Thursday, June 2, 2016

Movie Preview: June 2016

We're now heading into our second month of Hollywood's summer and we had a bit of an interesting start. As I talked about in my preview for last month, the schedule for this summer turned out to be a bit lopsided as most studios chose to completely avoid Captain America: Civil War and stuff all of their titles into June and July. That made May a little more empty than normal and I had to dive into the indie realm to fill up my schedule. The other thing that made May a unique month is that all of the movies that did come out mostly under-performed. Neighbors 2 only made $21.8 million opening weekend (Neighbors did $49 million), X-Men: Apocalypse only did $65.8 million (Days of Future Past did $90.8 million) and Alice Through the Looking Glass only did $26.9 million (Alice in Wonderland did $116.1 million). You can even argue that Captain America: Civil War performed slightly under expectations. Most thought it would perform like an Avengers sequel. Turns out it followed the trajectory of Iron Man 3 instead. All that means that this was the first May in six years to not hit $1 billion. Coming up in June we have a slate full of sequels and none of them are guaranteed to have any success. We'll see if this continues to be the summer of disappointing sequels or if something can actually catch on.

June 2nd - 4th-

Right out of the gate, we have a sequel in a highly beloved franchise with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Kids who grew up in the 80's and 90's are very well aware of the Ninja Turtles. There were TV shows, comics, video games, toys, and of course the three feature-length films. Now all of those kids who grew up in the 90's and 90's have kids of their own and the Ninja Turtles have had a bit of resurgence for their kids. Two years ago, the Michael Bay produced reboot of the franchise hit theaters with horrible reviews and negative buzz, but turned out to be completely critic-proof at the box office as it opened up to $65.6 million on its way to a domestic total of $191.2 million. Not bad at all. Looking back on things, critics have apparently hated all the TMNT movies. The 90's trilogy currently has Rotten Tomatoes scores of 40 percent, 33 percent, and 21 percent respectively. The animated movie from 2007 got a 34 percent and the aforementioned 2014 reboot got a 22 percent. It's a good thing these movies aren't for critics, right? Out of the Shadows currently stands at 18 percent, but I don't think that's going to stop our new generation of Ninja Turtle fans to check out this second movie.

I think it's safe to say that big summer blockbusters tend to skew more towards male movie goers than female movie goers. But amidst all of the fighting, action, and explosions that will happen this month, the female crowd will get at least one movie directed right at them and that is the romantic drama Me Before You. This movie is, of course, based off of the best-selling novel of the same name and thus has at least a small built-in audience that has been excited for this movie all year. Essential to these romantic dramas is the two leads and in this case, Me Before You has two very recognizable leads in Emilia Clarke and Sam Claffin. Most will know Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones and Sam Claffin comes fresh off his role as Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games movies. In terms of box office, two years ago at this time The Fault in Our Stars became a huge summer hit, but that's really the last time a movie from this genre really broke out. Not counting Fifty Shades of Grey, of course. If I Stay ($50.5 million), The Best of Me ($26.8 million), The Longest Ride ($37.4 million), The Age of Adaline ($42.6 million), The Choice ($32.0 million), and The Choice ($18.7 million) are our recent examples. Look for Me Before You to fall somewhere in that range with its final total.

The final wide release of the weekend will be the movie that is most likely to fly in completely under the radar and that is Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. This is Universal's second raunch-com in three weeks and although they'll be looking for a recovery after the failure of Neighbors 2, they're not going to get it here. To be fair, though, the expectations for this one are a lot lower. Popstar is done mockumentary style and is a satirical commentary on the lives of current pop stars by following the life of fictional pop star Conner4Real while using actual musicians, celebrities, and music producers as subjects of the mockumentary. Popstar comes to us via the comedic trio of The Lonely Island, which consists of Andy Samberg, Akivia Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone. They are most well known for their work on Saturday Night Live, but have done a wide variety of other stuff in the music, TV, and film world. In the film world, they most well known for Hot Rod, which was an initial box office flop, but has since had a huge cult following. Popstar will probably have an initial run similar to that of Hod Rod as Hot Rod opened to $5.3 million back in 2007 while finishing with $13.9 million total.

June 10th - 12th- 

The second weekend of June has three more big titles, and although it's hard to foresee exactly which one will come on top, I'll start with the most anticipated and talked about of the bunch and that is Warcraft. The video game movie genre has had a rough go of it to say the least. While there have been a few exceptions here and there, for the most part these movies have received negative reactions from fans and critics alike and none of really done super well at the box office. This history has suggested that perhaps Hollywood should stop adapting video games into movies and just let video games be video games and movies be movies. However, Hollywood has been persistent with these adaptations regardless of the history with the determination to make something work. 2016 is the year where this genre will be held in the balance as two of the biggest names in video games hit the big screen with Warcraft this month and Assassin's Creed in December. Both gaming franchises have very deep, rich lores that should work well on the big screen. If both fail, is it time to finally put this genre to rest? The early outlook for Warcraft isn't super good as the early reviews are coming in as very sour. But the big questions are how critic proof will this movie be and how will the actual Warcraft fans react to this movie? That's what will tell the story here.

Horror movies are always a dime a dozen because of how cheap they are to make and how easy  it is to make a profit. Usually a final total of $10-$15 million is enough for a profit. That's why we see a lot of them. While we've already had a decent handful of horrors this year, the most anticipated one has definitely been The Conjuring 2. Speaking of bad history, horror sequels have had a very long history of tanking at the box office and/or being seen as inferior to their predecessors. A lot of people are honestly thinking that The Conjuring 2 will be the exception to that. The Conjuring back in 2013 did a phenomenal job of being a genuinely terrifying horror movie that didn't rely on all of the classic cliche horrors of our day. That led it to an opening weekend of $41 million and a final domestic total of $137 million. Add to that is a worldwide total of $318 million. Remember how I said it is easy for horror movies to make a profit? Yeah. The Conjuring's budget was only $20 million and it made $318 million. Not bad, I'd say. It looks like The Conjuring 2 has another legitimately terrifying premise and if that's true, this could easily steal Warcraft's thunder this weekend. In fact, good will from the first movie and the great marketing from the trailers might be enough to do that anyways, even if the movie is poorly received.

Three movies this weekend. Three movies the previous weekend. Two more highly anticipated movies the next weekend that I'm about to get into. Something's gotta give. Not all of them can make money. My personal bet is that the movie left in the dust this weekend will be Now You See Me 2. The first one was a personal favorite of mine, but apparently I was in the minority. It had a Rotten Tomatoes score of 49 percent and an audience score of just 70 percent. However, despite mixed reviews, it was a surprise hit at the box office with a final domestic total of $117.7 million and a worldwide total of $351.7 million. That's why we're getting a sequel. That said, it was the type of movie that worked well as a stand-alone film and a sequel doesn't make a whole lot of sense to the story. But we'll see if they can conjure up some more magic again both with plot and with the box office. They'll need it. It does boast the same huge cast as the first, minus Isla Fisher. Returning to the sequel is Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine. Added to the bunch is Daniel Radcliffe, who obviously has a lot of experience with movies about magic. Different type of magic here, though, than the Harry Potter movies.

June 17th - 19th-

As you can see, there's a whole lot of uncertainty this month and it will be interesting to watch things play out. Out of all the uncertainty, there seems to be one movie that is a guaranteed hit and that is Finding Dory. In general, Pixar has had an excellent track record with audiences and the box office. Their one big exception comes with their most recent movie The Good Dinosaur, which has a very long story to it that I won't tell here. Finding Dory will get them back on track. It may be hard to believe, but it's now been 13 years since Finding Nemo hit theaters. Ellen DeGeneres, voice of Dory, has been begging for a sequel ever since. She finally got her wish. Turns out that she'll be the star as this time around the crew will be searching for Dory instead of Nemo while Dory will also be trying to find her family. Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, Finding Nemo is Pixar's third highest grossing movie, behind only Toy Story 3 and Inside Out. When you do adjust for ticket price inflation, it actually is Pixar's number one movie as its adjusted total is a whopping $483.4 million. While it might not be fair to expect Finding Dory to get quite that high, a final domestic total between Toy Story 3 ($415.0 million) and Inside Out ($356.5 million) seems like a safe bet. With Captain America: Civil War looking like it will close at around $400 million instead of the expected $500-$600 million that some thought, Finding Dory actually has a shot of stealing its title as the biggest movie of the summer.

Don't underestimate the power of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson! Last summer he surprised the world by carrying San Andreas to a $155.2 million domestic total when everyone was calling bust on the film. This summer he's teaming up with comedic superstar Kevin Hart in the comedy Central Intelligence. Dwayne Johnson has proven time and time again that he is one of the biggest box office draws of our day. And I do mean biggest in two different ways. He puts franchises on his back and single-handedly, in some instances, carries them to success while looking huge and imposing in those movies. He also has a very likeable charisma to him that makes him a surprisingly versatile actor. There's a reason why every week seems to have a new announcement of an upcoming film that the man has been cast to be in. His co-star Kevin Hart has also been a solid box-office draw. Six of his last seven movies that he's starred in have opened north of $20 million and he's been a big reason why. Teaming these two up in a comedy seems like the perfect formula for success. And it has a PG-13 rating, which makes it accessible to old and young crowds. This should make for a "huge" weekend at the box office.

June 24th - 26th-

The Final weekend of June sees one final highly anticipated released as well as a smaller war film that could fly under the radar and be a moderate hit. The highly anticipated release that I speak of is Independence Day: Resurgence. "We've had 20 years to prepare. So have they." When you think of alien invasion movies, the first one you would most likely pop into your head is Independence Day. Back in 1996, Independence Day earned a huge $306.2 million domestically, which was easily the best of that year. Adjusting for ticket price inflation, that is equivalent to $594.3 million. Last summer, Jurassic World showed what can happen when you successfully revive a popular 90's movie/franchise. Can Independence Day: Resurgence be this year's Jurassic World? I doubt it. But yet I didn't think Jurassic World was going to make much more than $200 million, either. Roland Emmerich is back as director, which could be good or bad. I say good because he's the original director. I say bad because his career as a director has gone downhill since Independence Day. His resume post-Independence Day includes Godzilla (1998), The Patriot, The Day After Tomorrow, 10,000 B.C., 2012, Anonymous, White House Down, and Stonewall. That's... not a good resume. I wouldn't be surprised if this was yet another under-performing sequel. Yet I wouldn't be surprised if this was an enormous hit. It's really the biggest wild card of the summer.

The final movie of the month is the aforementioned war film I spoke in Free State of Jones. This movie comes to us via STX Entertainment, a newer distribution company dedicated to making several medium-budget films each year. So far they've given us The Gift, Secret in their Eyes, The Boy, and Hardcore Henry. In addition to Free State of Jones, they have four more films coming later this year, so we'll be talking about them frequently throughout the year. The placement of this movie seems a bit odd as this looks like an Oscar-contending film coming out in the middle of the summer instead of the fall. Free State of Jones stars Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Keri Russell and is a true story about a small farmer in Mississippi during the Civil War that leads a group of rebels against the Confederacy, causing Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy and create a Free State of Jones. STX's highest-grossing movie is The Gift, which opened to $11.9 million on its way to $43.8 million total. Those seem like good numbers for Free State of Jones. If it gets great reviews, I could see it even topping those numbers to become STX's biggest movie yet.

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