Monday, July 10, 2017

Movie Preview: July 2017

We're about a third of the way into July already and due to the Independence Day holiday and other distractions, this blogger has yet to get his July 2017 preview out. Although with July starting on a Saturday and those first two days of that weekend having been covered in June's preview last month, we've only missed one full July weekend and that only had one wide release, so there's still three full weekends of movies to cover and plenty of movies to get to, so no worries right? This just means we'll have to do a recap "Spider-Man: Homecoming" before we preview the rest. Looking back on June, we continued our summer of disappointing sequels and reboots with "The Mummy," "Cars 3," "Transformers: The Last Knight" and "Despicable Me 3" all falling short of expectations. Although all was not lost as the story of June was the incredible performance of "Wonder Woman," which made $334.9 million in the month of June alone and by the end of its run will finish as the top movie of the summer. This success helped June just clear the $1 billion mark as it avoids the fate of becoming the first June to fall short of the mark since 2007. Meanwhile, July is rather packed with huge titles, so without further ado let's dive right into what should be an entertaining month for moviegoers!

July 7th - 9th- 

As previously mentioned, the first full weekend of July, which is just barely in our rear view mirrors, provided only one wide release, but it was a huge one as Spider-Man: Homecoming swung into theaters with quite the bang. Coming in at  $117 million, "Spider-Man: Homecoming" delivered the third largest opening weekend of 2017, behind only "Beauty and the Beast" and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2" and just ahead of "Wonder Woman." Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, this is the second highest opening weekend for a Spider-Man movie, behind only the extremely front-loaded debut of "Spider-Man 3." This is also the highest debut ever for a single character introduction to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This connection with the MCU is precisely why this movie did so well, despite it being the sixth Spider-Man movie in 15 years and third incarnation of the character in that time period. After "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" became a franchise killer, Sony finally gave in and made a deal with Marvel to allow Spider-Man into the MCU if Marvel helped them make a good movie. Both Marvel and Sony should be pleased at the final result as it also achieved praise from critics and casual audiences alike. People are digging Tom Holland's Spider-Man.

July 14th - 16th-

The first three weekends of July all deliver high profile releases, which could either turn this into one of the highest grossing summer months in history or, as last summer showed us, could cause the movies to all financially self-destruct. Thus the jury is still out on whether War for the Planet of the Apes will out-gross its predecessors or not, but Fox certainly has confidence in their supposed final installment of their recent Planet of the Apes movies as they opened the critical flood gates a few weeks ago with their press screenings and no embargo. Thus far this is working out for them as the movie is currently receiving praise equal to or better than the critically acclaimed "Rise" and "Dawn." The tradition of making Planet of the Apes movies began nearly 50 years ago with the classic 1968 Charlton Heston classic about a future planet where apes are the dominant species instead of humans. This recent trilogy has decided to take a different spin on how this came to be, with "Rise" being about how this ape society came to be as well as how the human race began to fall. "Dawn" chronicled the inciting incident that started a war between the apes and the remaining humans where "War" figures to be the final battle wherein the apes finally take over.

Hoping to sneak in a few scares amidst the influx of blockbusters this month is the horror movie Wish Upon. This horror flick stars the now 17-year-old Joey King, who started her acting career as a very young girl and has built up quite the impressive resume of films that few people her age have achieved. Now in her late teenage years, she is starring as a girl who comes across a box that will grant you any wish you ask for. And, well, as the saying goes, be careful what you wish as you can imagine, in true horror fashion, these things come with major consequences. "Wish Upon" is directed by the cinematographer of successful horror films such as "Insidious" and "The Conjuring." However, as the main man in charge, Mr. John R. Leonetti has such films as "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation," "The Butterfly Effect 2" and "Annabelle," which is not a selection of films that Broad Green Pictures probably are eager to inform audiences that their director has been attached to, but ones that audiences should be aware of in case they are heading in expecting this to be the next horror masterpiece. Because, in all likelihood, this is probably not going to be remembered.

July 21st - 23rd-
First there was "Spider-Man: Homecoming." Then there was "War for the Planet of the Apes." And now we're throwing Dunkirk into the mix? Yeah, if all goes well, this could be a month to remember. "Dunkirk" sees esteemed director Christopher Nolan back with another movie, this time being a World War II film about, you guessed it, the Battle of Dunkirk. I won't give any details about this battle because I don't want to know anything going in, but if you feel like looking up what happened at Dunkirk before seeing the movie, then be my guest. What I will say is that, unlike many war films that are released, this carries with it a PG-13 rating, which means that high levels of blood and gore are not what Nolan is going for here. Despite Nolan's huge, rabid fan base that he's formed after movies such as "Inception" and "The Dark Knight," his last two films both got quite the impressive mixed reaction as there are a large number of people that will say "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Interstellar" are the best movies ever made while an equally large number will claim those are the worst movies ever made. Included in that are just about every opinion in between. Thus I'm sure that Nolan is hoping that he can do a better job of uniting moviegoers this time around.

With July this packed already, it seems a bit questionable that STX Entertainment would choose this month to try and convince audiences to also see Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. It seems like this movie would be better suited in August or October rather than in July, trying to compete with the likes of Spider-Man, Apes and Nolan. But oh well. I suppose that's why I'm a blogger and not an executive in the film distribution industry because this decision makes zero sense. Regardless, "Valerian" stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as Valerian and Laureline respectively and is based on the French series of comics titled "Valerian and Laureline," which was first published back in 1967. Thus it makes sense why French director Luc Besson is so passionate and excited to bring this series to the big screen in its 50-year anniversary, which is another reason why it seems like they would want to pick a better release date. Besson and STX hope this doesn't become the next "John Carter" or "Jupiter Ascending," two notorious sci-fi flops. But yet with its $180 million budget, it's going to take a huge surprise for "Valerian" to NOT be clumped with those two as a $20 million opening weekend seems like a generous prediction at this point.

The final entry of this third weekend comes from a genre that has been outright brutalized this summer. That being the raunchy comedy genre. Girls Trip hopes to buck this trend as summer 2017 desperately tries to search for a hit here. Yet despite strong marketing pushes and big name actors, "Snatched," "Baywatch," "Rough Night" and "The House" all fell embarrassingly short of even the most held-back expectations. Opening weekend totals for the four movies were $19.5 million, $18.5 million, $8.0 million and $8.7 million respectively. While the female-centered partying plot seems like the perfect premise for those wanting a good raunch com as a similar premise led "Bad Moms" to $113.2 million domestically just last summer, "Rough Night" also had a similar premise, yet was one of the two that couldn't even crack $10 million opening weekend. And with a cast led by Scarlett Johansson and Kate McKinnon, "Rough Night" seemed like it had a lot more potential. All due respect, but Regina Hall, Queen Latifa and Jada Pinkett Smith aren't nearly as popular as Johansson and McKinnon at this current point. But hey, maybe the epic failures of these previous four movies means we are finally poised for one to have success this summer.

July 28th - 30th-

The fourth and final weekend of July provides audiences with an additional two movies, albeit two very different films targeting two very different audiences, both of which have potential for success. First up is Atomic Blonde. While there's a lot of major blockbusters hitting theaters this month, as we have discussed, "Atomic Blonde" has the chance to succeed despite the busy market because it is specifically targeting the adult audience seeking another hardcore action flick. I don't want to say this has been an under-served genre this year, but there's been enough space between these types of movies that this audience isn't feeling overloaded at this point. The last of which would be "Baby Driver," which found breakout success at the end of June. "Atomic Blonde" is essentially being billed as the female-version of "John Wick." Not a bad comparison being that the director is "David Leitch," one of the co-directors of "John Wick." Leitch will be hoping for similar success here as he infuses his style with Charlize Theron in the lead role, who has developed into a bonafide action star thanks in huge part to best picture nominated "Mad Max: Fury Road" as well as this year's "The Fate of the Furious." Her presence should definitely help this movie succeed.

Perhaps the most controversial release of the month will be the arrival of The Emoji Movie. This is a movie that no one seems to be excited for but is happening due to the success of "The Angry Birds Movie," which made $107.5 million domestically. The reaction was rather negative when this was announced and the reaction was even more negative when the official trailer by Sony was released. This being evident by the trailer having 73,533 dislikes on YouTube at the time of this blog's posting compared to only 17,528 likes. If you don't feel like doing math right now, that's a dislike rate of 80.8 percent. But as I said at the start of the last paragraph, this movie has a chance to succeed anyways. First off, as mentioned, "The Angry Birds Movie" found success despite the negative reaction. And the young crowd this is aiming to please are less harsh critics than your average moviegoer. It doesn't take a lot to please a 5-year-old. If this movie succeeds in pleasing this target audience, then none of this negative reaction really even matters. A huge part of this hatred comes with the plot, which seems like a direct rip-off of "Wreck-It Ralph" and "Inside Out." But again, a 5-year-old isn't going to care about that. They just need to convince their parents to take them to see the movie.

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