Long Distance Box Office: Five Movies Take on Man of Steel


We’re probably going to be winding down with these Long Distance Box Office columns as we get closer to our annual Summer Box Office Preview, but we’re jumping ahead to late June as we look at the second half of the month when schools are starting to let out and more people have free time to kill by going to the movies.

On June 14, Warner Bros. will be opening Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Christopher Nolan, and while we have no doubt in our minds the movie is going to open big and do a lot of business over the course of the summer, it has a lot of movies opening on its tail.

One week later, we get the latest from Disney•Pixar, Monsters University, a prequel to the 2001 animated hit Monsters, Inc., while Brad Pitt stars in the apocalyptic thriller World War Z, based on Max Brooks’ popular series of novels.

A week after that, on June 28, Roland Emmerich returns with White House Down, an invasion movie starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, which will take on the comedy pairing of Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in The Heat.

So the question is whether the month of June can handle so many big movies, particularly when you have a Pixar film opening a week after the first Superman movie in seven years?

The first thing we have to determine is how well Man of Steel and Monsters University might do in their respective first weekends, because that will have a big impact on everything else. These are both movies that could potentially open over $90 million based on early buzz and their four-quadrant audiences, but how well Man of Steel holds up will depend on whether it delivers on the trailers. It could theoretically make another $45 to 50 million in its second weekend if not for the release of World War Z, a zombie action movie starring Brad Pitt, who has starred in many movies that opened over $40 million, particularly during the summer. That movie could potentially snag some of the male audience from Man of Steel, and to think that three movies might gross $180 million between them on the weekend of June 21 is fairly incredible but not impossible.

The other thing to consider is that in both weekends following Man of Steel, there are two potentially big movies, either due to star power or the filmmakers involved, so neither Monsters University or Emmerich’s White House Down have the weekends to themselves.

Which brings us to the weekend of June 28. Emmerich has a solid reputation for box office blockbusters with four movies that opened over $40 million and two of them opening over $60 million including 2009’s 2012, which didn’t even have the benefits of a summer release. For his new movie, he has two solid box office stars in Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, which should guarantee at least $40 million for what has become the second White House invasion movie of the year, but we think it will come closer to $50 million.

It’s taking on the counter-programming of an action comedy that teams Sandra Bullock (her first movie since 2011’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and her first comedy since 2009) and Melissa McCarthy, who already has one box office hit under her belt with Identity Thief. Oh and did we mention that the movie reunites McCarthy with her Bridesmaids director Paul Feig? Those three things alone should allow for an opening at $30 million or more, but again, we’re looking at how much box office will be eaten up by the second weekends of Monsters University and World War Z. Honestly, we have more confidence in the former than the latter, which we think will drop more than 55% if it’s as problematic as we think. But that makes us wonder whether either of the June 28 movies will be #1 or they’ll be falling behind the Pixar sequel, which could be one of the biggest blockbusters of the summer going by the success of Toy Story 3.

Basically, we think June 28 will look something like this:

#1 White House Down
#2 Monsters University
#3 The Heat
#4 Man of Steel
#5 World War Z
#6 This is the End

Oh, yeah. That reminds us. One movie we didn’t mention above is the Seth Rogen-Evan Goldberg apocalypse comedy This is the End (Sony) which has the unenvied task of opening two days before Man of Steel. The good news is that Sony is opening it on Wednesday, similar to Pineapple Express, which gives it two days to build word of mouth among fans of Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco and the others and while it may be hard to have much of an impact in a busy month, if it’s as funny as we think it will be, it could bring in some trickles of extra business from word-of-mouth and maybe end up in the $75 to 80 million range.

With all those movies coming out in June, it’s going to be even more interesting when two new movies open on July 3–Despicable Me 2 and The Lone Ranger–two movies that could take away many of the above movies’ theaters and business.

Next time, we’ll take a look at 20th Century Fox’s latest attempt to revisit Marvel’s merry mutants with July’s The Wolverine, once again starring Hugh Jackman reprising his role as James Logan aka Wolverine… I mean, “The Wolverine”… for the fifth time (or sixth if you include his cameo in X-Men: First Class). Or maybe we’ll just jump into our Summer Box Office Preview. We’ll see.

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