Thursday, May 4, 2017

Movie Preview: May 2017

After the box office took its regularly scheduled break in the month of April following a huge March, it's time to begin Hollywood's summer! In actuality, this April was the highest grossing April on record, but that wasn't a super high bar to jump over as it barely inched past April 2011's record of $792.6 million by grossing $810.4 million. Leading the way, as expected, was "The Fate of the Furious" with nearly $200 million domestically in the month of April. The supporting cast came mainly from our big March holdovers as "The Boss Baby" and "Beauty and the Beast" both added over $100 million to their domestic gross in the month of April. "Smurfs: The Lost Village" and "Going in Style" came in third and fourth place as the next highest grossing April releases, but both of those were only at $37 million, if that gives you an idea of how April went. The summer months always get things back on track, although last May ended up being the first May since 2010 to come short of the $1 billion mark, so 2017 will look to get that streak going again. Although it probably doesn't have quite enough fire power to break 2013's May record of $1.14 billion.

May 5th - 7th-

Kicking the summer off on Cinco de Mayo will once again be the Marvel Cinematic Universe with their release of the highly anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. We can essentially call the opening weekend of May Marvel's weekend as, when it hasn't been the MCU opening the summer up, it's been a Spider-Man or X-Men movie. You have to go all the way back to 2006 to find a year where a Marvel property of some sort didn't open the summer. And don't look for that to change anytime soon. Marvel likes this weekend as the other studios seem to have agreed to let them have it. In 2014, Marvel took a big risk by choosing to bring a mostly unknown property with the "Guardians of the Galaxy" onto the screen and it couldn't have turned out better for them as the movie went onto be the fifth highest grossing movie in the MCU domestically and highest to not feature Iron Man. Our normal group of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot will be back for another adventure to save the galaxy. Yondu and Nebula will be back as well, this time in bigger roles than the previous movie, while newcomers while newcomers Mantis and Ego will be joining up. Reviews have been mixed so far, but that won't stop this from being one of the biggest movies of the summer.

May 12th - 14th-

Usually the second weekend of May is left abandoned as studios smartly decide to give a little space between themselves and whatever Marvel movie is kicking off the summer. That's not the case this time around as two wide releases hope to provide a bit of counter-programming while comic book fans will still be swarming the theaters for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2." It should be a close battle between the two for second place, but hoping to take the lead will be Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn with Snatched. There's usually a raunchy comedy each May that performs well and this May will have two candidates trying to fill that void with "Snatched" being first up to bat. Snatched stars Schumer and Hawn as a mother/daughter duo on a vacation who get kidnapped and sent on a wild, unexpected adventure because of that. Schumer's first big movie role came with 2015's "Trainwrecked," which was a huge success that went onto make $110 million. She'll be looking to replicate those figures this time around, although "Snatched" has her working with director Jonathan Levine as opposed to Judd Apatow, which may hurt a bit as Levine doesn't have quite as good of a track record. This will also be Goldie Hawn's first movie role since "The Banger Sisters" in 2002.

The other movie that will be competing with "Snatched" for the runner-up spot at the box office will be a reboot that few people asked for and few people will most likely be interested and that is King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. The number of times the King Arthur legend has been portrayed in film or on TV in some form or another is almost too much to count, which is why there hasn't been a ton of positive buzz for this latest reiteration. The timing of the release is even more curious given that it will be in direct competition with "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" in terms of target audience. If "Snatched" hits well with audiences, that's less direct competition as audiences for a comic book movie are different than audiences for a raunchy comedy. "King Arthur" will be looking to drag away the same people and they might choose to simply stay home or go see "Guardians" again. One benefit "King Arthur" does have is respected director Guy Ritchie on board. While Ritchie isn't without his slip-ups, he's also directed movies such as "Snatch," "RocknRolla" and the Robert Downey Jr. "Sherlock Holmes" movies. Ritchie has also been called on by Disney to direct their upcoming live-action reboot of "Aladdin," so there are plenty of eyes on him right now.

May 19th - 21st-

The third weekend of May will see the return of the "Alien" franchise as Alien: Covenant will look to dethrone "Guardians 2" from the top of the box office. The "Alien" franchise dates all the way back to 1979 with Ridley Scott's classic, "Alien," which was successfully followed by James Cameron's "Aliens" in 1986. Despite switching the genre from horror to action, Cameron's "Aliens" is seen by many as just as beloved of a classic. It's been a rocky road since "Aliens," though, as "Alien 3," "Alien Resurrection," "Alien vs. Predator" and "Alien vs. Predator: Requiem" range from disappointed to flat out awful. None of them even come close to "Alien" or "Aliens" at the box office when you adjust for ticket price inflation. In 2012, Ridley Scott returned to the franchise with the "Alien" prequel "Prometheus," which got the box office back on track and for the most part was seen as a return to form in quality as well, at least when compared to the previous four movies. Now Scott is again back for "Alien: Covenant," which has fans buzzing in excitement after the trailers promised that this movie is returning the franchise back to its horror roots, which the franchise mostly veered away from after the first movie. There's no guarantee for success, but there's certainly potential here.

Hoping to tap into the family audience early in the summer before families are flooded with options in June is Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. This is a franchise that is based on the popular kids books of the same name and has actually done fairly well in its own right. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" made $64 million in 2010 while "Rodrick Rules" and "Dog Days" made $52 million and $49 million in 2011 and 2012. Those numbers don't jump out at you, but the three movies have been fairly consistent thus far. The big question mark here comes with the current interest level. As you may have noticed, the first three were all released within a year of each other, so family audiences had them fresh on their mind with each of the two sequels. But now its been five years since the third movie. That may have been too long of a break between sequels. The kids who went to the theaters for the first three are all five years older. How many of them are interested in going back? If they aren't, will this fourth movie be able to attract a new audience to the theaters? My guess is that "The Long Haul" experiences a steep drop from the third and becomes a franchise killer.

The first romantic drama of the summer will also come our way this weekend with Everything, Everything. While "Snatched" will also be targeting the female audience with it's mother/daughter vacation premise, that's directed more towards the adult female audience looking for a female-driven comedy. "Everything, Everything" is aimed mainly at young adult females or teenagers who haven't really had too many options given to them this year outside perhaps "Beauty and the Beast" and the lesser seen "Before I Fall," both from March. The premise for "Everything, Everything" surrounds a teenage girl who is allergic to sunlight and thus has been trapped indoors by her parents most of her life. When a teenage boy moves in next door, they fall in love and the girl decides that she wants to risk it and go have at least one great day in the sun and outdoors with this boy, doing things that she has never had the opportunity to do. The same audience that turned "Me Before You" into a surprise hit last year ($56.2 million) could very well turn out for this movie as well. Or it could be more like "Paper Towns" the summer before ($32.0 million). A dream come true for the studio would be a turnout like "The Fault in Our Stars" in 2014 ($124.9 million), but I wouldn't count on that.

May 26th - 29th-

Memorial Day weekend is always a big weekend for the movies. Not only will people be catching up on all the previously mentioned movies that they missed, but there are two huge titles that will be joining the mix this weekend and leading the way will be Disney striking again with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. This is the fifth movie in the "Pirates" franchise that seems to have peaked with the second movie. Depending on where you look that is. The original "Pirates of the Caribbean" was such a huge success in 2003 on all levels that the second movie became one of the highest grossing domestic films of all time. In fact, in 2006, "Dead Man's Chest" ended up 5th on the all-time domestic list and is still 17th today. It was all downhill from there in the United States as the fourth movie in 2012 grossed almost half of what the second movie did. Thus many may be asking why we are getting a fifth movie five years after the fourth? Because the international box office is a completely different story. The third movie became the first of the franchise to hit a $1 billion worldwide and while the fourth movie didn't quite top the third, it also hit $1 billion worldwide. Look for the same story here with this fifth movie. It will probably drop even further here in the states, but I would wager this becomes the third movie in the franchise to cross the $1 billion mark.

Getting a day's head start on the weekend by opening on Thursday the 25th will be the second raunchy comedy of the month that I referenced earlier and that is Baywatch. This might be one of the biggest wildcards of the summer as it may rely solely on reviews as to whether or not that achieves success. On one hand, "Baywatch" is one of the most well-known TV shows ever made as it starred David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson and a whole host of others in its lifeguard/beach setting with all sorts of beach-related adventures. It was fun, not just as eye candy for some viewers, but also as an action/adventure/drama series. This new film reboot of "Baywatch" gets the "21 Jump Street" treatment with an R-rated tag and two popular film stars leading the way. This time with Dwayne Johnson, who can almost do no wrong at this point, and Zac Efron, who successfully made the transition to adult comedy with the "Neighbors" franchise. So this could be a huge hit, especially if the reviews are good. On the other hand, there seems to be a lot of people sitting on the fence with this that will not feel bad skipping it if the quality isn't high. It could be this year's "21 Jump Street" or it could be this year's "Neighbors 2." Don't be surprised either way.

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