 million and in that case it could steal the weekend, but the more likely scenario is that it will go the way of Dreamworks movie from last year in Rise of the Guardians, which opened up just north of $20 million and only barely crossing the $100 million mark. While Dreamworks' track record isn't as good as Pixar's, they have still managed to have 13 straight movies earn over $100 million. Turbo is in danger of breaking that streak. It is worth noting that Turbo does get a head start on this weekend by opening on Wednesday the 17th.

Another highly possible candidate to take the weekend is the one movie with no genre competition and that would be horror movie The Conjuring. Horror movies typically have a very small ceiling, but if last month is any indicator with The Purge, there is still a good audience for them if they make themselves seem unique enough. The conjuring is billed as a true story, which really isn't that unique, but word is with this movie a few of the people involved in the actual incidents helped work on making this movie and that could attract audiences. The more likely thing to attract audiences, though, is director James Wan, the director of Saw and Insidious, two typically well-liked horror movies. If The Conjuring opens up like The Purge from last month or Mama from earlier this year, it could take the weekend, but otherwise it may get lost in a crowded weekend.

Final movie of the week comes the most troubled one and that is R.I.P.D., which stands for Rest in Peace Department. The movie has been heavily advertised in order to try to get it recognition, but the problem is that is most likely will have somewhat of an identity crisis as to who its audience is. On one angle it is trying to go for the family audience. That will be difficult with family audiences opting for either Turbo or Despicable Me 2. The PG-13 rating also makes it a difficult choice for families. The other option is the adult audience which is also troubling because Red 2 is also opening this same weekend. Adult audiences will either opt for that or wait another weekend for The Wolverine. R.I.P.D looks like it is trying to be the next Men in Black, but it won't get anywhere near those numbers. In fact, I'd be shocked to see R.I.P.D.'s final total even get near the $50 million opening that all three Men in Black movies got.

July 26th - 28th - 

After several crowded weeks in the box office the final weekend of July will slow down a bit in terms of number of releases as there really is only one major release. That one is a big one, though, and will most definitely be the second biggest movie in July behind Despicable. I am of course talking about The Wolverine. For the longest time, fans like me assumed that this movie was a sequel to 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which begged the curiosity of the naming of the movie. However, it was eventually revealed that it is not a sequel to that movie at all, but is in fact the exact opposite of that movie as the events in The Wolverine take place after all the X-Men movies. Wolverine is the generally the most popular character in X-Men and this movie sees him become a mortal, more human Wolverine. Thus this brings a different take and could attract audiences. There is the chance, though, that audiences could still be bitter about the poorly reviewed X-Men Origins: Wolverine and avoid this. I see The Wolverine landing somewhere between that first Wolverine movie and the recent X-Men: First Class. The former opened to $85 million and ended with $180 million while the latter opened to $55 million and ended with $146 million.

There are also two comedies that get released this week, but both will be in only be in around 600-700 theaters, so neither will make a huge box office dent. The first is R-rated comedy The To Do List which is a comedy about a recently graduated high school girl trying to become more sexually experienced in her first year of college. That is all I care to say about it. The second is a PG-13 comedy called The Way, Way Back, which got an official release this past weekend, but will be getting its official wide release this final weekend. The movie is an official Sundance Film Festival selection is is more of a drama/comedy as it is about a 14 year old boy trying to fit in his mom and her boyfriend during his Summer vacation. Finally, it is worth mentioning that The Smurfs 2 is a July release as it gets released on Wednesday July 31st, but its first weekend is all in August, so I will discuss it in next month's movie preview.

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