As you probably all know by now, May kicks off the summer movie season and personally I think it's going to be one of the odder summers we've seen in a long time for reasons you probably can read more about in my annual Summer Box Office Preview. The potential for the summer movie season will probably be gauged first and foremost by how well things kick off as Sony Pictures unveils their sequel to their 2012 reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, once again starring Andrew Garfield as the wallcrawler, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, Sally Field as Aunt May and bringing in a new cast of villains that includes Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan and Paul Giamatti.
Unless you've been living under a rock--and I must say I'm impressed by the fact you were able to fit a computer under there--you probably already know a lot about the movie from the wall-to-wall marketing and promotions being done by Sony starting at Comic-Con last July and continuing throughout the holidays and over the past four months. It's following up the 2012 reboot The Amazing Spider-Man, which opened over the 4th of July weekend in 2012, grossing $35 million on its opening day (Tuesday, July 3) and then dropping quickly after that. It ended up grossing $262 million domestically, which was $70 million less than Spider-Man 3 five years earlier, and that was the lowest-grossing of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy despite opening big with $151 million on the first weekend of May 2007.
Like many other big summer superhero movies, kicking off the lucrative movie season is certainly going to help the movie's awareness factor since people are going to get bombarded with every single website television news station, magazine and newspaper doing summer previews with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 being mentioned a lot. Whenever the summer comes around, it generates an excitement in moviegoers for the season which also often helps create a nice bump on opening weekend.
While Emma Stone was probably the biggest name star from the first movie, having had hits with Zombieland and Easy A, this one adds Jamie Foxx, whose line of hits include Ray (for which he won an Oscar), Dreamgirls and Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. His teaming with Channing Tatum last year for Roland Emmerich's White House Down bombed pretty badly although some feel that may have been because it was the second White House invasion movie of the year. Foxx isn't exactly playing a villain that many Spider-Man fans will care about, but the revelation that Harry Osborn would become Green Goblin in the sequel certainly got people excited. DeHaan has been appearing in a bunch of smaller movies like The Place Beyond the Pines, Kill Your Darlings and Metallica Through the Never, which helped put him on the radar as an up-coming actor worth watching.
For whatever reason, Sony decided to open the movie almost two-and-a-half weeks in advance in many markets including Europe, Australia, Japan and others, which opens a number of concerns, including piracy, because anyone who has doubts about the movie or just can't wait to see it, can just download it illegally. Obviously, Sony has been at the forefront of fighting piracy for many years so it's interesting that this doesn't seem like a concern and one can only imagine how much more the movie might make domestically if it opened day-and-date everywhere. So far, piracy hasn't hurt other movies that have opened in other countries first, at least not that we know of, and even the original The Amazing Spider-Man opened earlier in international territories, just not that far in advance.
Now let's look at what moviegoers thought of The Amazing Spider-Man vs. the three Sam Raimi movies. Going by IMDb, all of the movies are generally ranked in the same range from 7.2 to 7.4 out of 10 except for Spider-Man 3. Because The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is already playing in many countries, we can see from the same source that it's currently at 7.7/10 from over 27,000 users. As far as the critics, it's currently at 68% at Rotten Tomatoes, which is in the same range as the first movie. In general, critics tend to give early summer movies a pass but then start getting tougher and tougher as the summer goes along - something we've seen in years past when movies like Spider-Man 3 and even Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull received surprisingly high ratings from critics. Being released less than a month after Marvel Studios' well-received Captain America: The Winter Soldier may pose some problems though, since that movie was so well received and has done so well against every new movie that opened against it, remaining #1 for three weeks.
This is a big and important movie for Sony because it's their first movie of summer as well as potentially their biggest movie of the summer after a disappointing 2013, and they're hoping it will help to form a foundation to build on the long-running franchise. Their best chance is if the kids that love the character of Spider-Man and might not be jaded against the current incarnation go see the movie in force, because there really isn't a lot of kid-friendly fare between now and the release of How to Train Your Dragon 2 in June.
Putting all these factors together, I'm thinking The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will have a solid opening day of $35 million or higher and probably will do decently on Saturday with the family market though it may have a hard time convincing the over-30 moviegoers that went to see Raimi's Spider-Man who weren't as into The Amazing Spider-Man to go see it. I'm thinking an opening weekend in the $90 million range would be fairly doable and with the benefits of opening in early May and likely getting a bump from Memorial Day and schools eventually letting out, it should be on its way to $220 or 225 million before being overrun by other summer offerings.
This weekend last year saw the release of an uncontested summer kick-off movie as Robert Downey Jr. returned as Tony Stark in Iron Man 3 (Marvel Studios/Disney), just one year after the record-setting opening for Marvel's The Avengers, and we saw the first signs of an "Avengers bump" as it achieved the second-highest domestic opening take with $174.1 million. Since we doubt the entire Top 10 will make even close to that amount, this summer is going to start behind the summer opening last year although hopefully it will slowly pick up over the next few months.
This Week's UPDATED Predictions -
UPDATE: Raising our The Amazing Spider-Man 2 prediction a little bit since it's getting more theaters than we expected and being the only movie opening the weekend is definitely going to help even if reviews are getting worse and worse the closer we get until opening. Other movies are losing more theaters than expected including Transcendence and A Haunted House 2 which just opened three weeks ago while Heaven is for Real is actually grabbing up theaters and should benefit as counter programming.
10. Draft Day (Summit) - $1.3 million -50% (down .2 million)
This Week's Limited Releases:
Elizabeth Banks stars in Steve (Mr. Deeds, Little Nicky) Brill's comedy Walk of Shame (Focus World) as news anchor Meghan Myles, who is vying for a job at a national network. The night before her big audition, she spends a drunken one night stand with a bartender (James Marsden). The next morning, she tries to sneak out for the most important interview of her life not realizing her car has been towed with her phone, ID and all her money.
Irish filmmaker John Butler's comedy The Bachelor Weekend (Tribeca Film) follows groom-to-be Fionnan (Hugh O'Conor) who agrees to go on a camping trip as part of a bachelor party weekend only to have to deal with his fiancee's brother who turns up and starts challenging Fionnan at his friends to ridiculous contests. It opens in Chicago theatrically and is available on VOD.
Cam Gigandet (Easy A) stars in Huck (The Virginity Hit) Botko's Bad Johnson (Gravitas Ventures) as Rich Johnson, a Chicago ladies' man unable to commit to any sort of long relationship who wishes his namesake would be gone to keep him from losing girlfriends (like one played by Jamie Chung). Instead, he wakes up to find his penis has been replaced by a loud-mouthed human played by comedian Nick Thune.
Action, Thrillers and Horror:
A group of ecological scientists stationed at an outpost in the German Alps discover something incredible in Marvin Kren's Blood Glacier (IFC Midnight), which as you may be able to tell from the title involves a glacier that's bleeding but also one that is creating crazy mutations of the local wildlife that proceeds to kill and meld with the explorers.
Thai martial arts superstar Tony Jaa returns for Prachya Pinkaew's sequel The Protector 2 (Magnet) in which his character Kham is accused of killing the owner of a major elephant camp and ends up on the run both from the police and the owner's nieces looking for revenge. Kham is able to get help from an Interpol agent (Mum Jokmok) that's been sent to Thailand on a secret mission. It's opening at New York's Cinema Village and like almost every other movie these days, is available On Demand.
Thomas Haden Church stars in Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais' Canadian thriller Whitewash (Oscilloscope) as Bruce, a down on his luck snowplow operator who accidentally kills a man and hides the body before taking to the wilderness to escape from his actions.
Karl Mueller's Mr. Jones (Anchor Bay Films) stars Jon Foster and Sarah Jones (no relation) as a young couple who have moved into a remote cabin to work on their art when they discover another reclusive artist, known only as "Mr. Jones," living nearby who only comes out at night to create strange sculptures in the woods. When the couple investigates, they end up angering the reclusive artist.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw gives an amazing breakout performance in Amma Asante's Belle (Fox Searchlight) based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral who is sent to live with her uncle, the Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), and aunt (Emily Watson). She grows up in the well-to-do family without being allowed some of the luxuries of her cousin due to her skin color and as she becomes old enough to marry, she has to face a tough decision between two men willing to look past her skin color, one from better means than the other.
Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly's directorial debut Beneath the Harvest Sky (Tribeca Film) stars Emory Cohen (The Place Beyond the PinesThe Great Gatsby) as Casper and Dominic, two best friends living in Northern Maine who find very different ways of making enough money to get in a car and leave their sleepy smalltown. Casper works with his father (Aidan Gillen from "Game of Thrones") to smuggle drugs across the Canadian border while dealing with a girlfriend (Zoe Levin) who claims to be pregnant. It opens in New York at the Cinema Village following a run on VOD for the past few weeks.
Steven Bernstein's Decoding Annie Parker (eOne Films) is based on the true story of Annie Parker (Samantha Morton) and her struggle with breast cancer after losing her mother and sister to the disease. Helen Hunt plays Mary Claire-King, the geneticist who is convinced there is a link between genetics and cancer who works with Annie to try to cure her using her theories which few of her colleagues share.
Foreign Films of Interest:
Pawil Pawlikowski, director of My Summer of Love and Last Resort returns to his Polish roots with Ida (Music Box Films) starring Agata Trzebuchowska as an 18 year old about to become a nun at the convent where she lived as an orphaned child who learns she may have a Jewish aunt who used to be a Communist state prosecutor, as the two women try to uncover their past that goes back to WWII.
Next week, the normally bad second weekend of May sees the release of three new movies with only one of them really getting much attention and that will be the R-rated comedy Neighbors (Universal), starring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrne. Honestly, I know nothing about Mom's Night Out (Sony/TriStar Pictures) and Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (Summertime Entertainment), which isn't a good thing for movies being released in less than two weeks.
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