Friday, July 3, 2015

Movie Preview: July 2015

According to the calendar, Summer 2015 is only a couple of weeks old. However, in the eyes of Hollywood, Summer is halfway over as it begins in May and goes through August. Being even more specific, though, the biggest three Summer movie months in Hollywood are May, June, and July, with leftovers being given to August, so in reality we're heading into the last big movie month of this Summer. More often than not, July ends up being the highest grossing movie of the Summer. However, that wasn't the case last year and it's questionable as to whether or not that will be the case this year with how huge both Jurassic World and Inside Out ended up being this past month, but one thing is for sure and that is that there are a whole heck of a lot of big releases to talk about as this will be a rather crowded month, so without anymore delay, let's jump right in and see what July has in store for everyone!

July 1st - 5th- 

In order to get a head start on the Independence Day holiday, all of the new releases officially came out on Wednesday instead of Friday this week, which means I'm a bit behind with this post. As far as the five-day weekend, there's a good chance Jurassic World and Inside Out end up at the top of the box office again, but Magic Mike XXL came out on top on Wednesday, so I'll talk about that one first before getting to the new Terminator movie. Three years ago at around this time, Magic Mike became a surprise hit at the box office. Not many thought a movie about a group of male strippers would be a hit outside the female audience going for some good eye candy, but turns out it was a hit and those who saw it were surprised at how much heart the movie had as it got very positive scores by critics. It also proved that Channing Tatum was quite the box office draw as that was his third huge hit in just a matter of months. Now most of the crew is back, outside Matthew McConaughey and as such most of the audience that enjoyed the movie will be back in theaters to enjoy the sequel. Director Steven Soderbergh has left the directing chair for this one, but his first assistant director in a lot of his movies, including Magic Mike, is the one in the directing chair, that being Gregory Jacobs. Going against Magic Mike XXL are the less than stellar reviews as well as the high competition that may make it hard to attract the male audience who'd rather see Jurassic World or Terminator Genisys than a male stripper movie, so this sequel probably won't fly as high as the original, but with how small the budget is, that really isn't necessary.

Speaking of Terminator Genisys, let's jump right into that discussion. The Terminator franchise is, of course, a very popular franchise thanks mostly to the huge popularity of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which is considered as one of the most iconic movies in recent history, at least for its genre. It's also Arnold Schwarzenegger's most famous role. Thus Terminator Genisys has a lot going for it. The fact that it's a Terminator movie will definitely be a draw in and of itself. Also, Arnold holds true to his word in this with his famous line, "I'll be back." He took the fourth movie off and now he's back for this fifth installment. However, despite these benefits that the movie has, Terminator Genisys probably has more working against it. First and foremost is the general reaction that audiences have had towards the previous two installments. People didn't like Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines nearly as much as its predecessor and Terminator Salvation really put a sour taste into fans' mouths. Thus a lot of the die hard Terminator fans are no longer interested in more Terminator movies. Had this fifth installment pleased audiences, fans may have been more forgiving, but reactions to the trailers weren't good and early reaction to the movie itself is even worse. The movie is currently being panned by critics and general audiences aren't being that much nicer to it. With this poor word of mouth, audiences are much more likely to give their money to Jurassic World over the holiday weekend. Terminator Genisys will most likely be relying heavily on overseas totals to make up for the financial losses that it will be experiencing domestically.

Finally, sneaking into a wide release this weekend is Faith of Our Fathers. It's not likely that this will make a huge dent in the box office this weekend, but this is from Pure Flix Entertainment, which is a studio that has made a whole lot of small Christian movies which usually attract a few Christian movie goers, but not a whole. Last year they surprised the world by having God's Not Dead breakout in a huge way. Since then they have been trying their best to replicate that surprise success and have been more aggressive in booking theaters, but expecting that type of success every time is probably unfair. There will be a few that will be interested in checking this one out, especially because it does have a holiday tie-in as well as a Christian theme. But most people will probably overlook this one. If anything, look for it to be closer fellow Pure Flix release Do You Believe? which opened to $3.5 million this past March.

July 10th - 12th-

So far this Summer, each month has been able to produce a movie that has gone on to earn at least $400 million at the domestic box office. This is of course a very unique trend, but if there is one movie from July that has potential to keep that trend going it is Minions. Now I'm making no prediction there, so don't hold me to that, but the buzz for Minions has been through the roof this last month leading up to it, so if it doesn't reach $400 million, it should at least hit the $300 million mark. If it does so, it will be the fifth movie of the year to reach that following Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World, and Inside Out (which hasn't yet, but will by the end of its run). Normally popular sidekicks in huge animated movie don't fair as well when they get their own movies. Puss in Boots wasn't even close to matching the Shrek movies and Penguins of Madagascar ended up being a huge domestic flop, but Minions should be different as they pretty much were the stars of both Despicable Me movies. Yes, there are plenty of people who are annoyed by the minions and are mad that they are getting their own movie, but the number of people who love the minions far outweigh the haters. To put into perspective of how many people love the minions, the facebook page for the Minions movie recently passed 30 million likes, which puts it into the top 10 most liked movie pages ever on facebook. And it hasn't even been released yet. Yeah, people are excited for this movie. Inside Out opened to $90 million last month. Despicable Me 2 opened to $83 million. Minions should at least get in that range. The record for an animated movie on opening weekend is Shrek the Third at $121 million. I'm not going to predict a record for Minions, but with how this year has gone so far, I won't be surprised if it gets it.

Horror movies are a dime a dozen these days as it seems like I'm talking about at least one every time I do one of these movie previews. This month's horror movie is The Gallows. This one also comes from producer Jasom Blum, who has had pretty decent success with the horror movies that he's produced. His horror movies include the Paranormal Activity movies, the Insidious movies, the Sinister movies, and last year's Ouiji. Love or hate the genre, these type of movies are really cheap to make, thus even a final total of $20 or $30 million is considered a profit. The Gallows follows a group of students at a high school who attempt to honor the 20-year anniversary of a play that was put on at the school which resulted in the accidental death of one of the students at the time. You could probably guess what happens next. The advertising on this movie has focused heavily on the reaction of people who have said that this is a terrifying movie. If that holds true, then this could end up as a decent success for Jason Blum. Personally I'm reminded of last July's Deliver Us from Evil, which opened just below $10 million and tripled its opening weekend with a final total of $30 million. If The Gallows replicates that, it would still be considered a success.

The last movie of this week is the sci-fi thriller Self/Less. In this movie, Ben Kingsley plays an old, successful rich man who is dying from cancer, so some huge scientific break through allows him to transfer his consciousness into the body of a young, healthy man (Ryan Reynolds) in order to extend his life. This of course will bring a whole lot of moral dilemmas into the equation that the movie will most likely discuss. The tagline in the trailer is "Would you take a life to live forever?" This is followed by the advertisement of their website at the end which is Sci-fi movies recently have been a bit of a hit or miss. An example of a miss was last year's Transcendence or this year's Chappie. An example of a hit was Ex Machina from earlier this year. It's hard to predict which route Self/Less will take. In a crowded July with a moderate release, if it ends up being a miss, there is a strong chance that the movie could be completely ignored. However, if well-liked it could be a sleeper candidate.

July 17th - 19th-

After a huge showing in May with Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel is back at it with their final Phase II, that of Ant-Man. It's hard to bet against Marvel right now as they have shown time and time again that they are really good at making great super-hero movies and have surprised fans on multiple occasions, the most latest being last year's Guardians of the Galaxy. However, Ant-Man is a project that has had a lot of people raising their eyebrows. Not only does it not sound like the greatest idea for a superhero movie, but the reaction to the first trailer was less than stellar. Many have predicted that this will be Marvel's first slip-up. Not so fast, though. The premier for this movie has happened and the early word is very positive. James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy, said that this was his favorite Avengers movie since the first Iron Man, excluding the one that he is obviously partial to. For those who don't know much about Ant-Man, he was actually one of the first Avengers in the comics and has a lot of great abilities that recent trailers have done a great job of showcasing, like his ability to gain super-human strength when he shrinks. Marketing has also made sure to let audiences know that this will once again be a very light-hearted, humorous movie. A common comparison has been that of Guardians of the Galaxy, which was another risky project by Marvel that payed huge dividends. It probably won't reach those levels, but this also won't be Marvel's first bomb. It seems fair to predict that this ends up in the range of the first Thor and Captain America  movies.

The other wide release for this is the first of two adult-themed comedies being released in the second half of July, that being Trainwreck. Those who watched the NBA Finals this year should be very familiar with this movie, as it was heavily pushed during the finals due to the presence of LeBron James in the movie. LeBron James was, of course, playing during these NBA Finals, so that heavy advertising was very smart as all of the TV spots spent most of their time showing LeBron's scenes in this movie. After seeing all of those, you would've thought he was the main star of the movie. But he's just a side kick. The actual stars are Amy Schumer and Bill Hader. Amy plays a girl who doesn't believe that a committed relationship is possible for her, which of course is put into question when she meets Bill Hader's character. The movie is directed by Judd Apatow, who has had a lot of success with this genre as both director and producer, so the probability of success here seems pretty good.

July 24th - 26th-

As you can tell, this month has been full of some pretty big franchise names and sequels. However, one of the biggest movies of the month will be a non-franchise movie and that is Pixels, Some saw the trailer for the first time, noticed that it starred Adam Sandler and Kevin James, and immediately categorized it with all the other Adam Sandler comedies. That's definitely not the case here. This is much different than the typical Adam Sandler comedy. A more interesting comparison might be Disney's animated flick Wreck-It Ralph as both movies deal with classic 80's video game characters. In this case, NASA has sent a time capsule into space with examples of our life and culture in hopes to send a message of peace to other life forms. Unfortunately this was taken the wrong way as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede, and other classic arcade game characters have come down to attack the earth. To stop them, the government has turned to four video game experts from the 80's played by Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad, and Peter Dinklage. This is definitely a movie that's not taking itself seriously and is instead just having a lot of fun with a silly idea and audiences going into this should take the same approach. Because, you know, who doesn't want to see a movie where Pac-Man and Donkey Kong are attacking earth?

Last Summer, The Fault in Our Stars became a surprise hit. This Summer, another best-selling John Green novel gets the big screen treatment and that is Paper Towns. This movie is a coming-of-age drama in which Nat Wolff, who also played a role in The Fault in Our Stars, plays more of a straight-edged teenage kid who gets a visit from his female neighbor played by up-and-coming actress Cara Delevingne. She takes him on quite the adventure that night, trying to teach him how to live life a little. Right after this, she disappears, leaving clues behind for him and his friends to follow in order to find her. The Fault in Our Stars hit all the right chords last year, which is why it became a big hit. If Paper Towns is able to replicate that, it should be able to have a decent run despite a very crowded month.

The third movie of the weekend sees Jake Gyllenhaal back on the screen with Southpaw. Last year, most people were rather upset that Gyllenhaal was snubbed at the Oscars for his performance in Nightcrawler. This year he is back with three performances, all of which look like decent candidates to get him back in the race. Southpaw is the first of these, the other two being Everest and Demolition. Even if Southpaw isn't the role that gets him an Oscar nomination, one thing is for sure and that is that he once again does a great job of transforming himself for the role, just like he did in Nightcrawler. This time around he plays a boxer who is really successful in the ring, but a chain of events occurs that cause his personal life to fall apart around him. Rachel McAdams, Forest Whitaker, and Naomie Harris are co-stars of Gyllenhaal and the movie is directed by Antoine Fuqua, director of Training Day and The Equalizer.

July 31st - Aug 2nd-

The final weekend of July actually sees the last two days of the weekend in August, but if you've been following this blog you'll know that I always include weekends like this in the month where the weekend begins, even if that's for only one day, so we get five weekends to talk about this month and four next month. In this final weekend, July is set to go out with a bang as we see the release of Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation. This is the fifth installment of the popular Mission: Impossible franchise, which means this is third fifth installment of the month following Terminator Genisys and Vacation, which gets released two days before Rogue Nation. I'll talk about Vacation in a second. Unlike the Terminator franchise, Rogue Nation actually has a whole lot of promise because the Mission: Impossible franchise is trending in a very positive way as the most recent installment, Ghost Protocol, is seen by many as the best in the franchise. It also earned a very healthy $209 million here domestically as well as a $694 million worldwide total back in December of 2011. Initially Rogue Nation was also set to come out in December, but Paramount wisely decided to move it up to July to avoid Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That probably made the studios for the current July releases a little nervous with the added competition, but outside Warner Bros'  Pan, they all decided to stay put and deal with it. It'll be interesting to see how it all turns out because Ant-Man, Pixels, and Rogue Nation will all be fighting for the same type of audience.

Now to what is, as I just mentioned, the second fifth installment of the month in Vacation. I refer to Vacation as the second and Rogue Nation as the third because Vacation comes out on Wednesday the 29th, two days before Rogue Nation. I just talked about Rogue Nation first because that should be the bigger hit of the weekend, but Vacation does have a lot going for it. The Vacation franchise started back in 1983 with National Lampoon's Vacation, which was written by John Hughes and based on his short story Vacation of '58 which was published in National Lampoon magazine in 1979. The movie follows Clark and Ellen Griswold as they take their two children, Rusty and Audrey, on a vacation to California's Walley World. This is a road trip from Illinois to California that ends up having a lot of obstacles on the way. The movie was directed by Harold Ramis and starred Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo as Clark and Ellen. The movie was a big success and spawned two sequels in the 80's and one in the late 90's. While the first one was a lot raunchier and thus got the R-rating, the three sequels were given a lighter, more family-friendly rating of either PG-13 or PG. This fifth installment, titled simple as Vacation, follows Clark and Ellen's son Rusty as he decides to take his own family on a vacation to Walley World before it closes for good. Ed Helms will be playing the lead role of Rusty while Leslie Mann takes the role of his sister Audrey. Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo will be reprising their roles as parents, and now grandparents, Clark and Ellen. The movie also has a whole handful of other big names in it, led by Chris Hemsworth, and is the directorial debut of directing duo John Francis Daley and Johnathan M. Goldstein. The movie also goes back to its R-rated roots of the original, which was the most successful of the bunch when adjusted for inflation.

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