Friday, June 2, 2017

Movie Preview: June 2017

Summer 2017 is one month in the books for Hollywood and overall the box office this summer started out on a really bad limp. Marvel scored big time as "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" has already passed its predecessor's final total as it inches closer to the $400 million mark domestically after standing at around $350 million following its first month. But outside that we have flops across the board. "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword," "Snatched" and "Baywatch" have been straight-up box office bombs while "Alien: Covenant" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" are tallying way below their predecessors. Although with the latter two, overseas totals are making up for their domestic shortcomings, especially with "Pirates 5" as it has already earned nearly 80 percent of its worldwide total at the international box office. Meanwhile, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul" and "Everything, Everything" both failed to register. Thus not only does this mean that May 2017 has been the second straight May to miss out on the $1 billion mark, but it also missed out on the $900 million mark and is the lowest grossing May since 2006. All of this means that the market is currently wide open, ready for some major hits, so let's see what June has to offer up!

June 2nd - 4th-

While Marvel led things off in May with "Guardians 2," it's now DC's turn to kick off a summer as they are releasing Wonder Woman to the world, which is the fourth movie in the DC Extended Universe. It's safe to say that it's been a bit of a rough road for DC as they attempt to follow in the footsteps of Marvel by getting their big cinematic universe off and running. The response to "Man of Steel," "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Suicide Squad" have all been mixed at best. Although it's worth noting that, despite less-then-stellar reviews, the box office has still been healthy as the three movies average a domestic total of $315.5 million, which is actually higher than the current average of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which stands at $305.2. Not an apples-to-apples comparison, obviously, but it shows that the DC fan base is still huge and it looks like they're finally going to get an entry in this current universe that will please just about everyone as the current score on Rotten Tomatoes stands at a fantastic 92 percent. The movie is also the first female-led superhero movie that either the MCU or the DCEU have put out and surprisingly the first ever movie in the 76-year history of the character of Wonder Woman. All of these signs put together point to a very strong opening weekend and healthy overall box office run for "Wonder Woman."

"Wonder Woman" isn't the only superhero movie coming out this weekend as DreamWorks Animation is releasing Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. This is obviously a very different type of superhero movie, thus there won't be much crossover audience as DreamWorks has chosen to completely ignore their adult audience this time around and make a movie specifically for 8-10 year old kids who will be bursting out in laughter over all the juvenile, restrained potty humor of a series focused around two fourth-graders who hypnotize their mean principal and make him run around in his underwear saving the world as the illustrious Captain Underpants. This movie is based on the very popular kids novels by Dav Pilkey, which began in 1997 and now includes 12 books, as well as a small handful of spin-offs, that have sold a total of 70 million copies worldwide. Thus while this movie is specifically targeting young kids, this might actually have a multi-generational appeal as teenagers and young adults who grew up reading the series may also be interesting in getting a healthy dose of nostalgia. The biggest obstacle here will be trying to convince family audiences to see this instead of saving their money for "Cars 3" or "Despicable Me 3."

June 9th - 11th-

Speaking of cinematic universes, Universal has decided that they want to join the party and start their own cinematic universe that they've decided to call Dark Universe. This will be a reboot of their old monster universe and begins this month with the latest iteration of The Mummy. The original Universal Monsters began with "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" in 1923 and "The Phantom of the Opera" in 1925. Universal ended up making a total of 89 monster movies between 1923 and 1960 which are highlighted by "Dracula" in 1931, "Frankenstein" in 1931, "The Mummy" in 1932, "The Invisible Man in 1933, "Bride of Frankenstein" in 1935, "The Wolf Man" in 1941 and "Creature from the Black Lagoon" in 1954. As regards to "The Mummy" franchise, this 2017 remake will be the 14th Mummy movie made. Universal made six of their own during their Universal Monsters phase, which included them rebooting the series in 1940. The British Hammer Horror series made four Mummy movies of their own between 1959 and 1971. Then we have the Stephen Sommers Mummy trilogy that started in 1999. So yes, this will be the fourth time in history that "The Mummy" has been rebooted. Universal would really like it if this works out for them. They do have Tom Cruise on board with this movie, so that's a good sign as he's one of the most bankable Hollywood stars.

This iteration of "They Mummy" isn't actually a horror movie. It's an action/adventure movie. But it does have a horror movie challenging it at the box office with It Comes at Night. Last summer was a very healthy one for horror films with "The Conjuring 2" ($104.5 million), "Don't Breathe" ($89.2 million), "Lights Out" ($67.3 million) and "The Shallows" ($55.1 million) all performing well at the domestic box office. This year hasn't seen a ton of horror films released, but "Get Out" broke out in a huge way with $175.3 million starting in late February. Can "It Comes at Night" continue the positive trend? Early reaction from the Overlook Film Festival that it debuted at back in April is positive and distributor A24 also has a good track record of high quality films that includes "Moonlight," "Ex Machina," "The Witch," "Room" and "Swiss Army Man." What they don't have much of a track record for is breakout box office numbers as they usually play it safe with the limited release, slow roll-out game. They've only opened one movie in more than 2,000 theaters, which was 2014's "The Witch," which opened to $8.8 million and finished with $25.1 million. If those are the numbers it follows, A24 will consider that a win. "Moonlight" is their top film with $27.8 million.

The final movie of the weekend is the dog/war movie Megan Leavy. There's been a lot of movies about and starring dogs in Hollywood, but not a lot of them where the dog is a war hero. But there was one two years ago called "Max" that was also released in June and made a total of $42.7 million after opening to $12.2 million, numbers that Bleecker Street would be absolutely ecstatic if they hit, given that their highest grossing movie is "Eye in the Sky," which made $18.7 million last year. They also haven't opened a movie in more than 452 theaters before, so this isn't exactly a movie where they'll be aiming for the sky. If they get into the double-digit millions, that'll be good enough for them. The movie is based on the true story of Megan Leavy, played by Kate Mara in the film, who was able to save a lot of lives with her combat dog during her deployment in Iraq in the 2000's.

June 16th - 18th-

The third weekend of June will have four wide releases racing for the box office crown and the favorite to win that race will be Pixar with Cars 3. A "Cars" trilogy is probably one that not many asked for and on the surface level might be the most confusing that it now exists given that Pixar is not known churning out endless sequels like many animation studios these days and "Cars" and "Cars 2" are both on the lower end of Pixar's library in terms of box office totals and critic reviews. In fact, when you adjust for ticket price inflation, then only movie that "Cars 2" beats out is the disaster that was "The Good Dinosaur." So why do we have a "Cars 3" when few people liked "Cars 2" and it didn't make much at the box office? Easy. Merchandise sales. In fact, the first "Cars" movie earned approximately $10 billion in merchandise sales. That's the second highest total ever behind only "Star Wars." So yeah, more kids around the world own "Cars" toys than they do "Transformers," "Ninja Turtles" or any superhero movie toys. Moral of the story is that Pixar doesn't need "Cars 3" to be a big box office hit. They're here to make more toys sales. Although they have put together a marketing campaign that has won many people over, so this could be a surprise hit.

With how hard "Snatched" and "Baywatch" failed in May, the market for a breakout adult comedy is still wide open, especially when we get to the third weekend of June, meaning the door will be left wide open for Rough Night. They just have to play their cards right and walk through the door. The movie is about five best friends from college, played by Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer and Zoe Kravitz, who get together after 10 years to have one wild reunion in Miami. But things go horribly wrong when they accidentally kill the male stripper they hire. So in other words, it's "The Hangover" with females. From the writing and directing team best known for the TV show "Broad City," who have yet to work on a feature film until now. But hey, they could be the next breakout filmmakers. And Scarlett Johansson and Kate McKinnon provide enough star power to make a female version of "The Hangover" work. The big kicker will be that if it's funny and has good reviews, people will show up. That's what went wrong with "Snatched" and "Baywatch." If you don't make a good movie, then the chance of people showing up is less likely.

Hoping to cash in on the monstrous success of "Straight Outta Compton" from summer 2015 will be the Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez on Me. Tupac Shakur, commonly known by his rapper name 2Pac, is one of the most influential and iconic rappers from the 90's. He was one of the many rappers who benefited from the success of N.W.A, a group that revolutionized the rap industry as well as the music industry in general and were the subjects of the aforementioned biopic "Straight Outta Compton." 2Pac is in fact one of the best selling rap or hip-hop artists of all-time having sold over 75 million records worldwide and around 40 million albums. His fourth studio album of which this biopic is named after, "All Eyez on Me," was certified Diamond by the RIAA in 2014. "All Eyez on Me" was 2Pac's final album he released in his lifetime as he was shot and killed on September 13, 1996, at the age of 35, seven months after the album was released. The trailers for this movie claim they are telling the untold true story of 2Pac. Whether or not that's an accurate statement is yet to be seen, but the same crowd that swarmed out to "Straight Outta Compton" should be interested in this, although it would be unfair to expect this movie to equal the $161.2 million "Straight Outta Compton."

Last and probably least for this weekend, we get our yearly shark movie, 47 Meters Down. The positives for this movie are that last year's shark movie, "The Shallows," broke out in a big way and made $55.1 million, opening around this exact same time. That movie starred Blake Lively and this movie stars Mandy Moore, both of whom are fairly likable actresses. The obvious main disadvantage is that moviegoers may not be ready for yet another shark movie this soon after. While "The Shallows" had Blake Lively abandoned on a rock next to a shark, "47 Meters Down" has Mandy Moore cage diving while looking at the ocean life when the cable breaks and sends her plummeting 47 meters down with an angry shark. It was initially meant as a straight to DVD movie by Dimension Films before being sold to Entertainment Studios, who decided to throw it in theaters first. Previous movies distributed theatrically by Entertainment Studios include, well, nothing. Which is another big question mark here. The film is directed by British director Johannes Roberts, who has mainly done a bunch of low-budget horror films that either had limited or no actual theatrical release. So most signs are pointing towards "47 Meters Down" becoming a forgotten summer film.

June 23rd - 25th-

After nine wide releases in the first three weeks of June, four coming in week three, the fourth weekend of June only sees one wide release. And it's actually being released on Wednesday the 21st. That movie is Transformers: The Last Knight. This is the fifth movie in everyone's favorite franchise, one that might never end due to the world continuing to give this franchise money. Despite mostly negative reviews, the four "Transformers" movies have made a total of $3.8 billion worldwide. The last two alone making a combined total of $2.2 billion worldwide, with around three-fourths of that coming from international totals. So the franchise fatigue setting in here in the U.S. doesn't even matter. I don't need to give you a plot synopsis of this fifth film. Something will happen that will give Michael Bay an excuse to give us three hours worth of explosions. Speaking of Michael Bay, while the franchise will continue, this is his last time directing a "Transformers" film. Paramount will be searching for new directors for their future films, which will continue next year with a Bumblebee prequel and the year after with the sixth movie in the regular timeline. After a writers room meeting, they have told us that they have 14 additional story ideas for this franchise. That means as long as the world keeps giving them money, they will keep making these movies.

June 30th - July 2nd-

The final weekend of June, which will be mostly in July, will go back to having four new wide releases that will all compete for moviegoers' attention as the weekend prior to Independence Day, which falls on a Tuesday this year. Thus most celebrations will probably take place this weekend. Leading the charge will be our third major animated movie in five weekends, that of Despicable Me 3. As far as animation goes, Illumination has been on fire. Not only did "Despicable Me 2" and "Minions" both make over $300 million domestically, feeding off the success of the beloved original, but "The Secret Life of Pets" and "Sing" both proved that Illumination can survive without the divisive appearance of the Minions as "The Secret Life of Pets" is now their highest grossing domestic release with $368.3 million, a mere $323,065 more than "Despicable Me 2," and "Sing" outgrossed Disney's "Moana" last holiday season with $270.3 million. And now we're back to the "Despicable Me" franchise, which has focused heavily on Gru and the girls this time around when it comes to the advertising instead of the Minions. A smart idea, probably. Steve Carell will also be voicing Gru's twin brother Dru while Trey Parker will take on villain duties.

If "Rough Night" fails to take advantage of the lack of quality comedies in the marketplace, Will Ferrell should be ready jump in with his latest comedy The House, which co-stars Amy Poehler. The two play a couple who, after spending their daughter's college fund, get the idea from a friend to start an illegal casino in their basement. Thus you can imagine the crazy romp that will ensue after this premise gets underway. As far as bankable Hollywood stars, love him or hate him, Will Ferrell has been one of the most reliable actors in the business. Outside a major bump in the road with "Zoolander 2," which arguably wasn't his fault, Will Ferrell has been on fire. Since 2010, he's starred in a wide variety of box office hits, from family movies like "Megamind," "The LEGO Movie" and "Daddy's Home," to PG-13 comedies like "The Other Guys" and "Anchorman 2," to hard R comedies like "The Campaign" and "Get Hard." All of these movies have made at least $85 million at the box office. With "The House" being the R-rated variety of his comedy, it worth noting that "The Campaign" made $86.9 million while "Get Hard" made $90.4 million. That might be a fair range for "The House."

Getting a head start on the weekend by opening up on Wednesday June 28 is the latest film by popular director Edgar Wright, Baby Driver. Edgar Wright can essentially be called the master of the cult classic. He's directed only four theatrically released films thus far, the highest of which has only made $31.5 million, yet all four are seen by many as masterpieces in comedy. Three of these four films consist of what's known as the Cornetto trilogy: "Shaun of the Dead" (2004), "Hot Fuzz" (2007) and "The World's End" (2013). The fourth film is "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" (2010). In terms of box office, it's definitely worth noting that Edgar Wright is a very popular British filmmaker and not only has he done a lot of work on TV, but all four of these films did quite well in his home country, with "Hot Fuzz" being the biggest as it made $41.2 in the U.K. compared to its U.S. total of $23.6. As pertaining to "Baby Driver," the movie stars Ansel Elgort as the character named Baby who tries to escape the world of crime with his new girlfriend, played by Lily James, but ends up being coerced into a big heist that seems doomed to fail. Early reviews are really high on this film as out of 23 reviews counted on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has a perfect 100 percent.

Last and possibly least we may or may not have the release of Amityville: The Awakening. I say may or may not because this movie has bounced around the schedule quite a bit. It was initially scheduled to be released back in 2012, but after five years in production hell, which consisted of many re-writes, re-shoots and postponements, it's finally here and we'll see how many people actually care to see it if it doesn't get postponed again. "The Amityville Horror" franchise began back in 1979 as the original film was a major success as it was part of the wave of 70's and 80's horror that did rather well. It made $86.4 million at the box office, which is the equivalent of $304.4 million today when adjusted for ticket price inflation. The movie was based on the alleged true story of the Lutz family who claimed to experience a series of supernatural events after moving into a house a year after a mass murder was committed. While a novel and terrifying idea back in 1979, the franchise has been beaten to the ground, yet not left alone. This is the 19th movie in the franchise to be released and the fifth to be released in theaters. "Amityville: The Awakening" is not a remake of the 1979 film, but rather a sequel to the 2005 remake with a completely new, fictional story to be told.

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